Lessons Learned about Weddings

Chad and I got married on June 1, 2002 (pictures). During our engagement, we went to a total of seven weddings; unsurprisingly, during all those weddings, we picked up a bunch of tips, either from the couples or by observation. Since the lessons of experience are often the most useful, I thought I'd set down a few of the things we learned during our wedding for the benefit (and possibly amusement) of others, particularly since we learned some of them from other weddings.

This isn't comprehensive wedding planning advice; far from it. For that, a copy of Miss Manners on Weddings is absolutely required reading—I don't agree with her on every point, and in some areas she's lost the battle, I think, but the attitude is the vital thing, and Miss Manners nails it (as Chad's book log entry points out). Instead, this is a handful of progressively-less-serious observations that I don't recall seeing emphasized in the traditional sources of advice.

  1. Schedule a few minutes to be by yourselves after the ceremony.

    Congratulations, you did it—you got married. Take a minute or two to let it sink in. Even if you don't expect to be an emotional wreck, it's really nice to have a couple of minutes by yourselves to relax and focus on each other. We ducked into the church's "Reconciliation Room" while people got their bubbles and went outside (yes, we heard all the reconciliation jokes, and we even made some of them ourselves, but it was all that was available) and bounced up and down saying, "We did it—we're married!"

    Obviously, on the emotional spectrum, we were on the "giddy" end.

    (On the other end was the couple who got married two weeks after we did. They had a very intense exchange of vows (the officiant told me after that the bride was crying so hard, her veil was sticking to her face)—and then went immediately into a receiving line. By happenstance, we were one of the first ones in line, and I tried my hardest to convince them to go away—yes, we're very happy for you, and we're thrilled to congratulate you, but you don't really need to see us right now—go away. (They did, later, and said it was a good idea.))

    If I could only give one piece of advice to everyone, this would be it. But this is my web page, so I get to babble as long as I like.

  2. Brides: people will step on the dress. Accept that it's inevitable, smile, tell them not to worry, and just hope it doesn't get ripped until after the pictures. After all, you're only going to wear it once, right? Just make sure someone has safety pins.

    This is a subset of the general proposition that, hey, it's your wedding day. You should be so happy that nothing short of unequivocal disaster could make a dent, so relax and enjoy it.

    (Of course, this doesn't mean you have to tolerate people deliberately tugging on the dress. My mom got toys for the kids at the reception, which included these camera-headpiece things; the basic effect was mini-Borg spy kids. When I saw them, I would run at them to "get rid of the spies," they would run away laughing, and everyone was happy. Until they started sneaking up behind me and yanking on my bustled-up skirt before running away (which was not one but two layers held up by little hooks, and the top layer was very thin). I had to chase them down for real and explain to them that sneaking up was fine, but the dress was off-limits. They behaved beautifully after that, and the dress survived quite a number of people stepping on it until finally ripping late in the evening. Which reminds me, we still have to take it to the cleaners for the vacuum-sealing treatment . . . )

  3. If the ceremony takes place in the summer without air conditioning and the men are wearing suits of any variety, have the attendants carry two sets of Kleenex: one for tears, and the other for sweat. Especially if a lot of kneeling is involved.
  4. If, after the first dance, you don't want to be the only ones on the dance floor: do not have the DJ or singer indicate that a particular song has any special meaning to the two of you. It was amazing how fast people cleared off the floor when our DJ said something to that effect. Of course, people might not have danced anyway, since we were probably the only ones there who'd ever heard the Afghan Whigs covering the Clash's "Lost in the Supermarket," but at least they wouldn't have all been staring. (No deep significance to the song, I just really like it. Chad found it on CD shortly before the wedding and gave it to the DJ as a surprise for me.)
  5. If you are staying at a hotel for the wedding night, and getting ready in that room before the wedding: do not let the confused teenage clerk at the check-in desk put in you a room with two twin beds.

    "I'm sorry, there must be some mistake, because this key card is for a room with two twin beds, and we are supposed to have the honeymoon suite."

    "Are you by yourself?"

    "Well, right now, but I'm getting married tonight."

    "But are you alone right now?"

    "Yes, but I'm getting married tonight, and after we have our reception here [read: spend a lot of money in your hotel], my husband will be joining me. For our wedding night."

    "But you're checking in by yourself."

    "Yes, and are you going to be sorry that you kept asking me that when my hands are wrapped around your skinny throat . . . "

    (Fortunately, just before it came to that, a wedding coordinator person stepped in and gave me the correct card.)

  6. Similarly, if you are in the hotel situation described above, and a friend is helping you get ready: remember that sometime before the end of the reception, the friend's stuff (such as her car keys to get home, because she's not staying over) goes outside the room, and your now-spouse's stuff goes inside the room.

    Do not get these mixed up.

    (Actually, the problem of Chad's stuff was easily enough solved; the front desk gladly provided a key to the room where it was. And hey, bonus—he got to say good-night to all his relatives as they went past the front desk. My friend's stuff was a bigger problem; we left a note on the door saying where we left it, but somehow she didn't see it, and ended up having to call the room. By the next morning, I found it funny, but I think she's still mortified . . . )

If you're planning a wedding, remember, the wedding's just one day: ultimately it's the marriage that counts. Congratulations, best wishes, and good luck.

Copyright September 28, 2002 by Kate Nepveu.

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