Tying the Knot in a Meaningful and Memorable Way (Without Losing Our Savings or Sanity)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Why do weddings fly by?

I hear this sentiment in the wedding world over and over:

"Be advised, brides and grooms, your wedding weekend will be a rush of activity, a blur of emotion, and suddenly you’ll be in the car, headed out to your first night, man and wife...it was like trying to catch clouds—they are much too big and much too elusive to be contained. You will, however, take back some vivid memories—moments when time stood still enough for you to really feel them. Those are sweet, sweet, sweet memories, but for the rest of them, I suggest hiring a good photographer."

This newlywed from Washington, D.C. continues:

"The reception was even more of a blur. I ate two bites of food, got three sips of wine, but then met, talked to, and danced with our guests the rest of the evening."

And sums it up:

"And it was done. Eight months of planning for a flash of an event. There wasn’t enough time to catch up with loved ones who had traveled long distances to be there, nor was there time to even eat, but still, our wedding was so much better than we could have even imagined and we feel so blessed."

I don't know what I get sad when I hear stories about weddings "flying by." Maybe it's because they typically take so much time, money, and energy to plan. And many of your friends and family come from far distances to gather together and celebrate.

I want weddings to be things that you immerse yourself in, settle into, and savor.

But how do we create the kind of wedding that lingers?

I feel like Matt and I achieved it, but I'm not exactly sure how. Here are a few ideas rolling around in my head.
  1. We set aside multiple days to celebrate our wedding: We spent a day hiking with my family and another day horseback riding, spent two nights with Matt's family, went hiking and ate dinner with early arrivers and late departers.
  2. We gave ourselves multiple opportunities to spend time with our guests: Because we stayed in the same location with half the guests, we ate relaxed breakfasts together every morning. We also had an inclusive Welcome Picnic, so we basically had two formal opportunities to party with our guests. Also, because our friends were involved in the wedding preparations, we got to spend time with them as we hung white lights and prepared food for the reception.
  3. We limited our guest list: Because only 80 of our closest family and friends came, we had more time to spend with everyone, and conversations didn't pass by in a blur. We could actually sit down and talk. It didn't feel like a "meet and greet.
  4. We delegated: Our wedding was full of details, most of which got delegated to different friends and family. My mom, for example, had to pick up four balloons from the grocery store and tie them to the road sign to indicate where to turn for the ceremony. Christy and Chris had to unload the cakes and the margarita machine. Erin and Loren had to direct cars at the ceremony. Marie had to pack the ceremony drinks (root beer and water) into the cooler and bring it to the ceremony. Gail, Brittany, and Kristin had to pass out the programs. Dustin had to help my family find their seats. Noah had to help Matt's family find theirs--you get the idea! There were lots of details, but they were all divvied up well in advance of the actual wedding weekend. Everyone took a small piece, so no one felt overwhelmed with responsibility and they could all enjoy the day, too. We primarily used friends instead of vendors, but the principle of delegation is the same. Appoint someone to make sure the catering people arrive. Appoint someone to direct the florist, etc. Delegating allows you to shrug off stress and just be present. The added bonus is that the delgatees are often thankful for their small role in the process because they feel like they've contributed and helped make the day possible.
I'm honestly not sure. There's definitely a correlative relationship; we did those four things and we were able to savor our wedding as we experienced it. But I have no evidence that there's a causal relationship. I can't assert that those four things are the reason why our wedding lingered. I'm not sure why we had a wedding that we could immerse ourselves in, settle into, and savor.

Argh! I wish I had more insight into this phenomenon.

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Mrs. Andi said...

I think a lot of it has to do with the planning process itself. If you are a bride that spends a lot of time with the details (not that there's anything wrong with that!), you might be more inclined to make sure that those details are on point during the wedding. But you & Matt seem like a couple that was more focused on the events as a whole, the people & let the details take care of themselves. I think you can also find a happy medium. Not every couple will be able to have a multi-day celebration with their guests, so it is important to know what you want to get out of the day & in the end, you're happy with what you accomplished.

Sara E. Cotner said...

Ooh! That's a good point about the details. I'm going to edit the post right now to add a fourth idea. Thanks!

Mrs. Andi said...

Also, to reply to your reply, you let the people who are handling the details just handle them. I saw part of an episode of "Bridezillas" & the woman was just screaming at her mom & hubby because they were late to do something! If people are generious to help & you know they're going to come through, then you can leave those details alone & not worry about them. Freaking out will only make people jumpy & you won't enjoy the day!

Unknown said...

I have to say I really enjoyed your comments regarding delegating.
I know that I would have been in the group that said no.
And it wouldn't have been because I don't care but I'm just too darn busy and exhausted.
I think it's great that you had friends and family that felt comfortable enough to say so.

Anonymous said...

My fiancé and I have waited for each other (and yes, that means what you think it does). I could never spend the night in the same place as our families and then face them first thing the next morning!!

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