Getting married?

Planning

When do you start planning – and where?

Some people start planning years in advance, but we did it all in a few months. As with many other things, it is what you make of it, but if you want to get married in a specific church or have your reception in a particularly popular venue, then it’s a good idea to book far in advance. The more time you have the better you can tweak all the small, fun details. But that being said, I’d like to point out that you can also do that if you’re flexible and take things as they come. Perhaps the location, the photographer, or something else is booked for that date, but there may be other possibilities, and often it’s here that you become aware of great solutions that you may not have noticed at first.

When we decided on our location, it wasn’t available on the first date we’d chosen. But we could have it a week beforehand. We called up all the most important friends and family – the ones we wouldn’t have a wedding without inviting – and when we’d checked that everyone could attend, we booked the location and took it from there.

It doesn’t matter whether you start by picking a date or location, but both of them are necessary for everything else to fall into place, so get them sorted first.

 

What has been especially important for you in your planning?

We both (fortunately) agreed from the start that the most essential part of our wedding would be our friends and family. All of them. Including ’plus ones’. That’s why we have such a large number of guests, and we’ve had to adjust the rest of the planning for that. But in a way, it’s a good place to start. When your guest list numbers more than 150 people, you have to budget accordingly. For instance, we won’t be having a reception, because everyone will be there anyway, so we’ll go more or less directly into dinner. Naturally, guests will enjoy a delicious meal and be well fed, but it’s not going to be an eight-course plated affair. And we’ve also cut a few corners elsewhere. For us the most important thing is to have an amazing party. I’m really looking forward to it.

I’ve attended the loveliest and far more intimate weddings where there were maybe 40-50 people, and they have been wonderful experiences. In these cases the location sets the limits for how many guests could attend, and the wedding was planned from there. Fortunately there are so many choices and ways to do it, and I don’t think I’ve ever been to a ’bad’ wedding. They are always magical in their own way.

 

What surprised you most about the planning process?

How many tiny details you need to be aware of when you’re doing everything yourself. Of course it’s fun to choose a cake, your menu, the wine, and that sort of thing, but you also have to remember to put salt and pepper on the tables, candles in the candelabra, and so on, and so on, and so on. Something new turns up nearly every day and you have to decide if it’s necessary or not. If the answer is yes, then you have to make sure it happens.

 

In hindsight, would you have begun the planning process differently?

We’ve done everything in such a short time that there hasn’t been much hindsight involved. We did have another location in mind first, which turned out to be way over our budget, so a good piece of advice is to be up front about your budget and/or ask about pricing right at the start. Then you avoid wasting everyone’s time.

 

Who’s your source of wedding advice?

EVERYONE I know who has been married and/or attended a wedding. I’ve received so much good advice on matters big and small – from the seating plan to the dance floor, and on how to get to talk with as many guests as possible on the big day.

 

THE CLOTHES 

What about the dress?

I bought my dress on sale online 14 days after my boyfriend proposed, so I must admit that it was rather an impulsive buy. But on the other hand, I knew that it was the dress as soon as I saw it, and luckily it turned out to be right when I tried it on.

When it comes to shoes, I know that I’ll be wearing flats – both because it’s in keeping with the spirit of the wedding but also because my prospective husband and I are equally tall (short) and I don’t want to tower over him in the pictures. And I also think that my feet will be happy about my decision.

I think that it’s important – as always – that you wear something that makes you feel beautiful and which feels comfortable to wear. Personally, I want something relaxed and summery, but if you have a wild wedding dress fantasy you’ve always wanted to fulfil, now’s your chance. The same goes for accessories. If you want to wear a tiara and veil, go for it. Don’t pay attention to this year’s “bride trends” – be the bride of your own dreams.

Actually, my dress isn’t even really a wedding dress, and I’m definitely intending to wear it again after the wedding.

 

What is important to you and your look?

That it is relaxed, and that I look like myself. On a really good day, of course. The kind where you’ve slept well, your hair is on its best behaviour and your skin is glowing.

 

 

Party Party 

How do you plan a good party?

You make it your own, but you base it on some (or all) of the traditions. If you cut away all of the ceremony, speeches, wedding dance and so on, you risk that the event just feels like a milestone birthday celebration, and it doesn’t have that special wedding atmosphere.

We’ll be getting married at a small civil ceremony at the location, and afterward there’ll be drinks and snacks and tapas – a ‘standing first course’ where we’ll have the opportunity to take pictures and talk to a lot of guests before we go in to dinner. That way people will get a little something to eat so they’re not ravenous (or too tipsy) before the actual dinner. We’ve also planned a few different outdoor activities and games such as petanque, table football and such as a little intermission for those who enjoy these activities.

Another thing is to make sure that people are seated at a good table. Then everyone gets to sit with someone they know and that we know they enjoy talking to. It’s not a job interview or the first day of school. Your guests aren’t obligated to get to know people that they may never see again. You don’t have to stay sitting with those you arrived with, but you can easily sit at the same table with others you know. When there’s a good atmosphere at the tables, it’s catching. That’s also why you should put ’the fun ones’ together instead of spreading them out and hoping they’ll liven up your boring uncle.

A good master of ceremonies is key. Too many (or too long) toasts and speeches can kill even the best party, while fun and entertaining speeches can help guests get to know the couple better. Obviously, it’s not the MC’s responsibility as to what is said or sung, but he or she can structure the speeches, fend off ‘last minute’ (drunken) speeches and shepherd guests through the evening. In our invitations, we’ve indicated that speeches, toasts etc. are welcome, but that they should be short and sweet, and the MC must be informed prior to the wedding.

Later on, make sure that the dance floor and dining area aren’t too far apart, and even more important, ensure that the bar is very close to, if not adjacent to, the dance floor.

 

How do you accommodate different kinds of guests – parents, party animals, co-workers?

The most important thing is that people have a good time, are happily seated (don’t put grandmother on a bench), are well-fed and satisfied, not freezing cold and that sort of thing. Then everything flows by itself. It’s a wedding, and people are almost always on their best behaviour as guests. But it’s actually fun after dinner when there’s contact between the dining area and the dance floor. Then the older guests feel like staying longer, because they feel like they’re still part of things, and they can sit and watch the young people.

And what about the music?

A good DJ or a cool band are crucial to the party later in the evening, so if that’s important to you, you can’t make do with playlists on your phone or having your friends DJ for half an hour at a time (unless they have kick-ass taste in music). We’ve hired a DJ who can really deliver a great party. And I know that my friends are game – for my 30th birthday everyone was on the dance floor at 9 PM.

 

A wedding is connected with a lot of traditions that you can either embrace or ignore. Do you have any special thoughts on clinking plates or glasses, kissing when one of you goes to the restroom, speeches and the bridal waltz?

Oh, yes! We’re doing it all! I think weddings are fun, kitschy and cosy. In many ways, our wedding will be very relaxed and non-traditional, so we’re going to keep many of the traditions that make it feel like a wedding. Now I just have to learn how to dance the bridal waltz...

 

Which tasks can you delegate to others?

As many as possible. If people want to help, that is, and if you aren’t a bridezilla or control freak. First, my fiancé and I have divided up the tasks between us, so we both have some things we are responsible for. Of course we plan and decide things together, but this way there is someone with primary responsibility for individual tasks. We’ve also had some help from those of our friends and family who have offered to help. For instance, I’ve asked my parents to select the wines and order them, to pick the tables and chairs and book them, to rent the dinnerware, etc. This also saves you from being the main point of contact for everything. My friends are responsible for setting the tables and decorating, so I won’t have to stand there setting tables just before things get underway. My fiancé’s little brother is handling the bar and the best man is building the bower we’ll be wedded under.

 

Are you worried that something will go wrong?

Something will definitely go wrong, not work, or be overlooked. That’s just how it is. But more specifically I’m scared of spilling something on my dress or that it will get rumpled immediately. We’re going to be indoors, but if we can be outdoors for the wedding and right afterwards, it will be fabulous. We’re hoping the weather gods will be on our side that day.

 

And then ...?

Then we will be going on our honeymoon for two weeks. We’re taking a camper van down to the west coasts of France and Spain to go surfing.

 

On her blog, Emily generously shares her thoughts, ideas and solutions for weddings. It’s almost like being there yourself.

Foto: Emily Salomon & Stephanie Swann

 

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