As a minister, I’ve witnessed hundreds
of weddings. The scenes surrounding the ceremonies were either masterfully
orchestrated events, or disorganized soap operas drenched in tears or
slapstick comedy embarrassment.
Scientific theory might spout, “stuff”
happens, yet outcomes can be predicted based of specific absolutes. Here’s
what I know for sure:
The most awkward and unhappy weddings are those done
without thinking ahead and planning for the desired outcome. That means
considering the comfort and ease of guests and vendors.
I recall conducting a beach wedding in August for a
lovely couple from Minnesota. Their families and friends all flew into
town for the event. Guests in high heels had to walk at least 700 yards
to a restroom. They looked wilted before the ceremony began. Choose a
location that will provide the greatest comfort for your guests.
When you save a few dollars by choosing a remote, outdoor
location, away from the comforts of electricity, restrooms, and water,
but you may create chaos and upsets. Having conducted weddings at popular
sites along the beach and in parks on both very hot & cold days, I
seen guests faint, shiver, or become so uncomfortable, they couldn’t
enjoy the ceremony. Portable sound systems failed, guests fell down embankments
or stairs and no back-up plan was in place for inclement weather.
A different set of problems occur when the bridal party
and/or weddings guests have not recovered from drinking parties the night
before. I’ve seen groomsmen, vomit (yes, on their tuxedo), and guests
Conversely the smoothest weddings have had professional
planners who had everything lined up and handled ahead of time. Preparation
averts problems. If emergencies did happen, professional planners handled
them with grace so few people ever knew a problem had occurred.
If your budget can’t manage a wedding planner,
go over every detail with at least one person who will be at the wedding
site early to answer questions from vendors.
A thoughtful touch for your guests - whether indoors
or out, is to assign two people to warmly greet guests between the parking
lot & ceremony site. These people should be able to direct guests
to the gift table, restrooms, refreshments, & seating - bride’s
side is on left (facing the alter) & groom’s side on the right.
“open seating” means they may sit on either side.
If the bride or groom is nervous about making a mistake
or having to speak in public, be certain you can depend on your minister/rabbi
requires few words from you, prompts you and is willing to physically
move you where you are supposed to stand so all you do is stand and breathe
– she or he will do the rest. Having someone take complete responsibility
for your ceremony will give you peace of mind.
After the ceremony, have your minister point guests to their next location,
for example, “While family photos are being taken, please enjoy
refreshments in the patio on your left.”,
If you have thought and planned ahead everything that
will make your ceremony run smoothly and your guests most comfortable,
you can relax with absolute peace of mind.
Rev. Judy Winkler
San Diego, CA