That’s a rhetorical question… I don’t actually want you to come up with an answer to that… Not yet anyway.
I’ve had the opportunity (honor really), to grow close to many of my couples. Even if the closeness only lasted the amount of months it took to plan their wedding. I never the less, entered the lives of many people, in a way that most of us have to earn over years. Call it temporary friendship, acquaintance-ship (yes, I just made up a word), or merely a “product” of the business- whatever you call it, I know how I define it…
Part of that definition comes from somehow ending up in the middle of very awkward (and very personal) situations… often. Some of you may remember the Maiden Name, Married Name Blog I wrote last September. That blog as inspired by an episode I bared witness to in the middle of a planning consultation. While I feel incredibly honored to be trusted by clients and their families in such a manner, it is also astoundingly uncomfortable to be posed a myriad of questions amidst quarreling people- to which the answers are really no matter of mine to begin with.
In the Married Name, Maiden Name blog, I expressed the importance of communication. But if I wasn’t clear enough, I want to relay that message again. Communication is imperative when planning such a milestone of a celebration! Be it via smoke signal, email, text, twitter…whatever- always always communicate with the people who matter in your life, regardless of their financial contribution to your wedding, for you never know who’s feelings will be crushed on what is meant to be an extremely happy day. Let me tell ya a story…
In planning their wedding, a couple, who was paying for their wedding in its entirety, decided that they would not partake in any of the traditional reception rituals. The word traditional in itself being a subjective matter varying per person, but for this blog I am referring to formalities such as the Father/Daughter, Mother/Son dance, Welcome Speeches, Toasts, Tosses, Cake Cutting, Money/Honeymoon dances, etc. This couple just wanted to eat, drink & be married. In the months of planning, we vigorously discussed and planned everything from the live food stations, to the mid-reception entertainment, and the elaborately orchestrated exit. At no point, did they ever expect, or even want anything to do with the events typically witnessed at weddings. Age or previous numbers of marriages are irrelevant-in this or any wedding for that matter, for when a couple celebrates their wedding, they should be able to do so as they please within their defined reasonable parameters. Their celebration was to go off without a hitch!
Well, not quite… Dad found out, on the wedding day, that his son (the bride’s brother) would escort the bride down the isle, not him. Then the groom’s mom realized that the officiant was not an ordained minister but a friend licensed for the day. A set of aunts were appalled that they did not have corsages or were part of the processional. Later, I had couple of family members ask me when catering was going to bring out the Jordan Almonds (uhm huh?), and in the midst of trying to figure out what the big deal about the dang Jordan Almonds was… I found the step-mother to the groom, crying, because she had just been told by the DJ that there was no mother/son dance scheduled, and she was not going to get to dance with the only man she knew as her son. There is nothing worse than unintentionally being the bearer of disappointing news. Which to be quite honest… I have to accept, it’s part of the job. No big deal. HOWEVER, being that part of my job is also to be seeker of solutions, and quick… these predicaments found me completely stumped and at a loss- seriously, finding Jordan Almonds on a whim was the easiest task of this evening! Think about this; at what point in the planning process is it my right to question the desires of a couple? Where is the boundary between Planner & Family Counselor? I can get my hands on a replacement veil & bribe a ring bearer to walk down the isle any day of the week… but questioning people’s personal values & how they want to celebrate is a totally different story.
Please, don’t misinterpret my words, I am not suggesting that a couple should pay no mind to anyone or anything if they are paying for their own nuptials, nor that anyone who financially contributes to the nuptials somehow buys the right to have a say in the ceremony or reception program. This isn’t government lobbying here… What I am saying is that if for whatever reason a couple does not want to partake in the (subjectively) traditional ways of celebrating, it should not be a matter of contention for anyone. However, because those traditional elements have great value to some families and cultures, a couple is equally responsible to discuss with parents, elders, or otherwise influential people in their lives, how they want to celebrate their union. If anything, to show that same love, respect, and understanding they want for their celebration, to the people who love and support them.
Yes, it’s like opening up a Pandora’s box. There will be conflicting views on how things should go, there will be opposing opinions, antiquated versions of what pop-culture has shaped to be important at weddings… and when you talk, you aren’t going to do it in a quick twenty-minute, sitting in traffic episode, it wont be easy, it will drag on, you will lose sleep, you’ll scream, you’ll be upset, OR you might be relieved, maybe even happy, you might find that everyone around you is thrilled to be celebrating, whatever the way, that you are supported in the new traditions you want to partake in, or the old ones, or the made-up ones, who knows! Better still- you might have a combination of the above happy and trying moments, and you will come out learning more about your family, yourself, and overall have practiced those communication skills that often go completely misused.
I can guarantee you that taking a moment to talk about things (“things” as in your wedding plans) with those people who love and support you, will be among the best decisions you make as you move forward with planning the next stage of your life.
P.S. if you want to know what the deal was about the Jordan Almonds, click here to read about the tradition & meaning of having them at your wedding.