Thursday, December 13, 2007

Our wedding philosophy

Instead of focusing on the stressful stuff going on in my life right now, I thought I'd do a nice, happy post. Which means: let's talk about weddings! Woo hoo! I've never talked about THOSE before.

But seriously, I have a reason to be talking about weddings right now: Definitely RA wrote, at my request, two posts about weddings: one about her wedding philosophy and the other detailing her own wedding. Now, I haven't had my own wedding yet, so I obviously can't talk about what it was like, and plus you all already know all about the specific details that we are planning so far. But I haven't posted that much about wedding philosophy, and RA's post definitely made me think about it.

RA and I have simultaneously very different and very similar philosophies when it comes to wedding planning. She was very laid back about the whole thing; I like to think that I am as well. She didn't allow herself to get totally bogged down in little details that nobody was going to remember anyway; so far, I've avoided that trap as well. Her philosophy boils down to the fact that the beauty of a good wedding isn't in the details of the table linens, it's in the happy, emotional aspect of the day. That's exactly how I feel as well.

However, the place where we differ is in our opinions of who the wedding is all about. RA achieved her zen wedding attitude by reminding herself that her wedding was about her and her husband, not about all their guests. My philosophy is slightly more complicated. After four months of wedding planning, my feeling is that the ceremony is about the couple; the reception is about the guests. At least for us.

This is part of why we're trying to keep our guest list small. We want our wedding to really be about the people who are most important to us and not about politics or who we feel we should invite. And we want our closest friends and family to have a really great time.

Not that we don't want to have fun at our own reception, because we absolutely do, and fully intend to. The things we plan to do at our reception are things that we genuinely want to do. But we're also not flipping out about making this the perfect day for us, and a lot of the things that we're doing, we're doing for our guests. And I think that's how it should be. Almost all of our guests will be traveling a long way to get to our wedding, some internationally. They'll be spending money and taking time off work to come celebrate in our marriage.

And I want us to celebrate in our marriage, first in a ceremony that is meaningful, personal, and all about the two of us and our love for one another. And then in a reception that is just a big, awesome party. The only reason that all of our guests will be at this party together is because Torsten and I are in love and have chosen to bring together all the people that are important to us. We want them to have a good time. We want them to enjoy themselves. We want them to remember our wedding with only positive feelings.

And so we aren't asking the DJ to play a specific playlist of our favourite songs. We'll select the first dance song and maybe a couple other must-haves, but other than that, our only goal is to keep the dance floor packed all night long. We won't forbid our DJ to play the electric slide, though we also won't ask him to--but if a bunch of guests request it, why shouldn't they get to dance to it? There will be flip flops near the dance floor so that nobody goes home limping at the end of the night.

There will be favours, and damn it, they'll be nice and easily packed in a suitcase, though we don't yet know what they will be. We won't do a receiving line at the ceremony, because the receiving lines that I've been in involved waiting forever, then feeling pressured to talk for two seconds and then get the hell out of the way so the next person can have their turn. Instead, we'll make an effort to walk around to all the tables at our reception and have a longer chat with every one of our guests. Yes, we will bloody well eat first. But then, we will walk and talk.

There won't be expensive gift bags in everyone's hotel rooms, but hopefully I'll have it together enough to at least include a welcome packet with a map and a list of good nearby restaurants. We're paying extra to include a pasta dish that neither of us likes very much so that vegetarians will have a real dinner option. We're doing the formal photos before the ceremony so that the guests won't have to wait around. We're having an open bar so that people can celebrate in true Saturday night style.

I so do not want to come across as all smug and self-congratulatory about this. I really hope that I don't sound that way. I think RA is totally right that it's important to remember that just because the day focuses on you doesn't give you the right to go crazy and start making unreasonable demands. That's why I'm trying to focus on our marriage and what it means: our lifelong commitment to each other and the love we have for each other. The wedding is a celebration of that love and commitment, and to us, it's about bringing together the important people in our lives for the first time. I just hope they all have a damn good time.


  1. If only all couples shared your philosophy. Then no one would ever hear, "I HAVE to go to a wedding this weekend." It would always be, "I GET to go to a wedding this weekend."

  2. Yay! I like this post. And everyone will have a fantastic time because they love you guys and are there for YOU!

    And also? You guys are awesome for not forbidding the Electric Slide because I know some people that are too "classy" for that dance, but dammit it's FUN!

    PS - Did I tell you that Mark and I may be spending New Years in DC? Are you guys around that weekend?

  3. "The ceremony is about the couple; the reception is about the guests."

    Very well said. Sounds like the recipe for a great wedding for everyone!

  4. I like how you separate out the ceremony and reception; it sounds very realistic to me. When I kind of discounted the guests, it was more to save myself the trouble of accounting for them at every step, you know? Our reception was proportionally very low-key.

    Amen for not having a receiving line! We walked around to tables, and even though it took a while, I would hated being a part of what I affectionately call the bridal buffet.

  5. you and i are COMPLETELY on the same page about pretty much everything. i just got really really excited :)

  6. I had a similar philosophy, I think; I was still a little stressed at the end when everyone and their brother called about last minute details, but in retrospect I should have just chucked my cell phone.

    I think what helped me is to hire people you trust, who's artistic presentation is one that you love, and let them roam free. Specify the details that matter to you up front, and that's it. Edible favors and no antiquated traditions at your wedding sounds fabulous.

  7. "The ceremony is about the couple; the reception is about the guests." SO TRUE!

    Our philosophy was, of course, the meaningful ceremony. When it came to the reception, it was about throwing a kick-ass party that people would talk about for years and it totally was. 2 bottles of wine on each table, we kept the bar open during dinner, and we did plan our entire play list. There was not a single person who didn’t have a great time and we danced all night.

    Of course, I had one shot and half a Pepsi all night because I was so busy and I ate less than half of my dinner, and had bruises on my arms the next day from where my straps dug in while I was dancing. It really was the best night of my life though.

    Ok, now I have to do a wedding post.

  8. This is the first question I ask my clients - what is the most important thing (besides the whole "marriage" thing) about your wedding day to you? What feeling/general atmosphere do you think of when you think of your perfect day? You can build your budget from there, focusing on the most important (to you) things first.

    For my wedding I felt very similar to you - I wanted it to be the most fun party my guests had been to. There was no receiving line, I did all of the "formal" things like cutting the cake, the toast, etc.. at the beginning so that we could get on with the dancing... and the karaoke. Yes, I had karaoke at my wedding and it was awesome.

  9. Penny--That's good advice. Perhaps I'll appoint someone (like my sister/maid of honor) to be in charge of my cell phone, and not deal with it at all myself.

    Saly--Oh good, I love drawing people into the cult of wedding posts. I can't wait to read yours!

  10. I love that you want to make sure the wedding favors can fit in a suitcase. VERY thoughtful of you.

    This is a nice wedding post. But I still never, ever want to plan one!

  11. this totally means you're going to have a kicking reception.

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  13. You are a smart woman. I hope it's a beautiful day for you, Torsten and your families and friends. I'm sure it will be.

  14. I'm pretty much on the same page about the ceremony being about us and the reception being about our guests.

    Which is why I recently sucked it up and wrote a very large check to a company that will transport our guests to and from the church/reception site. I want them to be taken care of from the moment they arrive.

  15. I love your philosophy for your wedding! :) Can I come!??

  16. I like your philosophy. The reception is a party, and the bride and groom are the hosts. People having parties at home don't say, "Who cares what other people want? This is OUR SPECIAL DAY!"

  17. I really like your philosophy! It seems very balanced. I mentioned this over at RA's blog, but I really like the idea of giving out-of-town guests postcards and stamps so they can mail a greeting to a friend!

  18. I second, or third, or fourth what the rest say. The balance you have regarding your wedding and ceremony are so admirable! And, hi, can I come?