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Thursday, December 2nd, 2021

Jim Chester's Blog

Good Wedding Planning is Crucial

As an ordained minister I have had the privilege of officiating at hundreds of weddings. I wish I had this experience when I was planning my own wedding.  If you are considering a "do-it-yourself" ceremony I offer a review of my own wedding as a lesson in just how badly things can go without proper planning.


First, consider chair placement. I set up the room with my best man and failed to leave a center aisle. No one noticed until my bride arrived at the back of the room where she stopped with a shocked look on her face, not knowing what to do. Fortunately her father whispered to her, "Stick with me, baby" and he led her around the side to the front.


Second, if you desire to have music as a part of the ceremony, plan this carefully. My best man and I were in a band at the time so we played a set of George Harrison and Moody Blues on electric guitars as a warm-up.  Not the best choice in hindsight. Select music that is appropriate for the event with lyrics that are not offensive and a mood suitable for a wedding. Place speakers high enough that the sound goes over the heads of seated guests.


Photographs of your wedding will be the memories you cherish for a lifetime. If you cannot afford a professional photographer, make sure your friends or relatives know what they are doing. At my wedding, one person shot an entire roll of film with the lens cap on. We got no photos. My parents took a couple of rolls of pictures, then sent them off to a mail-in developing service. The film was lost in the mail and we got no photos. The one person that did get some pictures was used to a self-focusing camera, but they were using a new SLR and did not know how to focus. We got photos, but they were all blurry. Those are the photos we look at today as a fond memory of our blessed event.


If family members are in charge of the reception, work with them to plan the food. My brother-in-law was in charge of the punch. He made a traditional mix of sherbet, Hawaiian Punch and Sprite. His mistake was using lime sherbet with red punch which, when blended, turned brown and lumpy and looked like raw sewerage. It tasted GREAT, but no one would drink it.


We had exactly one week to put the event together and you can see the results of improper planning. Begin your wedding plans early enough that you can tweak and adjust as you encounter the little glitches that always pop up.  Fortunately, despite the mistakes I made at our wedding, my marriage has survived 37 years and my wife and I are still very happily married.

Timing is Everything

If you are getting married and have announced the time, you really owe it to everyone involved to try to start on time.  I recently was hired to officiate a wedding in Atlanta where the bride and groom did all the organizing themselves.  Unfortunately, very little went as planned.  The groom was to provide the sound man with all the music from his Mp3 player which was in his car.  His car was broken into the night before the wedding and his Mp3 player was stolen.  So the groom was busy for hours before the service trying to download music from his PC to a memory stick.  On top of that he was walking barefoot in the groom's area where he stepped on a piece of broken glass, then had to do emergency bandaging to keep from bleeding all over the place.

In the meantime the bride was moving to and fro for pictures and such and everytime she came through the groom had to "shield his eyes" or bail into a closet so he would not see her.  The wedding was scheduled to start at 5 pm and by 6:20 they were still scurrying about arranging things.  The guests had been seated outside in the heat all this time and several of them had asked me, "When is this going to start?"  I had no answer.

At 6:30 the groom went out the back door followed by the bride (whom he had so carefully avoided up to this point).  Moments later the bride re-emerged, kicking her shoes off and slamming the door to the bride's room.  The groom followed and sulked off to his corner and I made a bet with the sound guy that the wedding was pretty much off at this point. 

To my surprise, at 6:45 I was informed that everyone was ready, so the groom and I headed to the front to await the arrival of the bride.  The groom was slouching with his hands in his pockets while the bride came in sniffling as she clung to her father's arm.  They were married and I did not hang around long enough to see if it lasted past the reception.  But the point is that it is really rude to make everyone wait nearly two hours for any event.

Two months later I had to wait almost the same length of time when a wedding planned for 3pm did not start until 4:30.  Not only is this disrespectful to the guests, what would have happened if I had to leave for another committment?  And if I leave without signing the license, a wedding turns into nothing more than a real expensive party. 

I realize putting a wedding together can be complicated but, if you plan on doing everything yourself, try to keep it as simple as possible.  It will be easier on the bride and groom and the guests always appreciate any event that starts on time.

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