Saturday, July 9, 2011

Parents NOT Behaving Badly

I officiated recently at the wedding of a couple who each had a complete set of parents and stepparents. They also wanted their mothers, stepmothers, fathers, and stepfathers to participate in the pouring of sand during the unity sand ceremony.

I watched the families gather for the wedding of their much-beloved (and I guess you could say multi-beloved)children, and just sent up a silent prayer that everything went smoothly and that everybody remained on their best behavior.

I could have spared myself a bit of anxiety. Regardless of what rancor might have existed in the past (and I did not ask, nor would I ever ask) -- not a whiff of it could be detected during the wedding itself. Everybody paid attention to the words being spoken, and did their best to maintain an air of affectionate decorum for every part of the ceremony.

The gift those parents and stepparents gave the couple being married was an example of true community, and unselfish love. They put aside their own issues, and acted like truly loving adults. The photos will reflect smiles, genuine good will, and a magical couple of hours when everybody offered true best wishes and congratulations to a very sincere couple embarking on one of life's most important journeys.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Etiquette versus Manners

We all know just enough etiquette to cause us problems -- especially if there's a wedding involved. It seems that once the ring is on the bride-to-be's finger, somebody's mother or grandmother drags out the etiquette book, and the tensions start to build.

Speaking as the daughter of a woman who authored several etiquette books over the course of her professional lifetime, I will quote my mother. "Etiquette is protocol, and most people don't really give a damn about how things were done in the royal courts for hundreds of years. But manners are what make it possible for ordinary people to deal with each other more comfortably."

Etiquette used to be (and probably still is) what divided the social classes. The great unwashed was not versed in the subtle nuances of "proper behavior." Manners are the small actions that convey respect and smooth interaction between people.

When you're planning any kind of event, rely less on what the etiquette books dictate that you do, and more on what your sense of kindness and compassion tell you should be done. (But write those thank you notes by hand! It's still a no-no to email them.)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Planning Ahead in Uncertain Times

The stationery stores and card shops all have beautiful wedding planning notebooks. There are books galore that would imply that every bride sits in a candle-scented room for months and plans each and every detail of a wedding that knows no bounds except her romantic imagination. This only happens in a parallel universe.

The simple fact is that brides -- even royal brides -- are real women living real lives. And right now, times are hard all over the world, and the only thing that can be counted on is that something is bound to happen that a bride hasn't counted on.

Does this mean that today's bride should abandon her favorite daydreams of ribbons and flowers (or feathers and beads -- whatever)? Absolutely not. When it comes to weddings, compromise and a willingness to be flexible are the keys to happy memories after a day that is thought back on for all the right reasons.

Taking reasonable precautions is also essential. When selecting a venue, be certain that it is one that will still be in business when your big day arrives. Do not select a venue strictly for its looks and the seemingly unbelievable deal you can get for no apparent reason. Ask the proprietor outright, "Do you own this location, or lease it?" And if the answer is lease, ask another hard question, "Is there any chance at all that you won't be in operation when it is time for my wedding?"

Slight variations to these two questions -- depending on the service being contracted for -- are a good hedge against heartbreak later on. Google the name of the florist, photographer, officiant, dress shop, etc. -- and see what may have been posted online.

But most of all, don't get yourself into situations that could break your heart along with your budget later on.