When my sister was planning her wedding, the venue liaison asked what her theme was going to be.
I’d been helping her plan her wedding every step of the way, and it never occurred to either of us that the day needed a theme. Color scheme, sure. But a theme? Isn’t the theme for any wedding simply: “Hey everybody, we’re getting married and we want to celebrate with you!” Something like that? A chance to witness the union of two souls, if you will. A good reason to drink champagne, eat cake and dance?
Little did we know. Most of the weddings we’d been to had been fairly cut-and-dried. Poofy white dress, ugly bridesmaids dresses, cranky flower girl, hammy ring bearer, a canned wedding march and all the other clichés that scream “It’s a wedding, dagnabbit!”
If only we had picked up one of those overpriced, overweight bridal mags earlier in the planning process. Then we might’ve known that a theme is so much more than a choice between church or civil ceremony, indoor or outdoor, day or night, bold colors or pastels.
I think my sister’s wedding theme emerged organically. She married my brother-in-law in a garden setting with a handful of friends drumming African rhythms before and after the ceremony. The ring bearer, my then 6 year old son, got everyone laughing as he eased his way down to the steps of the gazebo for a little nap during the ceremony, and then bolted up when it was his time to shine by passing on the ring. So I suppose their theme was playful spontaneity.
It wasn’t exactly the wedding they had originally wanted to have. (Much like my first wedding, it was the wedding my mother had decided was appropriate for the occasion. If they’d stuck to their guns, they would likely have been married in a remote campground with an earth-roasted pig, fire dancers and my bro-in-law trying to get everyone to walk on hot coals just for fun.) Despite all the compromises they ended up making, it was a truly memorable wedding after all. Isn’t that all any couple really wants from their big day, something they and all of their guests can look back on fondly?
My first wedding was a bit of a disaster. The ceremony went well enough, but the reception was held up by an overbooked caterer who showed up without the table linens they had agreed were included in the price. When they “rushed” back to their shop to get them, the whole party was kept waiting in the parking lot of the venue for over an hour. By the time everyone was comfortably sated, they were ready to hit the road and miss the best part of the meal — the cake. (That cake was the best wedding cake I’ve ever eaten in my life, and hardly anyone tried it). Maybe it was being kept waiting so long to eat. Maybe it was the fact that my then mother-in-law was the festively belligerent lead singer of our wedding band. Whatever it was, our guests exited in droves well before our time was up. And they could’ve taken some of that amazing cake home with them instead of leaving it with a pregnant newlywed!
So now I get a do over — a second chance at marriage with a man I feel lucky to have found. And, since it’s not a shotgun wedding this go around, we have plenty of time to plan, to DIY, to figure out a wedding theme fitting of who we are as a couple, and not simply what my mother thinks our wedding should be. Mom’s already perturbed by some of our ideas. I guess that means we’re going with a rebel theme, and we’re off to a good start.
What do you think about a potluck reception? Do you agree with my mother and The Knot? Or are you down with mysterious fare?