Anyone who has ever arranged a wedding knows only too well that you're never just planning a wedding. Yes, the ceremony is part of it - a quite important part. But there is always more to it than that. And in many ways, the wedding is the easy bit.
Yes, there'll probably be some people scoffing at that last line, but it's true. As much as you may fret over what you're wearing, what they're wearing, and where you're marrying, it's simple. Simple enough, anyway.
Getting married is simply standing in front of someone official, telling each other you'll always love one another. You'll probably exchange rings. But this part can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be.
Here's a little secret that the friends of people getting married never tell the couple. They're not especially excited about the ceremony. Don't misunderstand: the fact that you're getting married is exciting. People do genuinely care about that part, and are happy for you. And this is the key part - a marriage and a wedding are different things. The former will go on, hopefully, for the rest of your life. The latter can take a matter of minutes.
The Reception, On The Other Hand...
When you tell people you're getting married, and they're invited, their excitement comes from two things. The first is their joy for you as a couple. The second is the reception. The fact that they will be sitting in a church, a registry office or a vineyard for an hour or so while you go from fiancee to bride? They may or may not be excited by that bit. But the party afterward? That's the enthralling bit for them.
And because the reception is the bit that excites people, that's the bit you have to get right. You need to make sure it's tightly planned, and that you hit all the right notes.
"Isn't The Reception About Us, The Happy Couple?"
It is, absolutely. And the theme for it, if there is to be a theme, should reflect you both correctly. That includes things like color scheme, dress code and entertainment. What you want to avoid is annoying anyone or making them feel left out. That means a strong focus on things like:
Food: Find out about people's dietary intolerances and preferences. If someone's vegan or lactose intolerant, don't insult them by offering them no options in these areas.
Table Settings: Don't put people who've been at each other' throats for months next to one another. Especially if there is alcohol involved. Also remember your theme. Tablecloths and catering napkins need to fit in with it.
Guest List: Some people will be more than happy to miss the ceremony, although close friends and family members won't. For the reception, though, you need to make sure you don't miss people off. It's especially awkward when you ask a guest if they're having fun and they say "Yes, but I'd be having more fun if [Uncle X] was here." Don't be the person who forgot Uncle X.
If all of the above sounds a little cynical, it's not meant to. The simple truth is that people want to be part of celebrating your wedding. And in the end, that's the part you need to get right. The actual marriage is for you two more than anyone else.