Tonight I accompanied my fiance to the wedding of one of his childhood friends. It was the most sincere, authentic wedding I have ever been to, and yet it didn't follow much of the traditional components that are ingrained in our cultural consciousness as "must-haves" at a wedding.
The Knot would have been exasperated by many of their choices, and yet it was precisely those choices that made it the best wedding I've been to so far. It inspired me to write this list of The Top Ten Myths of Wedding Planning.
The point is: You don't have to follow anybody's rules! Not your parents', The Knot's, or anyone else's! It's your wedding, and it should reflect who you are as a couple.
10. You have to pick a venue based on its physical beauty. Pick it based on how fun it is. Seriously. People will enjoy having a good time more than they will enjoy looking at a stunning vista. Tonight's wedding was at a children's science museum. They rented out the whole place, and we were free to romp around like kids (if only I had worn shorts under my dress!). We played in the bubble room, climbed on the vertical maze, and talked in the whisper phone.
9. You have to wear an uncomfortable dress.
The more comfortable you are, the more beautiful you will look. You need to be able to walk and move and dance around your wedding. The bride at tonight's wedding wore a random sun dress with colored stripes. Was it cute? Yes. Was it spectacular? Not particularly. Did she look spectacular anyway? Absolutely. She was radiant (not because of some mineral make-up). She was deeply content. The dress, hair, and make-up were irrelevant.
8. You have to put fondant on your wedding cake.
Admit it. It's disgusting. It has the texture (and taste) of plastic. And what the cake tastes like is more important than what it looks like. At tonight's wedding they had several real cakes. Real ones. They were absolutely delicious. I was forced to eat two pieces.
7. Someone else's voice has to dominate your ceremony.
It's your wedding. It's about you and your future partner and the coming together of your lives. Why should someone else talk all about it? At tonight's wedding, the bride and groom walked out together. The bride's sister did a brief introduction and then left the bride and groom alone up there. They talked about each other and then to each other. It lasted only about seven minutes, but it was the most sincere and touching ceremony I have ever witnessed. Tears streamed down my cheeks (and that never happens to me at weddings!).
6. You have to hire an obnoxious photographer.
The experience is more important than pictures of the experience (and you'll have plenty of pictures anyway if you just ask your friends and family to share their photos). At receptions, I honestly avoid dancing next to the bride or groom because the photographer is always right there with an interrogation bulb flashing in your face. Argh! At tonight's wedding, in the absence of such a photographer, it occurred to me just how annoying they really are!
5. You have to hire a DJ.
You don't really need one. Either have a live band or hook up an iPod. You just need good, danceable music. Well, if you do hire a DJ, just use him/her to monitor the mood of the crowd and select the most appropriate song. Whatever you do, don't let them speak. They really don't contribute anything to the experience. At tonight's wedding, we just danced to some classic dance tunes coming from an iPod.
4. You have to serve a sit-down dinner.
Sit-down dinners are long, stuffy, and contrived. People have to be assigned to tables. If they aren't interested in the people or the conversation at their table, they have to suffer through it. It's just not necessary. At tonight's wedding, we just served ourselves buffet style. We could eat when we were hungry, we could go back for leftovers, and we could sit next to whomever we wanted.
3. You have to spend an insane amount of money on the alcohol.
Beer and wine are fine. Seriously. People can still get their drink on with those classics. The addition of a signature drink (they did Grandma's Punch) is definitely cool, but you don't need to blow your savings on something that hinders people's ability to remember the event.
2. You have to invite people who aren't close to you.
The more random family friends you invite, the more uncomfortable you're going to feel. Don't feel obligated to invite anyone you don't want to. Invite people you're close to and leave it at that. At tonight's wedding, it was very clear that only the most important people were invited. And the atmosphere felt a lot more intimate and comfortable because of it.
1. You have to obsess about details.
Wedding colors don't really matter. Flowers don't matter all that much. Napkins don't matter. Remember that a wedding is a public declaration and celebration of your mutual love and commitment amidst a community of support. Focus on those things. Write your own vows. Make yourself and everyone else as comfortable as possible so you can really celebrate. And only invite a community of support.