The question has been popped. The answer is yes! Now what? Planning a wedding can feel scary, exhilarating and a little daunting. The venue! The dress! The invitations! The food! All the details and decisions can feel like a tidal wave of trivialities. Here are the top five most important things to bear in mind when constructing your plan for your special day.
Your Wedding Ceremony
The whole point of the day! Take some time to think about what makes you special as a couple. These are the things you want to bring into the ceremony to make it personal, to make it memorable, special and YOU! Incorporate meaningful little things into the small details. For example, a couple of one of my acquaintances who recently got married is a craft brewer. The boutonnieres and corsages contained a sprig of hops. That was a super simple inclusion that made a part of the ceremony uniquely them. There are many simple touches like this example you can use to bring more of your personality into the wedding ceremony.
Other simple ideas that can make your ceremony memorable include a few suggestions about how to manage the staging to make it more thoughtful for your guests. Practice standing with one foot slightly forward of the other when you are in front of the officiant. That way, you are mostly facing each other, but are stably balanced so that you are facing your guests as well. When seating the parents, seat them where they will be able to see their son or daughter’s face during the ceremony. In other words, flip the traditional “bride’s side, groom’s side” arrangement.
Think about how comfortable you are with speaking in front of your assembled guests. The vows and the ring exchange are the high points of the ceremony for both you and your guests. Consider if you want to compose and speak your vows or if you wish to repeat the vows after the officiant. A microphone for the couple at these special moments is a thoughtful touch.
Communicate with your guests the flow of the ceremony! If you are taking your photos immediately after the ceremony, have your officiant step forward after the wedding party has withdrawn, but before the parents get up, and tell your guests what you want them to do. For example, if you want them to go ahead to the reception venue, let them know it will be a given amount of time, then you will meet them there.
The Wedding Reception
It doesn’t have to be a lavish spread, it can be sandwiches and salads, your guests will not remember if there was a feature menu or not! Remember the whole point is to celebrate you and to create memories that last a lifetime! However, if you decide to hire a professional caterer versus family/friends or a Church group, be sure to attend a food tasting before committing to the type of food you would like to serve so you don’t end up with something no one likes after the contract has been signed. Lastly, if you are going to be delayed arriving at the reception, make sure you provide appetizers for your guests to tide them over before dinner.
Whether you want an alcohol-free wedding or a cash bar, just make sure there are unending things to drink. Keep the iced tea, lemonade, or ice water containers topped off. Your guests have come to celebrate you; make it easy for your guests to keep the drinks flowing. It is a small gesture but will help your guests feel more comfortable.
It’s totally up to you whether or not to invite children to your wedding, and which children you invite. There is no right or wrong answer, just try not to feel pressured either way! If you do choose to have children at the reception, make sure there are some kid-friendly food options on the menu. The food they like will make them happier, less cranky and fussy, and is often less expensive! Consider a “kids’ table” with fun, age-appropriate goodie bags filled with sweets, small games, coloring books, and crayons. You could even cover the kids’ table with kraft paper, and let them draw on the “tablecloth!” Make some arrangements for, or with the parents in advance.
Preserve Your Memories
A great photographer is the best way to capture memories from your wedding. Hiring a wedding photographer can be expensive, but there are ways to keep costs low. Hiring the photographer for specified times of day will be less costly than having them full-time from preparation to the first dance. Consider having only the formal photos shot by a professional. Check with your family or group of friends to see if there is anyone who is a decent amateur photographer. Today’s digital photography advances make it possible for amateurs to take good, quality photos. A fun way to capture your moments is to place disposable cameras at each reception table for your guests to take candid photos of moments staged and unstaged.
Good Music and A Dance Floor
Whether you choose a band that you personally have experienced and enjoy, or you are hiring a DJ, do your research! A good DJ should encourage a dialogue between you both before the day, and agree on certain songs and other fun ideas (chicken dance, anybody?) If you are going totally do-it-yourself, plan in advance the CDs you want to be played and the order in which you will play them. The secret to your dance floor is that it should be a smallish space. A huge open area for dancing can be intimidating for guests. Choose a space where you can still do your line dances and hokey-pokey circles, but not scary for the four or five couples that want to do the slow dances.
Relax into The Day
Give away control! Let the wedding planner run the show. If you do not have a professional wedding planner, ask a relative or friend who is good at organizing and being in charge. Those who care about you will be honored to be asked. Let them know what you want, and then turn it over to them before the rehearsal. You want to be relaxed and present for your own wedding.
Whenever any big event happens, no matter how carefully or scrupulously planned, stuff happens! It happens for NASA, the Super Bowl, and on Broadway, and things inevitably will not turn out exactly the way you imagined. Knowing and accepting that in advance will help you let go and enjoy your wedding day without dwelling on the “stuff” that goes awry. Humor is good for the soul and laughing at the oopses and boo-boos can actually make a fun memory for you and your guests.
Aim at these five targets for your wedding day and have a good time. Show yourselves, your personalities, your hospitality, and enjoy your guests. This will ensure that you have an awesome, memorable day!