Addicted to novelty since 2001

My Only Piece of Wedding Advice

Congratulations to ggirl, who recently became engaged to her beau. I got married some time in the eighteenth century (I was a child bride), and, against stereotype, took at active role in planning our wedding. The process was relatively angst-free, in part because we undertook one decision that made the day itself much calmer. This is my only piece of wedding advice. Don’t worry, I’m not hunting for an invite. I find most weddings kind of dull.

Early on, it occurred to me that holding a wedding is just like producing a play. There’s a venue, cast, crew and an audience. Everyone involved needs to be marshalled, lines have to be said, and events need to occur at the appropriate time and in the correct order. This conclusion influenced all of our wedding plans, including the program (which looked like a play program, and listed everybody involved under ‘Cast’ or ‘Crew’) and the style of the ceremony itself.

If the wedding’s like a play, I figured, then it ought to have a stage manager. So, I hired my friend Marianne ‘Chuck’ Davies, for the last couple of days before and the day of the wedding. She’s an excellent stage manager and an organizational demon. We just gave her instructions on how the day should run, and she took care of the thousand tasks (Is the seating organized correctly? Is the caterer here? Who’s drunk uncle is that?) that often fall to the bride, groom or immediate family. I would have trusted Chuck to run my funeral, so a wedding was nothing.

A side benefit of this move is that Chuck handled well-intentioned friends and family on our wedding day. They all wanted to help, so Chuck had a bunch of tasks to divvy up. There was never any emotional debate about it, because Chuck (and this is perhaps the most important bit of all) had no emotional investment in the occasion. She also had the ultimate trump card if someone wanted to, say, change the seating arrangement at the last minute. She just said “that’s the way Darren and Julie want it”, and the person’s hands were tied.

In writing this entry, I tried to find a digital copy of the program, but it’s on another computer. Instead, I’ve dumped the details of our ceremony below, should anyone care. Held in the Victoria Art Gallery, it was, by wedding standards, slightly unorthodox.

We wrote our own vows. Mine started this way: “To say I vow, comes through the Middle English, vou from the Latin, votum, to vote.” To my distress, that got a big laugh. There was a whole extended metaphor about our lives as countries, but I had to pause for the apparent hilarity to abate. I guess that’s a second piece of wedding advice–make sure you know whether your vows are funny.

  1. Clair de Lune – Lynn Szabo
    Debussy
  2. Prothalamion – Marlis Schweitzer
    Edmund Spenser
  3. Processional – Quartango
    Air and Variations
    Handel
  4. Introduction and Declarations – Justice of the Peace
  5. First parable – Mr. Hill
  6. Wedding – Coby Fulton
    Nicholson Baker
  7. The Cinnamon Peeler – Matthew Bissett
    Michael Ondaatje
  8. Second parable – Mr. Hill
    On Marriage
    Kahlil Gibran
  9. Exchange of Vows – Julie and Darren, Justice of the Peace
  10. Two Words: A Wedding – Roberta
    bp nichol
  11. Third parable – Mr. Hill
    On Friendship
    Kahlil Gibran
  12. Ring exchange and concluding remarks – Laurie Smith
  13. Signing of the Register Quartango
    Air on a G String
    Bach
  14. Epithalamion – Marlis Schweitzer
    Edmund Spenser
  15. Presentation – Marlis Schweitzer
  16. Recessional – Quartango
    Overture, Marriage of Figaro
    Mozart

4 Responses to “My Only Piece of Wedding Advice”

  1. donna

    I never actually made it to my wedding, so I have no idea if my wedding planning skills are up to snuff since they never got played out. However, I have been to a lot of weddings, and so I have this advice:

    First: Short ceremony. Nothing like standing in a church (or whatever other venue you’ve chosen) for an hour, especially if you’re not close enough to hear the whispery, sniffly vows being said. (My experience is that no matter how good of a public speaker you are, it all goes to hell when you’re saying vows.) I’m sure what you’re saying is very important to you, and I respect that. But these seats are uncomfortable, the children are getting squirmy, and the back of your head isn’t nearly as interesting as you’d think.

    Second: Speeches should either be really short, or really funny. I want to be clapping frequently, or laughing my ass off. The wedding I went to in September was a perfect example. Most of the speeches were very short, and the ones that weren’t were hilarious.

    Third: As little downtime as possible. Keep things moving. Think of a party from the Sims 2 — if you don’t keep your guests entertained, you end up with a bad party, and you get a bad memory out of it. Nobody wants that. :)

    Fourth: To hell with the guests. It’s not THEIR day, it’s yours. So take the first three things I said and say “fuck it, I’m doing it this way, guests be damned.” :)

  2. Russil Wvong

    My wife and I found Miss Manners on Weddings really helpful. It provides a good perspective on what’s important (bringing together your friends and family) and what’s not (fundraising). Plus, it’s frequently hilarious.

  3. gwendolyn

    I don’t know if this will be pleasing or add to your distress, but of your entire wedding, the only thing that distinctly stands out is the first line of your vow (and, yes, I did laugh). Still, it stands out as a wonderful memory of an amazing wedding. So, maybe that’s not such a bad thing….

  4. Beverly Fitch

    Hi. I’m age 80’s motherinlaw to Russil Wvong, on whose new-to-me website I found your wedding story. Amused me greatly…
    Needed badly this week… I found out more about my soninlaw (and you) in my short exploration, than I could in a lifetime. Thank you. BSF

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