Tradition vs. trendy: Making the wedding our own

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 29, 2014

The first wedding I ever attended was for someone I didn’t even know, but it was fabulous. I was in sixth or seventh grade and my best friend at the time, Tiffany, and I were accompanying her grandmother to a wedding for her boss’s daughter.
It was around the holidays, and I remember sitting in a huge church, but don’t ask me about the ceremony. I don’t remember. I was 13.
But what I do remember is the food and the music. Tiffany and I danced until our feet hurt. We taught those adults some of our best dance moves, which I would hesitate to display now. But I’m guessing one of those dances was the “Kid N Play,” which is what we called it.
I don’t remember the decorations, the colors or the location. I remember laughing. I remember dancing. I remember trying new foods. I remember having a good time. Those are the feelings I want people to get from our wedding.
My fiance, Vanzie Walker, and I have been planning our wedding since late November, just after we became engaged. Actually I’ve been planning our wedding since college. Some of you ladies know what I mean.
I’ve been chronicling our journey through these monthly columns, and hopefully you’ve garnered some ideas or had a good laugh. When the idea for a monthly column was suggested by columnist Mark Wineka, I honestly was a little hesitant. I mean, who’d want to read me rambling on about my wedding planning.
But I’ve had so many people tell me they’re reading the column. It’s been nice taking you all on this journey with us.
I think by now, after reading my first four wedding columns, you know I’m a no-frills kinda gal. I think ornate has its place, but honestly, sometimes simple wins out on the most over-the-top affair.
I initially sought out wedding blogs, a few books and my go-to site — Pinterest — for elaborate decorations, cakes, food, dresses and a host of other things. But in the end, simple won out.
The best way to describe our wedding is a mix of tradition with a bit of easygoing, modern flair. I wouldn’t say we’ve thrown proper wedding etiquette out the window, but we have just made the wedding planning our own.
Wedding etiquette makes me think of Emily Post and what’s proper, especially the invitations and RSVP cards.
Emily Post has tips on how to word RSVP cards and how to assemble the invitations. The Walker wedding, I can assure you, is much simpler than all of that. We’ve chosen to forego response cards and create a wedding email. It saves envelopes, stamps and the words we might just hear — “I’m coming but I forgot to mail the RSVP card.”
Let’s be honest, only about 10 to 25 percent of the people actually return RSVP cards, even with a stamp and envelope provided.
I’ve been a bridesmaid in five weddings and have attended many more, and never have I returned the response card. People just don’t. They forget or get busy. So then the couple has wasted money on a card, envelope and a stamp.
One of my best friends, Lucinda Godbolt, has agreed to manage our wedding email and receive response phone calls.
And for those who follow Emily Post’s rules, she says it’s OK to respond via an email or phone call.
A wedding should be more about two people professing their love and sharing it with their close friends and family and less about whether they followed the rules.
As a writer, I can appreciate the traditional wording of our invites, save-the-dates and programs. But that said, we felt we could be a littler freer to rebuff tradition and come up with a picture save-the-date card, a custom monogram and a simple two-sided invitation. We knew we wanted our engagement photos to be dual-purposed. They have become a photographic way to display our love, create memories and serve as our save-the-date cards.
Engagement photos were something I’d always wanted, and together we agreed our location for the photoshoot would be the same place we met, Dan Nicholas Park. My friend Misty Stach did a fabulous job capturing our silly side and our love for each other. My co-worker Andy Mooney took one of our engagement photos a step further and turned it into a wonderful save-the-date card.
I’d seen my share of save-the-date cards, but I thought, why not let more than just our Facebook friends and family see our engagement pictures? Also it was a way to “introduce” Vanzie to my family members who’d not met him and introduce me to his family. Andy included our wedding website on the card so friends and family could learn about how we met, get to know our wedding party and see any other wedding tidbits.
Sometimes a little bit of both is what’s needed in a wedding. For instance, I found a dress that appeals to my traditional side with lace and forsakes the “I must get married in a white dress” tradition. I didn’t pull a Gwen Stefani, who on her wedding day wore an ombre white and pink dress, but I didn’t choose white either.
• Get creative. Gifts for bridesmaids and/or hostesses can be as creative as your imagination can dare. I do have something special planned that is a Pinterest find and a do-it-yourself type gift. Instead of spending an exorbitant amount of money, I’d rather give them something they’ll use and that comes from the heart.
• Borrow ideas. I’ve been a bridesmaid, and I’ve been to many weddings. Over the years I’ve committed ideas to memory of things I liked (and didn’t) and have along the way incorporated a few ideas. It does help to “borrow” ideas from others you know who have planned weddings.
• Don’t be afraid to change your mind. I thought I wanted these elaborate elements to my wedding including these five-foot-tall centerpieces. But during the planning I simply changed my mind. Besides, who needs centerpieces that are taller than you anyway. I’ve even scaled back on my invitation design that has gone through three revisions.