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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Planning a Wedding During Sadness or Tragedy

When Sad Things Happen During Good Times

Most people agree that planning a wedding can be stressful even during the best of circumstances.  We know that the world continues to turn even though you might be in the middle of planning a wedding and sometimes that includes events that happen in life that are very happy events, painfully sad or extremely frightening.

For years as a Wedding Planner I had a chance to see a large mixture of what life can hand down even at any time  when someone is planning a wedding.   These are things that most couples don't have to worry about, but life is a balance and gives us good and bad, happy and sad mixed up like trail mix.  Life is a path.   It's just the way life is and if a person can see the good that is always happening in some form or another, it helps tremendously.  

I admired the individuals so much for their strength who go through two of life's major events at once.  Sometimes I saw people move up a wedding just so a loved one who was in the process of dying could experience their wedding.  I also saw when, even with a rushed plan in place, it wasn't fast enough to make that final wish come true.  I saw bittersweet moments as a couple sped up a wedding before a deployment.  I couldn't help but feel that emotion and would often think of those who were deployed for the next year or so and hoped I would hear good news.  Another family experienced a birth and a death within less than a week before the wedding.  I've even had weddings I worked and found out that they had already had a small wedding so that their loved who had since passed away, could witness the wedding.

"We just don't talk about it....but we probably should".

Seldom does anyone talk about the normal emotions that are experienced during the wedding planning process, let alone when a death or other tragedy strikes during this time.  Even under normal circumstances, I've attributed the odd behavior of otherwise normal people to the fact that people are grieving even when there isn't any death around the time of a wedding.  Grieving is a process that just is an adjustment to major changes. It is often filled up with fear of the unknown.  We never know what a person is going through from a loss even when the loss might appear to be minimal to others.

Things you might feel when an accident, disease or death happens before the wedding to a friend or family member you are close to.

1.  Feeling guilty to be planning something that is happy.
2.  Feeling unsettled in being happy and sad at the same time.
3.  Feeling angry.
4.  Feeling totally confused on what to do, how to act, or whether you should postpone the wedding.
5.  Feeling of overwhelm.
6.  Feeling of appreciation for your spouse-to-be who is showing and giving you support.
7.  Feeling that your future spouse just doesn't understand what you are going through.
8.  Getting a new perspective on life that is putting you into serious analysis mode.
9.  A feeling of strength gained from a challenge unlike any you have experienced before.
10.  A feeling of wanting to pay respect to your lost or missing loved one at your wedding.

How can you blend a remembrance with a wedding?

Every individual experiences grief in their own way.  As much as your loved one would have wanted you to be very happy on your wedding day, there are bound to be some bittersweet moments.  It would be assumed that a wedding should not be a second memorial service, but it's perfectly understandable if a tribute is made in a loving manner.  It might be a matter of placing a rose on an empty chair.  Perhaps carrying a flower or flowers that represent your loved one's who are no longer living can feel like they are close to your heart on your wedding day.  I've seen grooms do something similar with their boutonieres.  I've also seen people place pictures of their ancestors in little picture frames on the cake table.  There are many ways to incorporate remembering a loved on your very important day.

Tears and laughter can be almost the same emotion sometimes.  It's your body's way of getting you through the good and the bad stress.  Indeed, there are happy stresses and sad stresses.

Don't hesitate to get your wedding officiant's advice on these matters and see how you can actually turn the negatives into something beautiful and meaningful for you. 

Monday, July 18, 2016

Wedding Etiquette Has Changed

Wedding Etiquette Has Changed

Wedding etiquette does change over time, and some of it needs to come back as a reminder.  

What Shall I Wear?

Every now and then I'll have someone say that they were surprised when they went to a wedding and a lot of the guests and even the bridal party were wearing black! It's very common for black to be one of the major wedding colors.  My first question to them is was there a particular cultural aspect to the wedding.  While black attire is bad for some cultures, white attire is taboo in other cultures regarding weddings. Also, when the economy is bad, bridesmaid dresses are shorter and wedding colors are darker during times of war.  

For most American weddings it is acceptable to wear black and is considered to have a very sophisticated look.  People attending an average American wedding would be more appalled if someone wore white.  My best advice before you attend any wedding when there is a culture represented that you aren't familiar with, is to do your homework.  I'm sure your friend or family member won't mind if you take enough interest to ask them specifically what you should wear.  I could have a year's worth of blog posts just on wedding traditions from different cultures.  When you think that you might have that figured out, you will also find that couples are borrowing aspects from all kinds of cultures.  Just be glad you don't live in an unmentioned Mediterranean country where the groom has to walk around with a fish tied to his leg for an entire day before the wedding. People have actually asked me if the fish has to be dead.  Yes, fish need water and the groom isn't walking around in water.

Registries Have Changed!

Some people are appalled that a couple actually had the nerve to have a honeymoon registry.  There are some very good reasons for having a honeymoon registry.  The average ages for a couple to get married now are 27 and 29.  They are delaying marriage for a number of reasons and many times it is because of financial reasons. Many of them have had college debt, have chosen first to buy a home together or they have had other things they wanted to accomplish before getting married.  In the meantime, they have acquired enough or more of the household items that they need.  However, they probably haven't put their focus on saving for a honeymoon. With honeymoon registries, guests can purchase as a gift to go towards anything from tours, dinners, local highlights or a luxurious spa and even upgrades.  We live in an experience economy which is particularly popular with millennials.

Etiquette for the 21st Century That Needs to Change or Is Changing!

If you haven't heard of unplugged weddings, you will and it can't come soon enough! We live daily with cell phones or tablets and most of them can take pictures.  This is the reason why  photographers love me.  When I officiate weddings, (with a couple's permission) the first announcement I make before a groom even walks down the aisle is an announcement to this effect.  

"On behalf of the ___ and ___  I am asking that you turn off all electronic devices in the form of cameras or cell phones.  ___ and ___ have paid for a professional photographer to take pictures during their ceremony and other cameras in use interfere with their lighting.  It also creates a safety concern if the doesn't know if everyone is seated or not.  Electronic devices also interfere with the sound system. Thank you for your consideration!"

Let's get real here!  A photographer was not hired to photograph someone's backside, flabby arms, tablet or the latest selfie stick!  Some things just can't be edited out! It's a shame for perfect shots to get ruined by someone else's self-absorbed behavior.  


That's all I'm going to say about them.  I've written several blog posts on that hot little topic.  I tell my clients about the service I offer to get people to turn in their Rsvp's with a better rate of return and much more quickly.  That's my trade secret and no one gets hurt in the process, by the way.

Wishing you the greatest of days!

Janis Flagg
Event Planning
Wedding Officiating