Planning an engagement or wedding? Ask yourself this…

I adore weddings, but I do take all of the hoopla of both engagements and weddings with a healthy grain of salt. Becoming engaged is a special time in one’s life. Enjoy it to the max, because making a serious commitment to another person is truly profound. Savor these moments.

But (you knew there would be a ‘but’) there seems to be more and more pressure on the person making the proposal to do something spectacular. This is not necessary. Neither a marriage proposal, nor a wedding needs to be a spectacle. Sometimes the quietest moment is the most intense. If you have a flare for the dramatic, ok, go for it – but no one should feel pressured to create something that isn’t right for them.

A quiet moment can be the way to propose.

Often couples get caught up in these trappings while forgetting the deeper meaning of what is happening. So while you’re asking about flowers and cakes and dresses and shoes – ask yourself this:

- If you didn’t have to please anyone else, would this be the choice you’d be making?

- If you didn’t worry about what other people might think, would you do something differently?

When the guest list feels like it’s getting out of control, ask yourself: are these the people I really care about?

Congratulations for doing it your own way!

The answers to these questions will be a useful guide in your decision-making. I’m not saying other people shouldn’t be taken in account. After all, a marriage is about much more than just the two people getting married. Compromise is one of the keys to a successful wedding plan, as well as a successful marriage.

However, you need to balance others needs with your own. The clothes you choose to wear should feel like you. The way you present yourself should be authentic. Magazines are fun, but they often don’t really reflect reality.

Casual fits this couple.

There are some sources of information that do emphasize more realistic approaches, and I hope my tiny piece of the media world is one of them. A few site I like are: Off Beat Bride, Broke-Ass Bride, A Practical Wedding, A Realistic Wedding and the Huffington Post has a great wedding section as well.

I agree with blogger Marta Segal Block when she writes: ‘how do you know if blogs are helping or hurting you? Ask yourself:

1. How do I feel after I look at this blog; energized to start planning or depressed?

2. Is this blog trying to help me or sell me something?

3. Are there a variety of budgets and ethnicities represented on this blog? Do they show anything that resembles what I want, what I can afford, or what I look like?

4. Am I starting to think more about the “things” associated with my wedding and less about the people?

5. Am I ignoring the advice of my wedding vendors in favor of wedding advice given by an anonymous blogger?’

Don’t let wedding planning divide you and your partner. Take the time to do the normal things you do together and don’t let the big event overtake everything.

The right moment.

So while all those little details are great, don’t get me wrong, I adore flowers and photography, I’m just saying don’t lose your perspective.

The perfect wedding is a myth. You’re getting married, you’re an adult and you don’t believe in fairy tales any more. Enjoy all the little details and remember the big picture stuff. Most of all keep your sense of perspective. There, that’s wasn’t cynical of me, was it? Please pass the salt.

 

 

Thank you Lisa Rhinehart for your fantastic photography!

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The Strong Symbolism of Water

Recently I wrote about the symbolism of the circle, noting how such a basic and simple thing – a circle – can express so much meaning. I also wrote about the box ritual – again, simple idea, but with great significance. The same, and more, can be said about water.

All cultures, religions and traditions have rituals using water. Holy water. We find symbolism and references everywhere.

A water sharing ritual for the wedding ceremony. (Garth Woods)

Almost all Christian churches or sects have initiation rituals involving water: baptism. Its origins are in the flight of the Israelites out of slavery, and then the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist in the Jordan.

In Judaism purification rituals include washing hands, feet, or total immersion which must done in ‘living water’, meaning the sea, a river, a spring, or in a mikveh (Hebrew for the ritual bath).
To Hindus all water is sacred, especially rivers, and there are seven sacred rivers, most of us know the Ganges, but also: Yamuna, Godavari, Sarasvati, Narmada, Sindhu and Kaveri.

In Islam water is also very important for cleansing and purifying, and in Taoism water is considered an aspect of wisdom. These are just some of the many religious traditions that incorporate water as profoundly symbolic.

 

By the water (Bayshore Photography)

Moving from religion to culture, history, and science – we know that all life started in water, where it began to take its many amazing forms. Everything that lives needs water, from the smallest plants to the largest whale. And from the beginning of history, humans have built their homes and their lives around water.

On a global scale the need for access to clean water is one of the upmost importance for the survival of our planet and everything living on it.

And on a micro scale, day-to-day, even including our own hobbies or passions, water plays a big part in our lives. Maybe you simply love sitting by an ocean, lake or stream. Perhaps you love to kayak, swim or fish. The uses, symbols and meanings we human attach to water are endless, because water is itself so vast and remarkable. Even our own bodies are 60% water.

Pope Frances washes in ritual.

Water literally and metaphorically cleanses and soothes, it also lifts and refreshes, it can transport, cool and certainly quenches our thirst. Water supports all life.

What a strong symbol, especially for marriage; and that is why a ‘water sharing’ ritual is one of my favorites. It’s quite simple but yet powerful. The words I choose to go along with it might vary greatly depending on the couple.  The action itself is simple, too: you simply pour and share some water. It is a symbol of your promise to nourish and sustain one another. And may you never thirst for love!

 

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Stories are the Heart of Ceremony

Life is a series of stories, and stories are a way we learn, remember and connect with one another. They are how we teach our children and how we grow as adults. In an earlier time, Grimm’s fairytales scared children to make them behave, today we read our kids stories to help them develop empathy, and sometimes just to laugh and enjoy life. Isn’t the best part of any funeral service when someone gets up and tells a good story about the deceased? Yes, stories matter.

Scary stories.

I am often amazed at the stories that couples I’m working with share with me. We celebrants are all about storytelling. Learning about the folks we work with is at the heart of what we do. Whether for their wedding ceremony, a renewal of vows, as well as for funerals, memorials, or to welcome a new baby, the journey is the point! Stories are everywhere, and everyone has a story to tell.

Stories are often told for toasts at a wedding reception. A walk down memory lane brings all your guests together, sometimes with laughter and sometimes with tears. And your photographer is there to tell the story of your wedding day in photographs. And your ceremony is the perfect time to share stories as well. Speaking the couples’ truth is my job. I want their ceremony to be infused with meaning and honesty. How did they get here, what brings them together, and where they are going?

The bible is composed of countless stories that have various messages to impart – forgiveness, sharing, faith, overcoming, suffering, salvation, life, death, hope, and more. A good story demonstrates what is important in life, and even inspires us to be better people.

The stories I share about the couple gives insight into the life and love of a couple. And that is why we are gathered together for their wedding.

I am often telling the couples story. (photo: ajohnson)

When I meet with engaged couples I’m always interested to hear how they met, the particular circumstances, and often hear some very unique and colorful anecdotes.

There’s the couple who almost crossed paths many times, over many years. They attended the same schools, worked at the same company, had mutual friends, and were at the same concerts, they grew up around the corner from each other, all are many ways they could have met, should have met – yet they hadn’t. Until they did. Truth can be stranger than fiction. Now that is a good story!

Then there are the childhood sweethearts who reunite, which is more common than you might imagine, and those stories are charming and worthy of celebration. Good things come to those who wait.

What's YOUR story? (Rhinehart Photography)

I recently worked with a couple with an adorable engagement story. The groom proposed three times, because he wasn’t satisfied with how he went about it, even though the bride said yes each time. The first time was on a bus, and he didn’t have a ring; they were discussing a fiancé visa, and it seemed just too practical. That, he said, was definitely not ‘up to snuff’. The second time was when he felt a very romantic moment happening, on a bridge in London, with the London Eye behind them and guitar music in the air. He got down on one knee and proposed (again) right there. And (again) she said yes! But he still didn’t have a ring. So he went for a third round, with the ring this time. He had everything planned out this time, so while on vacation at a resort – he asked again, but this time he slipped on the ring, finally!

Interestingly, when I shared this story at the wedding, the mother of the groom told me she only had heard about two of the proposals and wasn’t aware of the third.

There are so many tales to tell, and it is my joy and pleasure to tell them – with the couple’s complete permission and approval, of course!

Storytelling is a part of every culture and predates the written word. It is essential to being human and it is one of the ways we share and deepen our experiences. What stories do you have to share with your loved ones? Don’t wait.

 

 

 

 

 

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A wedding ritual for your future

Looking for the perfect ritual for your wedding ceremony? There are those candles, the sand ceremony, hand-fasting, and many, many religious, spiritual and secular ways to symbolize your joining up together. But there is one in particular that moves with you into your future. Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best – this one of them, and it’s all about a box.

You may be familiar with the ‘Wine Box Ceremony’, and it is certainly directly related to that, or you may have heard about the ‘Love Letters Ritual’, another good variation. For now, let’s just call it a ‘Box Ritual’ or perhaps ‘Time Capsule.’ But whatever you call it, it is meaningful, personal and often quite fun. It is such a simple idea, yet so perfect – as good ideas often are!

There are many variations on this ritual (and that’s wonderful in itself) but the overarching idea is to put things into a box and open the box at a later date. That’s it! Brilliant.

The items you choose to include can be letters you write to each other the night before the wedding, keepsakes from the ceremony, a bottle of wine (or other favorite beverage), copies of your vows, or just about anything that captures the meaning of your wedding day.

I took this pic from a recent wedding ceremony.

There are even more cool variations and this is where it gets really good. You can plan to open the box every year on your anniversary. Another twist is to open the box if you hit a rough patch in your marriage. While some couples would rather not reference that, if we are honest we understand every relationship has ups and downs. It’s how you navigate those bumps in the road that make all the difference. When you look through the contents of your keepsake box, read the vows or letters you included, it will remind you of the love that brought you together and help you on your journey. If there’s a bottle of wine to share, all the better!

What sets it apart from just having a keepsake box is having the ritual as a part of the ceremony itself. When I do this I speak about how a marriage begins like an empty box, that you fill with love and meaning throughout the years. You must put something into it, before you can take anything out. There is no love in marriage – love is in people, and people put the love into marriage. There is no romance in marriage, you have to infuse it into your marriage. I may add that the couple is committed to cultivating the art of marriage and forming the habits of giving, loving, and remaining mindful, to keep the box full, and how they begin that process with this ritual that is both literal and metaphorical.

I talk about the specifics – the items they include. I have even had parents add letters to the box. One of the many great things about this is how completely personal it becomes, as each couple brings their own style and flair to it.

The groom made this box! Photo: Wesley Works

Best of all – it truly is something to enjoy again and again throughout the years.  I recently heard from couples five years after their wedding who let me know they opened their ceremony box and how much they enjoyed it.

I have had couples who built their own box, and others who went on a great antique hunt to find the perfect box, and others who used a family heirloom. You can also get something cool on sites like Etsy. Big or small, old or new, inscribed or simple, it is yours!

The idea of the box works for many occasions, anniversaries, the birth of a baby. It’s an ancient idea really. A time capsule is classic. Incorporating it into your actual wedding ceremony, however, brings new life to it.

 

 

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Realistic Expectations for Your Wedding Day

Many engaged couples dream of a perfect wedding. For some women it’s a fairy-tale come true based on childhood fantasies and desires mixed in with lots of media hype.

And while there’s nothing wrong with planning your dream-come-true wedding event, it is important to temper your expectations with some realism. Imagining a day that is perfect is a set-up for disappointment.  There is no such thing as perfection, in an event or in a marriage. So let’s talk about what to expect and what not to expect.

A gorgeous moment, just as you'd imagined!

The stress leading up to the big day is much greater than many people anticipate. From the very start it helps if you acknowledge that it can become overwhelming. You may as well know now that it will probably be more work and planning than you expected, so be determined to keep your sense of humor and proportion.

Decide what really matters to you. There are really only a few things you need – a date and a location, and someone to officiate. Music, food, flowers, photography, videography, special clothing and so much more are all choices you make. But let’s be honest – most people do choose to have most or all of those things. And that’s great – just keep it in perspective.

Once you have decided on your vendors, expect that a few details may turn out differently than you imaged them, either by mistake or miscommunication.

Here are a few things that could easily not meet your expectations.

Your attendants (bridesmaids and groomsmen) are a lot less interested in your wedding that you thought they would be.

You thought your partner would be equally involved. Turns out only one of you is into all the little details.

You think it’s ‘your’ day, but it turns out it is also your mother’s day.

The flowers don’t look like what you ordered, the cake didn’t show up in time and the song list isn’t what you chose. Any one of those types of mistakes could occur. Don’t sweat it! It’s not as big a deal as you think.

Food didn't work out? Order pizza.

The first dance is embarrassing instead of blissful.

You agreed to no cake in the face, but it happens anyway.

And of course the big one: it rains (snows, hails, sleets or there is a hurricane).

How you respond to mistakes and mishaps is up to you.

So, fairy tale wedding? Well, when look closely at fairy tales, you will find them pretty depressing anyway, not to mention for the most part extremely sexist, although Snow White does go off to live with Seven Dwarves, so kudos to her!

And while I love Pinterest, blogs, and magazines, they are also a big part of creating unrealistic expectations. If you choose to do all of those cute little details yourself, you might wind up running around like a maniac on your wedding day, instead of savoring the moments.

Remember your place in the universe, and that this is only one day. Big picture thinking is always helpful.

I guess what I’m trying to say is setting yourself up for unrealistic expectations for your wedding day is as problematic as setting yourself up for unrealistic expectations for your marriage. Please don’t do either of those things.

So what if it rains?

 

Thank you Lisa Rhinehart Photography  for the gorgeous photos.

 

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Jumping the Broom

There are many interesting historic and symbolic ideas connected to the ritual known as ‘Jumping the Broom.’

The story that slaves invented this ritual is common, but we now understand that it was actually a custom brought here by enslaved Africans. Historians are not in complete agreement, but most agree that Jumping the Broom dates back to before the first Europeans visited West Africa. According to the African-American Registry the broom, as a wedding symbol, originated in Ghana.

The questions is – for slaves was it used because they were not legally allowed to marry, or were they simply following their traditional customs? I’m not a historian but I’m thinking it could be a combination of these ideas. Either way it is both an act of defiance and cultural identity. I like that!

Painting by Christy Keeler

Jumping the Broom was given a big pop culture boost when it was included in Alex Haley’s “Roots,” the popular book and TV series in the late 1970’s.

What do you need to know about incorporating this custom today?

Jumping the Broom at Harmony Gardens (Garth Woods photo)

In jumping over the broom the couple physically and spiritually crosses a threshold into the land of matrimony. It marks the beginning of making a home together. It symbolizes the sweeping away of the old and the welcoming of the new; the sweeping away of all negative energy, making way for all things that are good to come into your lives. It is also a call of support for the marriage from the entire community of family and friends. You might say they begin their new life together with a clean sweep! It does not, in our modern world, represent the woman’s agreement to clean the house!

Sometimes couples create their own brooms, or you can purchase a decorated broom ready-made. The brooms are usually outfitted with silk ribbons, fresh or silk flowers, bows, beads and more.

The couple brought this broom for their ceremony!

You don’t have to be African-American – you might be Caribbean, or from other countries where people of color wound up after the African diaspora and Middle Passage when Africans were stolen and taken to many places

I recently officiated for a bride and groom from Jamaica and Barbados where Christian traditions and ancestral rites from Africa blended a bit more harmoniously and they were excited to jump the broom.

If you are not African or African-American, can you Jump the Broom? Some people feel it is offense and that cultural appropriation – the borrowing customs from another culture and using them – is disrespectful. Others disagree and feel it is a way to honor and respect another culture, by sharing their rituals, symbols or styles. I can’t answer that question for you, but I do feel when something is done with a spirit of love and respect it can’t be too bad.

Who can jump? Photo courtesy of "Weareforeeachother.com"

Interestingly broom jumping is also practiced by other groups and in different religions around the world with variations. Wiccans and Gypsies are among some of the groups who developed their own broom-jumping tradition. I love how diverse groups have come up with similar symbols, whether they borrowed from another culture, or come up with them on their own. The Irish have a tradition of jumping over an oak branch. There are many shared and universal symbols. Rings, for example, are used in almost every culture, religion and tradition. I recently wrote about the universality of circles.

Before marriage equality became the law of the land, giving marriage rights to all couples, I had a straight couple who chose to Jump the Broom as a statement of support for same-sex couples. It was a powerful part of their ceremony, and as in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere!”

Jumping the Broom is a joyous ritual and I love putting it at the end of the ceremony and seeing the couple jump into their new life together as a married couple!

   Thank you  Garth Woods and weareforeachother.com

 

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The Symbol of the Circle

Weddings are one of the most symbolic days in anyone’s life. We use many elements in weddings, whether religious, spiritual or secular, to help express the meaning of this big milestone in life. It’s a time to dig deep.

Sometimes something very simple can be inspiriting: the circle, for example, a symbol that is quite universal. The circle is often referenced during the exchange of rings – and I’ll get to that in a minute – but it could be incorporated in other ways as well. Let’s explore the angles first – oh, wait – there are not angles in a circle.

The pebbles create circles. (photo: Garth Woods)

The circle is a symbol in almost every religion and culture. It represents many ideas – totality, wholeness, perfection – from the self to the infinite. It can stand for eternity, timelessness, all cyclic movement, and even God. It clearly can represent the sun, the planets and even the universe. From science and mathematics, to nature, music and art, a circle is a most basic yet strong shape.

We have circles of friends, and in music there is the circle of fifths (a visual representation of the relationship of keys). Who can forget ‘The Circle of Life’ from the Lion King? Or one I actually love more, Joni Mitchell’s ‘Circle Game.’

In Hinduism the mandala depicts the circle to represent the universe, and in Zen Buddhism it symbolizes absolute enlightenment and mu (the void).

Circles of healing.

Long ago, in pagan cultures, during the dark days of winter, people burned a wheel and prayed for the return of light. During the Reformation, seeing the circular wheel as a symbol of the eternal, unchanging nature of God, Christians may have appropriated this symbol for Advent. To symbolize God’s gift of life, they covered the wheel with greens, and to symbolize the light brought into the world by Christ, they added candles. And so we have the Christmas wreath!

This is an ancient Jewish wedding tradition of the bride walking in a circle around the groom. Originally this was meant to show that he was the center of her world – but in today’s modern world it is more of a promise to protect and couples often do this reciprocally.

I have created several rituals involving circles. One is tossing pebbles into a body of water – great for a wedding by a calm lake. Here’s where the circle comes in: I speak of how the pebbles create rings in the water, circles, that touch one another, just as we all touch one another. I ask that we think of how the circles cross and re-cross one another, just as our love touches those around us, whether we realize it or not.

Their paper boats also create circles (photo: Lisa Rhinehart)

I have had couples who set up their seating for the ceremony in a circle, and I once had a couple walk in a circle around their guests. I have also orchestrated having attendants form a circle around the couple as they exchanged rings, encircling them with their love and support.

For me, it’s all about the circle of love, the circle of family and community and the circle of support, that draws us all together.

Of course there is that classic explanation about the wedding ring – that the ring is a circle, with no beginning and no end, representing never-ending love. I’ve heard and said this so many times, I must admit I’m a bit tired of it, but in truth it is a beautiful idea.

One simple shape, many concepts and interpretations. So it is with a wedding ceremony. The intention is to join up together in this life-long journey, but the ways to represent this idea are endless.

Setting your chairs in a circle is lovely.

   Thank you Lisa Rhinehart and Garth Woods

 

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Big day, big dress, big deal (Read this before you buy one)

A wedding gown is something that looms large in the hearts and minds of many women. It has grown out of the princess myth and may cause some women anguish, and others amazing joy. But whatever your views, if you are a bride, you are probably looking for the perfect dress for your big day. It can be a highly emotionally charged decision.

Your dress may be full-length, tea-length and even short. Maybe it will have a train. Will it be full, a ball gown or a mermaid style, or perhaps sleek and form fitting, a sheath, A-line, or something in between?

A gorgeous dress!!

As stunning as you may look in it, it’s important to think about your comfort. Trying it on in a store is not the same as wearing it for hours. I advocate women be comfortable on their wedding day. Really comfortable! Because on one of the best days of your life, don’t you want to feel great? So try not to choose a dress that will confine your movements.

Imagine the entire evening on your feet, visiting with your guests, dancing the night away, as well as eating and probably some drinking, too. Can you do all that if you are trussed up tightly, of if you have crinolines, pounds of beading, and fabric for miles?

1920s inspired dress.

This isn’t the Victorian era and no modern woman wants to be corseted so tightly that she is unable to eat, breath or move. But this is exactly how some wedding gowns are designed. To confine.

Here’s some history. The dreadful corset originated in France, around 1580-1600. Historians tell us that inside a corset a woman’s body was wired, padded, and completely distorted. There are many stories of women gasping for air and fainting because of being tied up in that thing. The corset was undoubtedly a danger to health because it pushed against the rib cage, dug into the stomach, and put pressure on organs. In the early 1800s, Napoleon commented that the corset “is the murderer of the human race.”

Wedding gowns themselves are a fairly modern construct. For most of history women rarely even purchased a special dress for their wedding day. Then in Victorian era (1837–1901) dresses began to follow the styles of the day. By the 1920s, the height of fashion in my opinion, women wore stunning beaded dresses that, to my eye, also look to be quite comfortable.

A 'summer' Corset!

During World War II it did not seem right for couples to dress lavishly with a war going on, so it was not until after that, really beginning in the 1950s that the wedding dresses we now know became the thing.

So back to YOUR wedding gown – knowing all that, it might still be hard to resist a gorgeous wedding gown even if it does present problems of comfort and movement.

Here’s a question: how do you answer the call of nature in a voluminous dress?

A few years ago I wrote about the bridal diaper. It’s pretty funny actually, and I think some women may have actually used them. I have just one work for that: YUK!

Recently, however, I saw a better solution – and it comes to us from a local Pocono woman!  She invented the ‘Bridal Buddy.’ It is simply a slip you put under your dress, you gather up your dress in it, and tie it up. Then you can use the toilet without worry of your gown dragging around and possibly getting soiled. What a clever idea.

Brilliant! I applaud this young woman whose name is Heather Stenlake and she hails from our west end, in Monroe County, PA. She was featured in this newspaper back in October last year and I want to give her another shout-out.

Ready for everything?

Seriously, please do think about the practical aspects of enjoying your wedding when you shop for a dress.

 

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Wedding Rules for the Digital Age

The unplugged wedding already has a lot of traction. Taking photos, videos and generally playing with your smart phone during a wedding ceremony is just plain rude. Bottom line – don’t let people take photos during the ceremony – leave it to the professionals or designated people. Not only can it ruin the official photos, it distracts from being in the moment.

Get it? Photo: Diana Lewkowicz

But in this digital age there’s more to think about than that. There are so many ways we interact online. From hashtags to Instagram – what are the dos and don’ts for today’s weddings?

Couples need to figure it all out ahead of time and then communicate their wishes clearly with their guests. Here are some of the issues and a few solutions, too!

If you have a wedding specific hastag, let everyone know about it. That is easily accomplished with some cute signage. That way all the fun photos (taken after the ceremony of course) will be accessible on Twitter, Instagram and any specific photo sharing site you might choose. There are lots of apps for this, like Wedding Snap, GuestShots, WedSocial, and a ton more!  The hashtag brings them all together.

When choosing your hashtag keep it simple but unique – something people will remember. Note that the “&” sign doesn’t work on Instagram, so make it #JoeAndJoan not #Joe&Joan. Then check to be sure no one has already used the same hashtag or your photos will wind up grouped with theirs.  #LoisHeckmanCelebrant – Notice how the capital letters help you read it.

What is YOUR hashtag?

An excellent use of technology is to pin your location on a Google Map to share with your guests. Send the link by email and everyone will find their way!

Another good use for digital communication is a ‘save the date’ message. You can include any additional information about the wedding (such as things to do and places to stay) and of course gift registries on-line. However, DO NOT email invitations or thank you notes. That is the place for good old-fashioned paper.

Live-streaming your wedding is a way to include guests who will not be able to attend. It’s especially wonderful for loved ones too far to make the trip. Or a family member in a nursing home (arrange this ahead of time with staff) – how thrilled they will be to see some of the action!

Brides and grooms: don’t update your Facebook status at the altar-  its been done – it’s old news and no longer cute.

Easy to do - and worthwhile.

Guests: don’t text or tweet about what you did or didn’t like at the wedding – it will come back to bite you!

Everyone: enjoy a few selfies for sure, but don’t endless take photos of yourself and your friends. Try to actually have conversations. Don’t tweet every moment of the event. It’s both annoying and makes others feel left out.

Brides and women in general – don’t tuck your cell phone into your cleavage. Yuk! Carry a clutch purse, not a phone!

I love the internet and I hate the internet. It’s a blessing and a curse. Use technology to enhance not distract from your wedding. #GoodLuckWithThat.

 


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The Joys and Perils of a Small Wedding

Not everyone wants to have a great big wedding. That can be for many reasons. The planning process itself can be quite overwhelming, and I’ve frequently been told that it was more work than imagined. The average number of guests invited to a wedding is 178. I’d call a small wedding anything under 50 guests. It could as little as 20 or 10. A smaller wedding can be intimate, cozy and lots of fun, too.

Small wedding at big venue!

Financial concerns are important, of course. The average wedding in the United States costs $26,500, but many couples do spend less than $10,000, not including the cost for a honeymoon.

You may wish to save money and a limited number of guests will certainly help with that. Use the money saved towards a down payment on your new home, a car, the honeymoon, or donate to a worthy cause. Or another way to look at it is with fewer guests you can splurge on a top quality menu, and all the bells and whistles of your dreams.

Perhaps you’re just shy or very private and don’t enjoy large crowds or parties. A big affair can be quite hectic, and the pressure is on to dance, to meet and greet, and to be charming. You might prefer a wedding where you kick back and enjoy being a few close family members and some friends. That’s another nice perk of the small wedding – the opportunity to spend more time with your guests. It’s not so much as a whirlwind, but more of a savoring.

Having fun with your guests.

A small wedding can be held anywhere and be anything: from your backyard to the Plaza on Fifth Avenue. Don’t rule out some of our area’s top resorts, they have packages for small wedding parties, too.

By having a smaller group of people you may want to get your guests involved with activities such as outdoor games, toasting marshmallows, and celebrating in unusual but meaningful ways. Instead of dancing, there might be singing or a jam session. Who knows? If it suits your style, why not?

A small wedding can relieve you of having to choose attendants. It’s perfectly ok to stand at the altar without those bridesmaids and groomsmen. That way you avoid the tough choice between your sister and your best friend, or your two brothers. After all, you may say they are both Best Men, but one will stand next to you and one will not. When no one stands there with you – problem solved!

Very cozy at Harmony Gardens.

For a smaller wedding you can skip the rehearsal, too, if you wish. In fact even for larger weddings you can skip the rehearsal. Its not really rocket science, but the rehearsal dinner is often the real motivation behind the rehearsal itself. Although I’m not the biggest fan of the rehearsal, it can be an important opportunity for families who have never met to get together before the big day.

A small wedding doesn’t mean you can’t dress up. But it also somehow frees you to dress down as well.

Couples embarking on a second or third marriage sometimes feel they shouldn’t celebrate with a big wedding. And while I understand that instinct, they certainly do have the right to celebrate finding love again – in fact, what better reason? But it’s true that a smaller wedding might be perfect for remarriage or an older couple.

If this all sounds quite wonderful – beware! You may experience some backlash. Those who are not invited may feel snubbed or genuinely hurt. People may make inappropriate judgments about this decision. Your family may be upset that the extended family won’t be attending. Others may be hurt that after you attended their wedding the invitation was not reciprocated.

Be yourself at a smaller wedding.

If you really want to keep it small – you can elope. Check out my website for ideas about that; and for more ideas for a small ot tiny wedding see my Pinterest board: Small and Tiny Weddings.

People will be supportive or upset about your choice to have a smaller wedding – but in the end it is up to each couple to have their wedding in the style that suits them the best.

 

Photos by Garth Woods – thank you Garth!

Posted in Ceremonies and Celebrations, Pocono Weddings, Tips on Weddings, Wedding Ceremonies | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment
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    Lois Heckman

    Lois Heckman is a certified Life-Cycle Celebrant who officiates at weddings, funerals, and other ceremonies in the Poconos and beyond. She has performed hundreds of ceremonies and brings a wealth of knowledge to her work. Visit her website: ... Read Full
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