Monday, June 8, 2015

Thoughts on Weddings from a Butcher

I do not write much about my work outside of my own farm, largely because it is still hard for me to believe that most of my work involves weddings.  I still view myself as a butcher -- even though it has nearly been five years since I worked full-time at a slaughterhouse.  When someone refers to me as a wedding planner, my instinct is still to correct them that I am a butcher.  Beyond my internal perception of myself, it is often hard to explain the difference between a wedding planner and an event coordinator.  A wedding planner helps to establish the vision for the event and atmosphere of the reception.  An event coordinator ensures that details of the day actually happen.  Example given: a wedding planner decorates the venue and helps select vendors; an event coordinator makes sure the venue is prepared for the event and the vendors actually do their jobs.  Wedding Planners design the atmosphere . . .  And I use the organizational skill set developed on a kill floor to make sure the event actually happens.  Running a slaughterhouse was excellent preparation for running weddings.

Pinterest is my enemy.  It creates false perceptions of what an event should be, and misleads brides into thinking that their wedding will be a failure unless they have 250 multi-colored fluff balls hanging from the ceiling, individual hand-decorated Mason jars for each guest with their name on them, and dramatic DIY doors with stained glass to create an "entrance" to an outdoor ceremony space.  My least favorite phrase in the world is "my special day" . . . Yes, it should be an amazing day.  But it is only one day, and your marriage -- God willing -- will be many years of joyful adventures as a couple.  If your wedding day is truly the Best Day Ever, you will apparently be confined thereafter to a meaningless and monotonous existence.  The brides I enjoy the most are the ones who want to be married, and the brides I enjoy the least are the ones who want have a wedding.  

I have run enough weddings now that I have seen nearly everything.  I have seen brides that had breakdowns over minor details, and I have seen brides that were so happy to be married that they did not care if it poured down rain the entire time.  I have run many processionals that included dogs, one that had a cat for a ring bearer, and even one with a trained duck for the flower girl.  I have seen receptions with margarita machines, waffles for dessert, a bounce house, and the OSU marching band.  I have called an ambulance, cleaned up body spills, and looked after a lost grandmother that everyone thought had a ride home with some other relative.  I have known three grooms that I seriously considered the ethics of advising the young man to run (if your fiancĂ©e yells at you during the rehearsal, in front of your family & closest friends, prayerfully consider if this is the person with whom you want to spend your life).  I have shut down DJs, broken up fist fights, and dealt with clogged toilets.  I have met couples who kept my faith in the sanctity of marriages, and I have met those that severely tested it.  I have worked with brides young enough to be my daughter.  One of them nearly broke me when she began crying after I told her it was time to start the processional.  I put my arms around her and told her she could take all the time she wanted, but I started to tear up when she looked at me and said, "Can we just go?  I just want it to be over."  I never want to experience that again.

The mothers are often the toughest to manage.  We have had mothers who brought a personal security guard to the reception, who tried to cancel the wedding without their children knowing it, and who accused our team of taking their precious Pinterest decorations (which are always sitting out in plain sight to those who have not been drinking wine all evening).  I tend to work with some awesome brides & grooms, but I never quite know how the rest of the family will be!  Sometimes they are absolutely amazing, which makes my job a pleasure.  I like people, and I like to help.  Do I like my work?  There are many other things I would rather do with my time, but the work is worthwhile and I am good at it.  Plus I like to have a cell phone, and health insurance, and food -- so I appreciate the opportunity to earn income whether people are pleasant to me or not.  Money from grumpy clients spends just as well.

It is rare that I have a ceremony that actually impresses me in a good way.  While I lead most processionals, I rarely stay to listen to a ceremony.  The wedding today, though, was one of the most sincere with which I have been involved.  It was a young couple on a strict budget who got married on a Monday to save money, witnessed by their 45 closest friends & family.  We only met once before the wedding, and we talked far more about how they fell in love & what they wanted to do with their life together than we did about layout or vendors.  They were loving toward each other, respectful toward their guests, and appreciative of our efforts.  Couples like that are the reason I keep doing my job.

If I could give advice to parents it would be to remind them how blessed they are to see their children married to a good partner.  Support whatever celebration (within reason) the couple wants.  If your child wants to have a Pirate themed wedding or wants to get married at a venue that you do not like, JUST GO . . . and remember that many parents do not get the privilege of celebrating a child's marriage.  Mine did not.

Advice to bridesmaids & groomsmen?  Do not get drunk.  Everyone will make fun of you.  Especially me.

Finally, if I could offer any thought to couples preparing to marry it would be this: Marriage is for life and a wedding is for one day.  Focus on preparing for the marriage -- and the wedding will fall together seamlessly.

And don't have fluff balls.

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