2 Broke Girls: A-Z Wedding Thoughts

25 03 2012

A recent wedding I attended caused flashbacks to days of service… not the military, but the bridal party. Being a bridesmaid is like the motto for the U.S. Marines: the few, the proud, the strong. While it is a privilege to stand tall with the bride on a special day, it also is a profession of the hard work a woman has performed lovingly for her dear friends who will marry.

Planning a wedding day can be a tough project for a bride, who like a general must select captains who are honored to help carry out plans and challenge them when necessary. Here are a few lessons learned from the past 48 hours: 

Advance: Deadlines, especially a wedding day, are a good thing but few people embrace them with enthusiasm. Anybody executing wedding plans would like more time to do a better job… so accomplish as many tasks as possible well in advance of the wedding day (or even the week leading up to the day). Don’t procrastinate!

Bridal party: They’re not models. As some of the most supportive friends during the dating and engagement stages, these individuals should be sufficiently responsible to carry out wedding-related tasks (from invitation stuffing or favor-making factories to arranging the clean-up crew). Are your attendants ready to labor with you? Will they graciously confront you when you demand unreasonable, irrational requests?

Child care: See also ‘Guests’. Can you afford to include whole families or only parents? Are there older children who could benefit from attending? Does your guest list include  babysitters other guests usually hire?  Can your guests afford to hire child care to attend your wedding? If not, only one spouse may be attending instead of two.

Decorations: Less is more. Work with the venue’s strengths. Throwing cloth over something won’t hide it at all; it will scream for more attention. Whenever possible, bring a scrap of fabric with you to help match colors.

Explanations: Carefully choose your MC, your master of ceremonies. This individual should clearly instruct or explain what guests need to know — from the location of restrooms to the order of events. Having a good sense of humor helps, but is not essential. MC Sammy informed us that misplacing peanut butter in refrigerators is a common cause of disagreements between husbands and wives. I’m glad he’s not a SMEB nominee, but what’s his street cred? 

Flower toss: I’m not a fan of the bouquet toss (oh, the violence!). Plus, I’m still traumatized by Aunt E’s reception, during which I was specifically called out to the dance floor for this (stupid) tradition. My favorite alternative was done at S&K’s wedding. All married couples stood up, and gradually the wife of the longest-wed couple in attendance received the bouquet. The couple was asked to share one or two reasons for the ‘success’ of their marriage. How much do you esteem marriage and the longevity of it? How can you honor people in your life who encourage you in this area? 

Guests: Be intentional. Address specific names (or name + guest). When you invite guests, especially to a small event, each person should feel honored to make the A-list. If you start referring to the B- or C-list names, respectfully give a minimum of one month’s notice. This courtesy allows a guest to make or adjust plans. How would you feel if you knew you were an after-thought?

Head table: See also ‘Guests’. Since members of the bridal party may be married or have significant others who are not actively involved in the wedding, it doesn’t make sense to obligate them to sit at a head table. I really appreciated how W&T scattered their bridal party at a variety of table, thereby serving as surrogate hosts for the couple.

Interpreter: If you have guests who speak a foreign language and you want to have an interpreter, secure (in writing, preferably) an individual at least two weeks in advance. Clearly explain what his or her duties are, and how you will compensate him or her. Monetary gifts are always appreciated, but integrating this individual (and a guest, if s/he doesn’t know other guests) is even better. After all, this person can become a new friend to the couple or other guests.

Just sayin’: See also ‘Guests’. Remember that members of the bridal party may be married or have significant others, so be sensitive and respectful of their other halves. If one bridesmaid and one groomsman don’t lock arms when they walk down the aisle, consider asking the others to abstain from walking arm-in-arm. (Hence, MC Hammer and the song ‘Can’t Touch This’.) The exception draws unnecessary attention away from the bride and groom, and onto the awkward looking pair of attendants.

Kiss: If you’ve watched the movie The Wedding Singer, perhaps you may have given some thought to what can be considered appropriate for a first kiss between a husband and wife in a church ceremony. A church kiss inevitably is emotional, but it should remain sweet and somewhat gentle — even if ‘sizzles’ for a ‘few seconds’ according to wedding photographer, Craig Carpenter, who knows something about visually documenting such a tender moment. For couples who have saved their first kiss for their wedding day, consider discussing this issue lest it becomes gratuitous… and the fire department is called to extinguish the blaze! DYK fire fighters are perceived as attractive because they save lives?!

Listless: a.k.a. indifference or apathy, typically exhibited by grooms who think 99.9 percent of wedding day plans are the bride’s obligation. (His 0.1 percent contribution was the proposal.) Most men are not groomzillas because they could care less about the colors, decorations, etc. However they must be involved in the planning process, in order to see what character emerges from the women they intend to marry. Could it be a preview of Dr. Jekyll & Miss Hyde or Bridezilla?

Music: If you want guests to dance, create a diverse but coherent playlist that invites singles as well as couples to dance. Mash-ups are a fun way to get older guests onto the dance floor, while younger generations still enjoy new arrangements of rhythm. Your DJ or MC could announce a popular song in advance, so guests can go to the restroom, get a drink, or find a partner before that song is played.

Necessary vs. unnecessary: Most brides (and grooms) would love to have less costly, faster, and better quality service from their vendors. Unfortunately, life is full of trade-offs. Wedding planning is a fabulous opportunity for couples to quickly gain insight into the discernment and wisdom of an intended spouse. If money and/or time are scarce, what will you deem necessary? Escort cards identify to which table guests are assigned, whereas wedding-themed packages of tissues are a cute detail. Do you need to provide both amenities? Might one be more valuable? Will guests genuinely appreciate the extra thought?

Officiant: I was pleasantly surprised when the officiant, who’s also my pastor-teacher, anchored his sermon in Colossians 3 rather than Ephesians 4. Since man is called to love his wife as Jesus Christ loves the church, Greg focus on three aspects: a promised destiny of glory with God, a present duty to put off the old self and put on the new self, and a past deliverance from sin and death. Extra thanks to Douglas of Riverside United Methodist Church for interpreting the scripture reading and sermon into Cantonese.

Parents: If there are problematic parents of the bride or groom, avoid traditions that could lead to psychological disasters. Will your parent upstage your new spouse during the first dances? Is there an alternative way to recognize and thank these individuals for their positive contributions to your life?

Questions: See also ‘Bridal Party’. In essence, the best man and maid/matron of honor are to serve as advocates for the groom and bride, respectively. Prior to the wedding day, the couple ought to review specific topics with these individuals who address any concerns that arise with vendors and/or guests on the ceremony day. Some couples choose a day of wedding coordinator to serve as a single source of answers; this professional is critical because (he or) she can offer an objective, bigger picture perspective of the logistics.

Rentals: Save money and headaches by renting linens, glassware, etc. Perhaps you can buy these things for the same price to rent them, but do you really want to wash, store, and reuse them for another event? Storage has a cost too; it’s just not upfront.

Seating charts: The bride and groom cannot delegate this task to anybody else. They must consider how friends and family will enjoy the celebration. What will friends / family at the same table find in common to discuss? BTW anticipate uninvited guests appearing at the reception; leave a few unassigned seats at a table or two.

Toasts: See also ‘Bridal Party’. One important wedding-related task is the toast or speech that a man of honor or best woman makes. (Good, clean) Humor is always appreciated. However a great anecdote that testifies to a bride, groom, or couple’s admirable qualities is even better. Guests don’t want to grimace in response to awkwardness. Is your speaker a (social) liability?

Ushers: If groomsmen are the starters, these guys are the second string. They are quality people who are supportive of the couple, responsible to carry out delegated duties, and considerate of your guests. Are these men ready to labor with you? Can they listen to instruction from the groomsman or wedding coordinator appointed over them?

Vows: Believe it or not, guests want to hear your vows — especially if they are unique to the couple. Say ’em clearly, loudly, and seriously. The bridal party and guests are witnesses to this commitment a man and woman make before God; they should hold the couple accountable for keeping and treasuring these vows.

Was-band: See also ‘Parents’. The mother of bride actually used this term to describe her ex-husband. Since the bride and groom’s families may have different traditions, the couple needs to discuss those differences and decide which practices they will adopt for themselves. Then they can meet with each set of parents to respectfully explain (or defend) some of those choices.

X: Sign on the ‘x’. See also ‘Bridal Party’. The best man and best woman are obligated to sign the marriage certificate. Typically, this important event occurs in private and may be overlooked by careless attendants.

Yawn and Zzz: See also ‘Advance’. The wedding day is busy, so it’s imperative that the bride, groom, bridal party, and event production team get adequate sleep the night before the big day.


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