So I’ve had Marchelle’s wedding in my inbox for MONTHS now… an embarrassingly long time to keep such an amazing woman’s wedding hidden from the world. But here is the thing: Marchelle had three weddings (sort of). She had three wedding for the most imminently sane reasons on the planet 1) Immigration issues 2) A proper wedding & 3) A blessing of the wedding held in the partway around the world from the first wedding, where the groom’s family and the couple reside. Sensible, really, and a whole lot of fun. But I didn’t want to think that I was suddenly pushing the wedding industry line on you, and telling you that YOU need to have a billion weddings (because if you can’t maximize profits one way, than just maximize weddings!) because you probably don’t. So I was waiting for the right time, and it only seemed right to balance all the recent talk of elopement with a truly sensible three wedding marriage. Because we at APW are firmly on the side of the devils advocate (whichever side that is).
I mostly know Marchelle through her married life, and her amazing blog. She’s whip smart, this girl, and thoughtful, and kind. Plus she works insane hours, making her one of my few UK blog friends that I can chat with on Twitter while I work APW evenings. So, today I bring you Marchelle. Reading her writing always makes me wish I was having a beer with her in her garden in the UK, and you’ll probably wish the same.
As a woman who ended up having three weddings over the course of one very hectic year, for one reason (let’s just call it legalities), or another (lovingly insistent relatives), I feel I’ve hopefully learnt a thing or two about wedding planning.
Certainly just the experience of planning our ‘main’ wedding in the Caribbean, from an ocean and five time zones away, would have been enough to highlight one important lesson that I am now trying to apply to life in general – keep it simple. With that overriding mantra in mind, here are some of the ways that I managed to maintain my sanity, and even perversely enjoy myself, during the process of marrying the same wonderful man three times over.
1. Keep in mind the point of it all. You and the one you have chosen to hitch your wagon to are getting married. There are enough Big Issues to be considered, debated, fought about and cried over in the run up to this major life event, without your wedding needing to be one of them. Try not lose sight of this most important of truths – it is the beckoning light at the end of the planning tunnel.
2. Get organised. Delegate like never before. Then let that shit go. Let us be clear, unless you are an event manager, or lead a life quite wonderfully different to mine, your wedding is likely to be the first big event you organise and host. It’s OK to acknowledge that it’s all a bit scary and overwhelming at times. But when you get down to the nitty-gritty of it, planning a wedding is essentially taking a series of decisions and making sure certain tasks get done. (Actually getting married is not at all like this, but we’ll come back to that.)
In the face of such demands, I found lists extremely comforting. But even they need to be managed, or it can all get quite out of hand. By taking the following approach to planning, my husband and I kept our stress levels manageable, and I found myself repeatedly referred to as “the calmest bride ever”. (I am not generally reknowned for my state of zen, but I was damned sure not going to let planning my wedding unhinge me.)
We started with a list of everything we wanted in our ideal wedding. Then, together, we ruthlessly culled it. We delegated as many of the remaining tasks as possible, and dealt with what was left ourselves. If anything was proving to be a pain to organise, it was abandoned. And when a decision was made or a task was completed it was crossed off the list and forgotten about.
3. There is no one perfect wedding for you. We got legally married in a tiny registry office ceremony, followed by cake and champagne at our flat, and dinner out at a local restaurant. Then we were emotionally married in a moving, multi-faith ceremony, followed by a blow-out, ring-down, no-holds-barred, bachannalian Caribbean fete.
We finally had our marriage blessed in a traditional English church ceremony, followed by black-tie dinner and dancing at the local country house. Each of those events was entirely different from the others. Each was perfect for us, and gloriously memorable in their own way.
So do not not bother trying to get the wedding exactly right. Save that kind of effort for what really matters. (Like the marriage…)
4. Your wedding is not *your* day. Planning a celebration while bearing in mind that people were putting themselves out by hundreds of dollars and a week of their time to be there with us, really brought home the point that the wedding day is all about the guests. So invite the people you really want to be there. And then base your preparations from their point of view.
Considering your guests comfort and enjoyment at every part of the process will really make them feel special and included, and will be appreciated in a way that randomly artful aesthetic touches may not. However, as with all things, balance is key. Remember, your guests will never miss the imagined delights that they never knew they might have had.
5. The ceremony is all about you. And it is key. It seems so easily neglected in secular circles, but the heart and soul of a wedding is the ceremony when you do that really important bit – get married. My husband and I ended up being able to shape our main ceremony from scratch, and the time and thought we put into it was the most valuable effort we expended in the whole process. Really think with your partner about what it means to you both to get married, and then try to let that show in your ceremony. That is time and energy well spent.
But most of all, have fun. The enjoyment your guests get out of the day will largely be as a result of the joy you radiate. So let yourself go. Relax, and feel free to enjoy it all. When you hear people say, “I’ve never seen a couple enjoy themselves so much at their own wedding”, you know you’re onto a good thing.
And at the end of the day, there will just be you, your partner, and your new marriage. And that my friends, is what it is all about.
Photos by: Juma Bannister of Flowfoto Photography