the best wedding advice

I will never claim to be an expert on weddings.  Leading up to my own wedding in January 2009, I had been to exactly two and a half weddings.  “Half” was because I only made it to the wedding ceremony of one of my closest childhood friends, not the reception.  So I’d already committed myself to a Clay Aiken concert months before I knew about the wedding – looking back now, not quite sure on the sanity of that decision!

Anyhow, I digress.  After my boyfriend of eight years got down on his knee and proposed to me (after I was convinced he was doubled over in pain from indigestion, nonetheless!), I was about as clueless as they came, wedding-wise.  I had no clue where to begin.  People have always told me that I am a good party planner and put together events pretty well, but my own wedding?  This was a whole new world for me.

I am not a formal person.  I hate lace, I hate frilly bouquets of flowers, I hate dressy shoes and I hate bows.  Guess you could say I’m a tomboy.  And my husband-to-be?  The ultimate nerd – the kind where he’ll proudly wear socks with sandals and stay up all night gaming or playing on the computer.  Where was I to begin?

Ironically, the best advice I received early-on was repeated by several people throughout the process.  The person who mentioned it first was a co-worker who seemed a little too thrilled that I was getting married!  But for all her faults and eventual dramatic dismissal from the company, I can credit her first with giving me the best advice to which I strictly adhered: Be yourself, no matter what. 

This was my day – this was my husband-to-be’s day – and I was not going to allow anyone else’s ideas or views alter a thing about our big event.  Turns out, this is the best advice I received, as cliché as it may seem.  Even if your parents are footing the bill, don’t you want to be able to look back on the event as something that made you happy, something to be proud of?  Don’t get me wrong – if you have highly-conservative folks, it may not be the best idea to have a rave complete with multi-colored glow-sticks and techno music pumping during the reception, but you can take bits and pieces of who you are and incorporate them in a way that will make everyone happy, even the elder family members!

Being huge children-at-heart, we decided to hold our wedding and reception at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum.  For those of you reading this who is contemplating a wedding in the greater Indianapolis area, take the Children’s Museum into consideration.  They are amazing to work with and the venue is stunning, memorable and a ton of fun for everyone involved!  We chose a fun theme: “I <3 (love) My Geek” that were woven into many aspects of the wedding/reception.  All of my bridesmaids and flower girls wore black/white hi-top tennis shoes, the recessional music was a jazzed version of “Linus and Lucy” (of the Peanuts variety), instead of a floral bouquet, I tossed a football decorated with ribbon and signed by my husband and I along with the bridesmaids and our cake cutting was done to the “Imperial March” from Star Wars.  Do you think that any of these touches that made our wedding “the best ever,” as one guest put it, were those of our parents?  We wanted this milestone event in our lives to reflect who we were as a couple (geeks of different varieties – science fiction references for him, sports references for me).  We even were introduced to the song the Chicago Bulls used to play when they’d announce their starting lineup: “Sirius” by the Alan Parsons Project.  This was a fun event that people won’t soon forget!

While all of these fun touches made our wedding unique (in addition to being married under a multi-colored Dale Chihuily glass sculpture and having the cocktail hour in a museum exhibit where guests could ride a carousel!), the key here is that they were “touches.”  The event had the perfect blend of classiness and fun.  We wore formal dresses and tuxedos, had a beautiful, simple and seasonally-appropriate color palette complete with colored M&Ms and color-coordinated wedding favors and had the DJ play a good mix of jazz and popular music – there was something pleasing for everyone.  Don’t go over-the-top just to be unique.  Simplicity is key – hints of “flash” and “uniqueness” are far better than a random smattering of unrelated and uncoordinated decorations, themes, colors, etc.

Do not, under any circumstances, feel pressured into a wedding that you do not want.  I know of a couple who were about to be married that finally couldn’t take all the pressure they were under by their respective families, so they cancelled the whole thing and eloped.  While this was an extreme approach and no doubt disappointing for the families, the pressure of trying to live up to other peoples’ expectations is often unbearable.  Sit down with any pressuring parents, relatives, whoever it may be, and gently tell them that while you respect their opinion, this is about you and your significant other.  Ask them (if they have been married) if they were pressured by their parents, relatives, etc. during their wedding planning, and if they were, how it made them feel.  Tell them that you will be respectful of them and you would appreciate it if they would be respectful of you.  Most times, this will smooth over any differences.  If all else fails, as an absolute last resort, elope!

My husband’s and my family were incredible throughout our entire planning process, and we are eternally grateful for what a relatively-painless and low-stress experience it was.  My very conservative and often-formal dad even liked the gym shoes we wore! (Mine were custom-made/colored on Converse.com with our wedding date on the back.)  And here, I worried initially that we would end up in a formal church setting with a stuffy banquet hall filled with soft classical music for the reception! Make your dreams happen (within reason).  This is your day – NOT anyone else’s.  Follow this advice and I guarantee you much of the stress and chaos you often hear about regarding wedding planning will melt away.  After all, where’s the fun in a stuffy, over-the-top formal and un-unique wedding?  Trust me, from my experience, being yourself is the best wedding planning advice I could ever offer anyone.