Best Laid Plans...
not, your wedding will be divine—but heed these cautions from
people who wish they had done one thing differently
everybody dreams of their wedding day. This may be especially
true of little girls, but I suspect that even some men wonder
what the big day will be like. From storybooks to movies,
the idea is usually the same—this is your day and, unless
you’re a screwball comedy, everything will go beautifully.
There will never be another bride as lovely or another bridegroom
as dashing. The scenery throbs with meaning and beauty, the
promises made are just this side of Shakespearian. . . .
then the big day actually arrives, and you realize that you
didn’t spend enough time with the caterer ensuring that your
favorite tidbits were served, or that the concept of an outdoor
wedding in April is fraught with danger, and perhaps you should
have made alternate—i.e., indoor—plans.
Don’t worry—in all likelihood, your wedding will be wonderful—but
there probably will be at least one or two things that, looking
back on it over the years, you wish you had planned differently.
My sister Pam and I have identical regrets for both of our
ceremonies. The two events (seven years apart) were carefully
planned affairs from beginning to end, and yet, we both blew
one important detail. Candid shots had come to be favored
over the stylized, deer-in-the-headlights wedding photography
of a previous era, and so we neglected to think much about
what kinds of photographs we’d like to look back on or to
hand down to our children. As a result, Pam’s and my wedding
albums are filled with candid, “messy” shots of people dancing
and drinking, looking sweaty and flushed. Now I wish I had
more traditional shots of those all-important memories: daughter
and dad; wedding couple with parents; entire bridal party;
etc., and fewer photos of my husband’s then-coworkers.
Margaret, an attorney, also says she didn’t give enough thought
before her wedding to the “old” traditions. For one thing,
she wishes it had included a formal dance with her now-deceased
father. She also wishes she had planned her wedding for a
date other than Mother’s Day weekend, since her anniversary
is now tied to that event and, as a mother, she gets “shortchanged.”
Other people I’ve spoken to agree that hitching their weddings
to, say, Christmas or New Year’s wasn’t the best idea, since
the festivities of those holidays tend to interfere with any
attempts to celebrate their anniversaries in a meaningful
Sandy, a public relations director, absolutely loved her wedding.
“It was a very happy, fun day, and I was the last person to
leave!” But even when you have a great time, there could still
be one thing you’d change; in her case, she wishes she’d allowed
more people to help her. “I organized everything, from the
flowers to making the dresses, and at the end, I was really
wiped out. I think there is something to be said for letting
professionals step in to do their job.”
I have to agree with Sandy: Determined to prove that I could
easily organize my entire wedding and save money to boot,
I did just about everything. So with an hour to go before
my nuptials, I was decorating tables. Don’t make this mistake—hiring
a wedding planner to help you with these details is money
well spent and ensures that you are more relaxed and happy.
Often, bridal couples get caught up in other people’s (namely,
Mom’s) expectations for the big event. Reesa felt uncomfortable
being the center of attention at her wedding, particularly
with respect to the videographer who followed her every step.
In retrospect, she says, “I wish we had had a much more laid-back
wedding, perhaps in a big old house, with gardens, with people
relaxed and milling around, and great music in the background.”
Sherri also wishes she had gone a little less formal: “At
this point, I might have gone with a less formal reception.
The cost of receptions these days, especially, is so outrageous,
it becomes a financial burden to a couple just starting life
Even if all the aspects of the planning fall nicely into place,
you sometimes feel shortchanged during the actual ceremony.
Patty, an executive assistant, observes that “time gets away
from you so quickly with all the formalities of the wedding.
I wish we had taken the time to visit every table to let our
guests know how grateful we were that they were there.”
Sherri stresses the importance of enjoying the day more. “It’s
always up to the bride and groom to make all the arrangements
and make sure everything goes smoothly; the actual day is
more of a blur. You spend so much time planning and making
decisions and ensuring everyone else is enjoying themselves,
that the bridal couple doesn’t always enjoy the wedding reception.”
Stephen also cautions against losing valuable time at the
wedding due to formalities. “I can’t stress enough the importance
of taking care of all the financial details prior to the wedding,”
he states, “so that you don’t lose an entire hour of your
reception haggling over details with the catering manager.”
Sometimes, including family members in the intimate details
of your wedding can backfire. Jacquiline, who works in health
affairs for a professional association, regrets that she had
a cousin perform her ceremony. “He was a born-again Christian,
which is fine, and the pastor of his own church. He babbled
on and on during the ceremony, and I just kind of tranced
out and don’t remember anything about the actual ceremony.
To make matters worse, he forgot to sign our marriage certificate,
so we had to take the next day to drive all the way to his
home to get him to sign it. What a nightmare!”
Weirdly enough, my mother, who never has much good to say
about weddings, has absolutely no regrets about her 1942 wedding
to my father. “It was a great year, we were married in the
evening of a beautiful summer’s day, in a gorgeous courthouse,
and I loved what I wore and he looked pretty good, too. Simple,
no fuss, just perfect.”
With careful planning, your wedding can be perfect too. And
remember, if one or two little things don’t go quite right,
“almost perfect” still makes for a wonderful, memorable day.
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