Surprise Weddings?

September 26th, 2016
All you really need for a wedding is the marriage license, and someone to sign it.

All you really need for a wedding is the marriage license, and someone to sign it.

I’ve been seeing and hearing more and more about surprise weddings, also known as pop-up weddings.  I think it’s a very fun idea.  In case you haven’t heard of it, here’s what happens:  The guests are invited (by the couple getting married) to be somewhere on some pretext–perhaps a holiday brunch, or a special family dinner.  When they are all assembled, the couple announces that this is their wedding, and they have the ceremony.  Usually, the promised brunch or dinner (or some other form of party) happens afterwards.

You might wonder whether or not this concept is a good idea.  I don’t have any personal experience of it, but a friend of mine was delightfully surprised when her son and his fiancee did this. It certainly eliminated any wedding planning stress my friend might have otherwise had!  I’ve also heard other stories from people who have attended, officiated at, or been married at a surprise wedding.  The experience seems to be pretty uniformly positive.  It is less stressful than a traditional wedding and is good for people who like surprises.  From what I can gather, most surprise weddings have a small guest list, so it is also a less expensive way to get married.  It makes no less of a splash for being small, though!

You might wonder how I feel as a professional wedding planner about this idea.  I think it’s great!  It allows for a certain amount of flexibility and is fertile ground for non-traditionalism.  Don’t be fooled into thinking, though, that a surprise wedding requires any less planning than any other kind.  It may even require more, because if you want to get married this way, you won’t have the help of your families–unless you want to spoil the surprise.

Lake House Wedding

September 19th, 2016

We had so much fun a few weeks ago working with a couple whose wedding was unlike any I’ve ever seen.  The reception was more like a big carnival for the kids.  The adults had a great time, too!  Here are a few photos of the day.

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What is a Non-Traditional Wedding?

September 12th, 2016
Lawn games are definitely non-traditional.

Lawn games are definitely non-traditional. Photo by Allison Williams Photography.

Non-traditional weddings are getting more press these days, as someone seems to think it’s a trend.  But what does “non-traditional” really mean?

I’ve been reading blog posts about non-traditional weddings, and ideas range from the bride wearing flats instead of heels to mixing genders in the wedding party.  I notice that a lot of the suggestions are purely decorative:  have smaller cake; make your own decor; wear a color that isn’t white; have the men wear suits; carry a bouquet that isn’t flowers; go bareheaded.  There are also online lists of non-traditional wedding themes, which mostly seem to relate to various pop culture phenomena.  Those are good starts, if you’re planning to go the non-traditional route.  But there are lots of other options open to you.  Here are some ideas I’ve seen implemented at weddings that are definitely out of the box:

  • The guests gathered in a building in the park with a gorgeous view of the lake and the skyline.  There were snacks to eat, and the bar was open.  After half an hour of cocktail party, when everyone had arrived, the bride, the groom, and a judge stood in the middle of the room and got everyone’s attention for a brief wedding ceremony.  Four minutes later, the buffet (from the couple’s favorite restaurant) opened, and everyone ate, talked, and hugged the bride and groom.
  • The guests sat in chairs on a lawn in the forest preserve facing the woods.  The bride and groom came out of the woods to face their guests, where they were married.  Then, everyone adjourned to the nearby picnic shelter, which had been decorated by the bride’s family.  A taco truck and a gelato truck provided dinner, and there were games on the patio.
  • The bride and groom rented a vacation house on a lake for the weekend, where all their close family stayed.  Chairs, picnic tables, and picnic blankets were set up facing the lake for the guests.  The bride and groom greeted the guests as they arrived.  Each person in the processional was introduced by the officiant with a few words.  After the ceremony, the photographer took a group picture of everyone there, with the lake as the backdrop.  For a couple of hours after the ceremony, there were lawn games, boat rides, a face painter, and a Bozo Buckets tournament.  Then the barbecue truck showed up and grilled a big buffet dinner, with funnel cakes for dessert.  The kids decorated cookies in the house.  At sunset, everyone went home, having enjoyed a beautiful day on the lake.

Of course, if you do decide to break the rules (such as they are), expect a certain amount of pushback from family and friends.  Here’s an article written by a bride about how she is coping with some of that.  The short version is this:  It’s your wedding, so do what suits you.  The nicest weddings I’ve ever been to have been the ones that reflect the true personalities of the couple getting married.  If you’ve never been the normal one, then why should your wedding be normal?  It will be much nicer if you are true to yourselves.

What a Coordinator is For

September 5th, 2016
Here's a bride busy outsourcing her worries to me!  Photo by Peter Coombs.

Here’s a bride busy outsourcing her worries to me! Photo by Peter Coombs.

I had just arrived at the early morning wedding rehearsal of my clients, and the family was gathering.  I was being introduced to various parents and other family members in preparation for running the rehearsal.  The groom introduced me to his father, and he said something I really liked.  He said, “This is Lisa.  She is the one we have outsourced all our worrying to.”

That’s my job, in a nutshell:  You can outsource your worries to me, and I’ll take care of them!