The wedding industry has all kinds of advice for soonly weds. But we know the folks who brought fascinators to the royal wedding are not to be trusted.
Instead, take advice from the homeys, the dudes — the married guys in my office. With one co-worker to be married this spring, I quizzed the others on tips for planning the happy day.
Find your vision
The best advice is to ignore the advice; go your own way. As gregarious groom John explains, “Weddings are such a production and such an industry, and there’s so much hype and expectation around it. Instead of starting with what you think a wedding should be, and opting out because you don’t want or can’t afford it, flip it around and start with zero and opt in.”
You can avoid the stress of meeting superficial expectations, plus, sterling silver bottle openers with your initials engraved on them will probably never make it onto the table.
Early Stakeholder Communications
It’s important to bring others around to your way of thinking as early as possible. I’m talking about parents and in-laws.
As John explains, “Right from the beginning, we had to be really straight up about what we saw our parents’ roles as, so that they didn’t rush to their vision of a wedding which wasn’t compatible with ours. If it had come to a head later, it would have been a much bigger deal. Once they bought into it and understood what their role was, then they could get on board.”
Make ‘Em Laugh
Make sure your guests enjoy themselves. You have to know your crowd and decide how to do that for yourself.
For alt-groom Nick, the small, private ceremony was for the family, while the party was for everyone.
“Who wants to stand around for a ceremony? The ceremony wasn’t for our friends, the reception was for our friends.”
Affable groom Mike, who had a wedding outside the Yukon, wanted to share more.
“We had chosen a beautiful setting, but we dragged all our friends and family to this spot 45 minutes away from the city and it needed to be more than just a quick ceremony and back to town. So we had singing and a reception and poems in order to make it more of an event.”
Anticipate what is likely to go wrong and eliminate the risk early. As planner-groom Ben describes, “You stress a lot about the weather here. At our wedding the generator stopped working for a half hour and it was a bit rough.”
This triggered a greater stress — worrying that guests would not have a good time.
Vows and Speeches
You will likely have to say something to your guests.
Although Nick had only a few witnesses to the ceremony, he advises, “Your vows will take you longer than you think. Give yourself some time to do that.”
Even Mike, an experienced public speaker, cautioned about forgetting the speeches.
“I just thought that people would say some nice words, but then all this formality developed and I realized a few days before that I would have to say some things about my best man, who was my brother, and about my parents.”
And then, of course, there’s likely to be speeches from one betrothed to the other.
“The night of the event came and she’s giving this incredibly thoughtful speech about me, and then I’m next, and I’m like ‘Oh Shit!'”
The lesson is to be prepared to say at least a few heartfelt words, even if it’s not in the plan. If you’re not good at impromptu speeches, think about all the possible people you’re going to have to pay tribute to, like your future in-laws. Whatever you do, don’t forget your in-laws.
Someday, an app will exist that generates a guest list based on a complicated algorithm, but until then, guest lists will plague wedding planners everywhere.
John’s advice is to group friends together, and either include or exclude that entire group, but don’t just exclude or include one member.
After that, stick with your communications plan so everyone has the same information.
Dubiously, the guys said the food doesn’t matter.
“Nobody remembers the meal,” they declared.
While many will disagree, they make a compelling case that guests remember fun and unusual aspects of the reception: the late night slider bar, the frozen yoghurt buffet, the midnight mac-and-cheese.