The 3 Most Important Things To Remember When Planning Your Wedding
What inspired me to write this article was a casual glance at a photograph above where my wife was sitting the other night when we were relaxing after a long, but good, day.
We had spent Memorial Day at one of the local state parks. The family of one of our four-year-old’s friends joined us for a day of hiking and swimming before grabbing a late lunch at a popular local roadside food stand.
Once we got home, it was an early dinner, a bath for the boys, and into bed. My wife and I then flopped down in the living room for some well-earned peace and quiet.
As I sat in my leather armchair sipping a cold beer, I glanced at one of the pictures above the couch where my wife was sitting. It was a picture of our wedding at the moment my wife and I were first introduced as man and wife. The shot is of us walking up to the dance floor to start our first dance. We danced to Nat King Cole’s “I Love You For Sentimental Reasons”.
It goes without saying that my wife looks spectacular in the picture. But I always, half-jokingly, tell her that that shot is the best picture of me ever taken.
The lead-up to our wedding was when I began seriously trying to understand classic menswear and how to dress in a more mature fashion. I decided I wanted to wear a classic tuxedo but I had no idea what that actually meant. I stumbled upon The Black Tie Guide by Peter Marshall (which is now owned by Gentleman’s Gazette, I believe) and read it through completely numerous times. Come wedding time, I was very satisfied with my black tie rig.
Anyway, the point of all this is that when I glanced up at that picture, it made me think about all that went into planning the wedding itself. It was a terrific day. One of the best days of my life. My wife and I always say our wedding was perfect.
Now, did the day go absolutely “perfectly”, as in “literally everything went exactly as we had planned”? No. But it was still perfect to us. And the reason why it was perfect was because we kept three very important things in mind which I would like to pass along to you.
In the year leading up to our own wedding, my wife and I attended eight weddings, everything from rustic DIYs to glitzy wedding-factory affairs. Since we were planning our own wedding at the time, we got to see up close what we thought worked (or not) and the things we liked (or not) and wanted to include in our own wedding.
So if you happen to be planning a wedding at the moment, here are the three most important things to keep in mind…
#1 – Decide what’s most important to you.
Pick a few specific things that trump everything else in their importance to your wedding. Things that if they happen or are executed properly, are all you really need to remember your wedding day as a success. The reason for only selecting a few things is that not everything will be flawless. On the day, there will be little snafus with this and that. If EVERYTHING is critical and everything is “special”, then you are setting yourself up to be disappointed (not to mention stressed, even more so than normal).
For my wife and me, the important things were that we wanted a band, we wanted our dog to be included in the ceremony, and we wanted the ceremony/reception to be in the same physical location where people were staying so no one had to worry about traveling back to a hotel at the end of the night. Within reason, once we got those things in line, everything else kind of seemed like gravy.
#2 – Trust your vendors / Don’t micromanage
You will probably have a handful of professionals you’ll be working with, who may include a bandleader, a maître d’ at your venue, photographer, videographer, officiant, and florist. Since you will be paying them pretty well, you will hopefully be vetting them pretty well, too. Now, TRUST THEM!
Trust that they will do what you both agreed they will do. Your photographer knows what he is doing; he does not need you ordering people around for each shot. Your band leader knows in what order the songs should go. Your maître d’ knows when he needs everyone to line up. You DO NOT need to be involved in the minutiae.
Think of it this way… you are essentially outsourcing these tasks to people who know how to manage them better than you. Let them. Do you think a CEO knows how to do all the nuts and bolts of the jobs of the people below him? No. But he knows how to hire the right people for the job and then get out of their way and let them do it. Be the CEO in this case.
Also, since you have already established your few “most important” things, you shouldn’t feel the need to micromanage every single other thing anyway.
For us, we decided that we did not want to spend money on fresh flowers and that silk flowers would be fine. We looked at the cost of fresh versus fake and decided we would rather put the extra money towards the band, the food, and the booze which all meant more to us. Anyway, my mother enjoys crafts and asked if she could make all the silk flower arrangements for the tables as our wedding present. We accepted her offer enthusiastically. She asked for some general direction from my wife (color scheme, mostly) and then we just let her get after it. We entrusted that task to her and come wedding day they all looked fantastic. Sure, we checked in now and then in the weeks leading up to the day, but it was more so to see if she needed anything.
Similarly, my sister offered to be our ceremony officiant as neither my wife nor I had a strong relationship with a religious figure like a priest. Again, we gave my sister some rough direction regarding a few things we would like mentioned during the ceremony, but then trusted that she would come up with something great. About a week before the wedding she sat us down to go through the final draft and to see if we wanted anything changed. After reading her final draft I said “It’s perfect. Don’t change a thing.”
Weddings are stressful enough as it is. Don’t bog yourself down and get into the weeds with all this stuff.
#3 – Let it goooooo!!!
All you dads probably sang that in your heads. Sorry about that.
Anyway, now that you have completed the first two items on this list, the last thing is, on the day, to remember to let it all go. You have decided what is truly important. You have outsourced as much as you can to trusted vendors. Now all that’s left to do is sit back, relax, and enjoy the party. If something hasn’t been taken care of, or thought of, by the day of the wedding it just wasn’t meant to be and probably wasn’t too important to begin with.
Boxers say that a fight is won or lost in the gym and come fight time there is nothing else you can do to further prepare. Same thing with a wedding.
People get bogged down in thinking of a wedding like the performance of a play. They need everything to run perfectly! They feel like they need to be “on” all night to make sure everything goes off without a hitch. But it’s a party not an opening night performance. You’re a groom, not a stage manager. Not everything will be perfect and if you are only going to be satisfied with perfection you will be disappointed. And more importantly, if you are so preoccupied with making sure things are perfect you will waste the time you should be spending enjoying this huge party you’ve just planned.
And I get it! Weddings are expensive so you want to make sure everything is right! But it’s more important to relax and enjoy yourself than try to make everything perfect. The little snafus that YOU notice will be completely invisible to your guests. And even if they aren’t invisible, no one will care.
At our wedding, my wife (the BRIDE) was given the wrong meal. Also, red wine was spilled on her dress. The band played a Kid Rock song. So no, our wedding wasn’t “perfect” in the literal sense of the word. But did we let any of those things affect our mood? Absolutely not! The food was incredible, the alcohol was flowing, we got to spend time with all our friends and family, the dancefloor was packed all night. Our wedding was perfect.
And think about this: many of your guests are probably people you only see once in a blue moon. You want them remembering you as easy, confident, happy, welcoming, and affable. If you’re tightly wound because you are trying to make sure everything is perfect you’ll come off as exactly the opposite of all those things.
Extreme example: We attended one wedding of a bride and groom who were both extremely type-A. At one point they yelled at the band in front of all the guests because they played the wrong song. The whole place was silent as the “happy couple” berated the poor keyboardist. That’s the stuff people remember. Yeah, we don’t talk to them anymore (not because of that, but it was definitely a window in their personalities).
So let it go. It’s a great day. Grab a cocktail and some food (you’re paying for it so you better enjoy it) and have a good time. You did your best with the planning and now it’s time to just push “play”.
A wedding is a big event with a lot of moving parts. Just pick what’s most important and hire the best people you can. On the day it all gets thrown together and you hope for the best. So chill out, have some wine, and enjoy yourself.