I had a couple of thoughts about the Royal Wedding yesterday.
We work with a lot of St. Augustine brides here at the Bayfront Marin House. And while most of our weddings are not broadcast worldwide, each of our weddings is a historic event–celebrating two people finding each other is always a big deal.
But even as we enjoyed the royal wedding decorations, admired the gorgeous designer dresses, and swooned over that first look, we couldn’t help but think how much of the wedding reminded us of weddings that we plan here in St. Augustine.
Because no matter what your budget, no matter where you get married, you are still two people in love, trying to balance your commitment to each other with your desire to make the people around you happy as well. And that’s why we learned so much watching the royal couple grapple with the same things we see time and time again.
Here are three things that every St. Augustine bride should learn from Prince Harry and Meghan Markle:
Lesson #1: It’s your day.
Yes, there are traditions that people want you to follow. Yes, there is the idea that “this is what everybody does”. No, that doesn’t mean you have to do any of it. Like all of us, both the prince and his princess have a family. And those family members have opinions. But at the end of the day, it’s your day. Your marriage. And if you want to walk down the aisle alone, or not have a maid of honor, or wear a red dress instead of white (see left), well then, that’s exactly what you should do.
Tell anyone who disagrees that you love them, and respect their wishes, but you and your fiancé would feel more comfortable doing things your way.
Lesson #2: There are many ways to honor the people that can’t be there.
No matter how many people you invite, there are always people who cannot attend your wedding. They may be in ill health, or they may not have the money to travel to a destination wedding right now. They could have passed away.
There are so many ways to honor the people whose presence you’ll miss at your special day. We have skyped our couples’ vows so that far flung family members can see the ceremony real time (hint: use an ipad and a picture frame holder to keep it still–we have a holder if you’d like to borrow it). We have seen photographers share ‘sneak peek’ videos or photos within hours of the wedding, so missing guests can enjoy the beauty of the day (another hint: make sure you mention this to your photographer before the ceremony, and give her some direction as to what photos you would like to share. It takes a lot to turn it around that quickly, so give us much notice as possible).
We have seen couples videotape a special message to any absent guests and post the video on Facebook before the day is ended. And during my own wedding, when my great-grandmother could not attend, I had a corsage delivered to her at the time of my wedding so that she still felt part of the party.
Each of these acts honor the people who could not attend your wedding, and it lets them know that it is still important to you that they are included.
If you have lost someone close to you, there are many poignant ways to make your day feel complete.You can create a small table with a photo and personal item, then stop in front of it for a moment of reflection before stepping in place in front of your soon-to-be-betrothed. You can incorporate a personal memento from that person into your wedding day ensemble–such as a veil or a handkerchief or a piece of jewelry.
Or consider a lovely bouquet where a small item–such as a framed photo or a small bible–are incorporated into the ribbon tying the flowers together. Ask your florist if they have any suggestions for how to incorporate your item, and be sure that they have the item in plenty of time so they can plan the bouquet’s structure.
One particularly moving moment was a few years ago, when we “saved” an empty seat in the front row for the bride’s departed father. As the bride walked past it, she took two flowers from her bouquet and gave one to her mother, and placed one on the empty seat.
It was a quiet moment, and exactly what the bride wanted for her private memory.
Lesson #3: Don’t let other’s ugliness infringe upon your happiness.
I probably shouldn’t have been, but I was shocked at how many people shared their ugly opinions regarding the royal couple’s choice of clothing, choice of guests–not to mention the people who lamented the prince’s choice of a princess!
Today we call these people trolls, but they’ve been around since long before the internet. People who leave the wedding and complain for months about the food. People who are snide about the choices that you’ve made. People who don’t think your marriage will last.
We sometimes have a hotel guest who simply cannot be made happy–and you may have the misfortune of having one of them at your wedding. Remind yourself that it’s not you, it’s them. As my grandmother told me more than once, There are a lot of reasons you might be a bad host. But there is never, ever a good reason for you to be a bad guest.
Finally, a bit of advice for the people who think they are “helping” by pointing out any perceived shortcomings in the wedding…if you felt there should have been more choices in drinks, or you didn’t like your chicken preparation, or you thought the deejay picked too many rap songs–either let a staff member from the venue know (especially if it’s something that can be corrected), or simply keep it to yourself. Whatever you do, don’t complain to the bride about her day. Most likely, the choices were made by the bride herself, and–as we pointed out earlier–she has every right to make those choices based on her preferences. I am always surprised how many brides are full of joy and happiness during their event, only to be unhappy three weeks later because a well meaning family member has harped on the fact that something wasn’t “right” about the wedding, or wasn’t done the way they would have wanted it done.
At my own wedding, a small event held at my parents’ house, the caterers blew a fuse and 15 of our guests did not get to eat dinner until 30 minutes after the other guests. No one told me about this issue until 10 months after my wedding. When I asked my friends why no one had told me, they said “You were still married. We didn’t starve. You weren’t going to rerun the electrical wire yourself, so Why did you need to know?”
Good friends (and good relatives) don’t try to take your happiness away–they protect it, and they protect you. Make choices that will make you happy, and choose guests who will protect that happiness.
After all, it’s your day, and you should do whatever makes you feel like a princess.