Bride(maids)zillas, Assigned Seating & the Kid Factor

You've reserved the fabulous venue, found a stunning dress and sealed the deal with the perfect partner.  The wedding you've always wanted, and moments you cannot wait to cherish, are finally coming together.  All that's left to do is fine-tune the details... So very many details. 

Isn't it funny how the smallest of things can cause the largest amounts of stress?

Last week you had an panic attack over chevron printed tablecloths and almost lost a bridesmaid over denying her powder pink stilettos.  You have even found yourself toying with the idea of eloping to an Elvis-riddled, yet stress-free, Viva Las Vegas wedding.  When did planning a wedding become so difficult? 

Planning any occasion is going to come with some guaranteed stress, especially when it is considered the most important occasion of your life.  Unless you plan on going to the courthouse and snatching up a quick marriage certificate, there will be obstacles. 

The best way to handle them is to accept that they are going to come and arm yourself with final answers to tough questions.  I know it sounds like preparing for war but, let's be honest, sometimes weddings take place on a battlefield.  Here are a few examples of hurdles that you will likely encounter and some suggestions to ensure a clean leap over them.

BRIDE(MAIDS)ZILLAS.  They are your family, your best friends, your in-laws or all three and you love them dearly.  They can't wait help you plan the big day and give you their personal opinion...on EVERYTHING.  They would especially like to discuss what color dress usually brings out their eyes, why having their hair up will make for bad pictures and why a sweetheart neckline is the only cut she will wear, yes, even if that is the cut of your gown.  Now multiply this opinion, with all different ideas, by anywhere from 2 to 14 times and there you have a bridal party.  Yikes.  You've got your work cut out for you.

Here is a big secret you can tell all of them (in the kindest way possible, of course): This is not their wedding, it's yours.  Tell them you love them and value their opinion and will do your best to make them feel important and look beautiful on YOUR wedding day.  Then, gently remind them that you asked them to be a part of your big day for their support during this time.  Tell them how much that means to you that they are able to do that so selflessly. 

Any bridesmaid that doesn't step down off their soapbox after that plea needs to be put on your bridal backburner.  No decision, that is not her decision, is going to make her happy and her complete happiness is not your job.  Your job is to marry the love of your life and find a way to have fun while doing it.  Someone with  your best interest at heart will know and encourage this.

So, how can you smooth over the situation?  Limit their options.  Decide on the color and styles YOU like and go from there.  Do you want your hair down?  Then request that their hair be up.  Do you want a sweetheart neckline?  Then give them V-neck.  Do silver dresses accent the decor perfectly?  Then give them silver dresses! You can even offer them all variations of the same color or cut.  Having subtle differences is a classic spin on a uniformed approach.

However, do not be rude and force all of your lovely ladies into frumpy frocks to ensure that you are the center of attention.  You are in an extravagant dress, surrounded by all of your guests with that undeniable "I'm getting married today" glow.  You will be noticed.  I promise.  Besides, half of your bridesmaids are stressed about looking good because they are still waiting on that special someone.  This means they still have a wedding to plan...and a dress of their choice for you to wear.  Choose wisely!

 If you approach them with a plan, and have bottom line answers to their sure to be fired questions, they will have no choice but to accept it and move on more quickly.  Let them grumble about or celebrate your choice.  As long as you maintain a confident front in your selections, they will have no other option but to comply. 

ASSIGNED SEATING.  To assign or not to assign?  It's a big question.  Your sister hasn't talked to your cousin Sarah in months and your brother not so secretly dislikes your future brother-in-law.  It's life, it happens.  Assigned seating can help keep their bottoms in their designated areas and assist in ensuring that a brawl doesn't interrupt your first dance.

 For a smaller and more intimate wedding, this should not be as big of a deal.  There's thirty people and ten tables so they are going to have to be around each other anywhere they go.  They'll figure it out.  Just be sure to make it clear where you, your groom and your wedding party intend to sit.  There is nothing more awkward than having to politely ask your groom's Aunt Ramona and Uncle Fred to finish their prime rib at another table.

For bigger weddings, seating charts are encouraged.  The only problem is finding a way to do so without it feeling like herding cattle or finding your name on a desk for the first day of school.  A lot of weddings go with the number option which seems to work well.  Inform them of their number ahead of time or list the guests' name on a displayed area beneath their instructed table number and voila!   Assigned seating accomplished.

A style for seating that I favor is a trade I learned from the restaurant industry.  Have your guests ushered to their tables.  This is a great way to utilize teenaged relatives and family friends.  By being a hostess or usher, they have a way to be involved and dress up for your big day.  Have your guest approach the stand at the entrance and give their names.  The hostess will then let the ushers know what table number they are to take them to.  The same way it works in a restaurant.  You don't know where table 52 is but your hostess does.  It avoids awkward and unwanted wandering by your guests and also adds a personal touch that is sure to be remembered. 

THE KID FACTOR. Your big day is going to be taking place at a fancy venue with limited space and you are faced with the dreaded 'plus how many' section of the invite.  You know your cousin has two kids under ten years old plus a toddler but you really only want to invite your cousin and their partner.  What to do?  You only invite your cousin and their partner.  Here's why: It's what YOU want.  I'm sure you adore all of their children and could gush about them for hours.  Just because you didn't include them doesn't mean you love them less.  Before all of you mama bears get angry, hear us out.

For starters, the menu.  You are offering filet mignot, lobster tail or cedar plank salmon for dinner and each plate is costing you more than pretty penny.  Do you really think your 5-your-old is going to appreciate that medium rare cut?  I'm sure they'd opt for chicken and fries and, unfortunately, that's not on the menu.

  Then there is the dance floor.  You are paying the hottest DJ into town an unmentionable amount of money per hour and, guess what, it looks like the local fast food playplace has unleashed on the floor.  Watching kids twist and shout is absolutely adorable... for the first 30 minutes.  After that, the adults would like to let their hair down for awhile too.  There will be drinking and twirling and then BOOM you knock down a 4-year-old and you are no longer the life of the party.  Not to mention that someone just had an accident in the middle of the dance floor and it wasn't Grandma Sue.  Clean up aisle bridal nightmare.

What if the bride and groom would just like to get all of the parents out of their element for some much deserved adult time?  Perhaps getting a babysitter would be a nice break for the two of you.  It may give you the chance not to worry so much, slow dance without a care and reminisce about your own nuptials.  Look at it in the light of reigniting your own love by giving your full attention to another's.  

Children are also a beautiful and important part of many weddings.  The only thing that we anticipate more than the bride walking down the aisle, is the adorable ring bear and flower girl!  Some weddings are absolutely perfect for children.  If the bride, the groom or both already have children, then of course it is to be expected that kids will be a big part of the ceremony and reception.  Weddings that take place in beautiful backyards or outside with lots of space are a child's paradise and they are sure to be kept entertained. 

When it comes down to it, it is a personal choice.  All of it!  The dresses, the decor, the guests, it is all part of two dreams from two people that have come together.  If you are invited to witness something as beautiful as love being united for what they hope to be eternity, then be slow to judge.  You have had your moment, or will someday, so give them theirs. 

Let them celebrate their love however they please.  It makes the world go round, it's all you need and it's unique to every heart it enters and that alone is a reason to celebrate.   

Charlotte Crow

I'm a modern day farmer's daughter who shares and seeks inspiration from the comical & beautiful things that get caught in life's curious little web.