Brides and mothers of brides often say afterward that the actual wedding day passed so quickly that it almost seemed surreal. That they expected to feel in charge of what happened but it was as though a wave suddenly overtook them and threw them through the day without their being able to really feel what was going on.
That’s why it’s so important to take a moment several times during the wedding day to stop, breathe, and look around, with someone you love, and just notice where you are, who you’re with, and what this means.
A well-planned and well-executed wedding allows time and space for feeling what is going on. Good planning and appropriate MCing allow some of the emotional moments to shine without trying to over-control every little thing.
Timing is important for making an event work, but scheduling every detail down to the minute does not guarantee a successful wedding and can actually get in the way. It is far more important to allow opportunities for everyone present to understand and feel the fact that they are forming a community that will hopefully support this couple throughout the rest of their lives. Ideally you want moments for basking in the joy of all this.
Being dressed up, seeing flowers, and being together in a beautiful location that has been specially decorated, all help set the stage for a wedding. Certain kinds of announcements at a reception, such as welcoming the guests and thanking them for coming, making toasts, and giving a blessing, all allow people to feel the importance of their being there together. They also allow the guests to focus on the couple and each other.
It’s useful to have an idea of the “wedding formalities” you want to include in your wedding. However, this doesn’t mean that you have to have the toast at 7:13 PM as I saw on one wedding planner’s timetable. (Decades of experience have shown me that any timetable with that unreasonable degree of exactness will be off by at least 15 minutes before the first course comes out.) Events need to breathe and so do the bride and groom and their guests! It’s very desirable to think ahead of time about what you want to have happen, but to allow for some “play” in the schedule. For one (very major) thing, you—as the bride or her mother–aren’t in control of the food service, so you simply can’t schedule everything down to the minute.
Sometimes people have seen enough of a “wedding conveyer belt” approach to know that they don’t want that. But going to the other extreme may not give you what you really want either. People who want “no programming at all” and want everything “low-key” may also end up with that feeling of having missed things, because they often get more chaos than they expect: being pulled in many directions, having trouble knowing where to focus, not having any quiet time, not allowing important people opportunities for input (through readings, toasts, special songs). Equally importantly, if there is very little structure, their guests may have a vague feeling of disappointment that the wedding didn’t provide the fun or the group experience that the guests were hoping would make all their travel arrangements, expense, and time investment worthwhile.
It’s just natural that such an important day will be filled with moments that go by quickly. People often say “It was great, but the whole thing was over before I knew it – it was just a blur.” So it’s wonderful that we have photos and videos!
But good party planning also allows the important moments to be shared and felt. Good MCing also helps highlight what’s happening, informing people about it, without overshadowing or adding irrelevant or tacky elements to it. Without appropriate MCing, guests and even principals in an event have a harder time coordinating their participation and some may have no way of knowing what is going on. They very literally don’t know what they’re missing, but you can be sure that some of the people who never saw the cake cutting or missed the father-daughter dance feel cheated. They wanted to be part of this event and if you don’t have any signposts for your guests about what is happening and when, then in effect, you are shutting them out. This is even more obvious if you are using an older venue, like a historic house, where everyone cannot fit into one room. If someone doesn’t let everyone know what’s happening in the other room, some of your guests will feel like second-class citizens.
This doesn’t mean you need a Las Vegas or carnival barker sort of MC who booms out in a television announcer’s voice “Now let’s welcome our bride and groom!” but uses the generic “our bride and groom” because he has forgotten or never bothered to learn the couple’s names! What you do need is someone with some personal warmth who can let everyone know what’s happening and can do so in a style that reflects or enhances your own.
Everyone who attends your wedding is there because they love and support you and your partner. Give yourself and your family and friends a chance to savor the wonderful reality of the day by including moments where you can feel – and where you can all feel connected.