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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 1, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 5
Planning makes perfect
Arts & Entertainment
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Planning makes perfect

Tips for ensuring a memorable - and enjoyable - wedding day

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

When the freedom to marry came to Washington state, mass wedding ceremonies were planned at a rate that took the participants and their friends and families by storm. Gays and Lesbians married by the hundreds, and all at once. The real upside to all the mass weddings was that everyone was told what to do, how to dress, and where to be. It was a cattle call.

But what do the rest of us do? You know, the poor saps who decided to wait for a specific date or couldn't let go of the idea of being married in the Seattle sun, i.e., June through August. We get the added stress of actually having to plan our wedding ceremonies.

To help ease the stress and (here's a radical thought) ensure you might actually get to enjoy your own wedding, I consulted some of the nation's top LGBT-specific websites, advice columnists, and other sources to compile a list of eight things that are sure to help to make your big day a fun and memorable one.

GIVE YOURSELF TIME
Most same-sex weddings are not going to be a quickie City Hall affair. So make sure that you schedule lots of time to plan your big day. Send out an e-mail or a save-the-date card at least three to four months before your wedding day. More than likely, any out-of-town guests will have to take vacation time to travel, so they need time to schedule days off from the office.

Also, take note of any holidays. It will be difficult for people to come to a wedding in the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year's. Plane tickets are much more expensive, and people generally have solid family plans. Also think about the weather. If you live in a place that's prone to snowstorms or hurricanes, consider planning your wedding to avoid them. I have a friend who planned to hold her wedding during hurricane season in South Florida. Well, Katrina hit, and needless to say her beach wedding was totally ruined.

MANAGE YOUR EMOTIONS
It's not every day that you get married. Suffice to say there will be some emotions attached to the day. Don't let it have a negative impact on your relationship. If you find yourself fighting all the time with your partner I would recommend couple's therapy before proceeding further.

MAKE A BUDGET
Surprise! Weddings cost money. Like, a lot of money. Vendors always seem to find ways to mark up their services after the initial estimate. Whatever your budget is, just add 10 percent to 30 percent more to it. That will be a reasonably accurate first look at wedding expenses. Unexpected costs come up and it's better to have a cushion than to stress over what could happen.

CONSIDER YOUR FAMILY
The only people more emotional about your wedding than you are your family. Why? Because that is true of every wedding, and so it will be true of yours. The matter becomes even more complicated when your parents are paying for your party. With multiple sets of expectations, it can be difficult to make everyone happy. Listen to what your family has to say. Try to incorporate some of their ideas into your planning, even if you're not enthusiastic about them. If you find your family - or friends, for that matter - being too pushy or too moody, let them know that it's bothering you, but please try not to fight.

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
If you live in a place where same-sex marriage is not (yet) legal, you should become an activist or move! But in the meantime, if you are OK with forgoing the legal protections and other perks of married life for now, any kind of ceremony that is heartfelt and representative of who you are to each other will suffice.

IGNORE THE HATERS
Haters gonna hate. They can't help it. It's who they are; it's what they do. Just don't let them affect you, and you win. Whether it is the Westboro Baptist Church or people more personal to your core, you've just got to accept this and remember that a good number of people do love and support you, no matter what. When sending out invites, try to be real and send them out only to people you really want to have surrounding you.

PLAN THE PHOTOGRAPHY
If no one took pictures, it never happened. It is extremely boring for guests to wait on a wedding reception to start while you are having photos taken, however. Start the reception immediately. Create a separate space for photos. Make sure that the photographer has all the lighting equipment set up before the wedding ever starts. Do test shots early in the day. This helps tremendously in saving time.

Third, make a list of all the photos you want. Think of all combinations. Write a list of all of the images that you want, including the names of the people in the photos. This will help speed up the process for the photographer, and it will guarantee that you don't forget to include people that you want in the photos.

A GOOD RECEPTION IS A GREAT WEDDING
You will be judged on how much fun/not fun your wedding reception is. The best advice? Sit down and relax. You just got married! Create a timeline for the reception. Write down the start time and all of the things that you want to happen. Have someone responsible designated to keep track of the time. That way, you won't feel stressed that you're forgetting something, and there won't be awkward scrambling moments. Do the toasts at the beginning of the evening. Once you get really into the party, it deflates the energy to stop the music and have everyone point their attention to someone speaking. Set a five-minute time limit per person for speeches, and limit the number of them to about four. Otherwise, it gets boring and repetitive. You can always set up a 'video confessional booth' somewhere quiet at the reception for people to go and give you special messages.

One final suggestion: Ask a friend to prepare a plate of food for you. Otherwise you'll never get to eat.

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