All you need is love … and to not be a dick when planning your wedding.
Weddings are stressful, and expensive and hard work. There we said it! The process of planning a wedding will probably be one of the biggest, most expensive things you will ever do in your life, and because you’re only planning on doing it once, you absolutely want to do it right the first time.
But … that doesn’t mean that you get to be a dick!
How not to be a dick to your vendors: Yes your wedding is super important to you, and you want it to go perfectly, and you want to get the most bang for your buck, and weddings are expensive. Vendors all know this, and most vendors have been around the block a few times so will definitely have advice and maybe even tips and professional tricks to help you make your day the absolute best. The old saying “You get more flies with honey” or something along these lines, definitely rings true here. Vendors are people too, who have lives and kids and sometimes other jobs too, so they will not necessarily be at your beck and call all hours of the day and night, to answer those 3am questions that you just have to ask at 3am! All vendors ask is that they are treated with respect, that you respect that they are people too, and should be treated with courtesy and like the professionals that they are. Building a relationship with a vendor starts from that very first enquiry.
How not to be a dick to your bridesmaids: You’re excited about planning your wedding, and are just as excited that you’re going to have your girls beside you to enjoy the journey with you. Sometimes your girls are not as excited (and/or consumed) about the wedding as you may be, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t be a tremendous support and help to you, leading up to the wedding and of course on the day. Weddings can make or break some friendships, usually because the bride has very high expectations for the level of involvement they require of their bridesmaids. You need to think carefully before you choose your girls, especially if you have friends who have high flying careers and work alot, or friends who are planning on getting pregnant or have small children, or friends that live on the other side of the world. In my honest opinion when asking your friends to be bridemaids, have a very honest conversation about the level of involvement, and cost of the wedding. If you require your bridesmaids to attend weekly planning meetings and pay for an overseas hen’s weekend and a very expensive dress (that they probably won’t ever wear again, let’s be honest), then lay that out on the table before it becomes ugly and friendships are strained.
How not to be a dick to friends and family: Sometimes your family wants to pay (or help pay) for the wedding, sometimes they don’t. And sometimes if they want to pay or at least contribute, then they may impose some conditions on their offer. They may feel as though that entitles them to add some extras to the guest list, or decide what alcohol will be provided. Once again communication is key when dealing with these issues, you need to be able to stand up to the family (as a united front), if you need to, and you need to be able to walk away from any offer if it feels like you’re going to be held to ransom. I think the most important thing is to have a clear idea of how you see your day going, stick to your guns, if you need to and be polite but fair with well meaning friends and family.
How not to be a dick to each other: Just because you’ve finally snagged your partner and promised to marry them, doesn’t give you licence to be a dick to them. After all this is the person you’re choosing to spend the rest of your life with. Weddings, and especially the last couple of weeks, can be incredibly stressful for a couple. You have friends and family giving you their two cents worth, you may have different priorities and ideas about your wedding, and there may be huge financial pressure on you both. So it’s incredibly important to communicate and be kind to each other. I’ve seen many a bride go off her nut at a groom at the rehearsal because he didn’t do what he was supposed to do when he was supposed to do it, or usually it’s because he just didn’t know what he was supposed to do.
Being a bride doesn’t mean you get to be a dick too.
All you need is love and … some wisdom from a wedding professional.
Now, I know a lot about weddings, but not everything, so “Tradie Tuesday”is a series of interviews with wedding professionals, who will share their stories and wedding wisdom.
Be My Guest
Business Name: Be My Guest
Tell us a bit about yourself and your business? I’m Amanda, and I design wedding invitations and stationery. I believe wedding invitations should communicate exactly what your wedding day is all about – whether you’re going for a fun and relaxed day, something more sophiscated and elegant, or anything in between. I work out of my home office in Dunedin, but as I’m an online business I get to work with couples worldwide – I am about to send some invites to New York!
What do you love about your job: I love getting to problem solve – being given some ideas from a couple and then having an ‘a-ha!’ moment when an idea clicks into place that I know fits them and their wedding day perfectly. It’s such a high! I also love picking up the printed invites from the printers. The texture, lustre and colour cannot be replicated on the computer screen, so it’s very satisfying finally seeing the physical result, after working on it on the computer.
What do you do in your spare time, hobbies/interests? I’m a wedding nerd – in my spare time I run www.southernbride.co.nz – but I’m also Mum to Henry who is 3, so my days with him revolve around going swimming, grabbing a coffee with friends (not particularly relaxing with a pre-schooler) and tidying up after him … I’m not pariticularly glamorous! My husband works away from home during the week, but in the weekend I try to help him restore a beautiful old ’69 VF Valiant which I want to claim as my car!
What one thing do you wish every wedding couple knew? Don’t send your wedding invitations out too early! Your guests will lose the invite, you’ll change your mind on who you’re inviting, guests will procrastinate on RSVPing, they’ll RSVP and then change their mind – it’s not worth ‘being organised’ and sending them out months and months in advance. Send a Save the Date if you’re worried and hold off till 3-4 months before to send your formal wedding invite.
Any wedding trends you love, or would love to see disappear? As much as I love Pinterest, it can promote some really unrealistic expectations, and be overwhelming if you don’t reign it in and keep focused. It’s common for people to email me a photo or screenshot from Pinterest and ask ‘how much to get this invite’ Recreating someone else’s designs is illegal and unethical, and it’s an awful conversation to have with a couple, because 9 times out of 10 they don’t mean to put you in that situation.
Any great/interesting stories about working with a couple? I have been really lucky to make some amazing friends – both former clients and wedding professionals. I’ve had coffee dates five times this last week and two of them were brides I have become friends with and the others were friends I’ve made who work in his industry. How cool is that?! I have a lot of people say ‘wow, you must get a lot of bridezillas’ when I tell them what I do. I’ve been really lucky – I’ve never had one! There’s been some couples who are really particular about certain aspects of their wedding day,and perhaps some guests might see that as demanding or rude, but when you get to know why a couple might want things a certain way, it’s justified.
What two pieces of advice would you give a couple planning their wedding? Start with a budget, and a guest list. If you don’t know how much you have to spend, or how many people you need to feed, you’re going to have a hard time making decisions on everything else down the track.
Also – just do one thing at a time. Yes, wedding planning is overwhelming – but I promise you it’s doable! Just pick one thing and work on that. Then worry about the next thing! If you’re really struggling, reach out to your wedding professionals for help, even if it’s not in their area of expertise. They have the answers or know people who can help.
One insider tip/trick to pass on? You don’t need one invite per guest it’s one invite per house-hold. So if you’re having 150 guests, you’ll probably only need 80-90 invites. It’s not uncommon to hear of couples who didn’t realise this till after they’ve sent out the invites – and buying too many invites is a waste of money! Also (ok this is sort of two tips, please forgive me) unless you’re hand delivering all your wedding invites, make sure they’ll fit within the ‘medium letter’ (1 stamp) size with NZ Post. Any larger and you’ll double your postage costs.
All you need is love and … some wisdom from a wedding professional.
Now, I know a lot about weddings, but not everything, so “Tradie Tuesday”is a series of interviews with wedding professionals, who will share their stories and wedding wisdom.
Peg + Pencil Design Studio
Business Name: Peg + Pencil Design Studio
A bit about yourself and your business: My name is Kirsty-Ann and I’m a wife and importantly, mum to two gorgeous boys. I grew up in South Africa, moved to the UK in my twenties where I spent 7 years working in law, but soon realised this wasn’t the path I saw myself leading, especially with being a new mum. Three months later, Peg + Pencil DesignStudio was born. “Peg” was derived from the little pegs I used to decorate and then hang up wall art and paper goods with (yes, I got the idea from Pinterest) and “Pencil” was incorporated to include the graphic design aspect of my business. I soon added Design Studio as it gave me more freedom to incorporate the bespoke stationery range that I have started designing, yet still keeping the key function to my business which includes wedding stationery design, corporate branding and party goods elements. With being a mum, I have also started designing a kids range of bespoke items such as milestone cards and “Pebble Says” toddler stones.
What do you love about your job? Mostly the fact that I get to be a mum first and foremost. I keep my business time and family time completely separate so that I can still be 100% present in my boys’ days/lives. I love that I can work my own hours and be my own boss. With the time I dedicate to my family, this still means I often work from about 9pm at night to close to 3am-4am in the mornings, most days – but I would rather have it that way until I am able to afford getting an assistant! (#businessgoals!) I feel I also concentrate more when the house is still and there are no distractions.
What do you do in your spare time? I am pretty keen on photography, so often find myself snapping away at things and admiring the angles and lighting of each picture. Still have a long way to go before I can call myself a photographer though! I surf and I snowboard, so thankfully I have a winter and summer sport that I can enjoy.
What one thing do you wish that every wedding couple knew? That your day is just that – yours! You do not need to invite an army of guests just because you feel they may be offended if they’re not on your guest list. Weddings are expensive and what matters are those that support you, love you and praise you and your partner, unconditionally.
Any wedding trends you love? Most definitely foiled wedding stationery. A simple, minimalistic, but elegant invitation or menu, with a little sparkle of rose gold foiling! I do feel that the trend of including an RSVP card to your invitation is outdated as most will not return this and you will still be chasing guests for their attendance a month before the wedding. Rather look at setting up a personalised email address or even a personalised wedding website where you can digitally send your guests the option ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to confirm their attendance and dietary requirements.
Any great interesting stories about working with a couple? I have been incredibly fortunate to have worked with truly amazing and down to earth couples, but one specific couple that really left an imprint on my heart was Beth + Justin. I worked on their full stationery suite from Invites to Thank-you’s and Menus etc, but more special than that, I got to design their vow reading cards. Every time I read their vows I would cry. They are two beautiful people with humble hearts, surrounded and supported by a phenomenal family with God at their sides.
What two pieces of advice would you give a couple planning their wedding? Choose your guest list wisely, and think about a morning wedding, rather than a late afternoon wedding. The day goes so quickly and before you know it, it’s over. You only get to live this day once, so try extending it out and make the most of it.
One insider tip or trick to pass on? If you are writing your own vows, consider asking your designer to include them in your design package. This way, you can have them on a pretty card to read out on the day, and frame them after the wedding for a lifelong keepsake.
Feel free to get in touch with Kirsty -Ann for a non-obligation quote.
Kirsty-Ann and “Peg + Pencil Design Studio is all over social media. Here’s how you can get in touch with her.
All you need is love and … a run down on wedding speeches.
Wedding speeches can scare the beejezus out of even the most confident person, and it can be the part of the wedding day that stresses people out the most.
There is a list of who traditionally performs speeches at a wedding, but this is really just a guideline and many couples choose to add extra people to the list, or lots of couples do away with the speeches altogether, knowing that sometimes people just want to get into their dinner and dessert and then the dancing part of the wedding. Fair enough I say.
Here’s a brief description of the traditional list of wedding speeches.
It is your Master of Ceremonies role (among others, see that list here The role of a Master of Ceremony) to seemlessly introduce the speech section of the evening, and to introduce each speaker, and then thank them afterwards.
Father of the bride – (or whoever gave the bride away, not always the father)
Welcomes and thanks the guests for coming.
Expresses how proud he and his wife, are of their daughter.
Welcomes the groom into the family.
Possibly shares one or two stories about the bride.
Shares words of wisdom and good wishes for the couple.
Proposes a toast to the couple.
Thanks his father-in-law for his kind words and the toast.
Thanks the brides parents for all their work raising the woman of his dreams (his new wife) and all their help with the wedding
Thanks the guests for coming and for the wedding gifts.
Acknowledges his best man for all his help, and any other helpers.
Acknowledges the bridesmaids, and thanks them for all their help with the wedding, and proposes a toast to them.
Adds to the comments about the bridesmaid, lamenting how great they look today.
Congratulates the groom, on his good fortune, in marrying his new wife.
Possibly shares a story about the bride and groom, maybe about how they met.
Reads any messages to the bride and groom, from guests that couldn’t make it. Traditionally this was in the form of telegrams, and letters, these days it’s most likely to be texts and/or emails.
There may be other guests that have asked before hand to speak, or who you would like to include. Make sure that you have a general idea of the content of their speech, and that you communicate to them how long they have to speak. I would not recommend the Master of Ceremony, ask if anyone else would like to speak, on the fly, it opens you up to Great Uncle Barry, who’s had one too many beersies ramble on, or say something inappropriate.
This is by no way an exhaustive list, and it is very common for couples to include mother of the bride/groom, the bride herself, and a bridesmaid/maid of honour.
Make sure all your speakers know their time limit, say 5 mins, so they can tailor their speech accordingly.
I would not recommend forcing any-one to speak if they absolutely loath public speaking, it will either cause stress for the person, possibly stress your relationship with the person and probably lead to a bad speech, better to address everyone before hand, asking them if they are comfortable doing so (don’t assume, they may not have even thought they had to speak)and if they are not comfortable, then ask someone else or not have them speak at all.
All you need is love and … someone to walk down the aisle with or not!
The whole wedding process is steeped in so much tradition, and one of the traditions is the father of the bride walking her down the aisle and ‘giving her away’. It is said that the custom dates back to a time when the daughter was considered to be property and the groom had to pay a price before he was permitted to marry his intended. Another theory is the ‘giving away’ symbolised the transition of authority from the bride’s father to her husband as she moved from the family home into her married home. Today the act of ‘giving away’ the bride is seen more as a symbolic blessing by the parents of the marriage to the groom.
If the idea of walking down the aisle scares the bejesus out of you, or just doesn’t sit right with you, either because you don’t want the attention, or the traditional father/bride relationship or non-relationship does not fit the circumstances, then there are a number of alternatives to the whole ‘walking down the aisle” Instead of the traditional view of ‘giving away’ you could think of it as the person is supporting you through this life transistion.
It’s extremely common for a bride to choose someone other than her father to walk her down the aisle: mother, grandparents, siblings, good friends, both mum and dad, own children and even the family dog.
Walking down together
I have seen this done at a wedding, one of the reasons being that the groom was very shy, and didn’t want the focus before the ceremony to be on him. There is something very sweet, and I imagine, reassuring to walk into your wedding ceremony hand in hand.
If you feel confident and comfortable enough, just mossey up the aisle yourself.
Meet your groom halfway
Start the journey by yourself, or even with someone else and meet your groom halfway up the aisle.
Make a bouquet as you walk
Have someone give flowers out to your guests either the guests sitting on the end of rows, or maybe close family and friends, before the ceremony and gather these flowers up into a bouquet, as you walk down the aisle. It is a nice, meaningful way to include some of your guests in the ceremony.
Ceremony circle or spiral
There’s no rules that say your ceremony space has to have a straight up and down aisle. You can create a spiral shape using your chairs, and walk along this spiral. This gives you a chance to see all your guests on your journey. Alternatively create a circle shape, and just leave a small hole for you to enter into, and then you and your groom will be encircled by your loved ones.
No walking down the aisle
If you don’t want to walk down the aisle at all, you can just mingle with your guests before the ceremony begins and then just move to the front when it’s time to start. One bride I know had alot of fun running around with the kids, barefoot before her wedding started.
Have the guests enter after you
Keep your ceremony space private and closed prior to the wedding starting, and then position yourselves in your desired spots either with bridal party or not and then open the doors and invite your guests in to be seated.
Lead a processional
Lead your guests, you could even use a musician, to your ceremony space with a processional. When you get there, make your way to the front and let your guests be seated before you begin.
Enter from the side
Enter the ceremony at the same time from different sides, takes the emphasis off the bride, and there’s no need for an aisle at all.
Create your ceremony space with two aisles, and both walk down your own aisle. This is very popular with same-sex weddings, and can be appropriate when parents don’t have any daughters and want to walk their son down the aisle.
I think there are more than enough options if you don’t want to do the traditional walk down the aisle. Just remember it’s your day, so do it your way.
I’m not actually sure if this is a thing already, but I thought how cool would it be if there was a way to share a cute/funny little message with your wife/husband to be on the morning of your wedding, just a small way to let them know you’re thinking of them.
So I created these cute “wedding day” cards. There’s 11 different designs, so there’s bound to be something that floats your boat. They are A5 size and all come with an envelope, ready for you to write a special message inside.
All you need is love and … The real life wedding of Conan and Lydia in Beijing, China.
In March 2016 Tristan (my husband) and I were invited to a wedding, nothing unusual about that really, except that the wedding was in Beijing, China. We received the informal invitation (from Conan and Lydia, good friends who now live in Australia) about a year out, which is generally the case for out of town (or out of country, in this case) weddings, so it gave us time to organise flights, accommodation, visas, extra spending money for shoes etc. We had no idea really what to expect, so just approached it with an open mind, and it was awesome, so completely different from a western wedding, and kinda nice to be at a wedding that I wasn’t officiating at.
Conan and Lydia have been gracious enough to share their story and of course the all important pictures of their day. Below is the information Conan supplied in his own words (kind of special to have a grooms perspective of the whole thing)
Names: Lydia and Conan
Venue: Hong Cai Fang (Chinese restaurant) Beijing
Wedding Dress: (see pictures as attached)
Photographer: Feng Zhiyuan (Lydia’s cousin)
Hair and Makeup: Meng Huan Jiu Jiu (wedding planner)
We were married in Beijing at Easter of 2016. Lydia’s parents live in Beijing and we live in Adelaide, South Australia, so they organised for the ceremony to be conducted through a local wedding planning company. With this in mind, I’ll share what little insight I might have from someone largely outside the actual organisation of the ceremony and also from a wedding where two different cultures met. Oh, just to be clear, I speak very little mandarin.
I come from a large kiwi family, but only one sibling (Kevin, my younger brother) could make it all the way to Beijing. We actually chose the date to coincide with his mid semester break. As it turns out this was Easter, which I imagined help the other four western guests, two of whom were Tristan and Angela Port. It took a bit of “to and fro” trying to get the right date, but it was important to us that Kevin, who was coming from New York, could attend both the wedding and the catch up in Hong Kong beforehand. Rather than just set the date and deal with who might be available, we were flexible and had everyone we’d wanted, come.
My (now) wife wore a red lace dress that we had made in Hong Kong a week and a half prior to the wedding. Red is the traditional colour for wedding dresses in Chinese culture. We had a few concept drawings with us when we arrived, courtesy of Kevin, who was studying fashion at the time. Rather than actually commissioning someone to make a dress to our design (which would have been amazing) we quickly adjusted to looking at dresses on offer in a similar style. We found a beautiful dress a size or two larger than was needed that would fit the bill.
The dress maker wanted to discount the floor model and adjust it to Lydia’s size, but we declined and asked that she construct a new dress from scratch, with a few changes that we requested. For those brides considering having a dress made, particularly overseas, I would advise you start from scratch, or you will forever be dealing with a flawed/compromised article. Pay a deposit and insist on multiple fittings. Don’t be pushed around by the dress maker, who will generally not be invested in how the final product is delivered. They are more concerned about throughput. Pay only when you are happy with your dress.
We also bought a metre or two of extra lace in the same pattern as the dress, just in case we have a daughter who wants to wear it someday and it needs to be adjusted, or sleeves added. I got a bit of flack for this idea, but felt vindicated when Kevin reckoned it was a cool and thoughtful move.
I wore a blue wool suit that I had made overseas and tailored back in Adelaide. I am built like a bulldog so also wore a bespoke shirt. I had planned to wear a linen suit and brown brogues, but the bride’s parents thought the shoes would have been too informal and requested black footwear. Lydia wore shoes we found in a mall in Sydney for the wedding ceremony and red flats that we spotted for $50 HKD (about $10 NZD) in a shoe store in Kowloon just after we’d picked up the dress. Between us, our wedding attire cost us maybe $1300 AUD. I wore black R M Williams boots that I’d had for years, but were essentially new.
The wedding ceremony didn’t involve a wedding party, so we had no need to concern ourselves with their attire, nor with choosing those that would fill the important roles. What it did include was a drink pouring tradition, immediately after the wedding ceremony, in which the new couple had to refill the cup of each guest in attendance. For this, my bride changed into a red and gold qipao (bought in Beijing) and the aforementioned flat shoes from Kowloon.
Ours was never going to be a typical western wedding. For starters, even though we were ready to depart for the venue at 9.50am, we had to wait until9.56am as six is an auspicious number. Likewise, we started our procession “down the aisle” at 10.58am, because eight is similarly lucky.
There was no separation of the bride and groom prior to the ceremony. I’d thought about spending the night at the guests’ hotel and getting ready apart from my bride, but it such move would only have complicated things in a country where it’s hard enough to get the simplest of things accomplished.
Shortly after we arrived at the venue on the wedding day we were whisked away to wait in a makeup room while the guests were seated and our celebrant belted out a few songs. I say belted, because though I wasn’t there, I heard that it was like a pop concert in both intensity and volume. My best friend, who would have otherwise been the Best Man, said it felt closer to a game show than a western wedding.
We’d met the celebrant for our wedding the evening before the event at the venue which was a large Chinese restaurant. He seemed charismatic but wore a polyester suit that was a size too small and had a noticeable food stain. I almost said to my (now) wife, “I hope he’s not going to be wearing that to our wedding”, but didn’t. He did.
I wish we’d done a sound check the night we met the celebrant and they were setting up the venue. The equipment guys were late getting there and it was a particularly cold night so we didn’t hang around. As we walked into the venue on the day, it was pretty clear that the microphone volume was way too loud (though probably normal for a Chinese wedding, I’m told). I asked that the volume be lowered as we started toward the stage, but of course, no one within earshot spoke English. That one’s on me. I definitely should have learnt more mandarin.
The two sentences of mandarin I did master, were used to thank the guests in attendance at the beginning of my wedding speech. I was both nervous and so relieved that I’d remembered the mandarin portion, that I hardly enjoyed the actual delivery of the English part. Having said that, sharing the content of my speech quietly, the night before with my bride-to-be was probably my favourite part of our whole wedding.
In some ways, I’m grateful for having so little input into our ceremony. What we got was an authentic modern Chinese (well, Beijing) experience, unlike anything our western guests had experienced. We didn’t spend a particularly large amount and recouped a lot of the cost in cash gifts, as is the Chinese custom. We saved our money for our honeymoon, in which we toured through Japan and South Korea, as well as a few days in Shanghai on our way “home” to Beijing.
The advice I’d have for couples planning their wedding, or even having a wedding planned for them, is to recognise where to spend your effort and where not to sweat the details. Lydia’s parents wanted a video shot of the entire day. I thought we’d never watch it and that we’d be better off with paying for still shots (I think they were the two mutually exclusive options offered by the wedding company in the package we chose). Ultimately I didn’t press the case for my preference as the video was more important to them, which I think belies different cultural values. We got great pictures from a relative with a decent DSLR camera as it turns out. In years to come, I’ll probably find I was wrong on the value of the video anyway.
Further, it was liberating to realise the details I would have been fretting over in Australia or New Zealand were (at best) trivial in China. For example, we had juice in tetra-paks on each guest table. When I first saw them, I assumed they’d be decanted into a carafe, but in their tetra-paks they stayed. And nobody cared. The focus, of course, was on the couple and then on the traditional drink pouring that followed the ceremony. Each guest temporarily became the centre of attention as we moved through the tables, making sure that each had a drink and that their cup was refilled. You soon realise that the day isn’t about getting the details right, it’s about not caring and enjoying your time with the friends and family sharing the day.
After the wedding ceremony itself, it is local (Beijing) tradition to have a dinner with close friends and family. In our case, the dinner was attended mainly by our western guests and friends of the brides’ father. The meal was a great fun and probably came closest to the western norm, with the customary Beijing alcohol alleviating any language barriers.
Though I would have preferred to have stayed somewhere separate, it’s local custom that the bride and groom spend their first night in the family house. Similarly, a local tradition is carried out after the wedding in the hope that the first offspring is a boy-child.
The bride’s family make a batch of dumplings the day of the ceremony, including one particular dumpling, filled only with dough in the shape of a, um… bean. When the newly wed couple sit down to the meal, the groom asks his bride if the dumplings are cooked or uncooked as she bites into the “bean shaped” dumpling: “Sheung bu sheung?.” The bride replies: “Sheung!” complaining that the dumpling is uncooked and the tradition is complete.
This was our wedding. Far from the western norm, not without a few hiccups, but entirely enjoyed and attended by our closest friends after a great time in Hong Kong together.
As a guest at the wedding, it was a little hard to understand exactly what was going on, purely bacause of the language barrier, (there were only 6 of us who didn’t understand/speak mandarin, including the groom), but in saying that Tim (Conan’s best friend commented to me that he noticed that I teared up a little during the ceremony, so even though I didn’t really know what was being said, it still absolutely touched me)
The food at the wedding was insane, we had sampled quite a bit of Chinese food already while we were in Hong Kong and Beijing (dumplings and my favourite Peking Duck) but the food at the reception after the ceremony was completely out of control. The food just kept coming, there was everything you could imagine, so much so that it didn’t all fit on the table, and was stacked three plates high in the middle, it’s fair to say that we as well as the rest of the guest were very well fed. Mirroring a western wedding I’m not sure whether the bride and groom actually ate anything, they were so busy greeting and pouring drinks for all their guests.
I would like to say a huge congratulations to Conan and Lydia on their marriage. It was an absolute honour to be a part of your special day. I would like to say a big thank you to both Lydia and Lydia’s parents who went above and beyond to make sure we had a great time in Beijing (even though they didn’t speak a word of English, they were completely welcoming) and a big thank you to Tim (for providing pure entertainment just by being a 6ft6 tall blonde in China) and Erin (for being my partner in crime for helping scope out non-squatting toilets, and being the tour guide) and Kevin (who provided humour and an insight into life in New York City), who we got to spend time with in both Hong Kong and Beijing, it was a real treat to explore different countries and knock some stuff off the bucket list with (the Great Wall).
All you need is love and … some insider info from a celebrant.
I’ve been lucky enough to do a job I adore and have been the celebrant at a lot of weddings, and every single one, I try and learn something from, especially the one’s where things maybe don’t go according to the plan. I thought I would put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard in this case and share some of the things I’ve learnt to assist you in your wedding planning.
There will always be someone who turns up in jeans, regardless of the dress code. My personal belief is that there are only two occasions where you should show your respect for an occasion and dress accordingly and that is a wedding and a funeral. Unless of course the dress code is super casual (eg jeans and t-shirt) you should always put on a nice pair of pants.
There will always be that one person who thinks it’s funny to say “There’s still time to run” to the groom before the ceremony.
Make sure your dress fits properly. Make sure it is tailored specifically for your body, so you don’t have any gaping areas, or are not worried about ‘the girls’ accidentally falling out at any time. It will look better for photos and you will feel and thus look better if you know it fits perfectly.
Make sure that grooms/groomsman have ironed their shirts and not just pulled them straight out of the packaging moments before the ceremony, and in advice from another celebrant you can read about here: People we love: Nicola Wall – Celebrant, make sure the gents have also tried on their pants, to make sure they are the right length, especially if they have been tailored for them.
Every bride looks beautiful on their wedding day
Allow a lot more time for everything the week and day of the wedding, everything will take longer than you anticipate, in my experience with brides, especially hair and make-up. It will be easier to fill in extra time (think a sneaky champers with the girls) than to be in a panic because you are late. If you are having your photos before your ceremony then making sure you have budgeted enough time in the morning will make sure you have ample time to relax and get those awesome photos.
Weddings bring out the worst in people. Especially family. Make sure everyone is on the same page with duties and expectations, otherwise it will drive you crazy and take the shine off your wedding.
Lollipops are awesome distractors for little people on the big day during the ceremony. Lollipops encourage them to generally stand still and they find it hard to make too much noise with their mouth full of lollipop.
Even the most chilled out bride will be stressed the day before the ceremony. The key is to be organised, not just yourself but your groom, family and wedding party.
Don’t leave writing your vows till the day/evening before your wedding. It will put too much stress on yourself and make your celebrant tear her/his hair out.
Remember your wedding day should be a reflection and celebration of your love, not what great Aunty Fanny thinks you should have.
Have a plan B, just in case.
Every wedding is beautiful, whether it is big, small, expensive or on a budget.
I am absolutely honoured every time I get to bring together two people who have decided that they want to spend the rest of their lives together. Every wedding is full of love and joy and those looks that lovebirds share with each other, and it makes my heart sing to be able to witness and share that each time.
Sometimes it all gets a bit too much. Maybe every man and his dog is putting their two cents worth into your wedding planning, maybe the two of you are constantly arguing, maybe the mother in law is being well.. a mother in law, maybe the costs are spiralling out of control, maybe you’re looking at each other and thinking ‘maybe we should just elope?’ You definitely wouldn’t be the first people to have these thoughts and you probably won’t be the last. So here’s the skinny of whether it’s a good idea for you and some things to consider when you’re making the decision about running away to get married.
Prepare yourself for family and friends reactions- You will probably be on the receiving end of some strong reactions from your loved ones. You need to be steadfast in your decision and not apologise.
Take care of the legal details – Different countries have different rules and legalities when it comes to marriage, make sure you are aware of the requirements for the area you are getting married.
Make a list – Make a list before of all the important people you will want to contact on the day, after you get married, parents, siblings, best friends, and make sure you call them to let them know the news before you make a larger announcement. It will lessen the impact and surprise if these important people know first.
Send out a marriage announcement – Maybe when you get back from your honeymoon or just your wedding day, make a more formal announcement, most people do this on Facebook etc to let the rest of your people know that you got married. This means that people that came to your engagement party etc know what’s going on.
Don’t down play the day – Just because it’s not the big white extravaganza, doesn’t mean that you can’t make it special and important. You can still have a special dress/suit, maybe a favourite meal/bottle of bubbles, whatever you like to make the day special and memorable. Remember it’s still your wedding day.
Get good photos – Photos are all you will have left of the day, because you won’t have many (if any) guests, so take the time and expense to get good photos of the ceremony and day. It helps the guests that didn’t get invited feel better if they can see photos of the day.
Post wedding party – You can opt to have a post wedding party when you get home, to celebrate with family and friends. This will be more relaxed than a wedding would be and you still get to share this special time with your closest ones.
No doubt whichever way you do it, you will still hurt people’s feelings. But remember that your wedding day should be about you and your love and your lives together, not petty bickering and jealousy among those important to you.
All you need is love… and ways to honour those who can’t be there at the wedding.
Weddings are special days. They are days of celebration where you surround yourself with those who you love and who love you. Sometimes those you love aren’t able to help you celebrate your big day.
There are a few things to think about when deciding to how to honour the memory of someone special who has passed.
How fresh is the wound – how long ago did the person pass. Have you and the guests had a chance to grieve privately before the event. Will a special mention on the day be too much for you or your guests, and overshadow the joy of the day.
How much attention to you want to draw to the honouring -Sometimes too much attention will take the focus off the fact that it is a wedding and a happy occasion.
What’s most appropriate for the person – What’s the personality of the person you want to honour, would they want want a big fuss make of them?
Here’s some suggestions for elements you can add to either your ceremony or reception to bring attention to and honour your loved ones.
Wear something – wear something of their’s, a piece of jewellery or a tie would be perfect. It could also cover your something borrowed.
Tribute in the ceremony program – If you are using a ceremony program you could add a small remembrance piece, or if you have a welcome sign at the entrance to your wedding space you could add something there.
Light a candle of remembrance – as part of your wedding ceremony you can light a candle of remembrance, or have a candle lit during your reception.
Photo table – use photo’s of important people to decorate a table at your reception.
Toast to their memory – you could include a toast as part of your ceremony of use their favourite tipple to toast to them during the speeches at your reception.
Reading/poem during the ceremony – have either the celebrant or a friend/family perform a reading during the ceremony and dedicate it to your loved one.
Favours – Use your wedding favours to celebrate that special person. Use a charitable donation (to their favourite charity) in their name as your wedding favours.
Moment of silence – add a moment of silence to your wedding ceremony, usually at the beginning after you walk down the aisle, to remember your special person.
Save a seat – leave a seat in the front row spare with their name on it, to honour where they would have sat.
Piece of clothing – sew a piece of their clothing into the inside of your wedding gown or into your suit jacket.
Charms – use photo charms or jewellery charms either in or on your bouquet so your loved ones walk down the aisle with you.
Hankerchief – use a loved one’s hankerchief to wipe away your happy tears on your wedding day.
Wedding shoes – place a photo or name of your special person on the bottom of your wedding shoes, so they can walk you down the aisle.
There are lots of special ways to honour those who you wish could be there to help you celebrate your wedding day.