Before you and your betrothed start planning anything, make sure you understand that the purpose of a wedding is to get married. Then (and this is the hard part), make sure you begin your campaign to inform everyone else (parents, family, friends, etc.) that getting married is the goal. Believe it or not, everything else is, for the most part, just money.
Guys, have an opinion (or if you don?t, form one on the fly) about the details of your wedding?ceremony, colors, invitations, seating charts, etc. It truly may not matter to you what font is on the reception napkin, but don?t tell that to your bride-to-be (the last thing she wants to hear is ?I don?t care?). Get into the habit of making a decision?after all, this will be part of your role as a husband.
Ladies, don?t make this harder than it needs to be (again, see #10). Despite your mother?s opinions or your childhood Barbie fantasies concerning your wedding day, you are the one who will determine which voices will speak into the planning and how loudly they will be allowed to speak. Set mutually-agreed upon expectations (with your spouse and with your families) as to who is going to be involved and what you are asking them to do BEFORE anybody does anything (otherwise, you?ll have this same conversation on the backend of things, only with a lot more tension and tears).
As a rule, keep the size of your wedding party to a reasonable number; in other words, twelve bridesmaids and groomsmen is overkill. Pick three or four people who mean something to you and be done; if someone is upset, it?s their problem and this is their chance to begin learning the lesson that someone else?s wedding is not about his or her standing up in it. Same with your cousin who really, really, really wants to sing?only if that?s what you and your spouse want; decide and stick to your guns.
When you get to the wedding weekend, make sure SOMEONE is in charge of running the wedding rehearsal, and make sure everyone KNOWS he or she is in charge of running the wedding rehearsal. Whether it?s your pastor (preferable), a wedding coordinator (less so), or you and/or your spouse, all the details should have been talked through beforehand, and someone needs to step up and LEAD. I?ve been in wedding rehearsals that were unnecessarily three hours long. This should not be. SOMEONE needs to know what?s going on and act to make it happen. (Note: The same principle applies to pictures?know what pictures you want and make sure SOMEONE leads everyone in getting them taken.)
It?s about at this point that you need to remind yourself of #1 again. Regardless of what happens at the rehearsal, the rehearsal dinner, getting ready the morning of, taking pictures, going through the ceremony, etc., if everything does (or doesn?t) go exactly according to schedule or design, relax. Remember, the goal of a wedding is to get married, not pull off a great wedding.
Sometime in the last half hour before the ceremony, guys, have your groomsmen pray for you; ladies, have your bridesmaids do the same. If something?s not done by now, it?s not going to get done, so do something that will both calm your nerves and also help you feel the gravity of what you?re about to do. Both are necessary.
Regarding the ceremony, strive to keep it short (30 minutes is way plenty) and make sure the Scriptures and not some cutesy story or homily are presented in the pastor?s charge to you. This is your marriage, for crying out loud, and you?re making vows before God and man. If you don?t take that seriously in your wedding before God and everybody, how seriously will you take your vows when it?s just you and your spouse? Don?t lock your knees. Breathe. Look at each other in the eye. Memorize your vows. Hold each other?s hands. Push on the ring (but only halfway in case fingers are swollen). Remember to say, ?I do.? Kiss (but don?t get ridiculous). Smile?it?s almost over!
Cake and punch receptions are nothing to be ashamed of (and can save everyone a whole lot of money, time, hassle, and pride). This is where you get to have your cake and eat it, too, so relish it (and have good wedding punch, too?gotta love good wedding punch). But don?t force-feed the cake to your spouse?it?s tacky and doesn?t fall under the ?cherish your beloved? idea to which you just committed yourself thirty minutes earlier. If you?re going to have a meal and music at your reception, fine, but try to find a good live band instead of a DJ if at all possible. Nothing against DJs, but good live music is just a lot more interesting to hear and to watch. And make sure your emcee has experience in front of people; your wedding is not the time to give him or her a first big break (especially if you?re related?could make for awkward holidays for years to come).
Regardless of its kind, enjoy your reception and try to make your way around the room to personally see everyone who came. Many of them may have traveled a good way to be there; the least you can do is say thanks in person. Have fun, don?t worry about eating, and appreciate the surreality that God has brought together and used all these people in your life. If you can capture this moment in your mind, it will be a memorable highlight for the rest of your life.
Congratulations! You?re married, which was the goal of all this in the beginning, remember?