Dear Bride, Your wedding is not all about you…

Dear Bride,

Congratulations on your engagement! I know what a special, exciting, and hectic time this is. Very soon you’ll be busy planning (if you’re not already), and as you do I’d like to offer you one little thought to consider…your wedding is not all about you. 

Well, it is and it isn’t.

I want your day to be perfect…a special, unique, and memorable celebration that reflects the one-of-a-kind relationship you share with your husband-to-be. I love couples who plan their day so that it is “so them.” But I think sometimes we can get so caught up in “us” that we can forget about all the people who have helped us along the way become “us”.

As a former bride and wedding coordinator, and current wedding photographer and mom of four daughters, I have lots of opinions about what makes weddings great.

Is it a gorgeous venue? Well, pretty venues are great, but they don’t “make” the wedding. What about delicious food? I LOVE food, but again, it’s not the thing that makes a wedding awesome. What about perfectly arranged flowers and stunning bridesmaids dresses?  Delicious cake and good wine? A fun DJ? While all those things are wonderful, and I really appreciate them, they aren’t what makes the wedding great.

For me, the thing that makes a wedding great is the coming together of people from all different parts of the couples life in community. I have vivid memories from my own wedding of my close friend from high school dancing with my cousin from Connecticut. I loved seeing different parts of my life converge for a few hours to celebrate with my husband and me. The reality is that everyone at your wedding will be there because they love you and are for you. I think your wedding will provide you with a rare opportunity to show your guests your love and appreciation.

As you think about the things you will and won’t include in your wedding celebration, I want to encourage you to use your wedding, in part, to express gratefulness to the people who have been important to you. I’m not suggesting that you NOT do things you want or that you not make choices that will create your dream wedding. I’m proposing that maybe you ADD something that might bless others and show them that you were really thinking about them when you planned your special day.

I have been blessed to have photographed some amazing couples (who are now my friends) who excelled at this idea. Here are just a few of the many ways Melanie Wasko Photography couples have shared their love with their guests.

Derek and Joanna set up a POW/MIA table in honor of prisoners of war and soldiers who are missing in action. Derek is a Naval Academy graduate who has served our country selflessly and takes very seriously the sacrifices made by others to defend and preserve our freedom. We also observed a minute of silence in honor of the POW and MIAs.

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Joanna’s mom lost her battle with cancer exactly ten years before the date that Joanna and Derek were married. Joanna created many special ways to honor her mom’s memory during her wedding day including a custom-designed piece of jewelry for her bouquet, a place-setting next to Joanna at dinner, a slideshow, and a bridal portrait with Joanna holding her mom’s wedding portrait.

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One of Shaun and Stacy’s groomsmen turned 40 ON their wedding day, so they surprised him with a birthday cake and had their reception guests serenade him with the birthday song.

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When Shaun was a little boy, his mom sang Edelweiss to him. He surprised her by having her siblings and husband perform that song live during their mother-son dance. What a sweet tribute to his mom.

Rachel and Jonathan wanted to honor marriage in general and had a special dance for all married couples. Throughout the dance, the DJ would ask couples to leave the dance floor if they had been married less than 5 years, ten years, etc. until the couple who had been married the longest was the only couple on the dance floor. Rachel’s grandparents won–over 60 years of marriage! THAT is something to honor!

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Another simple way to show your love is to briefly thank everyone yourselves. That’s one of the things Jeremy and Bethany did.

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Sharon and Mike aren’t fond of dancing, and they REALLY don’t like to dance in front of people, but more than that, they love their parents and didn’t want their parents to miss out on creating a special memory at their wedding. So they had the father-daughter and mother-son dances but just didn’t make a big announcement about them. That’s love, folks.

Mike and Sharon also wanted to honor family who had passed away so they created memorial candles for them that burned throughout the reception.

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Jamie and Jill approached their wedding day as if they were hosting a big party. As guests arrived at the beach for their morning wedding, Jill handed out bottled waters and fans, and the two of them greeted everyone as they arrived. They also took time during their small, intimate ceremony to have everyone introduce themselves and share a little bit about how they knew the bride and groom.

I hope your wedding day is the day of your dreams. I hope your venue, flowers, food, and dress are everything you’ve always imagined,  and I hope the people you care most about feel loved and appreciated.

What about you? What have you done or seen at weddings that make the guests feel loved and appreciated? I’d love to hear from you. Please comment on the blog or on my FB page.

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