Traditions: Something old, something new.
So if you’re wondering what I’m rambling on about, my now wife Ashton and I were married late December 2014 – Since all of that is still fresh in my mind, I’m in the process of a creating a series to help you with tips for planning your wedding day. If you’d like to start at the beginning with the first post, please hop on over to: 1. Wedding Planning – Imagine the Day
2. The flow of the day – The Wedding Timeline
Every now and then I get an e-mail from someone I know asking me for tips on travelling in Thailand. I’ve only been twice so I’m hardly an authority on the subject, but I have some insights and when I reply, I say things like – When you travel between islands, you can take the affordable option of going by ferry or you can arrange for a car to take you directly to the harbour and have a speed boat waiting to take you on to your destination.
You see, in the scenario above, they’re both valid options that end the same way, its just whoever is asking the question then needs to think about two things. How much time they have and how it will impact their budget.
It’s this thought process that in a very strange way brings me to Wedding Traditions – Now, they may not be your traditions, or anyone you knows traditions but they are what I would consider to form a part of a traditional wedding day and ultimately will affect those two priority items – Time & budget. Time, more often than not, being the more valuable of the two. Stay with me ;)
There are no rules. It’s important to remember, it's your wedding day. Make it flow anyway you please, as long as you cover all the things that are important to you.
Your Bridal Party: How many is enough? Consider the cost of clothing them, hair & make-up, logistics of where they’ll get dressed, what you’ll want them to do, how they’ll impact your mood on the day – I’ve photographed weddings with one or two bridesmaids and I’ve photographed weddings with seven or eight. From my experience, it can add to the fun and excitement of the day or it can add to the stress. The question is, taking your personality type into account, how do you see it impacting your day?
Ashton and I chose to have no bridal party – No best men and no bridesmaids – We just wanted them to enjoy the day as guests and we wanted to start this journey as the two of us. (I'm not going to lie, financially, it made sense too). We asked our siblings if our nieces and nephews could be involved – Which was risky since we could have had 3 crying children refusing to walk down the aisle. It was something we discussed and we were willing to let them sit down wherever they wanted without having to walk down the aisle if it came to that. We were lucky though, they are the smartest and cutest kids under the age of 6, so they played ball and added to the fun of the day.
The First Look: This is a trend that seems to take place quite a bit in Europe and America – Locally, I think its catching on, and this is perfect, specifically for Winter weddings when Day light time is limited & the ceremony starts at 4pm. (Couple photographs can happen much earlier in the day).
Ashton and I discussed this and decided that we wanted to see each other before the ceremony. We just felt that it was going to be very emotional and unnecessarily stressful otherwise. We wanted to enjoy the moment she walked down the aisle... Smiling, rather than fighting back tears. Did we rob the guests of the emotion of the moment? Perhaps. Did they know? Nope. Does it matter? Well, that depends - who's wedding was it? Oh yes, what did we want? Oh yes.
I can honestly say that now, looking back, it was the very best decision we made. The first look allowed us to just relax. Alone. The two of us. Well, the two of us and the photographers & videographer :D
I will never forget standing there and turning around to see Ashton - Focused, in the moment, no distractions. Raw. Real. It was insane. I honestly don't think the impact would have been as great if I had seen her from afar. This worked for us and I completely understand it's not what everyone would like. It was our wedding day though, so we did what worked for us.
We literally spent 2 minutes together and then with nerves at ease, smiled, kissed each other goodbye and headed off to the ceremony. I arrived 5 minutes before Ashton, stood at the alter, calm and confident. She glided down the aisle full of smiles.
To find out more about the First Look, here is a Youtube clip put together by international wedding photographer Nadia Meli - I checked with her and she was happy for me to share it with you. Go take a look at some of the other videos on her YouTube channel, you're bound to find lots of interesting information there.
Your vows: Will you write them yourself and make them personal or will you repeat after the minister? Think about your everyday life, do you excel at public speaking? Consider it’s your wedding day and that you’ll probably be at least a little nervous (unless you’re used to being the centre of attention at gatherings). Do you want the pressure of remembering the lines or are you happy to read them? Would you rather the professional takes care of it, or is the romantic notion of it all enough to justify the occasional hiccup?
The signing of the register: Register signings are only valid and official when done under the roof of a house or the inside of a church. Ashton and I were married in a forest so we were required to leave the area for the signing of the register. It wouldn’t have been a problem and would have taken 15 minutes in total. They’re 15 minutes we weren’t willing to spare at that stage of the day so we opted for the legal ceremony to take place on the morning of our wedding. Again, not everyone's cup of tea.
We woke up and had breakfast together (prepared by good friends) and then along with our immediate families went to church and exchanged our vows. It was a quiet intimate ceremony with the minister that had given our marriage classes.
Ashton walked down the aisle with our nieces and nephew - as if it were a trial run for later in the day - I stood at the end of the aisle with a huge grin on my face and squeezed in a quick iphone snap since I knew I wouldn’t be allowed to take photos from that stage on :D
Your Dress / Suit: So you don’t want to wear a big puffy white dress? Then Don’t. You don’t want to wear a black tie and black suit? Don’t. You want a fun picture of you in your gum boots? Put them on. You want the groomsmen to wear sneakers – Buy them. Do whatever you feel like doing. Allow your choice of bridal apparel to be a reflection of you. Ashton wore a big puffy white dress with no veil, instead she wore a head piece (Net veil) and I wore a black tie and suit – That’s who we are. (If my calves were bigger I may have considered shorts) Be who you are. Choose what you like.
Décor: Perhaps you’ve imagined your wedding since you were a little girl and you’ve dreamed of white roses or lavender for as long as you can remember. Or you haven’t really given it much thought. Either or, have your décor reflect you and fit in with your budget. Flowers, balloons, candles, raw bulbs, draping, table runners, place mats, name cards, menus, guest gifts – Added up, it can be very overwhelming – Go with what you love so decision making is easy. If you think you’re going to struggle here, employ the services of a co-ordinator or planner to help carry the load.
Speeches: Earlier I spoke about your public speaking abilities - This can apply to all of your speakers. I have sat through many, many, many speeches in my lifetime. Some of them have been brilliant. Witty. Funny. Some of them have been terrible. Not everyone can deliver a speech – That’s ok, not everyone has to. Remember that. Customise the line-up, the timings, the locations – All of it. There are no rules, it’s 2015 – Do what works for you, what you want, what you think will work for your guests.
Cutting of the cake, throwing of the bouquet & garter: Announce the cutting of the cake (the older folk enjoy this part of the evening) or tell your photographer when it’s happening and get it done quietly – Do it on the way to the opening of the dance floor so there is a transition, or do it on arrival after your couple photographs.
The same can be said for the bouquet and garter toss – Do it, or don’t – Think about the guests, how many singles are there? Is there someone you’d rather give your bouquet to as a token of your thanks? Do what works for you.
Ok, perhaps I have rambled on for long enough. Regardless what you decide on, allow it to be a reflection of you. Just keep in mind for each aspect of the day, you need to consider the amount of time it will take – Do you want to spend the day rushing from A to Z ticking things off the checklist that aren't really important to you at all, or do you want the day to run smoothly, focusing on the things you deem valuable? Food for thought.
The next post is a little more relaxed behind the scenes look at the lead up to the day and the decor elements put together by the bride herself.