Sunday, November 20, 2011

Flexibility is the Key to Good Wedding Etiquette

As a veteran of the hospitality industry, one of the hats which I enjoy wearing the most is that of wedding coordinator. During a recent weekend, I had the distinct pleasure of assisting at two weddings. One was a small casual affair with under 40 guests, with a minimal size bridal party and was held outdoors at the Treadwell Inn overlooking beautiful Saint Andrews harbor. The reception was also held on the premises and the whole event wrapped up in two hours. Everyone had fun, the weather cooperated and the relaxed atmosphere made for a stress free upbeat celebration.

The other wedding was a more structured formal affair performed at the Catholic church. There was a large wedding party including a flock of three ring bearers and five flower girls. There was also a bell ringer, ushers, groomsmen, a best man, and a maid of honor. Suffice it to say that there were a lot of moving parts to this wedding and making sure everyone was in place at the appropriate time and in the right order was a slight challenge. There is never any guarantee when eight small children are leading the procession will go off without a hitch, but they were all so excited to be dressed up and at a wedding that they performed like seasoned professionals.

These two very different weddings shared the common denominator of the need to be flexible to ensure a successful event. I have always been a big proponent of making contingency plans for any event whether it be a wedding or a dinner party. Planning helps avoid unpleasant surprises. It also gives a reassuring air to the whole event. If everyone involved knows where they need to be, when to be there, and how to get there, most unexpected elements are removed.

Weather is a consideration for outdoor weddings. Be sure to have a back up plan. If you have one, the sun will shine; if not, it will pour with rain. Other important considerations arise in direct proportion to the number of logistical details are involved in the event. For example, don't forget the rings or the boutonnieres. These small yet essential articles need to be on a list along with every other thing you can think of.

At the rehearsal, it is really important to remember such things as the length of the train on the bridal gown and how many times it will need to be adjusted. Be sure that pews are reserved for anyone in the family such as grandparents, aunts and uncles and anyone else whom you wish to have special seating.

Weddings are celebrations and incredible shows mostly because of the importance of the event in the couple's lives. They are also legal affairs and therefore there are certain vows which must be exchanged and papers signed. Outside of these firm parameters, there is a lot of leeway as to the rest of the ceremony and the reception. This day belongs to the bride and groom. They should make most of the decisions regarding the details. This is not the purview of the mothers of the bride or groom, nor is unsolicited input from overbearing sisters appropriate. This is not to say that help will not be requested or that some boundaries will need to be respected. This is where the experience of a good wedding planner can come in very handy and be well worth the investment.

There will almost always be last minutes emergencies. Rarely are these impossible to handle but an emergency kit with safety pins, hemming tape, spot remover and tissues will come in handy. The most important ingredient is a calm, cool and collected attitude. This helps to make any event a success. Be prepared to handle unexpected wrinkles and do so with compassion and grace. Let's not forget that we are all human beings and surprises are bound to occur. We aren't perfect, and we hopefully have enough common sense to get us through mishaps. This is a good time to be ready to employ it.

Weddings come in all shapes and sizes. There is no right or wrong way to design them, nor is one style more correct than another. There are guidelines which support an entire industry of weddings. Wedding planners follow more traditional customs and know how to create the dream wedding of in bride's mind.

Respecting the institution of marriage is the cornerstone of any successful ceremony and reception. If a wedding is planned with the same values which make a happy marriage, you're going to be off on the right foot. These values include compassion, respect, and kindness.