Many persons are afraid to think outside the box when planning their weddings, not only because it’s one of the most important days of their lives, but who wants to experiment on such an occasion. A wedding doesn’t have to be conventional: white dress, church ceremony, toast, blah, blah, blah. You are allowed to have fun and mix it up a bit.
For our wedding there were a number of things that my groom-to-be made clear from the outset that he hated. He hated toasts, head tables, paper invitations, speeches, removing the garter... Let’s just say he pretty much hated everything that was typically associated with weddings. Most men share the same sentiments, and so the typical response is, “Just tell me what to wear and when to show up.” They’d rather skip involvement in all the finer details.
Instead of getting frustrated and heading to another fight (yes, fights will be often), take a deep breath. A wedding is really about two people, the bride and the groom (I can’t say this enough) so take your groom aside. Find out what are the things that really turn him off. Ask: if you had your way, what would your wedding look like? Try to incorporate his ideas into the wedding, so he really feels as if he is a part of the process. Remember, there is no point in asking for his opinion if you and your girlfriends will eventually veto him.
Here are a few tips from our wedding that may help the novice bride-to-be:
The unlikely invitation -- we are all accustomed to elegant card stock and envelope invitations, but why not try something new. In this technology age an invitation doesn’t have to come in the letter box. Try sending e-invites, create your own website to which your guests can RSVP (check it out), do a video, or an audio invite.
There are so many new and exciting ways to get everyone excited about your wedding. As social media junkies my husband and I made great use of this forum. We had a website (totally free and hosted by weddingchannel.com), Facebook countdown (apps purchased for a $1 or less), and in keeping with our movie theme, a DVD of our version of Mr. & Mrs. Taylor (adapted from the movie Mr. & Mrs. Smith). This was great way to get everyone involved and amped up about our wedding!
If you are not so high-strung, never mind, you can still use these ideas, albeit to a more restricted audience.
Choosing your dress -- don’t be afraid to go dress hunting with your groom-to-be. I know there is the traditional belief that it is bad luck for the groom to see your dress before the wedding day. Imagine the look of horror on the attendant’s face when my groom-to-be and I walked in to try dresses.
We selected my dress together and although I did do a second fitting with my girlfriends for good measure, I already knew that I had said, yes to the dress!
Men are the perfect buddies to take along to a fitting because they don’t beat around the bush. They are not afraid to tell you exactly how they feel about your dress. No bullshit! I remember watching a bride-to-be fit a dress as five of her friends struggled to tell her that the dress she was so excited about was nothing short of hideous. Don’t get me wrong, friends can be of great help, but remember that too many cooks spoil the broth, and if your man wants in on the action, then why not?
Note: Alas, as fate would have it, I walked down the aisle in a conventional white gown (perhaps to spare my mother a heart attack). That was not the plan. I had a whole other dress in mind (it was super sexy and involved the colour blue), but it turned out that it can be a real pain in the ass to order dresses online. So two months prior to my wedding I was scampering to find a back up dress! Note to the wise: make sure that you only order from sites that have proven their quality time and time again!
Go for a theme and execute! Is there something that you and your mate are most passionate about? Why not incorporate that theme throughout your wedding? We tend to restrict our weddings to a colour theme, but do not be afraid to expand your horizons. If your hubby’s a football fanatic, why not put some elements of that into your wedding? (Make the cake a football, for example.) It’ll be a true reflection of who you are as a couple. And as a bonus, I guarantee your groom-to-be will be a lot more interested in helping you to plan.
Our theme was “The Oscars”, inspired by everyone who told us that our life was like a movie. We incorporated the theme throughout the entire wedding, from the Oscar men and red carpet to the audition clips and movie presentation. Don’t be afraid to go all out! It makes it even more fun and interesting for your guests.
I hate when a half heart attempt is made at executing a theme for a wedding (make the concept come alive through your food, decor and venue). If you are going to do it -- go hard and done!
Tip: there are tons of websites that cater to theme weddings and offer a lot of
cheap, ahem, I mean affordable but beautiful props. Utilize the people who are coming from abroad! Buy your item, ship it to them, and have them share the load! It’s worth it, trust me.
Select a fun venue -- not everyone has to get married in a church. OK fine, you’re very religious, and you insist on keeping your ceremony in a church, why not take your reception to an unexpected venue? Think of attractions in your area: a museum, pitch a tent in a park, or near a river. There is nothing to stop you from transforming these unusual spots into the perfect reception venue.
I got married at a hotel, but we choose the lobby (of all the places) for the ceremony. The hotel staff thought we were cuckoo when we first suggested the lobby, but with the magnificent columns, it was simply breath-taking!
Tip: When you go scouting locations whether with or without an event planner, look around and keep your eyes open for a spot that may be unique and unusual! Also, feel free to mix it up a bit. We had four different areas to give our guests four distinct experiences -- the ceremony, the cocktail, the reception and the disco. Just be sure that they are in close proximity to each other (you don’t want your stiletto wearing guests to bitch too much).
Make your cocktail hour fun – for heaven’s sake don’t punish your guests! We all understand that the photos are super important (if not THE most important part of the day), but seriously don’t torture your guests. I can think of very few things I hate more than having to wait for a wedding party that’s gone for hours to take photos. No matter how you spin it, it’s cruel and inhumane to have guests waiting for upwards of three hours while you go on your photo shoot.
At my wedding, the noted photographer Dwayne Watkins actually took our photos (Are you ready for this?) before the ceremony! Yes! We were dressed, ready and photographed before the wedding even started (another bonus was that we were also on time). After our ceremony, we spent less than 30 minutes taking family photos and other miscellaneous shots that we missed.
If you are really into photos (and you can’t possibly love photos more than my hubby) consider doing a trash the dress the morning after. I promise you it’ll be a whole lot of fun with just you, the groom and no time restrictions! More importantly, your guests will thank you for it!
Don’t starve your guests -- it’s typical for dinner to be served when you get back from the photo shoot, but remember that you will have guests who have travelled from afar, and might have skipped a few meals to be there. At least serve them some juice and hors d'oeuvre (aka finger food). If it’s too expensive (and it might be), then consider serving a soup and juices while your guests wait.
Bear in mind that there are no rules which state that the guests must wait for the bridal party before eating, so please, break with tradition and feed your guests. At the very least their bellies will be full. And I promise, well-fed guests won’t mind waiting another half hour for you and your entourage.
Also, give some serious thought to plated versus buffet service. Plated service limits the variety and quantity of food. It is also usually more expensive, since it requires waiters to serve everyone in courses. The downer is that the food is often cold, and the courses drag on as some people are mighty slow eaters.
On the other hand, a buffet gives you added variety, the freedom to choose what you want, and everyone can eat at the pace he or she desires. If the idea of going to a buffet table doesn’t turn you on, you can always arrange for the bride and groom to be served.
Forget head tables and assigned seating -- my hubby and I hate head tables. There is no reason to subject the bridal party to each other’s company, especially if they aren’t already friends. It’s your day; the spotlight should be on you! So spare your bridal party the fake conversations. Send them back into the audience where they can really enjoy the company of their loved ones.
Unless you are the Prime Minister or some other state dignitary, forget about seat assignments. It’s an unnecessary headache, and it’s bound to get you in trouble with someone who thinks they should have been seated to the front. Your best bet is to reserve a few tables for the family and bridal party. Then let every man fend for himself.
Keep it short and spicy, or very entertaining -- while your ceremony might have been a very solemn occasion (ours wasn’t), your reception should be fun and more fun! Here is where your theme should come alive! Captivate your guests with entertainment: great entertainment! Not the kind that will make them cringe and put a nozzle to their heads. Receptions are not auditions for Rising Stars or American Idol, so even though we know you love your aunt who thinks she can sing, for G-d sake, please don’t put her on the programme.
At our wedding we were welcomed into the reception room to a medley of songs from “I gotta feeling" to “When wifey come out an' bush to di bone dem no worry bout man cuz dem ave fi dem own ...” Of course the room went wild, and we had set the tone for fun-filled night.
Set a time limit for your toasts, better yet forget the speeches! A toast or tribute doesn’t have to be in the form of a speech. It could be a well rehearsed dance, a mini movie (brilliantly put together by Travis Anomie), a cleverly written poem or a pre-recorded song. (I’ve seen a couple do a music video of themselves to their favourite song -- brilliant!) My point is, it doesn’t have to be the same old, same old. Get your guests in on the action!
At our wedding our guests actually did pre-recorded auditions of their favourite movie lines (the night before the wedding) that were edited and shown during the reception. Everyone was excited to see if their scene made the cut, and most were surprised as they had no clue what we intended to do with the clips. So go ahead, feel free to mix it up and do things differently, your guests will be pleasantly surprised.
Forget about sex! – The horror! But the honest truth is, unless you are a virgin, or you’ve been waiting for years to pluck the cherry, you probably won’t be consummating on your wedding night! Believe me, it’s not because you won’t want to, but you’ll be too damn tired to even try! If you have an early morning wedding then you might have a shot, but if your wedding goes into the wee hours of the morning then forget about it!
It’s no secret, the majority of newlyweds confess to not copulating on their wedding night (Google it). When you get married, you too will know why! When we left the dance floor at about 1 A.M. (mind you, the party was still pumping) we limped to our room. I barely had the energy to get out of my dress, and by the time our heads hit the pillow, the only thing we desired was sleep. All is not lost: you have the rest of your lives to make up for it!
Your wedding is about you, the bride and the groom! I know I sound like a broken record, but I can’t state this enough. No matter what, traditional or unconventional, your wedding should reflect you!