Some of my advice forth coming will be tongue-in-cheek. Mostly joking about mistakes that I made before and during our wedding. Though some of it will be quite serious, there are some things that I think people are entirely ignorant of and unknowingly spit upon their now married friend or relative.
So without further adieu I will provide you with some advice that will make your wedding go smooth and make those attending your wedding less likely to sour the occasion. Likewise I’ll try and make it more structured than I usually do.
The Day Before
The day before is a big day. Mainly because it is the last chance you have to spend money wantonly without possibly putting someone else in harms way. Ok, not necessarily true, but there are some very important things to do this day and some of them start at the beginning of the day.
Is there anything that hasn’t gotten done yet? It really all should have been done a week ago but think, think really hard, is there anything you haven’t finished. Do CD’s need burning, do people need calling, is there some sort of silly “man-date” or “ladies night out” that needs to be accomplished? These things need to be known so that everything can get done long before the end of the day. Which is for a very good reason.
Eat healthy food. – This may seem like a life choice but the day before you desperately need to not eat anything that normally destroys your insides. Indian Food, Authentic Cajun, or Fast Food are likely to utterly obliterate the inside of your being in ways that once were thought exclusive to Prisoners of War. Try something soft, salads, fruits, and vegetables may not be the most “awesome last day” food to eat but you’ll be thanking me when you don’t wake up the next morning vomitting because of the combination of grease, fat, and nerves…also one final ingredient.
Get plenty of Rest. – Huge! This is utterly huge! If you forget to eat healthy the day before and you get little rest you are going to be a big pile of fleshy discomfort the following day. The vast majority of your morning will be spent wondering “Am I going to die on my wedding day?” Which is hyperbolic, melodramatic, and likely wrong. If you do die I apologize, I should have warned you better, we’ll talk later.
But these are things for the actual Bride and Groom. What can guests do? Preparation is key here.
Hire a babysitter. – Now I know most folks don’t realize this, and I can say with much certainty that when I have kids I’ll be no better, not because I don’t have confidence in myself but because if this many people don’t see it then it must be a biological thing. Regardless, few people want wild and crazy kids at their wedding, at least for the ceremony. You may be saying to yourself “My children are Angels.” But chances are far against you that they are not, in fact, angels. They have their moments, I’m sure that’s why you love them, but most of the time they make many people around you want to go home early. This isn’t targeted to anyone in particular, but advice that will help stop the internal grumblings that every living person you know at the Wedding will be having towards you. Also don’t be offended if people want your kids to go away, I realize you are stuck with them, but everyone else shouldn’t have to suffer.
Get plenty of Rest. – Same reasons as above. Plus this way you don’t wake up 5 hours after the wedding started.
Practice smiling. – I realize I’m a grumpy nerd, but be prepared to smile. I don’t think, in my entire life, I’ve ever smiled that much at a wedding. This goes for both the guests and the grooms I suppose. Many of your smiles will be authentic, but there are going to be some you’ll have to hold for record durations for pictures.
The Day Of
This is a pretty big day for the bride and groom, theoretically you both know each other and are of the psychological construct that you actually function in a long relationship. Marriage, or pairing of any kind (legally bound or otherwise) is not something for everyone. I >still< don’t get the whole fuss, but considering it changes nothing of the reality (as I loved her before and I still love her now) I had nothing against doing it. But I am digressing.
Leave for the location early. – This might not matter if you are getting married at a 15 room Vila that overlooks the Bahamas or something…I’m bad at rich metaphors…or is that an analogy? You know what? I don’t care for now, we’ll worry about all that some other day. At any rate it’s at LEAST an example. Or is it…Oh dear.
Don’t forget comfy shoes! – Regardless of if you are a man or a woman you will be wearing uncomfortable shoes. Heels are a nightmare for most women but those black shoes that men get aren’t much better. They pommel your ankles, absorb none of the shock of pavement or other hard surfaces, and give about as much breathing room as a vacuum chamber. Bring comfy shoes so that after the ceremony you can feel comfortable and enjoy the rest of the day.
Enjoy the Mistakes. – There will be something at the wedding that’ll happen not entirely as planned. Enjoy those moments as they are the ones that make your particular wedding wholly unique from every other one in the world. Your own personal snowflake (oh corny).
The Do’s of the Wedding
This is pretty simple. Have fun, if you are the Bride and Groom, remember that nothing really changes. You get fancy rings, now you probably have the same last name, and you get some tax goodies from the state. However as a whole you are the same two people who walked in and are walking out. It’s largely a fun ceremony that is just there to provide you with amazing Cake and a great excuse to gather tons of friends and family together. For some there will be a deep spiritual meaning, for me it seems more like a reminder of what should be happening all the time, gatherings of those we know and love to talk and eat and laugh.
I’m sure this could be longer. Perhaps another big suggestion is to use all the social networking sites that you have, assuming you actually populate them with friends, and announce your wedding. Likewise give out a public invitation, see who would like to RSVP and gather up as many people as you can. This is more than just a grab for possible goodies it is also a chance to see people that otherwise you might not see for years (if ever) again.
Now don’t be alarmed as the do not of the wedding will be quite large. This is not to say there is much that shouldn’t be done but merely that there are a few things with profound implications that shouldn’t be done. Otherwise the reality is that your wedding, whoever you be, will likely be wonderful and fun. Just smile, breath, and remember good food and cake comes after.
The do not of the wedding
Again this is super simple. For the Bride and Groom just be sure to have fun, check out the above tips I’ve provided and use your own common sense. Common sense will fail you during the wedding, constantly, so don’t feel bad and scold it later for evacuating the premises. If the DJ plays the wrong song at a certain point just go with the flow, most people won’t notice and there may be a chance that that new song will give you new inspiration for what to do during that part of the wedding.
For guests. Do not RSVP if you are not going to come, just as an example it cost my mother-in-law 30 dollars a person for every person who did not show. So that becomes the gift of that guest, you tell the bride and the groom “Well good luck on being married here is a bill for 30 dollars.” It’s insanely rude, I’m not sure of any other situation where people would think that is fine. Sending people a bill on their birthday or on Christmas? Would these people find folks wanting to talk to them much longer. Our wedding used a nice place with somewhat reasonable prices, at other wedding your absence could cost the couple a hundred dollars or more.
There is also no excuse for it. Unless the wedding is happening in a week and everyone was told now, there is absolutely no excuse. This is not a Halloween bash, these things only happen once. If you don’t believe they’ll only happen once then that is your prerogative, however not showing up and implying that you don’t think people will succeed is fairly harsh. Work will always make room for a wedding, which reminds me real quick. If you RSVP for a wedding ask for that day off. The “My work called” excuse is not acceptable. Just be honest “I don’t feel like coming.” will work fine, if your friend can’t take the truth then they aren’t really a friend, but lying to them or intentionally making up a problem by not asking for the day off is foolish and wrong.
Further, if you RSVP you have taken a spot on the wedding list. If you would be honest and explain to the folks you won’t be coming they can give that spot to someone else. There are fire codes in buildings that do not allow more than X people to show, so if the actual number is X-1 that’s a person that could have come but didn’t because that –1 didn’t have the common decency to warn everyone days or weeks early (if ever).
If you plan to leave the wedding, at least say goodnight, tell the hosts or even the parents of the couple that you’ll be going and that you had a good (or bad) time :P. Vanishing like smoke in the wind tends to be hurtful, everyone knows people have places to be and things to do, but when people just vanish the assumptions are almost always bad ones. It produces a level of doubt in the preparations of the hosts and their parents. Nobody expects anyone to stay forever, but generally weddings are long (about an hour longer than your spine and feet wish they were).
Gifts are welcome (again seeing as this is a on time thing), invest what you feel is the legitimacy of the coupling. If you don’t think they’ll make it for very long, drop them a few bucks, if you actually think they’ll last maybe buy them a nice candle holder or some cups. If you are strapped for cash just write them a nice personal card. Gifts don’t always have to be huge sums of money, however a simple personal (non-hallmark) card can mean the world to most people with a soul (I am of course joking, I just know that some people want material goods and would scoff at an empty card).
I personally do this at least, I look at the couple. If I think they’ll make it for 50 years I drop them a hundred dollars (possibly more if they are old friends). It is a lot of money for a middle class person but the theory is that I won’t be doing it again for 50 years minimum. That’s a 50 cent investment in their marriage for every year that I figure it’ll last. I spend more than that on anything I need in a year. If they seem like the couple that’ll just beat each other and eventually break up in a fiery divorce that may leave one destitute I’ll drop 10-20 dollars and include a card with wishes of their success. Maybe I’ll get lucky and the wishes will be granted and they’ll stop hating one another.
Regardless it may not be a persons intent but that does appear to be the message. Invest for what you feel is the likelihood of their success. Raw money isn’t necessary either, goods that last a lifetime are very symbolic and wonderful. At least one person had no cash to speak of to gift us (I mean that darn near literally) and they gave us some candles and candle holders that had been mistakenly mailed to them a long time past. Those candle holders happened to be cherry blossom (if I’m not mistaken) and so it was a nice symbolic “Some mysterious person knew it would happen” moment. Plus the holders themselves should survive with us for years if not decades. This sort of thing means a lot and it cost them nothing, had they bought them we are looking at probably 30 bucks if one got thrifty (could be less).
But it’s the thought. That, I think, is what every couple wants, to know that others at least have a thought for them and believe they’ll succeed. It is hardly necessary at all for their success but it helps to pave ways of even deeper friendship with those they cared about enough to invite. (Never underestimate the power of an honest card, around Christmas I’d prefer a personal note a million times over to a cheap sweater and the note saves the sender a few bucks).