Way back when I got married, some 10 years ago now, we discussed the fact that we were taking a pretty simplified and organized approach to our planning, somewhat different from what we found online, and perhaps when we were done, we’d write it up and post it too. Well, fast-forward ten years and I’ve never made the time to do it. Lots of other topics intervened, and yet I had it on my list. Partly even just to be able to share some of the photos as examples.
A little over a month ago, I saw a guide online and thought, “Okay, we’re out of date, but maybe somebody out there will find it interesting at least.” And so I added it as a 50by50 item. Sixteen topics broken down into 9 posts:
As I wrapped up the previous post, I said the next one was optional for some people, hence why I kept it for last. In reality, photography in general is probably not optional, everyone wants some mementos. But there are FIVE big questions you will have to decide when it comes to photography.
A. Professional or not?
Picture this scenario. You’ve just spent six months planning what is likely the biggest event of your life. It probably comes third behind buying a house or buying a car in terms of the total cost, but maybe even second if you’ve never bought a NEW car. And the amount of work you put into it is way above the research you likely did on houses or cars. It’s BIG. And it all takes place in a single day. No rewind. No take-backs. No do-overs. We’re live, baby.
And when that action is happening, who is taking photos for YOU?
Because you know you want some good photos to remember the day forever, to capture some of the moments. And YOU’RE not taking the photos, you’re busy. Your closest family isn’t taking the photo either, because they’re probably in a lot of them. So who are you asking to take the photos?
Sure, you can ask an extended family member or a close friend. They may be good, they may even be talented, but they’re probably not trained to do it. They may never have even done a wedding before. Are you really asking them and trusting them to get it right the first time they try it?
I know, I know exactly what you’re thinking. Well, it’s all digital now, right? Take a pic, if it isn’t great, take it again, right? Simple. But here’s my two cents…if you think just anybody can take the photos, and you’ll be happy with them, then you have decided two things:
1) The camera must be doing all the work; and,
2) The amount of money you spend on a photographer is not related to the amount you spent on the rest of the day (i.e. you’re really treating it as a separate expense, it’s not part of the rest of your investment for the day, hence optional).
For me, it was a no-brainer. I wanted a professional photographer because I know the camera doesn’t do all the work and the photography expense was part of my investment in the day. They went hand-in-hand.
Now, if you’re not sold on going the professional route, that’s your call. I would recommend against it, but your wedding, your choices. I will give you a couple of other points to think about before you decide. First, remember too that you are putting a lot of responsibility on the shoulders of someone else to take the photos. What if the photo of great grandma Bertie doesn’t turn out that well, and that was a KEY photo for you? What if they are so excited and nervous, they mess up big time and get hardly anything? You’re probably not paying them much, if anything, so you’ll get what you pay for…but are you willing to put that weight on a friend or family member? If you remember back to when I wrote about the cakes, we wanted something simple, just a simple cake made by a friend. Didn’t care about icing, or wording, or pictures, or anything. It would just mean something because it was made by a friend (plus it would be REALLY tasty hehehe). She was worried that if it didn’t turn out, it would ruin our day, which was completely the opposite of what we wanted. Nevertheless, she went WAY above and beyond what we were asking or hoping for…but she didn’t get much chance to relax for the day. And she missed the ceremony, which I feel guilty about…so remember that you are asking them to WORK your wedding. Which might be fun for about 30 minutes, and then after that, it is just plain work.
Second, you aren’t paying someone to take photos. You’re paying someone to capture the right photos with the right exposure and lighting, and to do so while staying as unobtrusive as possible. To fade into the background if possible. Obviously, they don’t when they’re taking posed shots, but our photographer took pictures during the ceremony and I was only vaguely aware of him. Equally, there is a shot of me with my mother getting ready, and I have no real memory of the photographer being around to take it. There is an art to taking photos without being in everyone’s face while they’re doing it, and inexperienced people rarely have it.
Third, if you are thinking of going this other route, do a dry run of sorts. Get a few of your wedding party together one weekend with your family member or friend, or whoever is going to take the shots at the wedding, go to a venue on a nice day, and take about an hour’s worth of photos. These are the EASIEST photos to take as they are posed. Everyone knows to look at the camera. Everyone knows when the photo is being taken. No chance of a candid shot catching someone at a bad angle. Then look at the photos and decide — are they “good enough”? Do they have good lighting? Are they, for lack of a better benchmark, the best photos you have ever had taken of you? A good photographer will give you good shots, regardless of your clothing or setting. They’ll make it work.
What do the photographers often have to contend with? A pressure-filled situation, dealing with Bridezilla and Groomzilla and their extended family, wrangling them all together, getting them to listen, and being able to decide on the fly between three different lenses, two different settings, and choice of lighting equipment to make it all work. To get it right the first time, cuz we’re LIVE, baby!
Often, experienced photographers have already dealt with contentious family issues too. Like, for instance, the parents are divorced, dad brought some skank that he left the mom for, mom is there with her boyfriend of the week, there are extra kids involved, and someone wants “the family photo”…experienced photographers know what to ask in advance, and then mix and mingle people at the session to both ensure the bride and groom get the photos THEY want, without starting a family war. People are being rotated in and out quickly, aren’t sure which one is supposed to be “the” big photo, and thus aren’t fighting to be in it themselves while keeping someone else out. Equally, an experienced photographer knows how to deal with the slightly larger bridesmaid who doesn’t look quite as comfortable in sunshine yellow as the three size 2 bridesmaids beside her, and to help them feel both comfortable at the time and welcoming of the photos afterward. I’m a larger guy, and the thought of 1500 pictures of me is borderline dread-inducing. But it’s a wedding, everyone will be taking shots of my new wife and I’m supposed to be in most of them. Like an accessory. Know what? The posed ones that the photographer took are ones I even LIKE, and I almost never like photos of myself. For instance, I have (at least) a double chin because of my size and body shape. So head shots are not my favorite thing either. Yet, as an experienced photographer, he knew that the best look for me would be leaning forward, with my head tilted up. Guess which photo is our “wedding photo”?
Okay, that’s the end of my sales pitch for hiring an experienced professional photographer.
Now, for a second, let’s look at the business model for wedding photographers prior to about 2003. Digital wasn’t very sophisticated yet, so the truly high-end photographer was still using film. Which meant they had total and complete control over the entire process. They took the photos. They developed the negatives (or had them developed). Then, they would go through small proofs with you, and you would order your prints from them. Along with books, enlargements, etc. It was basically a complete monopoly in each situation, a monopoly of one-to-one once you chose them. Then digital came along and people started asking for copies. The digital copies. And disruption entered the photo business.
While many photographers hung on to the old business model, others broke it into discrete elements:
Fee for working the wedding and reception (hourly or set rate for the day);
Fee for basic development of a “core” set of prints, including some retouching;
Fee for providing copies of some set number of e-prints, often in limited quality for format (i.e. low res for web, not good enough to blow up or do 8x10s);
Fees for providing other levels of quality of prints; and,
Fees for printing certain books or “photo” sets.
Basically, they created an “a la carte” menu, but if you wanted the same as traditional, you would just take a+b+e. It could add up quickly though, and it really didn’t meet my needs/desires. I was looking for other business models.
A friend of ours had found a photographer for their wedding by advertising at the local college in their photography program for someone who was looking for more experience, a set price for (a) above, and all the digital prints would go to the couple. Worked out for them, but it’s also a bit of a risk — what if the budding photographer screws up, because they’re not that experienced? Does that matter to you?
It mattered to me. I wanted more experience than that. Plus, not for nothing, every professional photographer out there will tell them (just read the blogs or discussion forums) that trading “exposure” and “practice” for their craft is really bad business for the photographer. It undervalues their output, which is what they’re selling. Some photographers are REALLY quite passionate about it, in the same way people complain about the exploitative nature of unpaid internships. Now, in my friend’s case, the photographer was paid (albeit cheaper than full-time photographer) and did a good job (one photo in particular is contest-quality, in my view), so it was win-win all around. But a bit more risk than I wanted to take. I wanted the best photos I could afford.
In our case, we reached out to three companies. One of them was very traditional. They would give us low-res photos for our website, but only a small number, and not good enough for even printing 4×6″ prints; everything else would reside with them, and if we wanted to print books or prints for anyone, we would have to go through them and pay the relatively extortionate prices that they all charge for that end of the business.
A second company was a bit more digital, and people would be able to view and order prints online, but again, we could have SOME prints electronically, but not very many. Most would reside with the company and if we wanted more prints ten years from now, we would go through them. All rights rest with them, and to ensure it, they hold all the files.
We kept poking around, and a friend of ours who had been married a couple of years before gave me the name of his guy. Bill was a retired press photographer, and while he liked working as a photographer, he had no real interest in controlling all the production factors for printing. Lucrative, but not the business model he wanted to spend time managing.
Instead, he charged us an upfront fee for the day to take all the photos, a combined rate to give us some basic retouching electronically, and about 1500 photos or so for us for the day. Full digital images, including the RAW image for about 500. He’d basically go through and weed out where he had, say, four copies of the same pose, or where one of the people was squinting or picking their nose for example. But everything else? It was all ours. He even offered to hook us up with some of the high-end printers, if we wanted to, but he noted that most people just used regular retail sites like Black’s to do their prints. No one else even came close to that kind of deal. So he was basically offering us (a) + (b) above, with complete copies of the e-versions and we could do what we liked with them.
And since I was adamant I wanted digital copies of everything so we could reprint at any time we wanted, and didn’t want to be locked into a supplier for life, it was an easy choice of the three.
I confess I had a bias against the previous model. Back when my father retired some 20 years before, my siblings and I got together and had some group photos taken. It was all film-based, we got some proofs, and we did a large blow-up of the best of the bunch. We could have ordered more stuff individually, and we all thought about it but never got around to it. Fast-forward about 10 years, and my father had passed away. I was interested in getting a set of pics made for each of us, and I tried to reach out to the photographer. Guess what? He wasn’t a photographer anymore. Sure, he had tons of boxes of photos and negatives sitting in his basement, a flooding disaster waiting to happen, and there were no backups. He wasn’t even sure how long it would take to find them. I was asking him about buying the whole set — proofs and negatives — and he didn’t really want to sell me the negatives. So, in the end, I cheated. I just scanned the proofs I had. I didn’t want big blow-ups anyway, so scanning was fine for my purposes. I’d rather have had control of the negatives for the future, but well, that wasn’t his business model. So when it came time for our wedding, I wanted full digital versions both for archival purposes AND to be able to put them on the web or print at will. Am I likely to print often? Of course not. But I paid for the photos to be taken…I wanted the flexibility to be able to control what I did with them later. I couldn’t enter them in contests or anything, or sell them, they weren’t “fully” mine, but they were fully licensed to me for our use.
Originally, when people started offering videography for weddings, it was a bit hit-and-miss in my view. At the low-end, it could look like the movie, The Blair Witch Project, with shaky handheld cameras and rapid cuts. In the middle, people would take modest quality cameras and put them on tripods with a “set” view for the ceremony, speeches, and most promisingly, the first few dances. I have a video camera, and I shot video of my brother’s wedding and it isn’t bad, but far from professional. I also used our little hand-held camera to capture my sister-in-law’s ceremony and first dance, and it is good for the ceremony (a bit basic), but looks BAD for the first dances due to low-light conditions. I used the same camera at my wife’s friend’s wedding, same time-frame as our own wedding, and I had to edit the ceremony and dance videos to even make them VISIBLE due to similarly low light. Okay as a souvenir, but not ideal. At the high-end, people were walking around with the cameras you see camera crews doing roadside interviews or weather reports with, which isn’t surprising since often they were the same cameramen using borrowed equipment from the TV station.
Fast-forward 10-15 years, and you have huge growth in video due to the high-quality you can get from cellphones now. And so videographers have had to up their game. The big trend is the use of GoPro on small stands (easy to get closer to the action) and, wait for it…drones. Of course, drones only make sense if you have a venue that includes an outside component that will benefit from a birds-eye view. You might try flying a small drone in a church during the ceremony, but it’s a recipe for disaster and distracting, plus the Minister will likely freak on you. But it can be quite impressive.
Personally, I think a lot of the smaller cameras now make the “added” value of professional videography a lot lower. It’s hard to do it unobtrusively as the big cameras come with huge lighting options, but if you can get close with a cellphone, or a stand-alone DSLR, why not? Some of the DSLRs will even shoot in HD and even 4K. Way overkill for what you need, but if all you’re doing is putting it on a tripod somewhere and letting it run for awhile, that’s not rocket science and may not be worth the larger cost to have it done professionally. Just personal preference though — it wouldn’t be worth it to me, I’m fine with the photos.
One of the benefits you frequently get with a professional photographer from the area is knowledge of all the different venues around…ones that look good in early morning or late afternoon, ones that are great in case of rain, ones that aren’t 20 couples all lined up waiting to get in for their shots that day (there’s an arboretum in Ottawa that looks like Grand Central Station on Saturday afternoons in July — there are BRIDES and GROOMS everywhere!).
We did a few impromptu shots near our wedding venue, as a block from the site was a place my wife and I considered our “corner”. When we were first dating, we both lived in the same neighbourhood. I lived on Nelson Street, she lived on Besserer. If we were going somewhere, maybe out for dinner or just over to the market or the mall, we would meet “at the corner” — i.e. Nelson at Besserer. It was about the same distance from both our places and en route to commercial areas, so it was a good place to meet. On the way home from work, we’d frequently part there too. Later at night, I’d walk her home, but if we were just commuting, it was “the corner”. So we took some pics there, nothing that really stood out, just for fun.
We then moved on to more formal pics (having done a few at the theatre already) to a site that is actually under a bridge in the downtown on a walkway. I know, I know, you’re thinking, “Under a bridge?”. Partly why it is popular with certain photographers is that it isn’t super busy, and the backdrop is cool. But more importantly, it’s also covered (i.e. dry) with lots of natural light coming from the sides. I was a bit doubtful at the start, but it turned out great. Plus, we did some shots at the boat with various configurations at the bow of the boat.
D. Photo checklist
So, one of the first “planning” questions that you will get asked by the photographer is if you have your “list” of desired shots. They’ll take lots, they’ll have ideas of their own, etc., but do you have a “set” playlist so-to-speak of your greatest hits? There are obvious ones:
Bride and groom;
With parents, alone and together;
With both sets of parents;
With siblings, etc.
And so you’ll likely come up with 20 or so “must-haves”. And a good photographer will keep that list handy, ticking them off as they go, although it will be interspersed throughout the day. You may, for example, decide that you REALLY want a good shot of you dancing with your great grandfather, and that will happen near the end of the day. But you may also want some of you getting ready, and that should be on your list.
I sort of screwed up on our list. We had the standard shots that we wanted, and since we don’t have multiple sets of parents with extra spouses running around, there was no family drama to work around in that sense. So we wanted shots of us, shots of us with our families, shots of our friends (mostly candid), and shots of some of the milling around at the ceremony / reception / etc. (all candids). For formal stuff, we wanted Andrea getting ready, me getting ready (an addon), the ceremony, after shots at the theatre, shots at our corner, formal posed shots with the wedding party and parents, and some posed shots at the boat. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. We didn’t do a shot-by-shot list, and often those are discouraged anyway as they get a bit pedantic at the loss of spontaneity. The photographer worries about it, you should not be during the big day.
How did I screw up? I oversimplified something. Let me show the progression:
Andrea getting ready:
Pre-ceremony i.e. me getting ready:
The main ceremony:
Post-ceremony “meet the couple”:
Formal pose at the theatre:
Under the bridge:
Now, if you look at that last photo, you’ll see a small, well, imbalance I guess. Andrea and I, check. Her parents (in between us), the maid of honour in blue (her sister, plus her husband up tall and her daughter), her grandfather and my mother. Or, put differently two from “my side” of the family and six from “her side”. We didn’t try to take all my siblings for these photos, as we would catch them later at the boat.
And that’s where I made my error. I said, “Okay, check, we have Andrea’s family covered, now we need to make sure my family is covered”. Except, we didn’t have ALL of Andrea’s family covered, we only had immediate family. I had over-simplified in my head. We went off to the boat, did a bunch of photos at the front of the boat. Mostly with my family. Andrea with her new brothers-in-law, my mother with her grandchildren, different siblings and their families with and without us, all the new sisters-in-law together.
The photographer was up on the dock, looking down and snapping away:
For my family, they are some of the best photos I have ever seen of us, partly as it had been so long since we did that kind of posing with all of us. The one with my brothers? Awesome.
We were starting to run a bit low on time. All those photos and milling about were taking precious minutes. I passed by one of my new cousins, and she asked if it was time for them yet. And in my head, even that question wasn’t enough to trigger a re-consideration. I had in my head “Okay, we have all the photos of Andrea’s family plus now my family, soon it will be time to do all the friends and guests at once.” I didn’t even twig to the idea of Andrea with all her extended family. We would love to have photos of her with her cousins, great aunt and grandfather, aunts and uncles, etc. And because I had checked off the “Andrea and family” box, at least mentally, we moved on to the “friends” photo.
A better checklist would have solved that problem. And, to be honest, that’s also not on the photographer. Bill was up on the dock, we couldn’t even communicate very well, he had no idea who we were rotating in and out, he was just snapping away for us. At the end, I would have said quite confidently we had “everything”. Sigh.
Now, here’s a small question-mark. How long would you want your formal photographer to be around? Most suggest they stay until dinner and then bail. Why? Because they’re being paid by the hour (or a set rate for the day), and that day is getting pretty long for them. They were working while the bride was getting ready, as early as 11:00 for us and well nigh on to 6:00. We wanted him to keep doing candids and the first dance, which created a small wrinkle. Once he was on the boat, it wouldn’t be easy for him to just “hop off” and go home. So we arranged for the boat to dock early (after dinner, after some dancing) so he plus a few others could “escape” for the night. Then we danced some more and called it a night. While some parties routinely go until 2:00 or 3:00, ours was over in advance of midnight. I’m a bit disappointed with some of our dance photos, but it was also a difficult lighting situation and we didn’t want to lug all that extra equipment around on the boat too. Good enough, sure, but a little more difficult than it would have been if we were at a traditional venue.
Oh, and by the way? If the photographer is working through dinner, it’s kind of a good practice to feed him or her. 🙂
E. What and how are you printing?
Back in the pre-digital days, your choices for printing were rather limited. You went with a photographer and they would have a predetermined set of printing options — a big book for you, some smaller books for the parents, and options for producing individual prints for lots of people. All with extortionate mark-up rates.
Now, you have a plethora of choices. There are tons of sites out there with basic photobook options — not photo albums where you insert photos, but actually printed books based on what you upload. And almost all of them come with some pre-set wedding themes and mockups to use as well as an option to let THEM design it for about $10-$20 more. Or you can go with ones that are specially-focused on wedding photobooks. It’s all a bit DIY, and you may be better off letting someone else design it for you if you know someone good who won’t ask for your first-born child as payment. Again, there’s some choice involved.
Or you can just print a bunch of photos and stick them in photo albums.
I will also mention a few other things to consider as you’re working through your photography needs.
1. Ask those extra amateurs to take a whack of extra photos and share them with you. We had a nephew, niece and family friend all taking lots of extra shots and they gave us the e-versions. One of my favorite photos from the boat — a semi-posed shot — is actually from the friend, not the formal photographer who was shooting right next to her. His are good, but just for timing of shutter snaps, his missed part of our smile and hers was perfectly timed.
The same family friend also thinks it is a great “gift” to give to the couple — copies of the photos from the wedding, sometimes even before a professional photographer has shared any.
2. It isn’t really required anymore since so many people have smartphones, but some couples will put small special cameras (like pinhole cameras or just small digital ones) on each table and ask the guests to fill up the memory card through-out the night. My experience is that there are interesting ones where you see people interacting who only met through the wedding — like your high school best friend talking to your wife’s grandfather — but the overall “benefit” of the photos is a bit low to justify the expense.
Instead, give people a URL or have them share on FB, say ten photos they take at the wedding with their smartphone. Turn it into a small challenge. Tell them too that the bride and groom CAN’T be in any of them to make sure they get all the candid ones of the crowd.
3. Plan ahead to use your photos in multiple ways. Lots of people get their shots, share a few on FB, print a brag book for the parents and a souvenir book for themselves, and they’re done. Not me. I’ve done the books. I printed some smaller prints for souvenir frames for the wedding party and parents. I put them on my gallery website. I re-used them to produce a calendar for my wife, with all 12 months having shots from throughout the whole six months of experience planning and having the wedding. I copied them over to a digital photo frame so they can run randomly. Some people do mugs, or puzzles, or handbags, or notebooks, or fridge magnets. Maybe NONE of those things appeal to you, but I bet you can think of some other use besides just photo albums.
4. Find something creative to do for the photos when they’re being taken. There are lots of shots out there on the web where people have pretended they were running from something, and the photographer photoshopped in Godzilla. Or there’s the somewhat overused photo booth idea. If you can, find something meaningful to you. I even just loved the rocks in our formal pics as props. I’ve seen some great shots online where people took pics in classic hotel lobbies or lounge rooms with a bunch of different heights, and an old-fashioned filter added to the shots. Throw in a couple of props like gin bottles and Tommy-guns, and you have something fun and different. Don’t go crazy and try to have everyone in a giant tree, but you can do something other than the standard everyone in a row.
And that’s what we did. We organized our wedding in six months, and even though people told us we were crazy, everything we “needed” worked out. A few compromises here and there, but nothing that was a deal-breaker for us. We just had to remember that inflexibility in one area (six month window) meant we had to be flexible elsewhere (venues).
Whew. The WEDDING is over. Many times you thought, “What about eloping?”. Not because you didn’t want to do the wedding, but simply because you were TIRED of discussing EVERYTHING. I almost feel like planning a wedding is a great test for marriage. Because once you are married, you’re going to have to do a whole bunch of “joint” decision-making, and what better way to do it than to make you spend six months doing it UNDER PRESSURE? 🙂
Okay, I exaggerate of course. Partly as there were very few times in the six months where we were exasperated with each other, because we were doing it “together”. In fact, I almost feel like the planners and trackers helped ensure it WAS being done together. At this point, you basically have six things left to do, and the first two are often related.
After six months of having just about every free moment tied up with this big project, it’s time to relax. If you remember how.
If you’re lucky enough to have the time, energy and money left to do a honeymoon, maybe the relaxing part will go together with the honeymoon. I know some people who wanted really aggressive active things to do on their honeymoon. For me, I wanted to do some things off the bucket list, sure, but mostly that was solved by going somewhere neither of us had ever been before — Hawaii.
Snorkeling, submarine, helicopter rides, volcano visits…all stuff on my bucket list and great things to do while we were there. But mostly? I wanted us not to be completely over-scheduled where we were booked all day every day with a timetable. We were busy, but in my view at least, not over-busy. You can see some of the activities (and photos) on some of my posts about our honeymoon (Honeymoon recap – Hawaii – Day 1).
Honeymoons are incredibly individualized activities, so there really isn’t that much to say that will help you. My only advice is NOT to try and leave the day after the wedding. We took a couple of days at home just to decompress, and I am so glad we did. It gave us time to pack, organize our travel stuff, charge batteries, water the plants, etc. I know lots of people who flew out the next day, and were dead tired for the first three days of their trip.
Sure, in order to get to this point, you had to:
Book time off work;
Book airline, hotels;
Pay for trip;
Pick up tickets;
Get travel insurance;
Arrange for house-sitting.
3. Thank yous
Once you get back from the honeymoon, it is time to write out all those thank yous. Fortunately, you already have their addresses from the invitation period, and a tracker that lists all the gifts you got. Now you’re trying to write 50 or more thank yous with some personalized anecdote to thank them for their gift and for attending the wedding (assuming of course you actually BOUGHT thank you cards somewhere around the time you did your invitations and guest book arrangements).
Guys, you might think I’m talking about basic drycleaning here for your suit. Nope, I’m talking about special cleaning / preservation of the wedding gown. You can take the gown to a special drycleaner who specializes (theoretically) in wedding gown treatments and your wife is going to research the crap out of the place and ask for referrals before entrusting them with her dress. It’ll be either draped and placed in a full-size garment bag, or more likely, placed in a special box designed to keep moisture out. And it will cost more than you think it should, but they have you over a barrel, so you’re going to pay it and move on. Think of it as part of the original cost of the dress. Why is she saving it like this? I HAVE NO IDEA. She’s not going to wear it again, hopefully, with her next husband. And over time, it’s probably not going to fit as well as it did when she starved herself into it the first time. Nor is it likely to be the style that her daughter will want in 25+ years, assuming she even has a daughter at some point. But it will be saved. Trust me.
Equally, she will save her bouquet. It will be dried in silica gel, and preserved. Again, as a souvenir.
Since we had a couple of days between wedding and departure for our honeymoon, we could worry about this during that time, rather than waiting two weeks when the flowers would have been clearly dead.
If you live in a smaller town, there likely is a tradition of putting a wedding photo and an announcement in the local newspaper. One of the sets of parents usually does this. Some of them used to be quite lengthy; most are quite brief now.
6. Store your documents
You got a bunch of docs when you were doing this whole wedding thing. Some were ones you generated — like programs and invitations, all of which you’ll want to save as souvenirs.
But you also got a wedding certificate, which you may need from time to time for legal purposes. Know what? We have no idea where ours is. Well, sure, we know it’s in our office, but we haven’t seen it in probably 8 or more years. We’re not sure if it is with our lawyer stuff, or real estate stuff, but we know it’s not with our “important government documents” stuff. It’ll turn up. If it doesn’t, I can get a copy from the city where it’s filed. But if we had saved it in the proper place to begin with, we would already have it. Just saying…
And with this post, I wrap up almost all the stuff from our wedding. There is one item left to discuss, but it’s optional for some people, so I’ve saved it to last.
Even though you are planning the biggest party of your life in six months, even though you have lots of other things to do to, it isn’t like life just stops because you’re getting married, you still have to go to work, walk the dog, maybe take the kids to daycare, whatever, no matter that you have all this going on, people are going to throw MORE parties for you.
Rehearsal dinners (although you might do that yourself).
Post-wedding brunch (again, you might organize that yourself).
Parties upon parties upon parties. And the important thing is that the parties are not about you. They’re not. Someone else wants to throw you a party, and your role is to say, “Thank you” and get out of the way. Usually.
Which isn’t to say that you won’t enjoy them, or appreciate them, you will. Yet often it is hard not to think, “But what about the 17 things I was planning to do this week and haven’t gotten to yet? I have to update the tracker on Sunday and I’m way behind!”. Doesn’t matter, there’s a party in your honour, and you’re going.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. What if I’m an introvert? Doesn’t matter. What if I’m busy? Doesn’t matter. What if I just plain don’t like parties? Doesn’t matter. None of that matters. Someone is giving you a gift, and pretty much any response except “thank you” makes you look like an a**hole. Suck it up, buttercup, you started it — you announced the first party, and they’re responding. If you don’t want people being happy for you and celebrating you and your spouse-to-be, elope instead. Trust me, more than once in six months that thought will occur to you.
Are parties really a challenge? Let me put it this way. My wife and I work Monday to Friday, meaning a lot of our “extra” work (like planning a wedding) happens on weekends. Buying this, meeting with that person, etc. Six months to organize it all means 26 weeks, and 26 weekends. You’ll see below we had 1 engagement shower, 1 wedding shower, 1 bachelorette party and 1 bachelor party. Four different weekends. Or roughly 15% of our weekends taken up with parties. That puts it about fourth in the time commitment column for all the items (behind ceremony, reception, and invitations).
Showers and engagement parties are two sides of the same coin, basically. Showers have traditionally been afternoon things, often aimed at women only but often now for both bride and groom, while engagement parties are often evening events for both parties. Showers are often thrown by extended family members, engagement parties are often thrown by parents or friends. But honestly? There’s no real difference. It’s a pre-wedding party, there will likely be cake, gifts, and a toast of some sort from the host, with extended family invited. Particularly perhaps some who might not be mobile enough to travel all the way to the wedding or not “close” enough to make the A-list. And, if there is more than one by different sides of the family, often it is mostly people from that side of the family at one or the other.
My wife and I had the honour of being celebrated twice, once for an engagement party organized by two aunts on my wife’s side and once for a shower hosted by my mother and supported by my siblings. Both featured pandas prominently.
Of course, people insisted upon giving gifts. Some group gifts, some small or individual gifts. And 80% of the people also attended the WEDDING. So again, you feel guilty people are buying you gifts instead of, you know, just joining you for a ceremony and party.
Doesn’t matter, just go with it. It’s not all about you.
The next two parties are often viewed as the more exciting “fun” parties. The Bachelorette and Bachelor parties. So let me talk for a brief minute about these parties, and it applies to both sides. First, they are often left to the bridal party (maid of honour or best man) to arrange and coordinate. Quite common in fact. With lots of possible attendees offering suggestions. Second, the degree of activity is varied. Some are quite simple — golfing, for example. Others are quite sophisticated and elaborate — weekend trip somewhere. Third, they almost always involve a series of activities, not just one thing. Fourth, there is almost always some form of alcohol consumed. And fifth, the honoree usually doesn’t know what the activities will be, exactly, or perhaps not even the date — there’s a surprise element. As a result of the five elements, the party-goers are generally friends, siblings, cousins, etc…parental units are sometimes invited but gently discouraged.
Now, the groups are usually comprised of a wide spectrum of interests and tastes. If I go with the stereotype for males, i.e. bachelor parties, there is one person who is a complete anti-social, anti-fun, stick in the mud. Usually the designated driver. At the opposite end is the frat party wannabe. And somewhere, sometime, someone is going to say, “it’s not a bach-party without strippers”. The presumably funny part is that you’re celebrating your last nights of “freedom” before becoming institutionalized by marriage. And you know, nothing says love and commitment like dancing with naked strangers. If you’re into it, go for it. My point isn’t to slam it, my point is that about 50-60% of the honorees have ZERO interest in having or seeing strippers at all. In fact, their mind is going in the completely opposite direction…a bunch are more like, “Why aren’t we having a buck-and-doe party instead? Partying together with our mutual friends?”. Yet someone is likely to not only suggest it is REQUIRED for the party, but insist upon it quite passionately.
Neither my wife and I are wild partiers. It’s not who we are. She is more open to it than I, I’m the stick-in-the-mud, no fun type. An analytical introvert.
For the bachelorette party, her and her friends decided on going to an aerial park in the afternoon — something a bit adventurous — and then a nice fun dinner in the market. She quite enjoyed her evening, by all accounts. Not that I necessarily know or need to know everything that happened, but I never worry about these things — I trust her to be her. The woman I loved then, the woman I love now, the woman I will love forever.
For the bachelor party, let’s go back to the five things I mentioned above:
Organized by the best man — I didn’t have one;
Simple or elaborate — I definitely didn’t want elaborate;
Series of activities — I’m not super adventurous, so the aerial park type activity wouldn’t be at the top of my list;
Alcohol consumption — I have little to no interest in being part of or around a drunkfest, so it would have to be more responsible than that; and,
Surprise — I am not a spontaneous guy.
Okay, let’s face it, I have control issues. The thought of a bunch of guys showing up at my place to go out and do a bunch of things they thought I might like — or not — is kind of horrifying. I wouldn’t enjoy it at all. And while a bunch of idiots out there think, “Oh, it’ll be fine, you’ll relax and have a blast”, the short answer is “no, I won’t”. I’m an introvert, not a wannabe extrovert.
Yet I also didn’t want to completely miss out on the experience. So I organized my own bachelor party (insert pity party here, go on, I’ll wait). Okay, back now? I have always wanted to go golfing with a bunch of my friends and family. So I organized a small outing of what turned out to be about 8-9 of us. Then our intent was to go to this indoor go-kart track in Gatineau, but I had no idea that you needed a reservation for it. Oops. We had plans later for a nice steak dinner at the Keg, and a few of us killed some hours in the middle playing pool and eating unhealthy snacks. It was kind of an ideal party for me. And fortunately, no strippers in sight. Although, of course, the idea was floated somewhere during the day, cuz of course it was a bachelor party. Someone had to propose it (nixed by me).
So you attended the showers and / or engagement parties. You did some bachelor and bachelorette parties. You tracked all the gifts, figured out your schedules, etc. And you’re thinking, “whew, time for the wedding.”
There’s often a rehearsal dinner. So, if you’re getting married in a traditional venue, you probably have access to it the day before (like a church). And the bride-and-groom-to-be go there with the Minister, wedding party, parents, support people and walk through the basic schedule. Who will go down the aisle in what order, blah blah blah. It’s not a rehearsal in the normal sense like a play, it’s a walk-through for the next day so everyone is on the same page. Sometimes it is bland, no big deal. Other times, you suddenly realize that NOBODY IS ESCORTING GRANDMA!!!! And you have to adjust your schedule. Or cousin Bob, who is also the Best Man, didn’t realize he had to greet everyone when they arrive and he thought he would be at the front.
And then you all go for dinner. There are three options for the rehearsal dinner. First, you all go to a restaurant somewhere. Second, someone (often the groom’s parents) will host at their house. Or third, the couple will host themselves at their home. So, restaurant or someone else’s home or your own home.
The best option? On everything except cost and mingling, the restaurant. No muss, no fuss, everyone orders what they want, it’s a relatively set amount of time (say, 90 minutes plus or minus 30 minutes), and then everyone leaves with promise to “see you tomorrow”. Often with the plan to get a good night’s sleep. Sure, it might deteriorate into the wedding party going for drinks somewhere and it runs later, but at least there’s the hope.
Hosting at a parent’s home is an option, but whoever the host is, bear this in mind — they too have a big day the next day with a wedding and a long reception. Do they really want to be hosting a big party and cleaning up afterwards?
We chose to host at our house, which was the stupidest thing ever. Now, don’t get me wrong, the night was fine. It was very informal, which was great, everyone got to mingle, some of my family got to meet some of the extended family, it was nice and relaxed.
The social side was great. But then here’s the problem. When we finished, everybody left, most of them had a big day tomorrow too (as I said) and my wife was going to the hotel for the night with her mother. All good.
Except that left me at the house doing a bunch of clean-up. No big deal, initially, but then I realized that I had more stuff than would fit in one dishwasher load and some didn’t go in the dishwasher anyway. Plus I was going to be essentially gone all the next day, and partly on the Sunday too, and so I couldn’t leave dirty stuff sitting for two days. By the time I was done, I was exhausted. It had been a long couple of weeks doing all the final finishing touches, and then I was up to 1:00 the night before doing dishes. Plus, not for nothing, I had planned to use some of that time printing the final versions of my speech (and truth be told, editing it a bit) and detailed program for the next day. So I had to do that too. It was probably about 2:00 or so before I finally crashed.
All of which would have been avoided if I had really asked myself a simple question…”Do I really want to host a party at my house the night before the biggest day of my life? Does that seem like an effective planning strategy?”.
Last but not least, after doing all those parties, you would think we would be partied out? Apparently not. Often, or at least more recently apparently, there is a next-day brunch. Sort of a casual, come as you are, brunch. Some people are even stupid enough to host this at their homes. See problems above. Instead, we got that right, and we just did it at the hotel. We had a small area of the restaurant for us, and we just hung out while the people in the hotel came down for breakfast, ate, kissed us congratulations again, and left for home. Some people use the brunch time to open all the wedding gifts too, others wait until later when they’re home.
For me? I think the brunch was a great way to signal to ourselves “the stress is over”. Obviously, though, if you’re going on a honeymoon and leaving immediately, you probably won’t make it to brunch.
When I was married ten years ago, having a “wedding website” was considered relatively new. Sure, some people had them, and there were a few basic sites out there that offered some options, but it wasn’t everywhere. Now, pretty much every wedding has one. Because websites can help with a lot of things:
A place for people to do confirmations of attendance (i.e. RSVP) and indicate their meal preference in real time;
Provide links for hotel registration or maps of the area;
Post photos of the events so far (and for the wedding afterwards); and,
Links to a gift registry for the happy yet possibly greedy couple.
Nothing. Because your website isn’t about giving you something different than you would have normally, it is just a tool to help you do certain things more easily (RSVPs, for instance, or update venue information). As I said, when we got married, it was a separate “thing”; now, most people would just put it with other “tracker” tools, and depending on which website you choose to host it (there are HUNDREDS if not THOUSANDS now), they likely have modifiable to-do lists you can use too. As such, our website didn’t get going until Week 8 or 10, but now, they’re frequently up at Week 3-4.
Lots of couples get married every year and have big weddings, and think, “Hey, wait a minute, we already own a house and have lived together for awhile, we don’t need gifts, do we?”. Perhaps not. But you still need to have a gift registry. Why? Because no matter how cool your family and friends are, many of them are going to INSIST they need to buy you a gift. In an absolutely insane world, some of them will buy you a gift for your engagement party, the first shower, the second shower, AND the wedding. No, I’m serious. Someone close to you might get invited to all of them and think they HAVE to buy something every time. What if they’re also in the wedding party? Like a bridesmaid? So potentially FOUR gifts PLUS a dress, shoes, makeup, blah blah blah? And fend off drunk Uncle Ernie’s sexual advances? Wow, what a deal.
Wedding gift registries started long ago as an easy way to avoid everyone getting you a toaster. Register somewhere, make a list of things you like, and then people can just ask, “Where are they registered?”. In the distant past, this was a good way to get your “good dishes” or silverware or place settings. Now, you can have registries at Walmart, Canadian Tire, sporting goods stores, etc. Some even are website-based and have options to “help us buy a house” (i.e. give us cash to save for a house) by helping buy a virtual “door” or a “window”. Some make it more mercenary — like “help us pay for the wedding”. Or pay for miles on a trip for a honeymoon.
But ignoring the old and the really greedy new, most registries at department stores tried to make it simple and “fun” about 12 years ago. Let’s face it, most stereotypes of grooms had them preferring to have their eyeballs shaved with lasers rather than help pick out a china pattern, so places like The Bay, Sears, Eaton’s (yes, I know two of those are gone), etc., tried to make it easier by giving you a bar code reader. So here is what you would do — walk around the store. See something you like. Zap it with the gun. Voila, it’s on your registry! So stores would say to the woman, “here, give this to your husband so he can participate too and have some fun”. Zap, you have towels chosen. Zap, luggage. Zap, some tools. Zap, some lingerie. Wait, zap, zap, zap. Stop! Cuz everything you zap? It SHOWS on your registry. Where your MOTHER can see what you’ve chosen. Delete delete delete. Okay, good. Now people can go there, or on the store website, look you up by last name of groom or bride (or both), look at your registry, choose something, buy it, and BAM, it’s removed from your registry so that you don’t have the four toasters problem again. Of course, now, you can have that delivered to their nearest store, and instead of multiple deliveries or taking it to the shower and them having to lug it home, they can arrange for a single pickup or delivery at some point. Very orderly. Not as much “fun” as opening 40 gifts at a shower and feeling stressed that you have to not only keep track, keep smiling, keep opening, etc., but also write them a thank you note later too. And try not feeling overwhelmed that you’re cleaning up like you were the best or only kid in the world and it’s Christmas morning.
But wait, you’re not done. Because not only are YOU getting gifts out the wazoo, you traditionally buy something for each other (bride to groom, groom to bride). Besides the rings. My suggestion? Go for something small but meaningful. Not a tie for the groom, unless he’s wearing it to the wedding. Not earrings for the bride unless she’s wearing them to the wedding. Lots of people do watches (snore). Know what? I”ve asked people and TONS of them have no memory of what they got or gave five years later. Right now, I confess, I’m totally blanking. Just saying…wait. I think I *asked* for a watch. Sigh.
You also need thank you gifts. For your wedding party members. For the Minister. Maybe for the cake decorator or logistics people if they are friends/volunteers. And last but not least, you often do party favours for EVERY GUEST. Back when I was younger, many brides would MAKE something. A sewn wrapper with the names and dates on it, and pieces of wedding cake inside. Some do little candies inside mesh lace, which traditionally, were HAND TIED. Whackjobs. A much more civilized if boring option is to make a donation to a charity in lieu of party favours (no one wants them anyway), and then just put a small note in the program or mention it at the reception. [Week 20-24]
What else do you need to know about gifts? You also need to know that you often have to cart them around on the day of the wedding. Some people didn’t attend party x, or see you within a month of the wedding, so they bring the gift TO the wedding. Which is great, thanks everyone, but oh, now I need to TAKE THEM WITH ME WHEN I LEAVE WITH MY BRIDE???? No, I didn’t, my brother piled them all into his van and looked after that for us. But someone has to. And not for nothing, particularly in some cultures (I’m looking at you, Greeks and Italians!), it’s quite common to stuff cash in an envelope and give THAT at the wedding. So someone has to look after all those envelopes. In some cultures, in lieu of gifts, it is quite common for that total amount of cash to exceed $10K, $20K, even $30K. Not something you want sitting in the back of your car overnight. So someone has to look after it all. Just saying. [Week 25-26]
Until you have a wedding, you have NO idea how stressful invitations can be. Why? Because the options are endless. Absolutely endless. Here are some questions:
Do you want printed “save the date” advance notices?
Do you want them to match your later invitation?
Do you want special RSVP cards with matching layout and design?
Have you decided on the date, location, blah blah blah, all of which has to go on the invitation?
Are children invited?
Are all the singles invited to bring a +1?
Have you even DECIDED WHO IS ON YOUR A-LIST AND B-LIST???????
Oh, and by the way, you’re SNAIL MAILING THEM LIKE AN OLD PERSON, so you need EVERYONE’S MAILING ADDRESS WITH POSTAL CODES.
And then you have some other basic questions:
Are you designing them yourselves?
Are you printing them at home on a laser printer?
Are you having some place like a basic printer do them?
Are you hiring a special invitation-design person?
Once you get through those, you are pressed for advanced questions:
Is there a theme?
Have you decided on your colours yet?
Are you also doing orders of service to match?
Do you want your guestbook to exactly match?
Are you printing enough to have extras in case you mess up an invitation? Or in case you invite 100 people on your A-list and miraculously people respond right away to let you know you only have 90, so you can invite the first 10 off your B-list? Don’t forget too that you want extras to save as souvenirs.
I’m a great believer in farming out as much as you can, if you can afford it. By luck of the draw, we knew someone who did invitations. Andrea reached out, she was interested, we were only inviting 100 people, manageable. But then the questions started (see above). Even with someone else doing it, it’s still a lot of questions, many of which you haven’t thought of yet, until right that MOMENT, and time is ticking away.
You need to know how many people are coming; in order to know, they have to RSVP; in order to RSVP, they need the invitations and some time to think about it; to even get the invitations, they need to be received because they were sent; in order to be sent, they have to be addressed, stamped, prepared; before that, they have to be printed; and before that, THEY HAVE TO BE DESIGNED WITH ALL THAT INFORMATION THEY’RE ASKING ABOUT. All in six months. Acccccccccccccccccccccccccccccck! 🙂
Invitations are a GREAT way to turn yourself into a squirrel in the first couple of months. Lots of young’uns will cheat and send their SAVE THE DATE note by email to everyone (you can’t post it on FB because lots of your friends on FB are NOT going to be invited!). But that doesn’t save much work, just delays the timing a bit.
For me, I think one of the brightest things we did early on was relax a bit about the protocol features of the design. Sure, we wanted it to look nice, but we didn’t want all of the printed materials to exactly match down to the cardstock and filigree. Instead, we decided on a theme. Pandas.
You see, my name is Paul and her name is Andrea. So our initials are P and A = PandA. Early on in our relationship, for a story too cute to tell here, we started calling each other Panda. And it stuck. So we knew we wanted a PandA wedding. And, early on, we had an idea of a logo that we might want to use on the invitation. Something cute, a bit campy, not formal at all. The invitation person took a couple of examples we sent her and did some graphic design with them, and voila, we had a design:
We thought it was cute, but I didn’t realize how brilliant it was. Now we had what the marketers call the basis for branding. For EVERYTHING that we were going to print, all we had to do was slap the logo on it, and it would MATCH our theme. Simple, straight-forward, and matched our informal styles (well, really, mine more than hers, but well, I’m part of the party too). We didn’t want hams and hots with a bag of chips, but we also didn’t want people drinking tea with their pinkies out. And we wanted the wedding to be fun. It is amazing how often through-out the six months that the logo cropped up. On cakes, on boards, at the wedding, not all of which we did, others did it too:
Now, we also wanted to have some fun with the invitations. We didn’t simply want “Mr and Mrs parents of the bride and groom invite you to witness blah blah blah…”. We wanted a bit more, well, personalization. I’ll be honest. I *loved* our invitation. It was fun writing it, it was fun sending it, it was fun doing it ourselves. Here’s the original text that was suggested to us from varying sources for a more traditional invitation:
Because you have shared your friendship and love,
Paul xxxxxx and Andrea xxxxxx invite you with your family to celebrate their marriage on
Saturday, the xxxx of September xxxx At one o’clock in the afternoon
At: Ottawa Little Theatre, 400 King Edward Avenue, Ottawa, Ontario
To be followed by dinner and reception on the Miss Gatineau cruise boat on the Ottawa River, Departing from the marina at Jacques Cartier Park, Hull, Quebec at 4:30 pm sharp. The cruise will end at 8:30 pm at the marina.
Please RSVP at http://wedding.polywogg.ca or 613-xxx-xxxx.
Nothing wrong with it, perfectly functional. Here’s what we actually sent, done up like a press release:
June 2008 – OTTAWA, ONTARIO
The Ottawa Little Theatre is excited to announce an extra show for its 2008-09 season. Following the success of Paul and Andrea (PandA) in their off-off-off-Broadway productions of PandAs in Love and The PandA Den, we are happy to announce that they have chosen the Ottawa Little Theatre to debut their new collaboration, The Great PandA Wedding.
As you may recall, the first production opened in 2002 when Paul and Andrea met while struggling to survive in a sea of bureaucracy at CIDA. While falling in love, their destiny was sealed when they realized that their first initials also spelled the name of their favourite marsupial, the panda.
Following the smash success of PandAs in Love, Paul and Andrea moved their performance to a new stage on Parkdale Avenue in 2004. After three years of critical acclaim, they opened the sequel, The PandA Den, in Nepean, Ontario in June 2007. The new installment in the PandA series will commence with a limited-seating special production for friends and family.
The Great PandA Wedding
Saturday, the xxxx of September xxxx At one o’clock in the afternoon
At Ottawa Little Theatre 400 King Edward Avenue Ottawa, Ontario
Starring Andrea xxxxxx as “The Bride” and Paul xxxxxx as “The Groom”. This one-act play is executive produced by Ron and Marney xxxxxx and Theresa xxxxxx, and will be dedicated to the memory of Jack xxxxxx.
Tickets are available now, but going fast! Reserve yours by August 13, 2008. You can contact the box office at 613-xxx-xxxx or online at http://wedding.polywogg.ca. Additional information and directions to the venues is available through the box office.
This play is rated “Family – Suitable for all ages”. Opening Night Gala
Please join us after the performance for the opening night gala on the Miss Gatineau cruise boat on the Ottawa River.
The cruise will depart from the marina at Jacques Cartier Park, in Hull, Quebec at 4:30 p.m. sharp, and all guests should be on board by 4:15 p.m. at the latest. The cruise will end at 8:30 p.m. at the marina. Parents of young guests should note that this is a four-hour cruise with no scheduled intermissions.
Dinner, refreshments and entertainment will be provided during the cruise.
The Read-the-Reviews Brunch
All guests are invited to continue the celebrations the next morning with Andrea and Paul as they start their first day as a married couple. Guests will need to purchase separate tickets onsite for this event.
Get your tickets today for The Great PandA Wedding September xx, xxxx
We hope to see you there!
A light approach, combining our venue (the theatre), the idea of a “play” with galas and read the reviews brunches, and a touch of us. Exactly what we were looking for, rather than a formal invitation. Is our approach for everyone? Of course not. It just fit us rather perfectly. Even re-reading it above, I feel the excitement I felt when we drafted it and sent them out. People LOVED the invites, and those who didn’t, who thought maybe it was a bit too “light” for such a solemn undertaking, didn’t share their views with us. Is this the right approach for your 90-year-old grandmother who has always wanted to dance at your wedding? Probably not. She needs a proper letter or decorative stationery. But everyone else? They loved it.
Later, for the actual ceremony, we printed the programs ourselves (well, at Staples actually, on better quality semi-gloss cardstock) and then folded them ourselves. And we did it up like play bill with the list of cast members, etc. It looked something like this:
Page 1 with logo and large text:
The Great PandA Wedding
September xx, xxxx
Ottawa Little Theatre
Page 2 (reverse of page 1) with text:
Various Musical Pieces
Seating of Mother of the Groom, escorted by Groom
Music: Sleepers, Wake – Bach
Sister of Honour
Bride, escorted by Father and Mother
Welcome / Opening
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 13
Scripture: Romans 12
From “The Prophet” – Kate
Music: Largo – Handel
From “I Love You” – Linda
Exchanging of Vows
Page 3, text and a couple of clipart images (panda in wedding attire):
Blessing of the Rings
Exchanging of Rings
The Lord’s Prayer
Music: Sheep May Safely Graze – Bach
Signing of the Registry
Reading: “The Irrational Season” – Corinne
Announcement of the Married Couple
Music: Four Seasons, Autumn – Vivaldi
We would like to thank everyone for joining us today as we join our hands, our hearts, our families and our lives. In addition, we’d like to thank our parents, Ron & Marney xxxxxx and Jack & Theresa xxxxxx for teaching us the meaning of love.
Page 4, the cast of characters (and an easy way to say thank-you too):
The Minister……………………………….. Rev. Dr. Wilbert (Wib)
Sister of Honour……………………………………………. Becky
Mother of the Bride……………………………………….. Marney
Father of the Bride…………………………………………….. Ron
Mother of the Groom……………………………………. Theresa
Brother of the Groom…………………………………….. Don
Cousin of the Bride………………………………….. Bruce
Friend of the Bride and Groom……………………….. Liam
Cousin of the Bride……………………………………. Kate
Friend of the Bride………………………………………. Linda
Friend of the Groom…………………………… Corinne
Master of Ceremonies: Brother-in-law………………. Dean
Grandfather of the Bride………………………………. Doug
Sister of the Groom…………………………….. Sharon
Brothers of the Groom……………. Mike, William
Wedding Cakes………………….. Izabella, Natalie
Nieces of the Groom……. Megan, Stephanie
Friend of the Bride and Groom……………… Nicole
Main Photographer………………………………………… Bill
Videography, Additional Photography:
Nephew of the Groom………………………………….. Chris
Niece of the Groom Julie
(I had their full names, just removed here, and it was all lined up and right aligned).
It all fit on one page, double-sided, and if you folded it down the centre, it looked like a program. Easy peasy lemon squeezy? Not really, it took a bit of work to make it all look decent, but it got there. And at a fraction of the cost, while also letting us personalize it much later in the schedule than a professional designer would have been flexible enough to handle.
However, you will still need to:
Choose invitation person
Meet with invitation person
Draft invitation text
Decide if children will be invited / will attend
Draft order of service
Print mailing, return address labels
Call any guests who haven’t responded
Buy guestbook and pen
Print orders of service
And last but not least? You’re going to want to save copies of the invitations and order of service for your wedding scrapbook.
We did our SAVE THE DATE message somewhere around Week 4-8I think (?) and the actual invitations went out in week 12-13. By most standards, that is considered LATE.