And It Begins: The Wedding Welcome Picnic by Meg Keene The secret ingredient to our wedding was this: a welcome picnic. First of all, I’m not going to kid around, having a welcome picnic wasn’t cheap, because even though we went simple (hot dogs, hamburgers, beer) we did have to pay to feed people twice. But both David and I felt pretty strongly that we could care less about a rehearsal dinner (for goodness sakes, we didn’t even have a traditional wedding party). So we decided we’d much rather that the money that would have been used for a fancy-fancy dinner for 20 be used for a really-un-fancy dinner for 100. Ok. But why was it the secret ingredient, you’re asking yourself? Well, here is why: it allows you to get everything out of the way, and clears the path for you to spend your wedding day doing what you need to do. For example: The evil twin to the wedding f*ck it moment, is the wedding moment no one ever mentions in polite company. It’s the “I’m going to f*cking kill you all moment.” Very common really. I had mine at our rehearsal, right at the beginning of the picnic. First of all, I have literally *never* been to a wedding rehearsal where the bride didn’t end up looking like she’d rather jump off a high dive into an empty pool rather then continue the rehearsal for one more minute. The internet is filled with pictures of blushing brides joyfully gliding through their rehearsals as if floating on a cloud of peace and light, but as David always points out to me, “Those brides have PLANNERS.” Right. So there I was trying to walk through our relatively complicated service, yell just loud so everyone could hear me in this crazy enormous space, try to get everyone to be quiet so we could hurry through, and cope with the fact that my entire family wasn’t there rehearsal because they had gotten horribly lost. And then, ladies and gentleman, someone rolled their eyes at me. And I sort of lost my sh*t. And two seconds later, I realized this was a bad bad plan, I turned to Kate-stage-manager-of-wonder, said, “its yours” walked to the back of the rehearsal and shut my mouth. Why am I telling you about my least-proud wedding moment? Well, because, first of all I wanted to let you know that I’m human so if you’re human too, we’re cool. And second, because I firmly believe that having a welcome picnic allowed me to have my required “I’m going to f*cking kill you all” moment EARLY, and be totally chill and loving on our wedding day. The picnic also meant to see everyone from out of town a day early, which meant we could spend our wedding boogieing down, knowing that the meet and greet had already happened. At the picnic we wandered around and talked to parents friends and family (one question, “So, are you ready to become a wedding professional tomorrow?” Me: “Um. I’m hoping to stay an amateur.”)Then we sat around with tables full of old friends and made jokes in horrible taste and reminisced, without any pressure to feel like a blushing bride/ gallant groom. Oh. And we had a Pinata. I mean, that’s reason enough, right? It, er, fell off the tree, and we couldn’t get it back up, so uh, we ended up beating it. Anyway, the Pinata: The head was severed by our friends, and secretly carried to our apartment on our wedding night for tucking into our bed. It now lives in our living room. So wedding welcome picnic. The secret ingredient. The way to get everything out of the way, encourage the family reunion aspect of your wedding, greet everyone, try to get your friends to get to know each other, get over wanting to kill people, and let everyone know that your wedding isn’t taking itself all together seriously. (Also, for the record, our picnic was thrown by two amazing friends who ran with my idea of Mexican Festive, and rocked its socks off.) *The real joke was more over-the-line, but lets leave it at that. First four pictures by One Love Photo, last three by friends Read about the rest of our wedding: Getting Ready The Ketubah Signing Walking Down the Aisle The Ceremony The Reception The End Meg Keene Founder & Editor-In-Chief Meg is the Founder and EIC of APW. She has written two best selling wedding books: A Practical Wedding and A Practical Wedding Planner. Meg has her BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She lives in Oakland, CA with her husband and two children. For more than you ever wanted to know about Meg, you can visit MegKeene.com.