If there’s one wedding reality show I find myself really enjoying of late, it’s Four Weddings on TLC. For those unfamiliar, four brides getting married in the same area around the same time attend one anothers’ weddings and score them on the gown, the venue, the food, and the overall experience. The bride whose wedding gets the highest aggregate score wins a fabulous honeymoon to a surprise location, and the other three, well, they get to be on TV and attend three weddings without having to come up with a gift and being utterly free to snark or gush about whatever they please for the nation at large.
The two episodes I watched last night were particularly interesting to me, in that they included some really brilliant and some really, really questionable ideas. Take a look after the cut to see what I’m talking about.
Good idea #1: The milk and cookie bar. One of the couples last night featured a bride of nineteen summers and her groom who was only eighteen. I’m not getting into whether it’s a good or a bad idea to marry that young. It’s legal and everyone around them seemed down with the idea. The thing is, they were both too young to drink alcohol. Most of their friends were too young to drink. They were also holding their reception in the church hall, where alcohol may not have been permitted no matter what the age of the couple involved. So these wacky kids on a half a shoestring budget got creative and put together a milk and cookies bar.
Friends and family baked chocolate chip, snickerdoodles, and at least half a dozen other kinds of cookies. These were put in glass jars and stacked on platters with prettily lettered labels to identify them for everyone. Then there were big glass bottles of milk nestled in ice in large metal pails. And then there were the flavorings. Guests could have chocolate or strawberry flavored powder or they could take it straight. The bride and groom even toasted with milk.
If you’re having a dry reception and want to remember those innocent milk and cookies days, or if you’re having a lot of kids at your wedding and want an attractive way of keeping them away from the champagne, this is a fun, festive, relatively inexpensive way of handling the situation.
Bad Idea #1: Don’t have your groom do a striptease at the reception… not even if he used to be a star dancer for Chippendale’s. No, really, this happened. I know it was his fourth wedding, and I know that even at 53 the dude’s still got a smokin’ body (really, I would have felt pretty certain of that even if he hadn’t started tearing his clothes off and grinding his package two inches from the bride’s face), but this is one of the very few things that get a flat-out No Freaking Way In Hades! from me. Save the private dancer routine for the bridal suite, folks.
Good Idea #2: Combine colorful touches from your backgrounds… and don’t be afraid to use ideas from both sides if your backgrounds are different. One of last night’s brides was of an Indian heritage and her groom was Latino. It was an event combining saris and sombreros. She was decked out in full Hindu glory. In the Indian tradition, the groom usually arrives at the ceremony at the head of a parade of family and friends and mounted on a white pony. This gentleman headed the parade on his beloved motorcycle. The reception featured tortillas and goat curry on the menu. There was a mariachi band and men doing rope tricks. All in all, it was a party I wanted to be enjoying up close and personal.
Bad Idea #2: One bride had food stations at her reception. Unfortunately, she had just two and she placed them right next to one another so that getting food wound up requiring getting in one huge line. Food stations are a great idea if you’re doing buffet-style service, but do make sure they’re spread out so the lines aren’t too long.
Good idea #3: One bride provided a double-decker bus tour between the ceremony and reception. If your ceremony venue and reception venue are a significant distance apart, consider providing some form of fun transportation if it will fit into your budget. This one also took care of the dreaded question of what to do with guests while the bride and groom are being photographed from every conceivable angle.
Good Idea #4: If you’ve got kids, include them in the proceedings. Two of the brides last night had children – one had three daughters from a previous marriage while the other had a toddler son with her groom – and both brides included their kids. The one with the three daughters made the oldest her MOH and the younger two her flower girls. The one with the little boy made him her ring bearer. The little ring bearer did go running in the wrong direction at one point, but once shown where Daddy was standing raced his little legs off down the aisle until his dad could scoop him up in his arms and hold him through the ceremony. It doesn’t get more personal than this, folks.
And a Cautionary Tale. One bride had a lovely outdoor ceremony on a waterfront, followed immediately by an outdoor cocktail hour at dusk. Unfortunately, it seems that nobody had checked out the insect situation. The champagne was set up directly behind a nest of fire ants, and as the sun set the gnats came out in droves. That single detail is no doubt why she wound up in fourth place out of four.
I love an outdoor wedding, heck I had one myself! But do be sure to investigate what kinds of bugs gather where you’re having your big event and proceed thoughtfully.