----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ The Fabulous Adventures of Astera: Writer/Actress for Hire: The "Perfect" Wedding

The Fabulous Adventures of Astera: Writer/Actress for Hire

Meet Astera (aka: me), a star in her own mind. Our plucky little heroine has embarked on not one but two difficult, low-paying career paths: writing and acting. Witness the menial jobs! The unreasonable demands! The quirky friends and family! And the glimmer of success just ahead! Through it all, Astera maintains her core beliefs: 1) She is destined to be fabulous 2) Everything is more fun with a cocktail.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

The "Perfect" Wedding

Because I just got married in October, I feel I am uniquely qualified to comment on what constitutes the "perfect" wedding. You need two essential ingredients: 1) a fiance(e) whom you love unconditionally and who loves you back unconditionally and 2) supportive family and friends to witness your union. End of story. Everything else is just gravy.

Of course, having a fabulous reception is a whole other story. For that, you need the above ingredients, plus three more: delicious food, a high-end open bar, and great music to dance to. I do not know why more brides don't understand this about receptions. It's not complicated, and it doesn't take a huge budget. You may have to invite fewer people to make it fit your price range, but that's okay. Think about it--do you really want your third-grade Sunday school teacher to be there? The only people that you absolutely cannot cut from your guest list are those related by blood and their spouses. That's just rude.

It just seems like brides today are making everything much more complicated than they need to. That's why "bridezilla" has entered our lexicon. And I admit that I was guilty of a few bridezilla moments myself, especially about the invitations. I wanted them to "set the tone" for our elegant evening affair. Well, I finally found some that did the trick, and guess what? None of my guests cared. Seriously. Of the 200 some-odd people that we invited, maybe two told me that they liked the invitations, let alone noticed them. So that got me thinking: Why do brides stress themselves out worrying if their chivari chair covers will exactly match the linen napkins? Why do they pay extra to have their monogram projected in light onto the dance floor? (What's the point? Do they really think that people need to be reminded of their initials?) Why do they think that anyone is going to notice if their bridesmaids are not wearing dyed-to-match shoes? Those things just stain your feet in a nasty way anyway. Brides really don't need "tears of joy" packets to distribute to their guests. If you aren't an insane bride, you might not know what these are. They are individual tissues that have been wrapped in a little pocketfold and labeled "For your tears of joy"! As if your wedding ceremony is going to move everyone to tears! The people who cry at weddings know who they are and should plan accordingly. As in, bring your own damn handkercheif. And what's with all the do-it-yourself wedding favors? Trust me, no one wants a miniature hand-beaded picture frame. It will just collect dust. The only good wedding favors are those you can eat or drink. Chocolate or mini wine bottles are what wedding guests will appreciate. Really, people. I blame Martha for much of this madness. Perhaps it's better that she's in jail. Maybe now some of the brides can put the glue gun down.

I had two do-it-yourself projects at my wedding, and it turned out to be one too many. First of all, my fiance and I designed our own wedding programs, which was actually totally worth it, because we had a formal Greek Orthodox ceremony, and without the programs, a lot of guests wouldn't have known what was going on. And instead of a seating chart, I insisted on using pomegranates as a way of telling guests where to sit. Yes, that's right, pomegranates. This is an idea that I had early on in the planning process and I insisted on seeing it through, no matter how big of a pain it became. There were two reasons behind it: first of all, people who know me well know that I love pomegranates, so it would be like a little inside joke. Also, there were pomegranates in the centerpieces. And secondly, since we got married in October, I thought it would be a nice autumnal touch. But how would I get the pomegranates? My mom balked at paying $2 apiece, especially since I needed 30 of them. But I found a man at the local farmer's market who loaded me up with pomegranates and would only take $20. He even threw in some persimmons. He didn't speak much English, so I don't think he really understood what I was doing. All he knew was that he just made the sale of his life on pomegranates. Okay, so once I had the pomegranates, I had to figure out how to display people's names on them. I ended up getting those plastic sticks that they stick the card in when you get an arrangement from the florist's. Then I made cards with everyone's names and table numbers. All the As were on one card, all the Bs, and so on. I also got alphabet stickers to put on each pomegranate. The problem was, the plastic sticks did not insert into the pomegranates too easily. Also, the pomegranates, being round, did not sit up straight. We had to cut the bottoms off and then the pomegranates leaked sticky red juice everywhere and it stained. And no one thought the pomegranates were quite as clever as I did. But I wanted them, and by God, I got them. As this example illustrates, though, DIY projects can just end up becoming a huge waste of time.

I hate to brag and say that I had an absolutely fabulous wedding, but the truth is, I did. The church setting was beautiful and formal, the reception site was elegant, the food was delicious and plentiful, the drinks were flowing, the music was grooving, and people were having a good time. Guests called my parents up the next week to tell them how great it was and what a wonderful time they'd had. I recently had a girl that I didn't even know who wasn't even a guest tell me that she'd heard my wedding was wonderful. Here's what people noticed and appreciated about my wedding:
1. The gift bags that I left at the hotels for the out-of-towners. They had snacks, a map of the area, a map of wineries in nearby Napa Valley, some soap with a bride and groom silhouette, and some poppy seeds. People mostly appreciated the snacks.
2. The programs at the wedding.
3. The fact that they didn't have to spend hours waiting for us to arrive at the reception. We got our pictures finished lickety-split. We wanted to enjoy the party! And don't even think of making your guests wait two or three hours in between the end of the ceremony and the start of the reception. What are they supposed to do? It give a whole new meaning to the phrase "all dressed up and nowhere to go." They'll probably just go and start drinking somewhere, meaning that they could be too drunk to enjoy the reception--if they're sober enough to make it at all!
4. The open bar at the reception that lasted all night. Hey, if you throw a party, your guests shouldn't be expected to pay for anything! And I've been to receptions where the open bar only lasts for an hour or so. Trust me, the lines get long and the scene gets ugly when the cutoff time approaches.
5. The absolutely delicious food. Really, you should splurge on the food. If you want your wedding to be special and memorable, then don't serve dried-out chicken breasts. The reception is about celebrating with your guests. Which do you think they'd appreciate more: your $2,000 wedding gown or a decent meal? And make sure they don't have to wait all night to eat. We waiters circulate with appetizers as soon as the first guests got there.
6. The fact that we did not hire a cheesy DJ who exhorted guests to do the chicken dance or write their names with their butts (yes, I've seen it happen). We had a mix of old-time standards and new dance favorites, and the dance floor was PACKED!

Here are some other details that people appreciated. They weren't necessary, but they were nice touches:
1. The toiletry baskets in the bathrooms.
2. The lovely flowers.
3. The delicious Belgian chocolate favors.

But the thing that I think our guests appreciated most was that my new husband and I were having a great time at our own party. I wasn't all freaked out about having everything "perfect." Hey, I found out at the reception that our flight to Hawaii the next day for our honeymoon had been cancelled, but I didn't freak out or burst into tears. I let someone else deal with it, and next thing I knew, we were booked on the afternoon flight, no problem. I know I had a great time at my wedding, because when I look at the pictures, even the candids, there aren't any of me looking stressed out or tense. I'm smiling in almost every shot. And I always have a glass of champagne in my hand.

Maybe that's the secret. Drink plenty of champagne. After all, it's a celebration!


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