"Normal." What a terrible description?! And what a terrible adjective to apply in the planning of your wedding day!?
"Normal" is a word that I work really hard to steer clear of during planning sessions. I often get questions like... Well what do you normally see? What is the normal order of events? Is that normal? If so-and-so speaks instead of..?
And guess what? There is no normal!
Because your wedding day is all about you and your partner and your marriage! Instead of choosing to build your day around the traditional wedding day or common series of events, think about what matters most to you and your partner. Here are a few starter questions to think about as you start to plan a celebration of your marriage...
Imagine a schedule-free totally available weekend. How are you and your partner spending time?
How do you feel most loved by your humans?
What are things that you associate with a wedding? Which of them excite you? Which of them are just in your brain because you've watched 2700+ romcom weddings?
Did you think about these? Take notes? Jot down thoughts? Probs not, but that's okay.. I'll let you save the brainstorm for tonight over a growler of beer with your fiancé ;) In the meantime, here are some examples about how your answers can apply to your wedding celebrations!
1. Your schedule-free weekend:
If you and your partner would host an intimate dinner party - complete with family style food service, candelabras, and a conversation starter - maybe you should incorporate this vibe into your reception! Ask your caterer if they can do family style service. Set up long rectangular dining tables to facilitate conversation. Create a cozy tablescape with flickering candles and moody floral (like this scene from a Style Me Pretty wedding in California).
If you would get cozy just the two of you - think coffee & croissant in bed, pjs all day, and Vance Joy on the record player - throw some just-you-two time into your timeline! Think about how the two of you can sneak off for a quiet moment together (or five), read your vows to each other prior to the ceremony, or scrap tradition and have a cozy breakfast together on your wedding day.
If you and your partner would be headed out for a crazy night at your favorite club, hire a DJ that can recreate that vibe. Bring a change of outfit (and shoe) so you can truly dance with all the besties. Or keep the live band at the reception, but make sure your crew knows the after-party plans!
If you two would throw a dart at a map and road trip, showcase your love for adventure. Use a giant map or atlas as your guest book and have guests pick out must-visits for you. Instead of a plated dinner, create snack stations with food inspired from your favorite places. Rent a speedy snazzy getaway car for the end of the night.
2. Feeling loved:
Personally, I am a quality time person. I love all of my humans smiling and laughing together in the same room. I suppose that this is generally (and inherently) part of a wedding day, but let's get a bit more detailed. You could extend the wedding day (weekend? week? Don't tempt me...) to make sure you have the time to appropriately enjoy your guests' company. You could place conversation themes / starters under peoples' napkins to make sure they get to know others at their tables. You can keep the wine flowing ;)
If handwritten notes make you feel incredibly loved, make people write you notes! Place notecards or even a notebook at each table for guests to leave you an anniversary note. Ask any special humans to write you a note to open on your wedding morning (or ask your mom or MOH to ask the special humans!). Return the favor and share kind words with your wedding party and/or partner pre-ceremony. Another *super cool*
way to incorporate this love would be with a script-based ceremony and/or sweetheart table backdrop using a favorite quote / song lyric / sweet text from partner (like this one from Emelyn Letters on Etsy).
If memories and reminiscing on favorite moments brings you all the feels, make sure to nuzzle sweet memories into the day. Use photos of you and your partner throughout the space as decor. Create a memory / family table with wedding photos from years past. Ask people to jot down a favorite memory with you and your partner and drop it in a jar near the guest book. And to ensure you have memories of THIS SPECIAL DAY, hire a photographer and/or videographer and communicate the purpose, wants, and needs for this footage.
3. Wedding (dis)association:
Ah yes, the wedding party... spend time considering why / if you want a wedding party to stand by your side during your ceremony. Is that meaningful to you? Does it excite you? Does it make you and your partner feel extra special, loved, and like celebrating? Think about all the options and ways to incorporate people into your day - wedding party or not.
Did you love that Chuck and Blair only had their closest of friends (and Georgina...) surrounding them as they married? Consider a smaller, more intimate ceremony! Not everything has to be as grand as the wedding scene in Crazy Rich Asians.
Figuring out the processional is always difficult, and guess what?! Like always, it's totally your call. If you want to walk down the aisle with someone other than a father, do it! If your partner wants to walk down the aisle with a family member instead of appearing from the side of the ceremony with an officiant, go for it! Build your ceremony (and processional) in a way that makes sense to you and will feel most comfortable come wedding day.
Do you really want to be up until midnight on your wedding day or are you and your partner early birds? Create a wedding day that fits the vibe and energy that you most prefer. Not every wedding needs to start at 3:30pm and run 'til midnight with a crazy dance party. Try an early morning ceremony followed by brunch! Or a mid-day quaint vineyard-side extravaganza with a live string quartet!
So that was a lot of rambling, all of which to say... DO YOU! There is no normal on a wedding day. Sure there are traditional elements of a wedding day, even common and trendy elements of a wedding day... but that does not mean they have to fit into your timeline. Be introspective and really think about what makes you and your partner you and your partner. Incorporate these elements into your wedding day.
PS - if you do want the ceremony floral arrangements and water works like in Crazy Rich Asians, hit a girl up. Let's do it.
PSS - none of this is to say that you need to ditch tradition or skip over something just because your best friend did it. Just remember that this day is about you, your partner, and your love! You don't need to do anything because you are "supposed to." Do things because they have meaning.