(one of a series of ruminations about the wedding process and our wedding)
I was not one of these girls who imagined her dream wedding. I never had a pre-planned, just drop in Mr. Guy here. Planning a wedding would come later, when there was a person I was actually planning to marry. Which happened in February.
A lot of what happened in between was poorly planned. From a project plan point, we might have slowed down and outlined our triple constraint, prioritized various goals, identified our stakeholders, and generally dragged it out for a great many billable hours. But I had no intention of letting this thing draw out. I've always been irritated by the people who get engaged forEVER and either plan a wedding a few years out or just get engaged with no wedding in the works. OK, we are not getting any younger, I don't have time for that. Also, engaged means planning to marry, so if you don't want to get married, DON'T GET ENGAGED. We came up with a number of months that seemed reasonable, given our vast knowledge of wedding planning, set the date, and moved full steam ahead! In retrospect, I think six months is perfect. Less is not enough unless you are having a very small wedding. More would have driven me insane, because no matter how good you are about keeping balance in our life, you will get sucked in to the planning and lose your real life, and get tired of wishing it would just get over with already. The longest I could have put up with this would be a year, and that would have been a stretch.
The next logical step would be to come up with some sort of vision for what you want. A small, intimate gathering by candlelight? A huge 500 person extravaganza? Who knows? We didn't really do this. We sort of nibbled away at this as we went along, without a defining vision. Here's what we knew:
- We wanted to invite everyone who was important to us
- We didn't want to blow a ton of cash
- We wanted to eat food
- We wanted to enjoy it
- We wanted it to be friendly and homey and familyish, not orchestrated and perfect.
Points one and two are pushing against each other. Any wedding planning resource will tell you that the best way to cut costs is to cut guests. We didn't want to do that. We didn't want to regret that so-and-so wasn't there because we decided to have the ice sculpture and monogrammed napkins. So we let our parents have nearly free reign with the guest list, and we invited all the family and friends we could.
There is still a point where you have to draw a line about what friends to invite and which to leave out. We had to weigh this wish to include everyone against the wish to have a small enough crowd that we could actually spend quality time with people. That was tough sometimes. People you kind of wish you could invite but decide you can't are a constant source of guilt in the wedding planning process. Deal with it. (and anyone who doesn't have an invitation who asks when the wedding is and what they should wear? So totally not OK)
The last thing I want to say about the guests is the most important.
One thing I know a lot of couples planning wedding do (wrong) is decide not to allow kids at their weddings. This option hadn't really occurred to me at all until I started reading forums of women complaining about the headaches they were going through to make this happen. It is my strong recommendation that no one do this, unless you are having a very very small wedding and just want to keep it more intimate. Disallowing kids complicates things and makes people mad, which increases your stress level. You have to start dealing with technicalities. What age to you cut off at? Are certain close family members excluded? So and so can't come unless they bring their kid... Every one of these conversations will make people stressed and angry, and you do not need that when you are trying to plan a happy celebration.
More importantly, to us, was this simple fact: marriage is about family. Family frequently involves kids. Marriage is not about a beautiful wedding with no distractions or messes or noise. Family is noisy and messy, and our wedding would be too.
As it turned out, having the kids around was fantastic, and one of the things I heard the most was how much fun everyone had with the kids running around. During the ceremony, Emiko was escaping repeatedly from her mom, running through my field of vision behind Paul. Watching her kept me very happy while I tried not to think about how annoying it was that the microphone stopped working. During the wine and beer hour in the courtyard, several little girls in Paul's extended family attacked me with lots of sweet questions and affections while other kids found a watering can and started watering all the plants they could find. And during the reception, since the space was fenced in and fairly flat and clean, the kids got free reign with space and toys to go nuts. Best moment? One little girl tore her dress off and streaked around with her mom chasing her frantically, and Quinn apparently got a black eye which fazed him not in the least. I'm not really very good with kids, but I did enjoy having them around and seeing them have so much fun (and feeding them cupcakes!)
In short, I'm very glad that our choice of venue left us the flexibility to invite as many people as we wanted, and that we were so lucky to have all those people come.