Being There, And Seeing


by Meg Keene, Editor-In-Chief

You guys. We’re two weeks out. I’m working nonstop (hellloooo 18 hour days, lovely to meet you) and we’re running around trying to finish up all the last wedding chores. Some of them are silly little things, and some of them are bigger. Like, you know, like getting my dress altered, and um, figuring out the last details of my outfit.* Right.

BUT! People keep saying things to us like, “I’ll see you in two weeks, but I won’t SEE you.” or “You’ll be too stressed to talk, but I’m excited to be there.” or “I’ll see you from afar, but you won’t have a minute to talk,” or, or, or…. and all I can think is if we don’t get to hang out with people over the weekend of our wedding, if we don’t have chats, if we don’t have gossipy drinks, if we don’t have teary hugs, and excited arm waving conversations, if we don’t really SEE people, then… this is one over-priced party.

So, sanity check, my wedding graduates. I suspect that, if you put your mind to it, you will actually see people at your wedding, and actually enjoy time with them. It’s like remembering your wedding… if you want to, you will.

So, lovelies, could you lend your wise words of wisdom? For me, and for everyone else….

*Proof positive that you do not need to order your dress nine months out. Though um, maybe you’d like to get it sorted out earlier than I did. Or maybe not. It’s living on the edge, the bridal edition.

Meg Keene

Meg is the Founder and EIC of APW. Her first book, A Practical Wedding: Creative Solutions for Planning a Beautiful, Affordable, and Meaningful Celebration, was published in January 2012, and has been a top three bestseller on the wedding bookshelf ever since. Meg has her BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and son.

read the comment policy before you post

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17572133516556386284 *Michelle

    As long as you are aware that amount of time divided by amount of people leads to the potential of missed conversations, you should be ok. I was aware of this idea (and really DIDNT want that to be us) and so every time someone greeted me with a "congrats! you look beautiful" type of one liner that they expected a thanks and hug, I turned it into a meaningful conversation, if only for a few moments – I was there with them, talking and not just exchanging greetings. Would I have loved to spend hours with each of my guests? Sure. But I did feel like each of them really became a part of our day and felt included in the celebration, and not just an audience member who clapped and greeted on cue.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02237404788504057591 Palila

    It's not so bad. 1-2 weeks out seemed like the craziest time (and my 2 week to-do list also included alterations and outfit-figuring, no worries. His included soldering centerpieces and reminding Team Groom for the umpteenth time that, while we didn't care which suit of their own they wore, we'd really like them to wear a white shirt with it.)
    As for the wedding weekend- I had the same fears about not really seeing people, but I definitely got to spend quality time with family. The best idea was having an informal meet-up the night before, so we could really talk to those in town early.

    And that helped out with wedding-day conversations: we weren't worried about making sure we talked to Aunt Ruth or Cousin Joe- we'd seen them, they had met each other and were talking, letting us go hang out with Mamma and Great-Aunt Norma a few more minutes. Sure, some people left right after the ceremony or during dinner, so we didn't get to talk to them (we decided that getting to sit and eat was important to us, so we did.) And some people left right after the cupcake massacre and toasts, so we didn't see much of them besides a hug.
    Some people seemed to have decided we didn't have time to talk, and pushed us off when we got near, but those were mostly people we saw every day: very understandable. But those that stuck around and wanted to hang out- much conversation, laughing, excited conversation, ridiculous dancing, and cigars followed. Best wedding either of us have ever attended, fo sho.

    So my advice- don't worry about who you'll see and sit and chat with. It'll be wonderful and what will happen, will happen. Every party ends with a different cast.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15385066457650823824 tatgeer

    Having events all weekend was exhausting, but it did make it easier to see everyone without having to spend time with everyone at the wedding. I mean, we still said hi to everyone, but the pressure was off in some cases. :)

    The other thing, some of my clearest memories, are from our ceremony. We were really interested in making our ceremony be about our families/communities and not just us, and every time our officiant talked about that, I took a moment to look at the people who had gathered to celebrate with us. I'll always cherish seeing the love on their faces.

    I'm also a big fan of talking about/writing things down to help cement them in my memory, and I tried to do that soon after the wedding.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15338552079938981996 theflashdance

    um i know you wanna hang with your buddies but i assure you the most important person to spend your time with is your man! your friends, after all, have each other right?… i wish wifey and i had spent more time together on our wedding day. that is why you are there right? your friends are there to witness your love (that is going to be enough for them)! make sure to dance, make out, eat together, have arm waving conversations, and toast TOGETHER! your friends (if they are great) will join in where they naturally fit, this is not their day, it belongs to you and mr. man.

  • Anonymous

    I do agree with some of the comments that the guests are there to support you and the big step you're taking. And to celebrate it with you.

    All parties are under the same constraints – the more people that are there, the less time you have with each.

    This does not mean it isn't meaningful for both you and your guests. When I go to a wedding, I am there to show my support and love for the couple. Plus, the guest tend to entertain each other.

    The most fun I ever had at a wedding was because I was sitting at a table with really fun people.

    Besides, I think you are having an event or two leading up to the wedding, right? That will give you the feeling of having a lot more time with your peeps.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00296286661854197887 Fatale Femme

    I agree with the comment about spending time with your man! We had a hard time keeping track of each other since we both were so excited to see our respective friends and family. Don't let go of each other's hands, make time, and keep your mind and heart open- for the reception and your life thereafter.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06511137593846022849 Amy I.

    I'm really confident that this isn't going to be an issue for you. Your hunch is right… there's not some crazy invisible barrier that makes it impossible for you to have warm, excited, loving, and QUALITY interactions with all the people who are there to celebrate with you. I promise!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08297072128505501687 Hayley Niuserre

    I'm also two weeks out from my wedding, it's kind of a crazy time right? My brain feels like it's using 90% of its power to keep running over wedding things checking for issues whilst the other 10% tries to keep me functioning in 'real' life!

    I think I'll be trying to use the tip suggested here where, when people say one liners about the dress etc, to turn that into a conversation. When I think of the weddings I've been to, I always compliment the bride, we hug briefly, and then she's onto the next guest – without fail!

    Do you have the wedding nightmares? I seems just lately I can't close my eyes without dreaming about my dress not fitting, or getting lost going to the church, etc.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16294864366284434807 Rosalie

    We were conscious of this from the beginning and made our wedding purposefully small so as we will definitely get to spend time with everyone. We're having most of our wedding portraits on the day after. We've built in time before ceremony for my man to see a lot of his friends and then the day after having a day with guests who stay on. I think what people have said about spending time with your partner was great advice. Something I hadn't thought of. I think we need to officially allocate some us time!

  • http://everythinginplace.wordpress.com/ everythinginplace

    Enjoy yourself at your wedding and you will remember it. All of our wedding events (rehearsal, wedding, reception) were all in one day and there were about 60 people at our wedding, but I vividly remember talking and spending time with everyone that was there. My husband and I also made sure to spend time together, you know, since we were married and all. :D

    When I personally go to a wedding, I don't expect the bride and groom to find me and/or spend time with me because I know that they feel the need to talk to everyone. If I'm at their wedding, I'll see them again and then we can talk about how gorgeous everything is and all of that good stuff.

    Meg, you'll be fine and you'll have a gorgeous wedding with all the love and support in the world!

    -Liz

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15479891414543180138 Liz @ McFargan: A Midwestern Matrimony

    Everybody's different, I know. At our wedding, It was hard not to be able to spend much time with friends who had come in from out of town. I did greet each guest, but after that, we took time to sit together and eat dinner and take it all in. Once dancing started, if our guests didn't seek us out or weren't up on the dance floor with us then I really didn't see them.

    We went back to our hotel room after the reception and had us time, while all our friends went out together.

    Though I do miss the fact that I didn't get to spend as much time with them, I have certainly cherished getting to hear the great drunken tales from that night and have heard from numerous people that they had more fun at our wedding than they have at most.

    For us, it was about us, and the friends were there to celebrate with us… but we wanted to be together.

    I would say it will just happen for you the way that's best for you guys… no need to fret! :D

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09876888379008192358 AKA

    Don't be too worried. The one to two week time is the worst, and by worst I mean most like a rollercoaster. I would go from the happiest to the most anxious etc etc. But don't worry! You will see these people at your wedding as long as you decide to walk over to them and say hello! I sometimes felt as if I broke "the rules" at my wedding because I danced with whomever and bounced around. We didn't have a receiving line, instead we just ate our food faster and went from table to table to say hello to everyone.
    It will be divine, I promise.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06814302207938982159 Ariel

    (original comment was so full of typos I had to delete and start over!)

    I think part of why I actually remember my wedding pretty well because I took numerous points doing the day to step back and breath for a second away from the crowd. It's so important to step away for little moments. It's worth planning them out, even.

    I think the amount of chatty time you have totally depends on how you've structured the wedding. Many of our guests were camping with us for the entire wedding weekend, so there was lots of time for visiting. Even the guests who only came for the wedding itself managed to get a minute for a hello, thanks to mingling time both before (cocktail hour!) and after (reception). It worked!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09526722516550185150 Meg

    Very smart Ariel, and smart all.

    I hadn't mentioned spending time with David on our wedding day, because that bit feels really natural to me. If someone told me, "You'll have a hard time seeing your husband on your wedding day," I would just roll my eyes. We're getting ready together, taking pictures together, having our Ketubah ceremony together, having the ceremony together, having a private Yichud together, and eating lunch sitting next to each other. YES. WE ARE EATING. For SURE.

    So it's the seeing and enjoying other people's company that I worry about. But reading through these comments I realize that the way we have sent up the weekend – with people helping us do the flowers, and a big informal welcome picnic, etc etc, means that the pressure is off when we finally get to the wedding. (Which is why we planned it that way. I want to enjoy my own party d*mn it.) So, I think it will be fine.

    So I'll remember to step away and breathe, and remember that there is no invisible barrier between me and the guests… Heck. I won't even have a big formal wedding dress forming an actual physical barrier around me. Which was the whole point.

  • Dianne

    Hi Meg –
    One of the best memories of my wedding weekend was hopping on the bus the next day to go to Angel Stadium to participate in the Light The Night walk. My sister, Julie, put together a super fun quiz that we all took and then she had us all do a scavenger hunt at the walk itself. Everybody interacted and laughed and talked – super fun!!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06529652450620062626 K

    Don't overthink this one. You want to talk to people and make time for them, so I am certain that both you and David will flutter around and have meaningful moments left and right.

    This is what happens at 2 weeks out. The two week mark was insane for me. By the one week mark, all was well in the world.

    Keep your eye on the target! The party will fall into place, promise. :)

  • Peonies and Polaroids

    Yawn. My mum kept telling me that I wouldn't have time to talk to anyone on the day of the wedding, that I'd be too stressed to notice who was there to what they were wearing (I told her that I couldn't wait to see what my Gran wore, she said I was mad and that I wouldn't even notice) and that she hated weddings because the guests always feel like they're not important enough for the bride to talk to.

    Which was bollocks. The wedding's a party, you talk to people at parties, that's what they're for.

    You'll be just fine!riv

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07927933503537714693 Two Chicks Nest

    I was worried about this since the majority of our guests were flying in from the U.S. for our Canadian wedding and it was the first time they were coming to see us since we moved. One thing that really helped was having everyone over for our rehearsal dinner BBQ at our house. I did feel a little shell shocked and overwhelmed at that point trying to talk to everyone all at once. But the great thing was that when I saw our guests the next day at the wedding, I was totally there and not overwhelmed. It probably helped that we only had 60-something guests, so it was easy to make the rounds between courses. We sat at a table with family, because we wanted to hang out with our loved ones who traveled so far to be with us as much as possible. The next morning we had a dim sum brunch so that we could spend even more time with friends and family. Then we hopped on a bus to go impromptu sightseeing with some of our guests. It was a blast and this reminds me that I never blogged about this part of the wedding. It was so much fun!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07927933503537714693 Two Chicks Nest

    I was worried about this since the majority of our guests were flying in from the U.S. for our Canadian wedding and it was the first time they were coming to see us since we moved. One thing that really helped was having everyone over for our rehearsal dinner BBQ at our house. I did feel a little shell shocked and overwhelmed at that point trying to talk to everyone all at once. But the great thing was that when I saw our guests the next day at the wedding, I was totally there and not overwhelmed. It probably helped that we only had 60-something guests, so it was easy to make the rounds between courses. We sat at a table with family, because we wanted to hang out with our loved ones who traveled so far to be with us as much as possible. The next morning we had a dim sum brunch so that we could spend even more time with friends and family. Then we hopped on a bus to go impromptu sightseeing with some of our guests. It was a blast and this reminds me that I never blogged about this part of the wedding. It was so much fun!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13920875656526482872 Kathryn

    I'm three weeks out now on the other side, and I definitely know what you mean. I had a bad dream before the wedding that it was over and I hadn't talked to anyone and couldn't remember anything that had happened. My bad dream really didn't come true–I have lots of wonderful memories of spending time with all sorts of people, but in another way it did: there were so many cool things happening and so many cool people I wanted to talk with that it was impossible to take in the whole experience. I totally changed my tune about photographs–before the wedding I couldn't care less, but now I'm glad that so many of our friends ignored our photo-contempt and took great pictures, and I've been greedy for other peoples' stories of the wedding–I want to hear about the awesome things that happened while I was somewhere else, involved in some other awesome thing.

    Like tatgeer, the ceremony looms large in my memory. I didn't really spend as much time thinking about it before the wedding as I did about things like whether there would be enough wine, or whether there were enough signs to label all the recycling bins, but in my experience of the actual day it was the most important thing. While it was going on, time slowed down to a normal speed, and we were just standing there together surrounded by people who love us, with nowhere to go and nothing to do but be there.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09526722516550185150 Meg

    oh wow Kathryn, what you wrote about the ceremony is really beautiful…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12051581432652556410 Marina

    It's been exactly a week since my wedding today, so this comment has none of the long-term perspective of hindsight but none of the immediacy of in the moment either, but for whatever it's worth…

    I didn't get a chance to have any long, in-depth, one on one conversations on my wedding day. But I don't regret it at ALL. I had time to say hello and make some connection with every single one of our guests (well, except two, but they're local and my husband said hi to them at least), and I feel really, really good about that.

    One thing that helped was that we had several pre and post wedding events where I had the chance to connect to people in smaller groups, so by the time the wedding day rolled around I'd already had the chance to connect to many of our guests and wasn't stressed about it.

    Another thing that really helped was that I delegated EVERYTHING on the wedding day. My friends and relatives didn't let me do a thing and I was still called away from a lot of conversations to consult on one thing or another. Really, there is no reason for you to be in charge of ANYTHING logistical on the wedding day, especially once the ceremony starts. Delegate delegate delegate. Once the day starts, let go of everything and you'll be much less scattered.

    What other people said about not seeing your new spouse really resonated for me too–we actually didn't spend much time together at the reception. At the time I felt a little sad about it, but in retrospect I'm glad it worked out that way–we had a fabulous yichud together where we just sat and tried to take it all in, and then we went on a honeymoon where we saw no one but each other for over three solid days. We didn't need to hang out constantly at our wedding reception–we have the rest of our lives to do that. And it enabled us to each make the connections we wanted most to make without worrying about what the other person was missing out on. My husband got to spend some one on one time with his mother, I got to hold my baby cousin, it worked out pretty well.

    Thinking back on it, I didn't have any deep one-on-one conversations during any of the events with anyone but my husband and my maid of honor. But that's all right. I had a moment of connection with each guest–I can picture their face in my mind and remember what they were saying. I'm usually all about the one-on-one conversations, but… it's okay to have multiple modes of interaction, and this event was about the group interaction. I feel really good about it, and that's what matters in the end at least.

  • Anonymous

    I am a people pleaser by nature, but once I realized that the point was not to ensure that everyone was happy and having great conversations (accomplished through the help of two dear friends), I was able to relax, let go and actually BE PRESENT to all that was going on around me. And, looking back, I actually WAS able to connect with everyone who came, be it in a big way or small, over coffee the morning of, carrying in boxes, quick hugs just before the wedding….

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16774816589101208646 skatej

    Tell me you've seen this. This is happiness and it makes me smile.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-94JhLEiN0

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12616579784634675288 kristen

    At my reception, I didn't have any scheduled events, aside from cutting the cake. There were no dances, no tossing of things. I was afraid that people would be bored, but it ended up being a blessing because I didn't feel like I was on an itinerary that had to be followed strictly. Also it was in my parents backyard, so we didn't have to worry about a time limit. It ended up being just a backyard kick-back, and I stayed long into the night just chatting and laughing with family, friends, and hubby.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02329381801379166829 Traveling bride

    I'm really worried about not having enough time to send with all our guest. The night of our engagement party we had around 120 and that was too many for me. I said hello and goodbye to people I had a few close friends and family that I took the time to talk too but for the most part not enough time.
    So my plan for the wedding was cut the list (down to 80 people) and we're doing a mini destination so we are having everyone back the next day for a brunch to make sure we get time with everyone, and I'm not running around stressed about speaking to everyone.

  • Cate Subrosa

    Oh my word, what a load of rubbish some people speak. (No offence intended to them, but seriously…)

    It's a party! You've spent months planning so that you can spend this day celebrating. Just celebrate! Make your way around the room and talk to your guests. (What on earth else would you be doing?!) Eat and drink and dance and enjoy yourself. It's that simple, if you make it that simple. It's up to you. (And we all know what you want, so just get out there and do it.)

    You're going to have a blast, Meg. It's not a production, it's a party.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16787392184686950891 Autumn

    Talk to the people you want to, not the people your parents want you to. I mean, say hello to them and thank them for coming but have an exit line and KEEP MOVING. Those people are there to love adn support your parents, so acknowledge that, but spend time with the people who mean something to you. I'm thinking your wedding is pretty small so maybe this won't be a huge problem, but even with 60 people it's hard to have more than a few minutes with all of them. Also, if you and your hubby-to-be are both cool with it, split up for parts of the reception so you can gab with your individual friends. Then come back together and dance and kiss :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09526722516550185150 Meg

    Oh, our wedding isn't small ;)
    Small by wedding industry standards maybe, but big compared to the average wedding on this blog.

    But yes, we will spend time with those people who mean something to us. Wise words.

  • Michelle

    I'm not sure who said it, but yes, look back. You'll look at your guests as you walk in, I'm sure. But they'll be looking at you and expecting you to look at them.

    When you look back, it's different. Some are looking at each other. Some are crying. Some seem to be concentrating really hard. In that moment, you feel connected to all of them. It's strange and peaceful.