How To Stay Sane While Planning for Your Wedding!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Grooms Committed To Wedding Planning

Five years ago I had the pleasure of working with event designer Colin Cowie when I officiated the wedding of Survivor reality show sweethearts, Rob and Amber.  Colin is wildly creative and has a great, wry sense of humor. 

He recently wrote at The Huffington Post some suggestions for how a groom can become involved in the planning.  Of course, his ideas are spot on and I invite you to read his post: Finding Your Niche In Wedding Planning.

I especially agree with his opening insight:

Whatever style of wedding you and your fiancée prefer, as the groom you need to decide early on how involved you want to be in the planning process, and make sure your bride understands and is supportive of your role.

If you’ve read any of my other postings here, you know how committed I am to the belief that good, healthy communication is the surest way to vaccinate yourself from the insanity-inducing moments of wedding planning.  And so I agree with Colin that you and your partner need to talk about preferences right from the start.

I’d also add to Colin’s list the ceremony itself.  I'm often contacted first by a groom and this is because either the couple did strategize at the beginning and scouting potential officiants was put on the groom’s to-do list or because the groom grew up with a stronger church-going affiliation. 

While some grooms are so detached from the planning that it even extends to their opinions about the ceremony, my experience is that most grooms want to have a say in creating the ceremony.  Ritual crosses the gender divide in ways that much of the wedding does not!

Earlier this year I officiated the ceremony of a couple where the groom is a professional football player.  If you were going to go stereotype you’d think there’s no way this guy would have any strong (or worthwhile) thoughts about the ceremony.  But Logan is not a stereotype. . .he’s a guy who had a shared vision of his day with his bride, Kelly. 

As we talked about the ceremony, his insights were so astute that he managed to calm his bride who was nervous that the ceremony was going to be flimsy (it wasn’t).

The main thing is that the groom does not go through months of wedding planning shrugging everything off with, “whatever she wants is fine with me.” 

This is not the bride’s coronation; it is your celebration together!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

How To Decide Who To Invite

We are all molded and remolded by those who have loved us.
No love, no friendship, Can ever cross the path of our destiny
Without leaving some mark upon it forever

Putting together your guest list is often one of the hardest, trickiest, most frustrating aspects of planning your wedding.

As you go through your list, I invite you to keep this quote in mind and for each person on your list, ask yourself:

How has this person been a gift in my life? 
How has this person been a gift in my family’s life?

If they’ve not been a gift in either your life or your family’s life, then why are you inviting them to one of the most important days in your life?!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

4 Words Not To Say To Your Partner While Planning Your Wedding

As you know, sometimes we say things without thinking.  And sometimes we’re just too tired to think about what we really want to say.  And then there are those times when we just find it easier to get rid of people with “cheap” talk than real talk.

Here are four words/phrases that we all use on a daily basis.  We usually toss out these phrases when we don’t have time for a real answer or when we don’t want to give a real answer!  These are four words/phrases that potentially can confuse your partner if used regularly while planning your wedding.

"Try" is a “nice” word meant to give the other person some hope that they’ll get what they need.  I’m guilty of over-using this word, as I have this (annoying) habit of not wanting to disappoint people in the here and now.  I attempt to buy time with “try” in the hope that I’ll be able to help them.   More times than not, my “trying” doesn’t work out.

Tell your partner exactly what you’re going to do when you “try” to do what they’ve asked of you.  Let them know what your “trying” really involves.

"I'll get back to you" is said when you need to buy time and you want to get rid of the other person because you don’t want to have to deal with them right now.  How often do people get back to you when they say, “I’ll bet back to you”? 

Tell your partner specifically when you’ll get back to them and then make sure you do, even if you don’t have what they need.

"I guess . . ." is mumbled when you only partially agree with the other person and for whatever reason you don’t want to continue the discussion or argument.  Your body language and tone of voice always gives you away!  Even if the person accepts your begrudging “I guess,” they’ll walk away thinking you have attitude.

Tell your partner what you agree with and what you don’t agree with, IF it is vital for your plans.

"We'll see . . . “ is a fav phrase of our parents. It was their “nice” way of saying no.  Recently my ten-year old godson, Finn, asked if we could go to Target and get a Skylander toy.  I said, “we’ll see.”  Puzzled, he asked “What will we see?”  He pressed on, “will we see or will you see?” 

Tell your partner why you’re hesitant to give a firm answer; let them know what your doubts and concerns are.

And, yes, I did “see” and I surrendered. . .I took Finn to Target!

Avoid these four phrases and you’ll reduce confusion between you and your partner and so reduce stress.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Why Do Brides Not Want To Cry?

Recently, I officiated two very different elopements in the same week.  One couple came from Europe and rented a house in the desert for their getaway.  The other couple lived back East and decided to get married while out here on business.  Each couple was at a point in their life together that they didn’t want to deal with the hassle and politics of a big wedding––“big” meaning anything more than two people!

There is something to be said for the intimacy of an elopement.  The ceremony itself takes on a more relaxed, informal tone and I’m able to speak more conversationally with the couple.

What surprised me, though, is that each bride made it a point to say to me, “Don’t make me cry.  I don’t want to cry!”  Hmm. . .I always tell couples that I’m not cheesy, corny, nor do I do stand-up in a ceremony.  However, I am a die-hard romantic and I do go for the jugular, as it were!

I realize that I’ll never experience or understand a wedding from the perspective of a bride; however, I was surprised by each of these since the only people at their respective ceremonies were the photographer and I, so what difference did it make if the bride did cry?

I’m amazed by how many brides tell me that they don’t want to cry––and some of these brides seem to go through great emotional lengths to not cry.

Why do you not want to cry?  Yes, I know, the whole make-up “thing;” but make-up can be reapplied, yes?

A wedding is a wonderfully emotional experience.  There really is nothing else like it.  Why worry about whether you’re going to cry or not?  Rather than saying, “I don’t want to cry” I encourage you to say, “I want to feel it all.”  Enjoy the roller-coaster ride.  Throw your hands up in the hand and scream with delight.  No one is going to judge you.  The photos will look mighty fine.  And you’ll have the time of your life.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Hands Of Your Best Friend

These are the hands of your best friend. They hold yours as you promise to love each other today, tomorrow and forever.

These are the hands that will work alongside yours as together you build your future.

These are the hands that will comfort you when you are sick, console you when you are grieving.

These are the hands that will give you strength when you can't do it

These are the hands that will give you support as you encourage each other to follow your dreams. Together as a team, everything you wish for can be realized.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

5 Tips For Dealing Ahead Of Time With Annoying Relatives

The groom’s aunt Anna arrived four hours early to the hotel.  Wandering around, she bumped into, Doris, the event planner, who was stressing out because an afternoon wedding was in full swing in the ballroom where Matt and Kathy’s wedding ceremony was going to take place.  Doris would have just one hour for the turn-around!

Doris suggested that Matt’s aunt enjoy a lite lunch in the café––no, she didn’t want to spoil her appetite.  Perhaps tea in the lounge?  No, too noisy.  Visit with Matt and Kathy’s mothers who were having their make-up done?  No, didn’t want to intrude.  A nice walk around the beach neighborhood?  Bad hip.  Doris was losing patience with each increasingly annoyed rejection.  Lucky for Doris, poor Matt and a couple of groomsmen walked by and she handed aunt-pain-in-the-butt off to them!

Doris was attentive and respectful to this woman.  She acted like a pro.  But Aunt Anna was also a pro.  Turns out, she’d had a long history of being demanding at family functions and so, no one was surprised that she was making a fuss with Doris.  “Oh, that’s just how Anna is!”

Here’s the thing, if you have an Anna (or two) in your family, don’t expect them to change just because you’re getting married!  People are consistent.  Family rituals and dynamics hold strong.

So what can you do?  Here are. . .
5 tips for dealing with annoying relatives––before they get to your wedding!

#1.   Knowing what you know about your own “Aunt Anna,” do you want that person(s) at your wedding?  If you don’t, then why are you inviting them?  Family politics?  Fair enough.  Because your mother or father insists that they come?  Fine.  Just make sure you get them to agree to take care of this demanding relative. 

#2.     If political fallout will be minimal and/or containable, then consider not inviting the person(s).  You simply explain that you’re keeping the wedding small.

#3.     How is the person annoying?  If they are not “dangerous,” in that they don’t pose a threat to the overall well-being of the day, then perhaps there’s a way you can show them a little of the attention they crave.  More times than not, a difficult person is simply seeking attention.  You could give them a task, i.e. oversee the guest book; ask them to do something, i.e. a reading.

#4.     If they are “dangerous,” in that their behavior is unpredictable, which is often the case with someone who is not in addiction recovery or is not on a medication for a personality disorder, then the week before your wedding, you need to have a talk and let them know what you need from them, i.e. a promised agreement that they will be on “best behavior.”  Ask someone to keep an eye on the person the day of the wedding.  If you have an event planner or on-site coordinator, let them be aware of the situation.

#5.     If you’ve decided to invite the person(s) then––don’t complain about them!  You knew what you were getting when you invited them.  AND, don’t worry about them––you’ve arranged for them to be taken care of.  You’ve handled it and now others will handle “it’ for you, if need be.

It is your day and if people can’t share your joy then that’s their problem. . .but tell me again––why did you invite them?!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Strength & Courage: The Gifts Of Love

being deeply loved by someone gives you strength,
while loving someone deeply gives you courage.
Lao Tzu

As you reflect upon your life together, can you answer these two questions?

1.     What have you accomplished because of the strength your partner gives you?

2.     What has your partner attempted because of the courage they received from your love?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Why Care What People Think?!

photo: leo farrell
Happy April Fool’s Day! So many bad jokes I could make, so I’ll refrain!

I recently came across the following article on The Huffington Post: Is Your Self-Esteem Tied to Your Wedding? The author, Shannon Kellogg, is a psychologist who also happens to be a recent bride. She writes. . .

As I was planning my wedding, I found myself thinking about every decision carefully -- weighing not just what I wanted, but how others would view it. I felt I had something to prove to my fiancé's family, my friends, my frenemies who might see my wedding pictures on Facebook. I wanted them to see how happy I was, what an amazing relationship I had with the man I was marrying. I was so thrilled and in love, and I desperately wanted that to shine through on my Big Day.

I became consumed with how this wedding represented me. It was the culmination of all that I was and all that I was going to be. Did the flowers represent who I was? Did the venue really reflect our style?

With all of the might I could muster, I realized I was going too far. . .I knew that I had to feel secure in myself and to feel good enough without needing anyone else's approval.

The article reminded me of a couple whose wedding I officiated last year. They were getting married at a private estate––a fun place that was going to allow them to personalize many aspects of their celebration. When I mentioned this to the bride, she looked sadly at me and said, “you don’t understand. . .my family is going to judge us for not giving them a grand party.” I was floored. Grand? The wedding was costing over $30,000. How was it not going to be “grand”?

She went on to explain that compared with the weddings of her two cousins, this was going to be a modest affair.

Throughout the entire planning, she made herself miserable because of what she thought other people were going to say.

I understand all about family politics. Trust me; I really do. I’m Bronx, Irish, Catholic! So, I know it’s easy for me to say, don’t worry. Recognizing that, here are a few questions for you and partner to ask yourselves:

What are you telling yourself that is making you feel nervous or worried?
Why is your wedding a referendum on how people see you?
Why invite people whom you think are going to judge you?

You can only keep the “I” in your “I Do” if you have some sense of who you are, who your partner is, and who you are as a couple.

A wedding isn’t about “proving” anything. . .it’s about celebrating “everything” that you are and that you hope to become.

If people aren’t willing to joyfully celebrate your life, then so be it. Why, though, give them the power to ruin your happiness?