I met some truly awesome people at the Summit of Awesome (with a title like that, how could you not?). I owe you all a post about all the inspiring ideas it exposed me to, but for now, I want to talk a little about a chat I had with Liz and Jeff about--none other than--weddings.
Liz and Jeff run a neat little site called cosa verde, which is a marketplace for eco-conscious crafts. They also happen to be planning and wedding, and we talked [briefly] about the deep stuff of weddings, like the question: What do you do if you don't want to be the center of attention at your own wedding?
I didn't have time to adequately think through all my ideas with them, so I wanted to take a few minutes to ruminate the idea here. Weddings inherently put the two partners-to-be center stage. Even if you get married at a courthouse, you are still the object of attention (although to a markedly lesser degree).
I'm kind of an odd bird. I have habits that put me in the center of attention (like wearing clown costumes and Scrabble costumes and doing random acts of kindness around town and wearing a 1950s party dress to weddings and out to dinner), but then I'm uncomfortable when I'm there. I like to dance like a crazy fool (like at the Peter Bjorn and John concert in DC on Saturday!) but not because I want people to look at me. I do it because I like the way it feels (despite the fact that it may draw attention my way).
Some people look forward to being the center of attention on their wedding day. They want to bask in the loving attention of their friends and family. They look forward to their walk down the aisle, for example.
I, on the other hand, wasn't looking forward to it at all. Here are some things Matt and I did to lessen the amount of time we spent in the spotlight at our own wedding:
- We didn't walk down the aisle: First of all, there wasn't really an aisle to walk down. I worried about it for a few seconds ("Maybe we can rent a nearby cabin, hide out in it, and then walk down the "aisle" to start the wedding?") And then I realized, "Wait a second. I don't actually want to walk down an aisle. I'll already be nervous about speaking in front of everybody; I would rather forgo the expected aisle altogether." We simply pulled up in our car, got out, and started mingling with our guests. I was nervous for about two seconds. Then I saw my good friend, Luis, and got overwhelmed with love and affection for him. I pretty much stopped being nervous. People were definitely staring at me and checking out my dress, but I was too busy talking with people to notice too much.
- We incorporated toasts into our ceremony instead of doing them during the reception: We love the sentiments of toasts, but we didn't want to stop our reception in the middle of the party and focus attention back on us. Therefore, we incorporated "toasts" into our ceremony. We asked five of our friends and family members to speak during the ceremony. People did the same thing they do during toasts: Tell funny stories, recite poems, read quotes, make wishes, etc.
- We used the "cake cutting" as an opportunity to thank our friends and family for helping out with the wedding, rather than drawing more attention to ourselves.
- We set up a reception with multiple activities going on simultaneously, so people could do their own thing instead of wait to see what we were doing. We had dancing on the patio, board games in the living room, hot-tub soaking, and roasting marshmallows around a campfire. We posted a sign with all the activities listed, so people had a sense of what options were available to them.
- We encouraged our guests to get to know each other by having quirky name tags at the Welcome Picnic and an online guest book for them to upload their photos and a brief bio of themselves prior to the wedding.
- We limited our guest list to a smaller number of our nearest and dearest rather than a larger circle of acquaintances.
This fact may shock you (it shocks everyone who knows me well): I was a cheerleader for eight years (from age 8-16). I didn't particularly crave or like the attention; I just really liked to practice routines (especially the dances) and perform them with a group!
After my sophomore year, I couldn't stand the dynamics of high school cheer leading and decided to join the swim team instead. I appreciated the meditative aspects of long swim practices.
But I digress. What other options exist for people who want to minimize the spotlight on their own wedding days?
- Have the ceremony in private and then party with your friends and family afterward.
- Forgo one large wedding and instead hold smaller receptions at different places around the country, depending on where you friends and family are concentrated.
- Don't use a microphone during your ceremony. (As I guest, I get frustrated when I can't hear what the couple is saying, but it's your wedding and you should do what you want to do!)
- Wear more casual clothing.
- Skip things like the first dance, a bouquet toss, the garter thing--treat your wedding more like a regular party.