First off, any couple willing to put themselves or their families in debt for a wedding hasn't got enough sense to get married, let along stay that way, so just forget the whole thing. Get married within your means. Be proud of what you do. Just don't try to pretend that piped in music is a string trio.
The invitation. It should be white or ivory engraved in black. The wording should be basic, starting off with something like "Mr. and Mrs. Bride's Nervous Parents request the Honor of Your Presence--or Pleasure of Your Company if the wedding is not being held at a house of worship. There must be no talk of celebrating love, pictures of the couple, or pop out bells and doves. Address them by hand with real black ink. These days, that doesn't have to be a fountain pen. Gel pens are real ink but get a nice one. Spell out Mister, Avenue, Doctor, etc. If you want to hire a calligrapher, that's fine but not necessary. If you want to print out mailing labels on your computer, that is not fine in any universe. No, not even in a cursive script.
Wedding Party Attire. Those who sell wedding dresses and rent formal attire will lie to you. I will not.
The Bride-- If you want to drag a twelve foot train down the aisle, that's great but don't do it at two o'clock in the afternoon. The most formal dress must be worn in the morning or at night—before noon or after six. No bare shoulders or low cut neckline in the house of the Lord.
Female Wedding Party members. No black, no white. No bare shoulders or low cut neckline in the house of the Lord.
The Groom. And really, all males in the wedding, apart from the ring bearer. (I'll get to him.) Morning formal weddings means morning suits—cutaways and striped pants. Afternoon means dark business suits. After six, means black or white tie, depending on the formality of the bride's dress. This means no tuxedos before 6 p.m. Now, about that ring bearer. Regardless of the time of day, preschool boys do not belong in morning suits, business suits, black tie, or white tie. They belong in Eton suits and knee socks. This brings me to the next subject.
Children in the Wedding. There are differing views on this. I didn't want any. They steal the show and I didn't want any competition. Truly, I'm not usually that full of myself but this was my day and I figured there might never be another when everything was all about me. And there hasn't been. Still, I have since come to regret this, mostly because Baby Girl simply will not let it go. She was five at the time and was not one bit happy about giving out rice bags. She felt she had been robbed of her rightful place at the altar with a basket of rose petals. She has reminded me of this at least twice a month for twenty-two years and four months. So if you're going to have a ring bearer and flower girl, bear in mind that they might refuse to do it at the last minute and if they don't, they are probably going to raise hell. Of course, as I can attest, the children in your life might grow up and raise hell because they didn't get to do it. So decide what you can live with and go with it.
Though I've not witnessed it myself, I hear that in the last few years there has been an unfortunate trend toward having something called a miniature bride and groom. Avoid this. There is supposed to one, and only one, person wearing white and that is not some eight-year-old intent on stealing your thunder.
Wedding Director. In the name of all that is Holy, hire yourself a wedding director. This is not to be confused with a wedding planner, who helps plan the whole thing and charges a lot of money. A wedding director meets with you a couple of times and is on hand for the rehearsal and the big day to, well, direct. She will make sure everyone has the right flowers and is wearing/carrying them correctly. She will get everyone lined up and down the aisle at the right time. She will boss the photographer around. In other words, she will save your fanny. If you think your aunt, ex stepmother, or 5th BFF, who didn't make the bridesmaid cut, can do it, you are wrong. The wedding director is not emotionally involved and doesn't care if she sees you go down the aisle or say I do. Hence, she can be somewhere else—like making sure the cake has arrived and that your drunk ex boyfriend is escorted off the premises without much ado.
Photographs. Remember that the wedding is not for the benefit of producing pictures. The photographer is meant to record your day as it unfolds. Do not let him dictate to you. He will try. If you don't want the groom to see you before the ceremony, do not be bullied into having group shots done before. Please do not leave your guests to cool their heels for an hour between the ceremony and the reception. Go stand in the receiving line so that the people who cared enough about you to come to your wedding can offer their good wishes. Get the party started and then go back for those pictures. The photographer will not like this. He wants to go home. If need be, have the wedding director whip his butt. She can; she's seen worse.
The Guest List. Where do you draw the line? That's hard. I didn't draw a line; neither did I spend a lot of money. It was more important to me to celebrate with my friends and family than to have a sit down meal and an open bar, which we don't really do here in the south much anyway. There is no shame in a punch, cake, and finger food reception at the church. But if you draw a line—say family only—stay within that line. Or don't—if you don't care what it's going to cost you and I'm not talking about money.
- Don't sing to each other. Just don't. Please.
- No programs.
- No unity candle.
- If you want a power point presentation of your childhoods and courtship, do it at the rehearsal dinner. Also, don't include any naked pictures of yourselves.
- No silk flowers. If you can't afford a lot of flowers, don't have a lot of flowers. But what you have, needs to have , at some point, been alive.
I could go on but I've already gone on too long.
And this bears repeating: It is (was) your wedding. Regardless of what Emily Post or I think, you should do what makes you happy.
What's the worst thing you've ever seen at a wedding?