POSTED ON FEBRUARY 11, 2009:
'Til Death Do Us Part
Everyone has their role to play on your special day
You've finally found that special somebody. He's tall. He's handsome. And, he's rich! Thank God! So, you're convinced you'd like to settle down with this hunky dreamboat, right? That's the easy part.
Now comes the wedding and the hundreds of potential hiccups that fumbling family members and clumsy friends might bring to the most important day of your life. If you can make it through without rain or a wardrobe malfunction or a heated argument between your menacing cousins over, well, who the hell knows what, you'll be off to experience eight sunny days and seven glorious nights in Costa Rica with the love of your life, your eternal companion.
Maybe you're going for a green wedding. A few clever alterations to the traditional ceremony can save you a little money and reduce waste. With today's technology, a blushing bride can create a personalized wedding Web site or can cut down on paper usage by using single postcards for invitations and 'save-the-dates'.
A rudimentary Internet search will produce suggestions ranging from organic menu items (increased costs associated with this option) to potted plants instead of "one-use" flowers. One of the easiest ways to reduce unnecessary waste (less electricity consumed and an opportunity to exploit nature for decorations) is to have an outdoor wedding. But, then you've got eight months to fret and a solid month's worth of checking The Weather Channel 20 plus times a day for updates.
On the other hand, maybe you've decided that Mother Nature can worry about her damn self on your big day.
Personally, I have chosen the easy way out: no traditional wedding. The average wedding in Tulsa costs between $20,000 and $35,000, so logic tells me if I avoid the average wedding I can invest a substantial amount of my money or, better yet, the in-laws' money on something of monumental importance. Perhaps a house, savings for a family or an in-ground pool. You must have priorities, people!
I know next to nothing about traditional weddings. I hope I convinced you otherwise a couple of paragraphs ago when I referenced the 'save-the-dates', something I learned of only a month ago, although I've now participated in five weddings. Because of my own past ignorance of traditional wedding roles, I thought we could all use some education, most notably men.
Obviously, much of the planning of a traditional wedding is in the hands of the bride. Let's be realistic: I'm not a wedding specialist, but I know basically how the roles break down. Together, the devoted couple sets the budget and plans the less important duties like shopping for the jewelry that will adorn your ring finger for the remainder of your life. Lists are important. Wouldn't want to forget to invite those menacing cousins. Or, would you?
The roles from this point onward become less obvious, especially for me. In the past, the bride's parents had the enviable task of paying for the wedding ceremony. Not anymore. The ever-inflating nuptial costs are now being dispersed to both sets of parents and to the couple. But well before any of this reaches fruition, the bride's parents kick off the bridal affairs with the first engagement party. Although it might be fun for onlookers, this is not the time to talk about funding the wedding. That's to be done via private conversations with both sets of parents.
After the first engagement party has concluded, the parents of the groom may host their own party. For those of you keeping score, this would be the second family engagement party. If your family is anything like mine, this could potentially grow into three or four separate parties, once step-families are considered.
On the day of the wedding, the bride's father (and the mother too, sometimes) accompanies the bride down the aisle at the ceremony. Anyone who's seen Father of the Bride knows that (note: I learn most of my life lessons from TV and movies).
The groom's parents have a more relaxing wedding day, but traditionally host the rehearsal dinner.
If you're lucky enough to be presented with the title of Maid of Honor (Matron of Honor for the married types), it may be wise to say a prayer/wish upon a star that your best friend doesn't become Bridezilla before the marriage. Remember, ladies, you'll be asked to do everything for your bride. Traditional weddings ask that you sign the marriage license, help the lucky lady dress before the ceremony, and cut a rug with the groom at the reception. So, a careful analysis of potential Bridezilla-type behavior may be in your best interest prior to accepting the nomination.
Brides can be fragile animals; but they're not mind readers, so hours of ruminating over the question, Will Karen make me hurt her, cry or end our friendship during this process? may pay off.
Selecting a well-balanced best man is of colossal importance. While a groom should desire a wild bachelor party, planned by the best man, sacrificing responsibility for debauchery would be unwise. This is because the best man is also in charge of safely delivering the bride's ring to the wedding, confirming honeymoon reservations and ensuring the groom is on time, although I would think the groom should at least meet the best man a quarter of the way on this. After all, it is his wedding.
Now, that you're caught up on some of the basic responsibilities for the wedding party, there are certain things to remember prior to attending a wedding or wedding reception. First of all, it's not mandatory to bring a gift, but at the very least you can peruse the gift table, choose one and carefully replace its name with yours. Bring your own card and replacement gift tag. Add a smiley face.
If there's an open bar, leave the glassware at the reception site. Ask for a to-go cup. Believe me; you'll forget that that glass in the backseat of the designated driver's car. Honestly, you may not retain information from the night, so ditch the glass and leave the sentimental memories for those who embraced a shred of sobriety at the reception.
Lastly, it's poor etiquette to chuck birdseed, rose petals or discarded glassware at the lovebirds as they exit the ceremony. This pair invited you for a reason. And, that reason was not to blind them.
A successful wedding requires careful planning, cooperation and some luck. Let's hope yours was/is perfect, whether it's traditional or not.
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