Congratulations – you’re getting married!!! Before you get too overwhelmed with what can turn into a stressful & crazy time here are a few tips to keep in mind….
The most important thing to remember is that all the money in the world can’t buy a fabulous wedding… the secret ingredient in making a wedding into a truly FANTASTIC WEDDING is for the whole day to reflect who you are…your personalities, your shared love, humour and all that makes you unique and loved by your family and friends.
- Choosing a Celebrant: Obviously I’d like you to choose me! 🙂 but I suggest you interview a number of Celebrants and select the one you feel most comfortable with.
- Legally you must ensure your Celebrant is registered with the New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs – (www.dia.govt.nz/web/marriagecelebs.nsf). It’s also wise to find someone who is a fully trained Celebrant and a member of the Celebrants Association of New Zealand (CANZ).
- Applying for a Marriage Licence: Within three months of your wedding day you need to complete a ‘Notice of Intended Marriage’ application – you can download this and read all about what’s needed on www.bdm.govt.nz or by phoning 0800 22 52 52. One of you will then need to appear in person before a Registrar of Marriages to sign a Statutory Declaration that shows that you are both free to marry each other (not already married or closely related etc). The Registrar will then issue the Marriage Licence, together with two copies of a document known as a ‘Copy of Particulars of Marriage’ which you and your witnesses will sign on the wedding day, this can be done within three days of the wedding but it is advisable, if humanly possible, to do this well in advance to preserve your sanity and lower both your stress levels, because without it you can’t marry.
- Lists: With all that goes on during the lead-up to a wedding, it’s easy to feel over-whelmed. Even if you’re not a list maker under normal circumstances, this might be the moment to start! Keep a pad & pen in your bag & beside the bed so you don’t forget the random ideas that pop into your mind at the most unlikely times. It’s a wonderful feeling to see the jobs being ticked off each week as the big day gets closer.
- Choosing the Date: We all know December, January, February & March is the silly season when it comes to weddings so one option when choosing the date is to consider a winter wedding… the venues aren’t as booked up and you can set a wonderfully romantic mood with candles, roaring fires and feel-good winter fare that makes your heart sing.
- Weekday weddings: This can be a real bonus as it’s easier to book venues & suppliers and sometimes they’re not as expensive.
- Venue: Pick your venue early… that way as you make other decisions in the months to come you’ll be able to picture how it will ‘look’ and eliminate a lot of fussing & indecision.
- Seating: If you’re having an outside wedding don’t forget to provide adequate seating; not everyone can manage to stand for extended periods, especially the elderly.
- Shade: Remember our sun can be brutal and neither you nor your guests will want to be sunburnt & sweaty after standing around in their best clothes if there’s no shade. Consider providing umbrellas, a gazebo or find a beautiful spot with trees.
- Wet weather: New Zealand, and in particular Auckland, has astoundingly changeable weather (we can all relate to the Crowded House classic ‘Four seasons in one day’!), so don’t forget to have a well-thought out contingency plan if you are having an outside wedding… I know of one wedding where the bridal party managed to remain unscathed but many of their guests weren’t so lucky – wedding clothes & shoes were soaked and splattered in mud… all because no alternative venue had been provided. While it wasn’t the end of the world it did greatly add to everyone’s stress levels.
- Speaker system: For an outdoor wedding there is nothing worse than your guests not being able to hear what is said during the ceremony. By hiring a simple, relatively inexpensive sound system even the people at the very back will be able to hear every word of the vows and therefore really feel part of your special day. If people can’t hear then they will often become restless and start talking out of frustration.
- Signing the register: During the ceremony, having a small table & chair available for the couple and witnesses to sit down at as they sign the register is very helpful.
- Children: If the couple have children or the wedding is bringing two families with children together, think about actively involving each child during the ceremony, by gifting a special piece of jewellery or by asking them to draw a picture or do a reading etc. Encouraging their involvement can be deeply moving and a memorable experience for everyone concerned regardless of the ages. However, if the children are very young or you have a number of guests who will be bringing wiggly little ones it pays to have some party bags with small (quiet) toys, games & snacks included for each child. Alternatively, have someone pre-organised who can take and comfort the little people out of ear shot if they’re unsettled or disruptive… preferably not the grandparents as they’ll be wanting to take part in the ceremony.
- Pets: Why not?, if they’re a big part of your lives and their presence during the ceremony & photos will help it be memorable for you, then yes… bring on the animals, but only if you’re confident they’ll behave and won’t feel inclined to howl mournfully or savage the guests! Appoint a fellow pet lover to look after them with water, a few pet treats and a lead, and if all else fails can take them out to the car or home if they’re clearly not enjoying themselves!
- Entertainment: There’s something magical about a wedding with really well thought-out music; where everything has been carefully considered, from scene-setting music before the ceremony which helps build the anticipation & excitement for the guests as they wait for the bride’s arrival, to the processional (walk-in & exit) music, which can be as traditional or contemporary as you like. During the reception having quiet background music is great, but don’t forget to organise someone to turn it down during the speeches. If you plan to have dancing, choose really good dance music that will appeal to a broad cross-section of the guests & will encourage them to get up & dance the night away… you may really love death metal but the likelihood is that some of your guests won’t be quite as enamoured by it!
- Speeches & toasts – As someone once said, “Speech-making is a bit like prospecting for black gold… if you don’t strike oil in 10 minutes, stop boring!” and with that in mind choose people who are comfortable with public speaking. Ask them to write down what they’re going to say (rather than adlibbing) and give them a time limit of only 3 to 5 minutes… there’s nothing worse than someone waffling on & on because they don’t know how to finish. It’s a good idea to get the speeches & formalities of the reception over early so people can relax rather than sitting there stressing about when their turn to speak will come!
- Mum – In the old days the mother of the bride reigned supreme, as she often organised the whole wedding, sometimes leaving the bride & groom feeling a bit redundant. Today the pendulum has swung the other way as an increasing number of couples pay for & completely plan their own weddings, with little or no help from parents. With these changes it’s easy for both the bride’s & groom’s mums to feel a little left out, so consider giving the mums specific tasks (organising the cake, or managing the guest book and asking all the guests to sign it, or decorating the ceremony venue etc). Perhaps you could invite them to light a candle, read a poem or say a blessing during the service. The big thing is to remember to cut your mums some slack, as without them neither of you would be the amazing people you are today. If you can, be inclusive and loving, as the mums may well be struggling with their own emotions during the lead-up to your big day.
- Dad – Dads also can have conflicting emotions about your wedding… sadness as they prepare to entrust their precious daughter into the care of another (will he treat her right? Will he be a good dad if they have children?), nerves about giving a speech and anxiety about how much everything is going to cost, all mixed in with pride & happiness that his girl is looking so radiant and so obviously in love. So remember your dad & give him a little extra fussing in the lead-up to the wedding and thank him for all he’s done for you over the years.
- Someone missing on the day: Often weddings are tinged with sadness because of the passing of an important member of the bride’s or groom’s family… a parent, grandparent or sibling. Lighting a remembrance candle or simply verbally acknowledging the gap that that person’s absence leaves can soothe understandable feelings of grief and loss during a time of celebration.
- Photography: Whether you have a professional photographer or ask your talented photo taking friends to get lots of photos, think about the time of day you want the main photos done… often the light is fantastic in the late afternoon / early evening. Make a list of the photos you want (you with your parents / grandparents / cousins / girlfriends etc) and give the list to someone with a loud voice! If you are having your photos taken between the ceremony and the reception, and there are young children in your wedding party remember to take bottled water and snacks (choose things that won’t stain if they are spilt!) because all the anticipation and excitement of the big day can cause little ones to wilt pretty fast and the exhausted look doesn’t photograph well!
- Don’t sweat the small stuff: It really is true that your guests won’t remember the small stuff like decorations & favours, but they will remember feeling an integral part of your day and seeing you relaxed and happy. Remember if things don’t go EXACTLY to your careful plan of wedding perfection, most likely you will be the only one to notice, so try to smile and just enjoy every moment of the day, because it will be over before you know it.
And last but by no means least…
- The Vows: Remember to give yourself plenty of time to think about what you want to say to each other. I can offer suggestions to get you going but this is your moment to express what this person you are publically committing yourself to, really means to you…. what would you say to them if it was only the two of you in the room? Write down the most important things you value about your relationship, your hopes and your dreams for the future together.
Try to remember that the ceremony is the true heart of the whole wedding day, and if you get it right, the feelings it invokes will be remembered long after the centre pieces and food have been forgotten.
Call me to set up an obligation free meeting to discuss your wedding and what you would like.