It's not about the perfect dress or the perfect flowers or the perfect food. It's not about the perfect first dance or the perfect venue or the perfect band. In fact, the perfect wedding is not about perfect at all.
The perfect wedding is about knowing yourself.
I went to the perfect wedding just the other night. My friends Laura and Mark got married and other than the fact that my allergies were getting the best of me, I wouldn't have changed a thing about that night. And I don't think they or any of the guests would have either.
The reason it was perfect was likely not for the reasons you might think. They're a great couple, but they're both perfectly regular too. It's not Mark's first time down the aisle. He has an eleven-year-old from his first marriage. The two even broke up for a while and dated other people before getting back together again.
She runs marathons and has a Masters in math. He's known for being the "sensitive one." They're not trust fund babies. They're funny, smart, attractive, people. But they couldn't be any more normal, for lack of a better word. So how'd two such regular people get such a perfect wedding? Simple really. And next to impossible too. They listened to themselves and eschewed the rest.
Instead of the traditional father/daughter dance, Laura and her dad reenacted the "You Can Call Me Al" video complete with instruments. Mark and his daughter danced to a pop song in front of all of the guests. The party favors were the pics from a photo booth where guests could goof around with props, feather boas, Elton John glasses, and jeweled cowboy hats.
The food was simple. The venue was non-traditional. The bar was open. And the dance floor was packed.
There was no formal receiving line, Mark and Laura simply moved through the room organically, saying hello to family and friends. Laura actually sat down and ate dinner and when the DJ started spinning in earnest, Laura was the first out on the floor surrounded by her girlfriends.
There was a chalkboard with the evening's schedule written out on it in sweet script with colorful chalks. And Mark's daughter was included in the ceremony both as a junior bridesmaid and for a specific blessing about becoming a new family. It was all about as genuine as it gets.
I'm sure there was plenty of stress to be had in the planning stages. Planning any type of event involves at least some stress, especially when family is involved. But when it came to the wedding itself, Laura and Mark left it all behind.
They were present and they were themselves and it was reflected in everything about that evening. And so everyone, Laura and Mark included, had a wonderful, memorable, real evening.
I don't think we should call a wedding "the big day" any more. I don't think we should tell brides it's "their day to shine." It's not the big day. It's the first day of what hopefully will prove to be a big life. It's not their day to shine. It's the day that, with any luck, is the start of a lifetime of shining days.
Believe it or not, people won't remember your flower arrangements. They won't remember if the fondant on your cake matched your invitations. And they won't remember that your colors were two very different shades of pink, blush and bashful.
But they will remember how cute your dad was when he was lip synching Paul Simon. They will remember how happy you looked when got your groove on to "Moves Like Jagger." And they will most certainly remember how you kissed like no one was watching when the pastor said, "You may now kiss your bride."
That's the thing about weddings. All of the things that seem so terribly important, the font on the invitations, the ribbons on the bouquets, the tablecloths and centerpieces, they don't mean a thing really. What matters is you. What matters is your family and friends. What matters is the life you have ahead of you.
If the day becomes the thing, then the marriage becomes little more than the byproduct. If you want a party, have a party. But if you want a marriage, worry less about the wedding and more about what makes you a couple.
No one ever went to the grave saying, "I wish we had gotten the silver napkin rings instead of the gold." But you don't want to have to go to the grave saying, "I wish that day had been about us instead of pleasing Emily Post or keeping up with the Jones."
I want to thank Laura and Mark for reminding me what the perfect wedding looks like. And I'd like to wish them a lifetime of love and happiness, but from the looks of that night, I don't think any wishing is necessary.