It’s true, some very earnest folks out there are way ahead of the game and booking their December holiday parties. I am hanging on for dear life waiting for winter to be gone for good and the cherry blossoms to appear, and they are talking about poinsettia centerpieces. It’s like planning what to have for dinner when you’re stuffed from lunch. Can’t we just wait a minute–maybe a season or two–before we have to talk about that?
But the far greater number of calls I’ve fielded the past month since Valentine’s Day aren’t about office parties. They are all about love.
If Geoff didn’t ask Alexa to marry him over Christmas, he did on Valentine’s Day. If Carrie and Dan thought they could wait another year to get engaged, they must have thought again on February 14. Because she’s wearing a great ring and his mom is already planning the rehearsal dinner. And now the rush is on–with all the energy and excitement of the “Amazing Race”–to be the first to secure the perfect rehearsal dinner or reception venue.
I love the brides. I love the grooms. I love their parents.
I am also not stupid. I know it’s puppy love.
I realize that as time grows closer to the event, the happy smiles and “It’s all fine!” attitudes will be replaced by some tension and a lot of worry that everything is going to be perfect. I have first-hand knowledge of this–I planned my own wedding and pre-wedding events, I planned several for friends and family members, and I wrote about them for area publications, back in the day.
So I like it that I spend part of my work life giving tours of our restaurant, sending out information, answering general questions about what we do and where we do it. It is hard not to get swept up in everyone’s happiness at this stage of their planning–long before the angst over where to seat the two aunts who don’t speak to one another sets in, well before the future in-laws on both sides lobby hard for stations vs. a seated dinner vs. a standing reception.
No, these are the halcyon days, so like the first blush of courting.
–Everything is new: “I never thought of offering those two types of entrees. That sounds great!”
–Everything is easy: “If you think so, then let’s do it.”
–Everyone is in agreement: “Honey, it doesn’t matter what your father and I like. What do you want? You’re the bride!” That’s my favorite.
“You actually like working with the brides?” asked the young lady who wandered in without an appointment and asked to speak to someone about a planning a brunch for family and friends. “They would drive me insane, all that talk about cakes and dances and bridesmaids’ dresses. Not for me!”
I showed her our private room and asked, “How many do you think will be attending? Is this a family reunion?”
“Maybe 100 or 150.” What? That’s some big family.
“I am getting married the week before in Hawaii,” she continued. “This is my party for everyone who’s not going to be there.”
I stared at her for a second, then said with a laugh that didn’t seem to offend her, “So, you actually ARE one of the brides I like to work with!”
She smiled, but didn’t laugh. “Okay, but not one of those brides, you know? No daddy’s little girl dancing, no garter tosses. This is a brunch for my family and friends AFTER I am married. It’s not a reception.”
Of course not.
A few minutes later, however, she asked what I thought about doing a “simple” champagne toast, and then admitted that cutting a small cake–“nothing huge and elaborate”–would be great. Sure, someone might want to say a few words, she added. Well, a gift table might also be necessary. Could I recommend a florist and photographer?
And that’s the way it goes during the month after Valentine’s Day. Every bride is smiling, every bride is already beautiful, and every bride wants her event to be unique and not “out of the magazines.” Although from what I’ve read in the latest wedding-planning books and magazines, some pretty wonderful ideas are percolating out there in the land of love and limitless budgets.
In the end, though, a few “standards” always become part of the mix. They are more than akin to simple lines and acts in a play. These time-honored rituals connect the fabric of one of the most sacred and special of events in a person’s life, regardless of their religion, the size of the party they are planning, the money they are spending, or the number of courses they are serving.
Whether the party is held before or after the ceremony, a week later, a year from now–it’s still a celebration of two lives melding together for what everyone hopes is a very, very long time.
Yes, I am in puppy love with the brides–from their angst over which color linens to select to their very firm opinions about when to toss the bouquet and dash away under a shower of rose petals.
A toast to the privilege of being invited to help orchestrate this joy on one very special day.