Valentine Proposal? Wedding Advice and Etiquette Like You’ve NEVER Heard Before!

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Tomorrow is the big day! A day of love and chocolate, or a day some ruefully call “Single Awareness Day”. It’s a day where many couples decide to make it official and get engaged to be married, and that is what I’d prefer to concentrate on today.

I had a recent opportunity to interview with Holly Collins of Adventures in Dance of Littleton, CO, about this impending process of proposal and marriage. She keeps a video blog, and asked me in to discuss a few things couples should know before the big “W-Day” arrived. Even as I awaited the taping, a frantic bride-to-be called to get in some dance lessons before her wedding.

Collins sighed, “They think they can just come in and learn a few steps, and be good to go. It’s not like that – it takes weeks to really learn how to MOVE together.” I had to chuckle inside as I married long before putting on a rehearsed dance routine at the reception was the norm for couples and bridal parties.

To start, Collins asked me what mistake I see couples making. I responded that couples sweat the small stuff, things like chair covers as opposed to the person in them, and that this is not where the focus should be. I think I surprised her when I said the biggest mistake is NOT going to marriage counseling beforehand. The focus falls on the party as opposed to answering the questions about the marriage. You see a WEDDING and a MARRIAGE are two completely different things.

She asked what couples tend to forget when planning a wedding, to which I said EXPENSE! A destination wedding is wonderfully romantic, as taught to us by “reality” (I used that term loosely) shows, but why would you want to do that to a guest’s wallet? Or for that matter, why start off your relationship in debt that can be avoided? The logic seems to be to combine the wedding and the honeymoon, but there are myriad other expenses that do not get factored in here. If nothing else, ask yourself if you can really count on airline travel these days. Yeah, I thought not.

The next question was about wedding etiquette, to which I categorized etiquette for the bride and groom AND for guests. For the couple, send out your invites at the very least six weeks before the big day. A “save the date” card earlier in the year is even better if you want a good turnout. For the guests, get there on time! These things never start on time because they are waiting for YOU to get seated! Also, get in those RSVPs in a timely manner! Unexpected guests throw off what is already a very delicate balance. And for EVERYONE, leave your “baggage” at home. This isn’t about whom you do not enjoy spending time with; it’s about the couple’s nuptials.

Collins asked then how to keep everyone on his or her best behavior, and I boldly suggested NO OPEN BAR. With that much alcohol flowing, you are just asking for trouble. At my wedding, we simply had two bottles of wine on each table, and no one complained!

When asked for my best piece of advice for couples planning a wedding, I suggested again that the “go big or go home” mentality does not work here. Keep it simple is the best rule of thumb to keep expenses and stress in check.

The next question was what happened at my own wedding that I would suggest to couples, and my reply was to have a wedding planner. If not a professional, at least a friend to field any disasters. A friend stepped up to do just this at my wedding, and thank goodness! I did not find out until after we returned from our honeymoon that the catering truck had broken down on the freeway as it was headed for our reception!

The last topic we discussed was how to handle the stress of planning a wedding of any size. Be prepared for it. There is no such thing as a stress-free wedding, so know there will be some. Take steps to combat the stress, from exercising together, keeping communication lines open, and being able to delegate, delegate, delegate! Men like to problem solve, and brides? Take advantage of that and give them a task such as pricing florists. You will be glad you did.

Fifteen years later, people are still telling us ours was “the best wedding ever”, and I still smile.

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