T’is the season of summer engagements and mid summer weddings. All four of my twenty-something kids have been invited to witness and celebrate friend’s nuptials on hot afternoons and long summer nights. Because love is clearly in the air I’m re-posting the bit I so eagerly wrote after my eldest daughter’s sweet, romantic – but not entirely perfect wedding.
…The rose petals have settled. The five hundred photos have been printed. The gorgeous dress awaits the cleaners with bits of grass and twigs in its elegant bustle. Though we never thought of it as a destination wedding per say – our eldest daughter and her groom choosing to be wed on a coastal island three and a half hours from their Vancouver home involved some degree of strategic planning. Let’s say “it was an adventure” and I do love an adventure. though there who didn’t quite see the ‘fun’ in not being able to get off the island the day after the nuptials because of a unseasonal storm that kept the ferries from traveling the rocking seas.
I started out a bit lonely in my stretch as a mother-of-the bride. ie. a MOB, but by the time I hung up my MOB dress – (elegant, classy and reserved and not sexy, loud or scene stealing ) –a few friends had joined my ranks as MOB’s themselves and were asking if I could jot down a few bits of advice. Of course, every journey is unique, and the journey involved in helping someone else plan a wedding, will be as distinct from this as apples and oranges, or rather as a six layer marzipan topped fruit filled cake extravaganza compared to a tray of fanciful butter-cream topped floral cupcakes.
The first step is finding the venue. To do that you need to determine your number of guests. Everything follows suit after that step has been taken. Zoë and her guy’s wedding was on a weekend in late Sept. because of booking issues, though a wedding during the summer or on a long weekend would make it easier for guests to attend.
Zoё printed the guest’s addresses on clear labels with a lovely cursive script. She researched the etiquette on handwritten vs. printed envelopes and found both are considered acceptable. She had the foresight to print up copies of the sheets of labels for shower thank-yous, wedding invites and wedding thank-yous and had them on hand over the months.
Oh, we’re big fans of all those glossy wedding magazines – a friend coined the term ‘wedding porn’ for them – for their addictive, seductive qualities causing an – I need to see more and more of those over the top dresses, those exotic veils, the juicy center pieces, the stunning bouquets – reaction to them. My daughter definitely borrowed ideas from them – an example being purchasing ballet flats in her wedding colours to peek out from under her dress. It lent a surprising and sweet pop of colour to catch glimpses of her fanciful magenta flats .
One of the easiest additions to the fun was little bottles of bubbles we ordered from a Canadian company (weddingfavours.ca) that came with optional labels with the couple’s names on them. Guests of all ages (seriously) loved blowing the bubbles after the ceremony and during the couple’s first dances – they gave the celebration a joyful quality (the photos, too). I surprised the bride and groom with inexpensive retro match books with their names and wedding date printed on them – from the same company.
About registering. Guests really do like to shop from a registry BUT Zoё found that they didn’t do it until quite close to the wedding date. The bride and groom registered early and then found many of the items were seasonal and not available when their guests went to purchase them. They registered at a large department store and a popular more modern kitchen and bath shop. Young people shopped at the first, and older people at the second. I’d recommend registering or updating the registry closer to the wedding date.
Here’s an annoying point – people of all ages (who should know better) don’t RSVP! We had to chase down responses. I think older people (relatives) thought we knew they were attending – true- but maybe what they aren’t accustomed to because this wasn’t the case ‘back in my day’ is that we gave them a choice between a meat entree, a fish entree and a vegetarian (which I was surprised to learn is the common practice these days) and had a space for guests to indicate special diet requirements (again not done in my wedding era) so we wanted to get the card back. Accept the idea that you will have to hound people for responses.
Zoё created a seating plan which involved her own art all over the large chart – (as did the invites and thank-yous.) She was attempting to arrange where guests would sit early on, but now she recommends leaving a space of time five days before the wedding to make the seating plan. Once older guests said they were coming, they were committed, but young people canceled right up to the last week putting the seating plan out of whack.
Aside from the weather and incredible scenery– an entire day of gorgeous sun during a week of rain and coastal storms – the most talked about ambiance of the wedding was the musical selections of the DJs. They played the crowd like a book. It was 80’s and 90’s tunes that had everyone, young and old, on their feet dancing the warm autumn night away.
We were advised to not let people wait too long for the cutting of the cake or the garter and bouquet toss – lots of older people are waiting for those events to happen so that they can retire for the evening. Speaking of cake – another little endorsement –Zoё ordered stunning and life-like sugar paper butterflies and had the resort’s chef decorate the wedding cake with those, from a company called SugarRobot – off the etsy.com web site.
We all agreed that we were glad we never pre-determined when to close the bar. We decided to close it when it appeared that people had enough to drink. A few complained half-halfheartedly, but they were the ones we were cutting off and the rest were happy on the dance floor.
My final bit of advice, I’ve always thought this – I think that the bride and groom should go away on a honeymoon for a least a few days RIGHT after the wedding. It is so chaotic and stressful in the days leading up to the big event and so nice for them to go just be calm and happy together – even if they are planning something else in the future.
My daughter and I both like to entertain and looked forward with delight to the chance to plan and carry out a wedding. I advised her that she had to enjoy the process because the day itself would pass in a surreal blur. A dear friend who runs a wedding planning business preeminent tip was this nugget – the purpose of the day is to celebrate the ceremony. The reception, dance, and dinner are important, but don’t overlook the fact that everyone is there to witness your wedding ceremony, so put thought and time into it – making it unique and special to the two of you with personal music and readings or poetry.
The most sage piece of advice from another young bride was simply – ‘remember to have fun’. You’ve been planning and thinking about this magical day for so long, stop worrying (leave that to all the people you’ve hired or friends you’ve delegated, or your mom) and really enjoy your day with your groom and everyone that came to celebrate this exhilarating occasion with you. Brilliant advice – that.
To read the book about all four of my kid’s with their rock star mentalities and the chaos of family life as they hop from one adventure to the next go to http://www.amazon.com/Text-Me-Love-Mom-Girls/dp/1771800712
* photos by Chris Stash