We don’t usually admit it to anyone besides other pastors, but many clergy would rather do a hundred funerals than one wedding. Being the officiant at a wedding is a wonderful privilege, but wedding planning is also one of the biggest sources of headaches that most clergy encounter. From ‘bridezillas’ to meddling mothers-in-law, there are a thousand issues that can– and have– left me gritting my teeth behind a plastered-on smile on the big day. If you’re already married, don’t worry, I’m not talking about you (probably). But if you’re not, here are three things your pastor/rabbi/imam/etc. probably won’t say, but would love for you to know before you start your wedding planning:
Call us sooner rather than later.
Planning on having your wedding at the church you grew up in, or the church where everyone in your family has gotten married? Even the best wedding planning will be derailed in a moment if you’re locked in to one particular date that simply won’t work for your particular house of worship. Yes, everything else in your life takes second place to your big day. But we probably can’t reschedule the fundraiser or the workshop that a group of church members has been planning for six months because your florist isn’t available any other weekends. The same is true for the reception hall you’ve had your eye on or the photographer your family has used for years. Bottom line: when you’re deciding whom to call first, the florist or the church, ask yourself which one is more important to you. Get that one locked in first and be willing to give up the other if the date just won’t work or make sure you plan far enough out that everyone is still available.
Bigger is not necessarily better.
The most beautiful wedding I’ve done was for a man who was marrying a woman from eastern Europe. Because of the challenges associated with her visa, all the wedding planning was done in a matter of weeks. There were no soloists or string quartets. No extravagant decorations or long lines of bridesmaids and groomsmen. Just two families coming together to celebrate the commitment that he and she were making to each other. In the end, it was as simple as a wedding can get, and all the more beautiful for it. While planning on such short notice was certainly stressful, their stress level hardly compared to other brides and grooms who spent hours decorating the church or reception hall or had a thousand details to worry about. Bottom line: at each step in your planning ask yourself, “What is it that I want to remember about this day? Does this choice add to or distract from it?” In the end, what more could there really be?
Don’t overlook the marriage for the wedding.
Not only is it amazing how long insults and hurts from this single day are remembered in a relationship, you’re also setting precedents for how the two of you will handle stressful times and decisions during your marriage. There’s no right or wrong answer about how much input the bride or the groom should have in planning a wedding, nor is it possible to keep everyone happy. But the last thing you want is to start married life having to make up for things that were done and said during the planning stage. Bottom line: he may not care about colors or china patterns, but he should care about the life you’re building together. Start with discussions about things like budget that impact the plans you’re making beyond your wedding day or things like ‘atmosphere’ (formal or casual) that reflect who you are as a couple. The wedding is a day. Your marriage is a lifetime.
We know, the main goal of your wedding planning is not to make us happy. We’ve got our plastered-on smiles down perfectly by now. But you might just find that these tips help make your wedding, and your marriage, an even better and richer experience.