It’s a Wedding!

A few years ago the church secretary made an attempt to count how many times my husband has tied the knot. She estimated somewhere between eighty and a hundred weddings over the past thirty years or so. That’s a bunch, to put it mildly.

Weddings are one of the few remaining events in our culture where we dress up and follow traditional rules of conduct. We receive and rsvp to formal invitations, we are seated by ushers and handed programs. We sign guest books and (sometimes) go through receiving lines. A wedding requires incredible planning and requires a lot of its guests. Here is my own little list of ten things a bride should think about while planning her wedding. (I wish I had read this before my own wedding!)

1. Make the invitation clear. Don’t make the invitation so colorful and cluttered that your guests may miss the main details (which are in 3 pt font printed up the side). And remember to write out all the names on those invited, so there is no ambiguity about the children.

2. When you go to buy a dress, keep the context in view. If you’re having an outdoor wedding in July, don’t buy a dress with a train that looks like you’re headed for Westminster Abbey! Stay on task, no matter how elegant everyone says you look in it.

3. Stay in your budget. There is nothing in the world wrong with a reception of cake, punch, and mints. If your parents are offering to buy you a full sit-down dinner for 400 guests, then God bless them, and go for it. But if you are operating on a different kind of budget, no one will mind a simple slice of (delicious) wedding cake and a cup of punch.

4. This is a party in your honor, but you still want to honor your guests, so  when you pick a time for your wedding, consider whether it will work for your family and friends.

5. Be kind to your bridesmaids and don’t ask them to pay $200 for a dress they’ll never wear again. And don’t pick a dress that only one of your ten bridesmaids will actually look good in. Remember that the first view most of the guests get of the dress is the back, so make sure the dress is cute in the back, not just in the front. Not everyone looks good from every angle  in a backless, strapless wonder.

6. Make certain if you invite five hundred that you actually have five hundred seats, not four hundred fifty.

7. Keep the reception moving so your guests can actually stay until the end. If you plan a lengthy reception, you’ll necessarily lose some of your guests. It’s always better to have everyone wishing it would last a little longer than have them wishing it would end, and fast.

8. Beware the open mike. It’s always better to ask a few very specific individuals to offer the toasts or wedding speeches. It is something to prepare for, not something to be given off the cuff.

9. Let go of the details, once it’s planned. If the bows on the aisles are not exactly what you had hoped for, don’t worry about it. Look over them to find the eyes of your groom.

10. Be sure to thank your parents and kiss them goodbye.

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6 thoughts on “It’s a Wedding!

  1. Bless you! Our oldest son and our oldest daughter are both getting married within the next ten months. Unfortunately I cannot share this post with my precious daughter-in-law to be as she has already picked out the $200 bridesmaid dresses! However, she is all we could ever hope or imagine for our son and we are very grateful to God for His provision of spouses for our children. These tips will come in handy.

  2. Quote:Weddings are one of the few remaining events in our culture where we dress up and follow traditional rules of conduct.

    Well, in our neck of the woods (the upper Midwest), people have a hard time dressing up for anything. Some do, but many don’t. I did hear the other day, however, that the trend to dress up for funerals seems to be making a comeback!

    Thank you for your wise counsel–My girls aren’t of marrying age yet, but it’s so encouraging to hear someone say that a punch and cake reception is okay. Honestly, with the weddings I’ve attended, I don’t really remember much about the decorations or what we ate, or what anyone wore! I remember situations where we had to wait forever for the wedding party, whether it was too hot or too cold, and how stressed out everyone was, or whether the guests were friendly. But the impressions of lace and whatnot don’t really stick out to me.

  3. Only 80-100? My pastor’s past the 300 mark in less than twice the time. Doug had better pick up the pace! 😉

    One of the neatest receiving lines I ever saw had everyone remain in their pews and the bride and groom came back down the aisle and greeted each row in turn as they left the sanctuary. It was unconventional, but so sensible and relaxed.

    And one of my favorite receptions went on for hours after the bride and groom left fairly early in the evening. Some people know how to party!

    And I know this post is addressed to brides, but if I could go off on a tangent about my biggest pet peeve about churches, it would be that they need to ditch their rules forbidding alcohol on the premises. It’s so expensive to have to rent a separate venue for a reception, and it’s so inconvenient for guests to have to move to a separate location, and it’s so wrong to forbid something that Jesus clearly endorsed. Churches should make it easier, not harder, for godly young couples to get married! But around here, at least, it’s almost impossible to find church that will allow a reception with heart-gladdening potables.

  4. Amen for the cake and punch reception! Ours was actually a bit more elaborate than that, but it was all thanks to my husband’s family and church. We had things like homemade spanikopita, cheeses, fruit, and a lovely spice cake made by my Aunt-in-law. Of course then the a/c went out during the reception (in August, in Alabama), but it really was lovely.

    Also, if you have crafty bridesmaids (and simple tastes) then making your own dresses is a viable option. The dress my girls liked was simple enough that they decided they wanted to make them themselves. They actually convinced me to get the one color I originally thought wouldn’t look good in the sanctuary, but they ended up being right :)

    And Valerie, I’m right there with you.

  5. The only thing I would add to #5 is – beware of ordering online. Not because of sizes, but where is it coming from? You might think you’ve found a great deal, only, after paying duty and customs and shipping, it might be cheaper to buy dresses in town.

  6. My tips:
    Please don’t put your registry information in the invitation. It’s NOT the cost of admission. They’ll know your registry because they’ll ask or because of a shower or a wedding website. Not an invite!

    Please be considerate of your guests! A wedding at 4:00 p.m., followed by 3 hours of waiting til the reception can be torture!!! How am I supposed to stay busy during that time while you’re running around taking pictures being goofy all over town?

    Don’t let the wedding CONSUME your relationship. The possibility is there. We were engaged for 9 months while waiting for friends to come back from China, so we had plenty of time to plan. I instituted Wedding Wednesdays, which was the only day we could talk wedding. We could talk marriage anytime, but actual wedding & reception talk was reserved for once a week (when we actually needed them).

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