Anyone that knows me would probably laugh at the notion of me doling out advice on weddings.
After all, my idea of getting dressed up is wearing shoes instead of sneakers and a shirt with a collar and buttons.
So, it took me a little by surprise when I was asked to contribute what can loosely be termed an ‘advice column’ for this issue.
Yes, my daughter recently got married – Oct. 26, 2019 to be exact. Yes, it was my first experience as the mother of the bride. And yes, weddings are a lot of work. For everyone involved; from the bride and groom to the parents of said couple to the bridal party and all those folks that have to be lined up for the big day. Flowers, food, photos, music, decorations, the list goes on and on. Thankfully, it was a total team effort for Judd and Allison’s big day and pretty much, things went smoothly.
What are the takeaways from the experience? Personally speaking, I learned that I can successfully walk in heels (good thing I practiced, though) and actually enjoyed stepping out of my comfort zone to have my niece apply just a little bit of make-up before it was time to walk my daughter down the aisle.
Honestly, though, I don’t think there are really any hard and fast rules anymore for weddings. My daughter and her husband certainly didn’t follow a traditional script but it was what worked for them.
Planning does take a long time so unless you are going to elope or make a quick stop at a nearby courthouse, it is best to start as soon as possible. Once you’re engaged, even if the wedding date is two years in the future, get the ball rolling. There are venues to be secured, dresses to be purchased, tuxes to be rented, decisions to be made. The longer you wait, the greater the stress level of worrying about whether everything will get done in time.
When they first started the guest list, it was going to be around 50 people, wedding party included. But, as often happens, as time goes by you think of other folks that should be added. It still was a relatively small wedding and probably two-thirds of the attendees were family and extended family members, with just a handful of their closest friends thrown in.
Again, the venue was outdoors and, in this particular case, was a large setting surrounded by walnut orchards, the wedding site down below with orchards above and a river running along one side. Having the ability to set up a lot of things the day before was crucial, as ideas of how it was going to be changed once the venue was seen in real time; where would the sun be when they said their vows? Where was the best place for the DJ to be so everyone could hear? How would the dinner line (again, non-traditional, they opted for tacos) flow the best? It was also important to have that rehearsal so we knew about the timing of everything and how long it would take the flower girl to spread her rose petals down the aisle, how long each group of two in the wedding party would take to get to the arch where Judd and Allison would stand with the pastor.
Thankfully, the walnuts had already been shaken so there wasn’t a whole lot of dust the day of the wedding and, even though it was warm for late October, it wasn’t oppressive.
The wedding was certainly a combined effort – we had people picking up the flowers and bringing them to the venue, someone else went and got the donuts that the bride and groom wanted for their guests in lieu of wedding cake. Friends of the groom’s parents arrived en masse to set up the bar area and expansive hors d’oeuvres table for the guests to enjoy while they mixed and mingled both before and after the ceremony.
There were a lot of special touches, all of which combined to make it a memorable day.
Were there things that ‘went wrong’? Well, they put the rings on each other’s finger before they were supposed to but that was only because I guess we didn’t cover that part of the ceremony in rehearsal. Also, the maple bar they were going to share instead of feeding each other wedding cake somehow disappeared. There was one bag with that single maple bar in it amidst a sea of boxes containing a dozen donuts each that arrived at the venue in the morning. At some point, the bag went missing – we never could pin down if someone accidentally ate the maple bar or if somebody thought it was merely left over and threw it out. But before it was time for that donut-eating moment, we ended up with three maple bars. We don’t think any of them were the original; we just had people rushing out in search of maple bars to make sure the moment wasn’t lost. And before their first dance as husband and wife, Allison’s dress didn’t get bustled, so Judd kept kicking the train out of his way as they tried their best to twirl instead of trip.
Those aren’t what you could call big issues, just things that didn’t quite go according to plan.
But I think the biggest message of all was the one that my daughter got the day before. She had been agonizing for months, worrying about this and that, stressing over little details, absolutely convinced everything was going to go wrong. In her mind, wedding day was disastrous: it was going to be 100 degrees or it was going to be pouring down rain. No one would come or more people than they invited would show up. She would oversleep and be late for her own wedding. Her mother wouldn’t find a suitable outfit. You get the idea.
Friday, though, as we were getting as much set up done as possible, she looked at me and said “Judd just needs to chill out. He needs to stop stressing, it’s our wedding day and whatever is going to happen is going to happen. He needs to relax and enjoy it.”
That was what we had been telling her all along and, less than 24 hours before she said “I do” she finally understood. Although you want everything from the table centerpieces to the flowers to the vows to the open mic speeches to be picture perfect, you’ve got to allow for a little wiggle room. Expect some unexpected things to happen, just go with it and you’ll do just fine.
And, like I told my daughter, as long as you love each other and the pastor ends the ceremony with “I now pronounce you husband and wife” – that’s really all that matters. ■