Remember that it’s YOUR day. It’s human nature to share well intended advice. Most of the inputs you’ll receive are probably going to be very helpful since your aren’t planning a wedding on a regular basis. Other inputs will need to be taken with a grain of salt. If something someone says (friend, relative, or vendor) triggers a negative question mark in your mind, then you may want to stop and question what’s being said. Is it something that someone wants you to do to make them happy and they want you to want it so they can enjoy it? This is usually not intentional, but does happen. You might even find that a vendor has a policy or a way of working that doesn’t fit your plans. You can change vendors easier than you can eliminate regret. Bottom line, it’s the only time you can make the entire world revolve around you, so don’t let anyone take it from you. Don’t give in if it means you’re going to regret it later. It’s your day!
- If photography is a high priority, keep this in mind when you select your location. Look at the different areas of a location and imagine what your photos will look like if wedding is photographed there. If you’re only financially in love with the venue, but find yourself wishing the photographer luck, then you may want to look at other venues.
- Either plan a time to meet with your photographer at the venue to plan your photos, or take pictures and email them so you can talk with your photographer about photo options and plan for your big day.
- Outdoor Wedding: Aim for late afternoon or early evening instead of mid-day when possible so as to have better lighting to compliment your day. You photos will be softer and warmer instead of harsh and contrasty.
- Indoor Wedding: If you’re ceremony location has lots of windows, then mid-day is not as big of a problem. If all of your photos are indoors, then lots of window light is a bonus. If you plan to have outdoor photos done, try planning your schedule so that these photos can be done later in the day when the sun isn’t so high.
- Don’t forget to smile! This goes for the entire wedding party, as well as the parents. Occasionally we’ll find people that are either very focused or completely exhausted to the point that they forget they should be smiling as they are being photographed.
- Keep the details together. If bride and groom get ready in separate locations, then the bride is priority one, which means the guys may not have getting ready photos. In this case, consider having either a bridesmaid or relative hold the rings so that the photographer has access to them when photographing the other details for the bride.
- Slow, steady, and happy. To ensure everyone is seen and captured while walking down the isle, have each person walk no closer than twenty to thirty feet apart and at roughly the same pace. If one bridesmaid walks down ten feet behind the other, then she becomes hidden and may not be photographed. And most importantly, everyone should be looking up and smiling.
- Don’t rush a good thing! Your ceremony is sacred and the entire reason for being there. I know being in front of everyone sounds scary, but almost everyone forgets the audience once they’re at the alter. So don’t rush the most important part of your day. And if you do, then realized that you risk not having it properly documented. For sufficient coverage, try to have a ceremony that will have you at the alter for roughly 15 minutes. When you cut it short, you cut the opportunities for cherished photos that can never be staged or reproduced. So fight the stage fright and stay at the alter longer. And remember that walking up and down the isle doesn’t count as part of your time at the alter. I’ve seen “ten minute” ceremonies that were less than seven minutes at the alter.
- Stop and kiss. When walking down the isle for the first time together, stop mid-point of the crowd and embrace each other one more time. It makes a great photo.
- Have’em ready. You either have or will receive a list of basic group arrangements and the order they are photographed. You can tweak it if you wish. Share this with those that are to be in certain photos so they can be ready when it’s their time to shine with you. Having everyone aware and ready will help reduce the “cat herding” experience and get everyone to the reception faster. You may also want to consider doing all of your photographs pre-ceremony so you and your guests can go straight to the reception. Everyone that has done this with us has been glad they did.
- Keep’em looking’ and smilin’. Whether walking up or down the isle, or when being announced into the reception, the entire wedding party needs to remember to look up and smile when it’s their turn to walk. Nobody wants the only pictures of themselves to be looking at the ground, so a mental note can help counter-act this ahead of time.
- Where is the cake? When coorindating your reception set-up with your coordinator or planner, try to ensure that the cake is not in a location that the photographer(s) can’t position themselves to get the shots they need for you. Things to avoid would be square tables pushed against a wall or into a corner. Usually a round table, or a table pulled a couple feet from the wall will make it so the photographer can position themselves appropriately and that the guests can observe and enjoy as well.
- Bride: before throwing the bouquet, give one or two fake tosses first. This gives you more photos, and lets you play with your anxious ladies.
- Groom: be slow and sexy as you remove the guarder. Maybe even make a game out of it. It’s relly the only time you can climb up your woman’s dress in public without being arrested, so enjoy every inch and second of it.
- Don’t forget the photographer. You paid good money to have your day photographed. Make sure you don’t jump into something needing to be photographed without ensuring the photographer is ready when you are. Also, if you think of something that you think is a good photo, or a group photo you specifically want, or just something fun you think of on the spot during your day, be sure and communicate that with your photographer so you don’t regret anything being missed.
- Consider having all of your formalities during the first two hours of your reception. Afterwards, you’ll be able to focus on dancing while guests that need to leave early won’t feel like their missing anything.
- Push it further. Everyone wants a unique day. Some want it simple while others want tons of fun things. I recommend checking out the tons of traditions that can be found in other countries and cultures. I experienced this when photographing my brothers reception for his wedding in Germany. They incorporated many fun little games that added amazing photos to their day. Adding some of these traditions to your day will make it more fun, memorable, and unique for both you and your guests.
- Consider having some special photos taken just before putting on the dress. These can be put into a small black accordion book as a surprise for your special man.
- Have all of your photos taken prior to the ceremony. This not only saves a ton of time and stress, but gives you more time with your guests that came to celebrate your day with you.
- To help reduce the stress, have a planner or coordinator that can help run the day so you don’t have to do anything but enjoy the ride.
- Ok, here’s one that nobody thinks of and is actually a potential problem with some venues. When it comes to eating, if you are providing food for your vendors, then ensure that they start eating as soon as everyone else does. Some venues out of curtesy to you and your guests have a policy that prevents vendors from getting food till everyone else has been served or gone thru the line. In some cases, vendors are also made to eat in a separate room. I completely understand the concept, but it creates a problem for photographers, videographers, and DJ’s who need to be done eating when you’re done eating so that they can be ready to get back to work. If they are made to wait as some venues do, then your vendors might not be eating till after you’re done, which means inefficient gaps in time. So to avoid this, remember that there’s no reason why a venue can’t break the rules if YOU require them to do so since it is YOUR day and not theirs.
Best wishes on your wedding day and your new life adventure together!
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There are more resources than you can shake a stick at when it comes to preparing for your wedding. Most of us dig like crazy to find and use a good amount of that information because our wedding day is one of the biggest and most important days in our lives and requires enormous amounts of logistical planning. Plus it’s something that we don’t do regularly, so it’s unfamiliar to us. In planning your wedding, you probably have or will invest hundreds of hours trying to make sure everything is perfect. Yet it’s only for one day.
In the midst of all the planning, how much investing have you done in the marriage you’re about to have that will last much longer than your one magical day? For those of you like me that are already married, how much investing in your marriage have you done since your wedding day? Some people really do invest in their marriage, but not every thinks to do so. Regardless, I want to pass a piece of advice that I received at one point: read one good marriage book a year. Yes, this applies to both of you.
Amanda and I got married on June 28, 2003. Neither of us expected an ounce of the battles we later had to face. We learned a lot of lessons over the years, and it still requires constant attention. Otherwise the working parts of our marriage will become weak, rusty, and in danger of failing.
Most people never go into marriage expecting it to crash and burn. Do you remember my comment of unfamiliarity? That applies to marriage also. Dating is one thing, but living together as a married couple is a completely different story. It takes work, commitment, and self-sacrifice from both parties.
Over the years, Amanda and I have benefited from reading books, listening to programs and sermons on marriage, and learning to listen to each other openly. You are either already married or on your way, so I really wanted to pass along the advice that has benefited us so much. So make the commitment to invest in your marriage and read one marriage book a year. I’ll even give you my recommendations.
The first book I’d recommend is called The Most Important Year in a Woman’s Life/ The Most Important Year in a Man’s Life. The cool thing about this book is that it’s two-sided, being one for the man and one for the woman. But it’s fun to read both sides and get even greater perspective. I really consider this a must-have marriage book and strongly encourage you to buy it now and start reading it.
The next book I’d recommend is His Needs Her Needs. This was actually the first book that Amanda and I went through together, and it helped us out immensely. What we both remember the most is the Love Bank. It is an analogy that better helped us think about what we do and say for each other and how it either hurts or helps our marriage. It’s a great book and also a must-have.
Our second favorite to recommend is The 5 Love Languages. I know it’s been out for a while, but we just finally decided on it last year. It really was an eye opener for both of us to learn more about how to show love for each other. It breaks down into five areas, but Amanda’s dominate love language was quality time, where mine is acts of service. Though we at times forget this, at least we know so we can better get back on track when we’ve strayed.
As parents, I found that reading the book To Train Up A Child also served as a great book for our marriage as well. Though it wasn’t directly about our marriage, you have to learn even more about how to work together as a team. That and how to be more critical of your own character since you’ll now be influencing a younger you. I highly recommend this for any parent, or expecting parent.
The last one I’ll recommend is His Brain Her Brain. No, it’s not the same author, but it’s a great book, especially for us guys. This one exposes the literal design differences between men and women that sometimes make it difficult to understand each other. I loved this book, but Amanda wasn’t able to finish it. Understanding the differences helped me to better understand Amanda. My favorite example was that women are equipped to hear more audible tones than men are, so when a woman complains about using tones that men don’t understand (“don’t use that tone with me”) it’s because women hear what men don’t, literally.
I hope that these resources are a helpful start for you. Even if you are already investing in your marriage, these are great additions. Sometimes you’ll find what you’re doing right, or you might find how you can do things differently. If you have other books that you’d like to share, please comment on this post so others can see. You might help me find my next book as well.
Thanks and best wishes on your marriage adventure!
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When planning a wedding, most people don’t make it past the many essentials (venue, flowers, photographer, etc). Part of what gives a wedding extra character can sometimes be those little extra touches here and there. A fun way to do this is by looking at the various wedding traditions from around the world, as well as some fun activity ideas. To get you started, I’ve put together a great starter list of websites. There are tons of great ideas out there. Which ones will you add to your wedding day?
The Knot has a list of 50 traditions and superstitions. Some of these most people will know, but others will be new. It can be fun to see what people come up with. Here’s some of my favorites:
The groom carries the bride across the threshold to bravely protect her from evil spirits lurking below.
The English believe a spider found in a wedding dress means good luck. Yikes!
In Holland, a pine tree is planted outside the newlyweds’ home as a symbol of fertility and luck.
Engagement and wedding rings are worn on the fourth finger of the left hand because it was once thought that a vein in that finger led directly to the heart.
Ancient Greeks and Romans thought the veil protected the bride from evil spirits. Brides have worn veils ever since.
Brides carry or wear “something old” on their wedding day to symbolize continuity with the past.
The “something blue” in a bridal ensemble symbolizes purity, fidelity, and love.
In Denmark, brides and grooms traditionally cross-dressed to confuse evil spirits!
In many cultures around the world — including Celtic, Hindu and Egyptian weddings — the hands of a bride and groom are literally tied together to demonstrate the couple’s commitment to each other and their new bond as a married couple (giving us the popular phrase “tying the knot”).
A website called Weddings And Romance have put together a list of Wedding Reception Games and Wedding Activities. This is a great list of fun ideas to make your special day even more unique and memorable. Here’s some of my favorites:
Guess the Truth
The bride and groom are asked a number of personal questions before the reception. The MC or someone in the wedding party makes up multiple choice answers for each question including the correct answer. Guests are asked the questions and by a show of hands we get the popular answers and compare them to the actual answers.
Guess the Bride
The groom is blindfolded and expected to guess the bride from feeling just the feet of 5 persons. First blindfold the groom. The MC/DJ points to 5 persons and seat them on chairs in front of all the guests – you can choose anyone but the bride. This is especially hilarious if the 5 persons are men with their pants leg rolled up and socks removed.
Guess the Groom
The bride is blindfolded and expected to guess the groom from feeling 5 men’s faces. First blindfold the groom. Point to 5 persons and seat them on chairs in front of all the guests – you can choose anyone but the groom.
WeddingsApproved.com also has a list of some fun ideas. Here’s one for you:
The participants of this game are the guests who are still single.
There are 16 contestants, 8 girls and 8 boys. The participants must be
divided into two teams. Each team must have 4 ladies and 4 gentlemen. They
must be positioned in an alternate manner. There is a sausage balloon
given for each team which must be placed in between legs. The sausage
balloon will be passed from one player to another. Note: the balloon must
not be touched with hands nor be popped or else they will have to
repeat the relay all over again. In case the balloon burst out, it will be
replaced with a new one.
This one is more person after attending my brother’s wedding in Berlin. His wife is German, so they had the wedding where her family and friends could partake. That was still the most wild and fun wedding I’ve ever been to. They are the ones that gave me the idea for this post because they use many games and activities in their wedding receptions where Americans do not. Here’s some goodies for you:
Add German humor to the festivities whenever appropriate. During the vows, while the couple is on their knees, the groom could kneel on his bride’s dress to show who will be “wearing the pants”. When the two stand, the bride might step on the groom’s foot to show her disagreement.
Decorate exit doorways with garlands of flowers, greenery and ribbons. After the ceremony, the groom must “ransom” the couple out of the facility by promising everyone money or a party.
Some of the things not listed on this site that I witnessed included log sawing, cutting a giant heart shape out of a bed sheet that’s been signed by everyone and then carrying the bride through the cut-out into the reception, a game where the bride and groom sit back-to-back and have to answer questions, a poem where a package is pasted around the reception before finally ending with the bride, and more.
SouthernBrideAndGroom.com has a story about a couple that incorporated the log sawing into their wedding. Here’s the article: http://www.southernbrideandgroom.com/?s=log+cutting
Again, the Knot has some great lists of ideas on their website. Here’s another one that has some fun ideas. Here’s your sampling:
Bailemos (Let’s Dance)
There is an endless variety of Latin music to choose from: salsa, merengue, mambo, flamenco, and samba, to name just a few. For a really dramatic first dance, take some tango lessons before your big day, and surprise your guests with a performance. Hire a Mexican mariachi group or Cuban big band to get everyone dancing. Before the dancing really begins at Mexican weddings, guests gather around the couple in a heart-shaped ring. Cuban weddings often include a money dance, in which each man who dances with the bride attaches money to her gown.
Donde Estan? (Where Are They?)
Can’t wait for the honeymoon to begin? Well, in Venezuela, it isn’t uncommon for a couple to sneak away from their own reception. But no one gets upset once they discover the newlyweds are missing — it’s actually considered good luck.
In Puerto Rico, small favors, called capias, are presented to the guests in a receiving line. They are made of feathers tied with ribbon and printed with the couple’s names and wedding date. For your wedding, you can give guests little Mexican wedding cookies wrapped in tulle, Spanish fans, a volume of Pablo Neruda’s love poems, or note cards with paintings by Frida Kahlo or Diego Rivera tied with ribbon. If you’re up for it, the little bride and groom skeletons used during the Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead, which is really a celebration of life) would be perfect favors.
TraditionsCustoms.com has an extensive list of customary things each country does for their weddings. It’s fun to see what everyone else does to see if any of it can be added to our own weddings. Here’s a few for you to enjoy:
In Peru they put charms (attached with ribbons) between the layers of the wedding cake. Just before the cake is cut and served there is a little tradition organized. Each single woman present at the reception pulls a string. Peruvians believe that the one who pulls out the ribbon with the ring is going to marry within a year.
Koreans believe that if the groom is smiling a lot at the wedding his first child is going to be a daughter. After the wedding groom’s parents throw some nuts and plums to the bride. If the bride takes some nuts she’ll get many sons.
People in Scotland organize “Blackening the bride”. Couple’s friends and family members kidnap the bride-to-be and then pour some rather smelly substance on her.
In Armenia, t is a tradition that groom must ask the bride’s family for the bride’s hand. Armenian do it by holding a meeting of members of both bride’s and groom’s family. More formal and more common traditional meeting of that nature is called “Khosk-Kap”. Less formal meeting called “Khosk-Arnel” is sometimes organized too.
“Breaking a plate” or “vort” (“word”) is well known Jewish engagement party tradition. It is done by mothers of the bride and groom. They stand together and break a plate. This act has a symbolic meaning. Once broken plate can never be completely repaired. It is the same with human relationship.
There are tons of great ideas out there. I know you are overwhelmed in your planned, but I challenge you to add those one or two extra things to your wedding that’ll give you a lifetime of memories to enjoy.
If you found this post helpfully in anyway, please let me. Thanks for reading.