The year is 2015. The city is Cambridge, the girl is Heather; standing in front of her mirror, curling her hair for her fifth wedding of July. It could have been a comedy film; in one year, I managed to go along to thirteen weddings – from cousins, to old school friends, to church pals. Weddings are an absolute honour to be involved in, and I generally love the whole day: dressing up in your best dress; wearing heels and feeling extremely classy; seeing old friends and having a catch up; watching your favourite people celebrate their love and seeing so much joy on their faces; having a dance and laughing a lot. I’m the wedding lover; but even so, thirteen weddings is a lot.
As the wedding pro, I’ve had a fair bit of experience in working out how to make that wedding day a really great experience and generally avoid regrets. Here are some things that I’ve found to be true:
You do not have to go to that wedding:
There are some weddings that you need to be at: if you are best man, you kind of need to be there. Other than that, it can be a good idea to look at you budget and your calendar when a new invitation comes in the door, and assess whether you really want to be there. Chances are, you won’t be as missed as you think you will be (in the best way – there are going to be lots of people there that they love); and if that wedding is going to make you sad, break your bank balance or is going to be one too many weddings for the year, it might be kinder to the couple to RSVP and choose to not be there – when I get married, I would love to celebrate with lots of people who want to be there to celebrate with us.
(You also don’t have to buy everyone a big gift if it isn’t possible for you or if it’s going to destroy your budget – but be thoughtful. A great card, or something handmade is perfect with the right heart behind it).
Find the right people:
Generally, weddings are a whole lot more enjoyable if you have great friends around you, and are all up for having a really great day. Weddings on your own are tricky: find that group of friends and get involved with what everyone else is up to: travelling together, dancing together and generally keeping an eye out of one another means that everyone will enjoy the door. Even if you’re great friends with the bride or groom, it’s unlikely that they will be able to spend a lot of time with you on the day, so go prepared to be with your friends or find new ones.
If there aren’t people around who are getting the dancing going and making sure that the room is having a great time, be those people: some of my favourite wedding memories have been the times when everyone has been a bit silly, danced a lot, sang a lot, and made the night a real celebration; and sometimes you have to set the tone.
Rejoice with those who rejoice:
“Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.” (Romans 12:10-16)
Weddings really are one of those moments when we get to put this into action: we are rejoicing with those who are rejoicing, we are not lacking in zeal and we are blessing those around us, living in harmony. Look after one another, and that light will shine from you – and then it won’t matter what dress you’re wearing; kindness is the most beautiful quality.
I give myself a bit of an attitude check when I’m getting ready for a wedding – it isn’t the day to be thinking about myself, or being sad or wishing things were different. It’s a day to spend with some of the best people and celebrate something wonderful, and for that I can be so full of joy.
And please, turn off your phone. Not just because you don’t want that alarm that you forgot to unset playing loudly from the back of the church just before they say I do; but because you do not need to experience the day through a phone screen. There will be a specially picked out, highly trained photographer there to do the job that you’re trying to do on your IPhone; chances are the bride won’t want grainy, blurry photos of her dress popping up throughout the Facebook throughout the day; and I’m sure they’d rather look around at lots of smiling faces, than the backs of smart phones.
Take spare shoes:
On a slightly more practical note but just as important: if you are wearing heels, wear them and rock them; but have a pair of flats in your bag, just in case. You’ll thank me at ten o’clock at night when Uncle Frank wants you to dance with him again at the celidh.
And remember: don’t be this girl: