Friday, April 07, 2006

Pastoral Advice For Engaged Meeples

I originally wrote this advice to a trio of gamer friends (from the Gulf Games family) that are getting married this year. I thought I'd share it with y'all...

Allow me to offer a bit of professional advice to you guys (I've officiated a few of these in my "official" capacity):

1. You will not make everyone happy - don't try. Choose events/symbols/music/etc. that will be meaningful to you & your future spouse.

2. This ought to be a joyous time... when it stops being fun, take a break from the planning. Remember, the objective is NOT putting on a wedding, it's building a lifetime of marriage.

3. Find someone you trust to run the show... and then let them. Good wedding coordinators are worth their weight in gold. Even if you don't choose to hire a pro, choose a trusted friend who can know all the details & stage-managed the ceremony. They may not get to wear a gaudy dress, but you'll be saying "thank you" to them for years as they will deal with the 1000 little goofy things that happen so you can concentrate on enjoying your wedding.

4. If you're going to take pictures after the wedding, feed your guests while they wait for you. Don't set them in a room with a big honkin' cake and make them wait w/out munchies. It makes 'em surly.

5. Talk clearly with the pastor about what you do & do not want in your ceremony - IF you plan ahead, he can run the rehearsal smoothly. Here's the deal... extra family members are NOTORIOUS for coming up with new ideas for seating arrangement, entrance orders, when certain elements should be in the ceremony, etc, during the rehearsal. What I do is say at the beginning of the rehearsal, "___ & ____ have sat down with me and we've planned out the ceremony. All we're doing tonight is making sure everybody knows their places. We won't be discussing details - that's taken care of already! Besides, the quicker we get through this rehearsal, the faster we get to go eat expensive food while the groom's family picks up the check!"

6. GET PRE-MARITAL COUNSELING. Love is wonderful - I still love Shari Jo very much - but ooey-gooey love is pretty much worthless when you bounce your first check on your joint account. It's important to talk through big issues (money, sex, expectations, beliefs about God, how to run the house, roles of husbands & wives, children - when/how many/etc.) BEFORE you get married. This won't end the discussion of these topics (ask & I'll tell you about Shari and I taking a vacation to argue about when to have our first baby) but it will give you a much better chance in dealing with them. Pre-marital counseling is worth paying for... if your pastor is a nice guy but his counseling consists mainly of him telling stories, go hire a counselor!

7. Everything goes better with God involved. (Don't want to get too preachy, but I know all three of you know what I'm talking about. Don't leave Him out of your planning or counseling or dating or whatever.)

8. Once you get within 48 hours of the ceremony, let it all go. If it's going to happen, it will. Leave it in the hands of your coordinator, pastor & close family. Strap yourself in and enjoy the ride.

9. If videotape doesn't bother you, have lots of it taken. And people with still cameras. You won't remember who is at the wedding 2 days later if you don't take pictures - it will all be a blur. Besides, if something wacky happens, you might be able to win cash on one of those video clip shows.

10. Only fight for the things that are non-negotiables... in my case, I didn't want us extinguishing the individual candles in our unity candle. (I'll explain if anyone likes, but suffice it to say, the symbolism was important to me.) I didn't argue about flower choices,dresses, schedule, and a lot of other things. That minimized friction AND helped me get what I wanted on something that really mattered to me.

11. Honeymoon planning... choose somewhere you can go and enjoy that doesn't have (a) a schedule you feel you like have to keep, or (b) stuff that you\'ve spent so much money on that you feel like you have to "go go go" to not waste it. You need to be able to set the agenda based on how you're feeling, how romantic the two of you are (isn't that subtly put?!), and with an eye towards recuperation. (Weddings are hard work!) For me, a trip to Walt Disney World would be a lousy honeymoon, even though I love WDW. I'd feel compelled to go & do rather than slow down & enjoy my bride. Think about creating memories through small gifts, moments of discovery (finding a little out of the way place to eat, a beautiful waterfall, a stolen kiss in the rain, etc.) rather than through a grandiose trip.

Boy, I do go on, don't I? I'm praying for you guys... 3 weddings in one year! Wowsa!


Gerald McD said...

Outstanding advice! Of course, you are an expert. If they do even half of what you suggest, it will be a good start.

My wife and I helped our daughter and son-in-law plan their wedding while they were finishing their last year of college at a nearby university. Taking the time to plan well ahead was a great stress-reducer for all of us. We aren't experts, but have enjoyed a great marriage for 42 years, so I guess we've done okay. In fact, we can't think of anything we'd do differently, if we were starting over.

Mark Puckett said...

Good advise, Mark. I'm going to keep this to pass along to those I'm marrying.