As everyone knows, planning a wedding is complicated. In our case, before we started actually planning our wedding, we had lots of conversations about what we did and didn't want to include in our day. Many people feel pressure from all kinds of directions to include certain things into their wedding that they don't necessarily feel a connection to. This pressure can come from family members who have expectations, some sense of having to do the same thing as your friends, societal influence, or even a nameless sense of "but this is the way it has to be".
But, really, it doesn't "have to be" anything you don't want! It's YOUR wedding!
That being said, no plan (wedding or otherwise) survives for long without changing. Sometimes, all it takes is the right person or motivation to change your mind on something, and then, BAM, things get easier and better.
So, here is a list of things that we didn't plan to do at our wedding, but are glad we did.
1. Have an Engagement Shoot: We are not necessarily the type of people that want everyone to look at us. Most of the time when we would see engagement photos, all we could think was "Wow, we cannot picture ourselves doing that." Most of them looked forced, posed in ways that the people in them would never pose, or just plain cheesy in a way that wasn't us. When we found our photographer (the wonderful Alexandra Roberts), part of her wedding package was that she would do an engagement shoot. Even though we kind of felt like we didn't need it, it was part of the deal, so we figured we'd go ahead and do it anyway, since we loved her work. Man, was it a good idea.
First, and most importantly, the photos came out great. Alex is a wizard, and really captured moments that felt distinctly "us", and even when we were doing things that felt silly to us, she would catch the little moments in between that were truly genuine. We had an absolute blast running around with her in a blueberry patch, and then down at the sea wall in Narragansett, RI. But the practical results of this exercise were just as important. For one thing, established a relationship between us and our photographer, and she got to know us and our vibe. This allowed her to come into the actual wedding with a plan for how she wanted to go about it, and knew about what we were expecting. Also, since we loved the engagment photos so much, it made us supremely confident in her ability to capture our wedding in a way that we were going to be happy with.
So, even though we dragged our feet on the idea, we are 100% glad we went this route.
(Sidenote, our wedding photos came out amazing. Like, infinity better than we could have ever hoped for. I mentioned Alex is a wizard, and I'm not joking.)
2. Have a Bachelor Party: I am not a bachelor party kind of guy. The typical bachelor party activities hold no interest for me. As a non-drinker, most of the debauchery usually associated with bachelor parties essentially meant that I had written one off. However, as the wedding got closer, my work situation got more stressful, we bought our house and moved in, the stress started piling on stress. Jess and some of my Groom's Guard organized a pretty great day for me. We all went to a shooting range (Manly! But totally a controlled environment, safe, fun, and affordable.), and then went out for Chinese food. That was it. I even overheard one of my friends saying "No no, honey don't worry, it's not THAT kind of party...I'll be back by dinner time".
Everyone had a great time, we ate good food, and we were done in time to go home and relax. The important thing, though, is that it gave me a little bit of mental space from the stress I was under. Just taking a day off to go do fun things helped immensely!
3. Have a Day-of Person: We did almost all of the wedding planning ourselves. We dedicated a ton of time to all the little details and projects that were involved. But there is only one problem with that: On the day, you're too busy to attend to all those details! Luckily, the venue we had chosen (the Tiverton Meeting House) assigns a day-of coordinator. While we were off getting photos taken, getting ready, or whatever else we were doing, she was there to tell people where to sit, where to set up, where to put the chairs, and (the thing we are worst at, ourselves) make sure it was all happening on time. We didn't expect to need someone to do all this since we figured "hey, we'll be there, so we'll just handle it" but...that's not very fun. On the day, you want to be able to enjoy it, see all the people you haven't seen in a long time, and really let all your hard work sink in. It shouldn't feel like you are working at your own wedding!
4. Have a small "Welcome" map/guide: One thing we realized was that a ton of our friends and family were going to be in town for our wedding, but we wouldn't be able to hang out with all of them the whole time they were be here. What we ended up doing at the last second was putting together a little welcome guide. We made a small program to leave at the hotels people were staying at, and inside it had tips on things to see, places to eat, directions to the venue, and other general information. Our guests really seemed to love getting to know our city through our favorite haunts, and we loved hearing about the adventures people had while exploring! Because of this, and the little map we included, we started offering Day-Of maps, and our clients really seem to connect with them. There's just something about sharing what you love about your home town!
5. Hire a Travel Agent for our Honeymoon: We knew going into the wedding that we were really going to want to get out of town right afterwards! It was something we were looking forward to immensely, and we had all kinds of ideas about where we wanted to go, and what we wanted to do. We ended up deciding that we would go to a part of the world that neither of us had been before, so that it was a new and memorable trip for both of us. This left only one problem: neither of us knew anything about traveling in the part of the world we wanted to visit!
Normally, this is something that we'd have a blast planning and looking forward to, but, when planning a wedding at the same time, it was just another stress causer that we needed to navigate. So, enter our friends Don and Steven.
It basically all went like this: We all sat down at our favorite local Indian restaurant and we got out a map. We started with a city we hadn't been to yet, Prague. From there, we pointed at cities that were close to it, and asked them if they were awesome or not. If the answer was yes, we put it on our itinerary. A week or so later, they sent us a proposed trip. They had planned out all of our flights to and from Europe, our hotels in each city, transportation to each city, and one thing for us to do in each place. So, that was all the hard stuff all done, all in one fell swoop. All we had to do was get to the airport, and everything else was all set. We even had transportation lined up for between each train-station and each hotel, so we really just needed to stumble out of the hotel and get in the waiting car.
This left us to just figure out what we wanted to do in each place, which was really all we wanted to deal with. It was an amazing trip, and incredibly hard to come back from!
So, those are the things we didn't plan to do at our wedding, but are glad we did. What about everyone else?