Conversation eventually went toward the wedding (she was both a guest and the person who read that wonderful poem during the ceremony). She confessed that she hates weddings. She says they tend to be very trite and predictable. She said, however, that she hasn't been able to stop talking about our wedding. (Editor's Note: I do realize that the things she says to my face may not be the same things she says behind my back.) She said it was wonderful.
Then this morning, I read something on another wedding blog that got me thinking more. Guilty Secret (over on What Guilty and Baddie Do Next) expressed the following hope for her wedding: that her guests "will look forward to it, and dress up for it, and remember it."
Her hope seems like a pretty common one (although the extent to which I care whether my guests dress up is debatable). Even though a wedding should ultimately be about the couple making the commitment to each other, we also care about our guests--our dearest friends and family. We want them to look forward to it and remember it.
But what do we spend our time obsessing about? Flowers, our dress, shoes--oh my! There are entire blogs devoted to the "style" of a wedding.
Now, I'm not one to bash aesthetics. When I first move into a house, I have to get it organized right away because otherwise I feel completely out of whack. I even buy sticky notes with beautiful, crafty designs because I like looking at pleasing things and making people smile with beautified notes.
And I get the idea that decoration and design evoke feelings. And those feelings will affect our guests, too.
But I think we need to increase the conversation on how to plan a wedding that guests a) look forward to and b) remember.
I think part of the discussion needs to center on how to turn your wedding into an event, not just a ceremony and a reception. In my mind, "an event" means guests have many opportunities to connect with each other and have fun.
I've traveled to weddings where they provide you with a list of "Things to do" in their city. It's a nice touch, but it doesn't turn your wedding into an event. If you already have friends attending the wedding, then you hang out with them. You eat with them. You stay in the same hotel room. But no new connections are formed. You don't feel any closer to the couple or their other friends/family.
On the other hand, I was invited to a Louisiana wedding that included several activities to allow friends and family to mingle and form new connections. There was a swamp boat tour and a crawfish boil and some other things I can't quite remember.
Matt and I also wanted our closest friends and family to come together and get to know each other. With that goal in mind, we made several decisions that were designed to authentically build community.
- We looked closely at our guest list and tried to make sure that everyone knew at least one other person. We didn't want people to feel isolated.
- We booked an entire B&B and filled it with our friends and family. That way, if someone passed by someone else on their way to the main lodge, they knew it was one of our friends or family members. It also meant that we all ate breakfast together. Further, people were around when we started setting up, and they pitched in to help. They got to genuinely contribute to the experience and help make it happen.
- We purposefully picked a location that would appeal to people. The Colorado mountains are beautiful in the summer. Even though my family isn't particularly outdoorsy, they made a vacation out of it. They hiked and went horseback riding. My grandfather almost made it to a square-dancing lesson! Our friends took day trips into Rocky Mountain National Park to look for elk and waterfalls (see photo).
- We had a Welcome Picnic on Friday night instead of an exclusive reception dinner. We wanted everyone to be able to mingle before the wedding day. We also asked everyone to wear a name tag that listed three interesting things about them, in an attempt to spark meaningful conversation among guests. There were many different entertainment options (e.g., board games, a swing dancing lesson, volleyball/football, hot-tub, s'mores around the campfire, etc.) and many places to hang out (e.g., a living room, the kitchen, a patio, a deck, chairs outside, etc.).