Monday, July 30, 2012

Wedding-Wiser

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I am a wedding planner by day (and a mirad of other things by night), and while I try to spend most of my time talking about other things here on my blog, sometimes I just can't resist.  Sometimes, work and life just get mixed in together.  

Over the past couple years, I've attended a lot of weddings.  I've been present as guest, planner, and as a member of the wedding party.  I've been to expansive, glamorous $300,000 weddings and intimate , budgeted backyard affairs.  I've worked up close and personally with people's families and witnessed a lot of unfortunate situations.  I'd like to draw from that and offer a little kind advice.  These tips should apply to guests, family members, wedding party, and bride & groom alike.

1.  It's not about you.
That's right.  Are you in a big white gown? No? Then shush. The day is not about you and it's not about your agenda. I don't care if you're bosom buddies with the bride or one of the groom's "bros," this is the Bride and Groom's day. If you're there as a guest, blend in and have fun. If you're there as a family member, be supportive and loving, no matter what happens. You can always duke it out after they get back from their honeymoon. If you're there as a member of the wedding party, be attentive and do whatever the heck your Bride or Groom needs you to do. By agreeing to be an attendant, you should expect to "attend" to things and have responsibilities. And be responsibilities, I mean more than just showing up to the party. Don't say yes to "Will you be my bridesmaid?" if you aren't prepared to put forth a little effort. BUT . . . If you're the Bride or Groom, keep reminding yourself - it's just about the two of you. No matter what drama arises, try to let it go as the ceremony begins and remember: this only happens once!

2.  Don't get wasted.
There is never a worse time to be the sloppy drunk. I've seen it all, from vomiting into the bushes to broken stemware on the dance floor, but regardless . . . falling off your 6-inch stilettos isn't attractive, neither is taking off your shirt and "helicoperting" it over your head. I once saw an intoxicated guest walk his even more intoxicated girlfriend out to their car and put her inside to "sleep it off" because she couldn't stand on her own. What?? Drink and have fun, but be responsible. Marriage is to some a sacred ceremony, after all, not a bar crawl. And as the married couple - well, don't you want to remember the actual memories you're "making?" :)

3.  Feel honored to be there.
Whether you're a 3rd cousin or the Bride's twin sister, you made the guest list. For one reason or another, your presence was requested at this special event. Treat it as an honor, and don't be judge-y or bitch and moan. If it feels like an obligation, stay home. But if you do show, thank the Bride & Groom for inviting you and thank their families for hosting the event. Be a polite and courteous guest. Be a helpful extended family member or wedding partier. Set your own agenda aside, and enjoy the love that has brought everyone together on this day.

4.  Be conscious of people's spending limits.
No one wants to be put in a position where they have to draw the line and say "I'm sorry, I can't afford that." Especially when they know it's probably important to you (the host), that they be there. Be conscious of your friends, their incomes and expenses, and don't demand too much of them financially.  This applies to all angles. On your registry - make plenty of less expensive selections that single guests can afford. For the wedding party, keep in mind they not only have to buy a dress/rent a tux for the happy occasion, and often cross the country to get there, but they also have to foot the bill for the engagement showers and bachelorette/bachelor parties. It's rather tactless to invite the same people to multiple events, as it implies you expect them to bring you multiple gifts.  Your wedding shouldn't feel like a burden to anyone, least of all to you.

5.  Be conscious of people's limits.  Period.
Everyone has one. Vendor's should be perfect, but mistakes do happen. Family members are going to make faux pas in awkward situations. The Bride and Groom are probably going to overlook something, like inviting your significant other. A wedding day is a combination of some of the most extreme emotions people feel in their lives. It is the end of so many things and the beginning of so many others. It requires organizing usually a very large group of people, some there for fun and others there to perform a service, and that usually means a great deal of stress: tempers might flare and emotions will overflow. As a Bride or Groom, don't ask too much of any one person. Spread out the requests and favors amongst your closest friends and family members, don't be too demanding of one friend or one parent. Give them the chance to enjoy your day with you. As a member of the wedding party or family, remember that on top of managing a complicated day, the Bride and Groom are dealing with the full spectrum of emotions as they ready to make a staggering commitment to each other. Try to forgive them if they are a little abrasive or impatient with you. People have limits. Try to be conscious of them. And bottom line?  Let things go.

I like things in fives, otherwise my sixth item for this list would be - of course -

(6. Hire a Wedding Planner.)
Many of the above things can be avoided, or at least well-managed, but a competent planner. A good planner does make the wedding all about the Bride & Groom, while making the families and friends feel pretty special, too. A good planner keeps an eye out for those overly rambunctious guests, ensures  the bartenders pour responsibly, and that everyone gets on the shuttle home safely at the end of the night. A good planner does feel honored to be there - even as the hired help - because they  understand the magnitude of the day. And if a planner has limits, you should never see them.


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