Monday, June 30, 2008

Here Comes the Bride...

Now that school's out, I've been trying to tackle all the odds and ends on my wedding to-do list. I find myself terrified that I'm going to forget something vital (note to self: get that marriage license!) I'm also afraid that our guests will show up and think, "Wow. I bought a plane ticket for this? Yawn!"

I've definitely been to my share of weddings--ranging from somewhat scary to absolutely delightful. Along the way, I've picked up a few tips for my own nuptials. For instance, it's off-putting and somewhat tacky when the ceremony officiant dwells on divorce statistics, politics, and/or potty-training stories about one half of the happy couple. And you really ought to be nice to your photographer, because she has the power to send you to Airbrush Hell.

Yet even with these--and other--little tidbits, I sometimes feel woefully under-prepared. Luckily, I have friends and family helping me with the myriad items on my to-do list. I also have many cheerful souls ready to help when something gets messed up. What does that mean? They tell me plenty of wedding horror stories to put my own little worries in perspective.

So here's my question to you, dear reader: do you have any wedding dos or don'ts to share? What was the sweetest, funniest, or most creative thing you ever saw at a wedding? What's the most awkward and/or horrific moment you remember?


Jaime said...

Ha! My best wedding story was the officiant who discussed how the bride and groom met at Northwestern busines school, 'the bst b-school in the country.' Theough Stanford was the best when I went there, of course. But NU's not bad." Or the one where he spoke so much about the bride's beauty it kinda sounded like he was hitting on her.
Some tips: the more homemade your wedding is, the more fun it will be. Guests love getting involved. Centerpieces-simpler ealy is better- your $100 flower arrangement means I can't see 2/3 of the table. Ceremony- any explanations of rituals will be appreciated, even if it's just 'this is my grandma's [whatever] we're using.'For you- EAT FIRST, or you won't get to. I've only seen 1 couple ever get to eat- because they did it right of and then went around to see people.

But truthfully- I've been to a LOT o weddings, and I've enjoyed them all. Your guests are there to see YOU happy- so once things start rolling, let it go and enjoy yourself!

Sam said...

I am opinionated (um, I'm sure this comes as a giant shock), so hopefully none of this will be offensive to anyone. Disclaimers, etc. That said:

1. Head tables are of the devil.

2. I agree with Jaime about the homemade-ness.

3. One of my favorite cute wedding things was the couple who named their reception tables after places from various nerdly shows. The elderly relatives were so confused, but the friends loved it. I got to sit at Sunnydale!

4. Sketchy photographers who put their hands all over your 13-year-old friends? Also of the devil. ...Oh wait, this isn't a bat mitzvah. Well, the point still stands.

5. The more relaxed everything is, the more fun you and everyone else will have. The best weddings I've been to have been the ones with a minimum of "and now it is time for the official dance between the bride's sister and her dog" and a maximum of everybody goofing off and enjoying each other's company.

6. The whole garter ceremony? OF THE DEVIL! There is no way to force a dude to slide a garter up a chick's leg in front of an audience that isn't skeevy.

7. We all love you and are excited to see you get married to an awesome guy, so we will have a great time no matter what happens! Fear not.

Holly said...

Here's something my DJ said to me that I'm going to share w/ you (and before you get offended on my behalf, we're friendly w/ each other and I asked his honest opinion) about the myriad of "special" dances:

They're special to you. And they're special to you.

The point: You're the only one who thinks all those special dances are that special. I mean, after the 3rd "Aunt/Nephew" dance, your guests are bored with it and ready to move on. Something we did at our wedding was combine the Father/Daughter and Mother/Son dance and that was pretty much it. We had our first dance, then the parent dance and then just regular dancing.

Otherwise, I'll give you the best piece of advice I can. This isn't something someone told me, but something I learned all on my own:

Your wedding is about YOU. It doesn't matter if everyone was bored to tears as long as YOU had a good time. It doesn't matter what your mother wants or your future grandmother-in-law. It doesn't matter what you think YOUR GUESTS might want. Your day is about YOU. You and the person you love, the one you're choosing to spend the rest of your life with.

You need to plan for yourself. Everyone else will have a good time, because they love you and they want to share in your special day.

I stressed myself out completely worrying about everyone who was flying in to see us get married, and whether they'd be entertained the few days before the wedding when they were in town and if they'd think it was tacky that we did this or that or blah blah blah..and in the end, it didn't matter one lick, because the day wasn't about them. It was about us.

I think if you remember that everything will be fine.

Anneliese Kelly said...

Brace yourself, this will be long.

Of course, you want the wedding to be what makes YOU happy, because you're the one who's going to remember it on your deathbed, right? But it's nice for your guests to have fun, too.

Here's what I've found--

The cost doesn't matter, the people do. The feeling you get from the bride and groom--whether it's "I want to show off to you all" or "I'm just doing this for my parents" or "I love everybody here, especially my spouse" is what makes the wedding what it is.

That being said, the wedding magazines are right in certain respects, in terms of the little things you can do to make your guests feel better. i.e., if it's really hot and people are outside (or in an un-airconditioned chapel, as at my wedding) give them a paper fan. I got a whole bunch really cheaply online.

Also, the things people remembered most about my wedding afterward were the little, unrepeatable moments that spoke to who we were as a couple. My singing to him was the most remembered moment. People liked the special drink we served (dark and stormies, our favorite). Toasty's friends loved that we played "Meet the Mets" when we walked in with our wedding party. All the little things that made the wedding personal.

I also always love family wedding photos displayed.

Memorable moments from other weddings I've attended: the hora at the wedding of two Catholics; the groom and his friend dancing (in glow-in-the-dark suspenders) to the Beastie Boys' Intergalactic at the same wedding; the eighty-year-old wedding crasher who danced with all the single bridesmaids at my friend's wedding in May; the recording of Theresa's grandfather singing "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling" that the dj played at her wedding; the wedding with a band that played nothing but '70s disco and funk--best dance party ever.

Things that are bad: playing "Gold Digger" or Cher's "Do You Believe in Life After Love" at a wedding; weddings that are so big you can't see the bride and groom let alone talk to them; Best Man speeches that necessitate the use of condoms as props; making your guests write out "what marriage means to me" on a card and then read it during your ceremony. That part should not be interactive! People want to see a show, not be in one.

Riley said...

Backing up Holly's comment, your wedding is about you and your union. If you've got the right people there, then everything else will fall into place. And to the extent that it's about you, don't feel obligated to do things that don't represent the two of you.

Most of my wedding horror stories can only be told in person for fear that they bite me in the end. But a thinly veiled threat aimed at the groom by the father of the bride was probably the most terrifying moment.

As for dancing, the DJ helps, but really it's how many dance-happy folks you've got on the invite list. If you boogie and so do your friends, it's going to be a throw down.

Plan your first dance. Otherwise you look like you're doing the circular duck waddle.

Have a friend keep a list of the people who are snapping photos. That way, you can ask for copies and expand your wedding photo collection.

Now I'm rambling off-topic.

Holly said...

Re: Photo's -

We put disposable cameras on the guest tables (two per table) and some of the best candid shots came from those. Just a suggestion.

Riley said...

That's a great idea, Holly. Wish we'd thought of that.

The big debate surrounding our wedding was whether or not to videotape the thing. Ralu and I decided against it since I'd had a bad experience with a video camera in a very small space at my brother's wedding. So we start the ceremony...and someone's videotaping the thing. Imagine our surprise! I guess Raluca's parents disagreed with our decision and went ahead and taped the thing anyway.

In retrospect, I'm glad they did. While it's not great quality, there are some things that just can't be captured on paper. I just wish I'd been able to control it...professional, maybe use some retro super-8 film, give direction. The video from the reception, where everyone is dancing the hora (a traditional Romanian dance) is one of the top horas on YouTube, like 7,000 hits or something. We're famous, basically. Just trust me. We're famous.