The big picture tells a thousand words…
As all the newly engaged will testify, it’s very easy to get swept up in wedding excitement, and get carried away with all the little details. But before you start bulk-ordering favors, picking out flower arrangements or prowling for the perfect wedding shoe, take a step back from your preparations and decide with your fiancé what your “values” are for your special day.
The what now? From working life, you’ll know that many organizations today – whether charities, government departments or large corporations – have a list of organizational values, which outline desired behaviors and the principles that should steer decision making. And the point of these aspirational little ditties is to create the right kind of culture – dare I say “atmosphere”? Yes, I dared it – so that all involved can thrive (ie, have a good time!) and show their character externally to stakeholders and customers (ie, guests!).
Sound far-fetched for wedding planning? Not so for me and my Reflective Groom! My fiancé and I met while working for a non-profit organization very much focused on its vision and values, and we were all-too-accustomed to workshops discussing the importance of that organizational vision and how we demonstrate those values through our work. So, before my fiancé and I settled on a wedding venue, before we even set a date, we sat down and discussed what is most important to us in planning and hosting our nuptials.
• How do we want the big day to be?
• How do we want our guests to experience our wedding?
• What are the principles that should guide all our decisions whenever we get stuck?
In doing so, my fiancé and I talked through what we were most looking forward to about our wedding day, and what we liked (and disliked!) about previous weddings we had attended. Armed with post-it notes and construction paper, we gave ourselves five minutes to quietly ruminate and write down what was important to each of us. We each wrote down five ideas on post-it notes, and took turns presenting our post-its to each other one by one, sharing any similar post-its as they arose and grouping them accordingly.
For example, one post-it theme we had in common was “social/interaction”, “enjoyment” and “close”. For me, the past weddings I have enjoyed most are the ones that were very social. The weddings that were so much more than only a ceremony and reception, with events spread over several days – with many opportunities to catch up with old friends (and of course the happy couple), and many opportunities for those guests who don’t know anyone else attending to bond and make new friends. As such, a happening social atmosphere and a fun experience were vital for my values.
After doing this exercise together you can group your post-it notes by themes to come up with a shorter, more definitive list of values. Discuss whether any of your themes seem to contradict each other (eg, the most funnerest wedding ever versus the almighty dollar), and how to prioritise or compromise between them. Then, mount the post-it notes or write your values on the construction paper; if you’re really keen, hang it on the wall over your wedding work station at home. (We all have one of those, right? Right?) That way, whenever you and your betrothed are hashing out your wedding plans and stuck on a decision, simply look back at your values masterpiece to guide you through it.
So put down that Pinterest board and back away from the bridal magazine. Before you get overwhelmed with the details, remember the big picture. Sit down with your groom and discuss what both of you really would like in your wedding. It is a great way to make sure you are on the same page with your plans and ideas (especially before you start making possibly expensive decisions), and also a great bonding experience in sharing excitement and solving problems together.