Wedding Planning

#SamSquared2016: Accommodating Others on My Wedding Day

There’s a large part of wedding culture that emphasizes the bride getting whatever she wants for her wedding day. That it’s the ONE DAY you get to be the star and you better not blow it. I honestly think this is largely ridiculous. First of all, the bride is marrying SOMEONE, and sometimes there isn’t even a bride, so it should at least be whatever the couple wants. Second of all, the couple of honor is really acting more as a host these days than as the honored guests. The bride and groom are making all of the decisions, and while my parents graciously paid for the wedding, and therefore were the hosts by definition, they didn’t give too much input beyond who they wanted to invite.

With this “hosting” thing in mind, I set out to not only have the wedding of my dreams, but also the wedding of my husband’s dreams, and a wedding that was at least very enjoyable for everyone attending. I wanted everyone to have fun! I wouldn’t say that I necessarily sacrificed anything I really wanted to accommodate someone else’s needs, but there were definitely things done a certain way because they would not work well the other way.

My maid of honor, as I’ve mentioned before, has CP. Her CP makes it difficult for her to walk unassisted, on uneven ground, or stand for any length of time. She also has incredible difficulty finding shoes that she can wear. Being her best friend, I’m used to adjusting my habits when I’m around her by walking slower and making sure she has something (my arm, a handrail) to hold onto when she needs it. To make sure she was comfortable, I chose long maxi dresses as the bridesmaid dresses, and then let my bridesmaids pick whatever shoes they wanted, as long as they were flat or low wedges. So Amelia could wear her trusty pair of brown sandals, and the rest of my girls wouldn’t have to sweat buying expensive wedding shoes either. I also had everyone escorted both up and down the aisle. This way no one looked out-of-place, and Amelia had a stabilizing partner to hold on to, preventing falls. Lastly, I had chairs placed up front for my bridal party to sit in during the ceremony. Our short, nonreligious ceremony, would normally have the bridal party standing the entire time (unlike a lengthy Catholic ceremony, for example), but chairs made it more comfortable and also helped when the toddler flower girls and ring bearers wanted to sit up front with their moms… or the Best Man!

These changes I made during the ceremony I applied to everyone, so as not to draw attention to one person being different. After the ceremony, Amelia used her motorized scooter to get around the venue without issue.

My adorable niblings. They ranged in age from 1-2.5 at the time of my wedding and I was determined to have them IN the wedding because I wasn’t lucky enough to be in a wedding as a child (and now there is a flower girl sized hole in my heart). But they’re toddlers, and toddlers are WAY too young to plan around. So I tried my best, and told their moms (my sisters) that I was going to be extremely flexible around them. I told my sisters that their priority during set up was keeping the kids alive and happy. If the kids needed to nap, or the family needed be late due to nap time, etc then that takes priority over set up.

Their clothes: my ring bearer king (2.5) was pretty simple, as he was old enough to explain what was going to happen. He was just getting into dress-up, so explaining special wedding clothes worked well. He got to wear a crown (just like Prince Wednesday from Daniel Tiger, thank you very much), and a clip-on tie. He actually got this idea of “special wedding clothes” into his head so much that he didn’t want to put them on in late September, a solid 3 months after the wedding, because he thought he needed to save them for my wedding when it happened again (he then had to be told that Aunt NooNoo’s wedding is “closed today”). The flower girls bloom babes were 12- and 17-months-old at the time of my wedding, and therefore much harder to plan around. They had 2 outfit options, originally chosen for ceremony and reception (reception clothes being more  play-friendly). The ceremony clothes were going to be a onesie and a tutu that I hand-made. But the tutu wasn’t pleasing the 12 month old, and the 17 month old just immediately took it off with a look of triumph on her face. Floral leggings and a tunic it was. They had matching shoes, but the shoes that came in were way too big, so the 17 month old wore the pair we got for the 12 month old, and then the 12 month old wore Nike sneakers because her feet literally wouldn’t fit into any other pair of shoes! The beauty of little kids in your wedding, is everyone will think they’re incredibly stinkin’ cute no matter what they’re wearing.

I told my sisters that any way the kids made it down the aisle was the perfect way. Their dads could carry them, there was a Cookie Monster Wagon backup, they could walk or crawl. What ended up happening was my sisters stationed themselves at the end of the aisle so the kids had a target, the ring king ran down the aisle (saying to his mom “I ran!” at the end, which my sister heard as “I won!” so we thought he was racing his sister and cousin), one of the bloom babes made it down perfectly fine, and the other made it a third of the way and then wanted to be carried the rest of the way (interestingly enough, she stopped at the first red “STOP” square!).

I also told my sisters, whatever the kids needed to do during the ceremony was also fine. I would rather have them content than screaming. So the ring king sat on his mom’s lap, the 12 month old bloom babe hung out with her dad, the 17 month old was with her mom, then started an adventure and went to hang out with the Best Man (whom she had only met the day before!) and then got passed to my mother-in-law who passed her to my sister. This might be something some brides dread, but it was one of my favorite parts of the entire ceremony.

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The kids were fine for the whole reception, they are exceptionally good stroller sleepers so they dozed off there when the partying went late. During the toasts, the ring king sat on my lap so he had a “safe base” while his mom was toasting and wasn’t running rampant around a bonfire (his dad was with his baby sister!). Just because I was the bride, didn’t mean I stopped being an aunt! This is another one of my favorite memories from the day, because whenever I went to hold my shiny new husband’s hand, this adorable toddler went to intercept. He definitely loves his Aunt NooNoo.

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Sam and I opted for a sweetheart’s table and 3 VIP tables instead of a head table. This way, our bridal party could sit with their dates, and my sisters could sit with their husbands and kids. With our free-flow reception, I didn’t feel the need to have a head table anyway since we weren’t eating all at once.

Other things I did: I let all the moms with babies know about the bridal suite, which was just off of the main Vistaview Hall area, so they had a quiet place to take the baby to nap, feed, or get changed if desired. I had a special plate of food prepared for a single guest that has dietary restrictions (we also had plans for a vegetarian meal, but no one claimed that option on the RSVP cards–We were going to have pulled tofu BBQ!). We bought some non-alcoholic beer for a few guests who like it, we let my mother-in-law have lots of input on who went at which table and where those tables were placed. I tried to introduce people who didn’t know anyone else to other people they would like during the welcome reception so they wouldn’t be alone during the wedding.

All of these details made very little difference to me, but made huge differences to those who it benefited. By having the people around me less stressed out, I was able to enjoy the day more. Above all, I made sure I adhered to #10 on my list, I made sure I enjoyed myself!

All of the pictures featured in this blog post were taken by the incredibly talented Kathryn Michelle Photography, based out of Richmond, VA.

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