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In Praise Of The Particular

A few weeks back, I posted a few reflecting pieces about parts of the wedding planning process that make us insane, managing our stress, and the tyranny of society’s current and obsessive compulsive focus on wedding details. After I posted it, Kathryn of Snippet & Ink and I were chatting wedding details, and she said something so thought provoking and true that I had to share it with you:

One of the things your posts this week made me think about was why do I love all of the wedding details? Because I really do love them (well, most of them; there are a chunk that I find absurd). And I realized that it’s because I love details in general, I love things that are done thoughtfully and beautifully, that are meaningful, and that are little gifts to other people whether they realize it’s a gift or not. And if a bride doesn’t feel that way about the details, and if all she feels is pressure and like she doesn’t measure up, then that’s not thoughtful or meaningful in a good way, and it’s not a gift to anyone! People need to remember that their wedding day should reflect who they are, and if for them that means walking down the aisle to Johnny Cash, and not perfectly coordinated vintage stamps, then THAT’S their gift.

Ding, ding, ding! Truth. It made me think back to my days in theatre school, where we spent a lot of time watching and writing personal performance pieces. The most true thing I learned from that experience was that universal things are never true – sweeping generalizations never punch us in the gut or grab us by the soul. The universal is always in the deeply particular. I think its this way with weddings to. If we make an effort to focus on living up to outside standards and come up with details we think we are supposed to have – whether they are flowers, or cake, or favors, or vintage stamps, we are just creating generic wedding stuff. Another invitation with cute vintage stamps, another set of monogrammed cookie favors, another shoe shot. It’s not particularly meaningful to anyone except *maybe* the bride, and it will slowly drive the bride (if she is at all like me) out of her mind trying to live up. But, if instead, we strive to create a wedding that reflects who we are and what we value, we will, without trying, create details that will form an indelible impression in our guests minds, details that will be a gift.

You all know that I don’t love favors. Well! In the wedding I featured yesterday, Ninon gave out favors of the honey that was her mother’s favorite honey before she died. On top of the honey she wrote: ‘Life is Sweet’ with their wedding date. That, my friends, is the favor to beat all favors. That is the detail to beat all details. It wasn’t about fussy ribbon tied around the honey jars (which during one wedding blackout she obsessed over), it was about giving her guests something that was deeply part of who she was. When I look at that favor I don’t think “I need to come up with a favor as great as that.” I don’t even think, “Oh boy, I better find a favor, quick!” Instead I’m overwhelmed with the deep love Ninon showed for her mother, her guests, her family. I want to be more bravely honest with my wedding. That is what details can do.

For us, we’re not working to create details, but to create meaningful rituals. I’m finding that out of these rituals details are being created inadvertently, but with great intention: the handmade wedding dress, the cake with blackberries and dahlia’s, cutting the cake with my grandfather’s saber, a huppah made with saplings. These are not details created to look good in a photo, but details that are close to our heart.

So Kathryn is right and I, up to a point, was wrong. It’s not details that are the problem, it’s how we approach the details. Strive to give of yourself, it is all the gift that your guests will want.

Photo by Jenny Ebert, from Ninon and Dan’s wedding

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