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.