There are many parts to a wedding. Before we go to the question "how", we must
asking the following questions first:
Of course, the bride and groom are the obvious Who. However, for most people,
the wedding will involve your parents and your future in-laws and possibly
some stepmothers, stepfathers and ....... It's a good thing to evaluate your
family situation before planning so that you can get an idea of:
Do you need to involve your parents at an early stage of planning?
How many guests will you be inviting?
Who will host the wedding? The bride's family or the groom's family or the young couple themselves?
Where are the parents and guests from? Do you need to consider having a bilingual wedding services with local flavour?
Will you be hiring a wedding consultant? How about having a close friend or relative help out?
What type of ceremony would you be having? Civil or Church?
What kind of wedding do you want to have? A small intimate one or an elaborate
one? A traditional wedding or a different style wedding?
Where will you be having the wedding? Near the groom's hometown? Near the bride's hometown? Somewhere in the Carribean?
Do you want a morning service or an evening cocktail party?
What's your budget? Who's paying?
To summarize the above questions, you get the following issues:
Budget: this will help you to decide what type of wedding you want to have. Having a limited budget doesn't mean you have to have a small wedding. A lot of things
are available at various price range, you just have to look for the right kind of resources.
Location: this will help you to decide other issues such as transportation, accomodation arrangements.
Type of wedding: civil or church ceremony? Full course dinner or cocktail party?
Wedding party: who'll be the Best Man, Maid of Honour? How many bridesmaids and groomsmen? How about flower girl and ring bearer?
Others: rings, wedding gown and tux, flowers, decorations...
Professional help: photographers/videographers, makeup artists, hairdressors,
catering professionals, bakers and etc....
There are many wedding guidebooks and/or software out there that can help you to plan well. There are a few important tips that we can share:
Try to plan early. If possible, always have a backup plan...
If you work with vendors, make sure you negotiate every detail upfront. If possible, draft contracts and sign them so as to guarantee promised service.
It is always good to assign a good friend or close relative as your wedding
coordinator on the big day to take care of issues. Most of the times, when problems
occur, the couple are busy taking pictures or changing..it's good to have a person
take care of problems and help to make decisions when necessary.
Relax and enjoy on your big day. Do not worry about having a perfect wedding: every
wedding is naturally perfect because the bride and groom are perfect match for each other, not because they had a good banquet.
For more resources, please see wedding links.
II. Guide to avoiding disasters created by parents, especially Chinese parents
After we have gone through all these traditions, I would like to share some experience with
those planning for a wedding. Always bear in mind that it's a happy event, so
everyone has to work on being happy. :) Even if your parents are very demanding,
the thought of being able to live the rest of your life with someone you love should
somehow alleviate the pain that a wedding banquet may cause.
Please read with a humourous heart.
Rules for planning a modern wedding:
1. Obey your parents.
You will soon find out that for Chinese, you're not marrying one guy but the
whole clan. Same for the groom, you're marrying the bride's family as well.
If you have your own way now, you may never have it after you get
married. Therefore, humble yourself and ask for
their opinions on EVERYTHING. Sometimes asking is all is takes. They may or may not really want to decide on how to do things.
Remember, Chinese parents are always planning things for the kids because
that's their way of expressing their care and love. Of course, they also imagine the younger generation are as concerned about the 'face' thing as they are. So, at least ask for their opinion.
If you want to do things in a different way, always think of a good reason why it reflects well on them. It always helps if you mention that other relatives would probably agree with your suggestions.
2. Don't bother with too much detail.
After you've proposed, let them know that you're
getting married soon without revealing too much about your specific plans, unless
you know they'll get really really upset if they do not plan YOUR wedding for you. The reason is NOT to hide things from them, but rather try to hide things from your other distant relatives who may all of a sudden play an important role on how your parents make their decision. It actually helps your parents sometimes, because whatever they don't know, other relatives cannot blame them on. But make sure your parents agree with the general direction you're going with, so you will not make them unhappy. This tip refers to minor details, such as "should you wear a red string on your hair"? Ha, if you think I'm kidding, then you don't know Chinese. But seriously, don't go into too much detail because even if you don't, many strange "must-dos" may pop up during the wedding, let alone if you give the clan a chance to think about what they want to do at your wedding.
3. Give yourself and your parents some time...
Tell them about the schedule the very last minute so that:
a. they don't have to to discuss it over with your all your relatives
b. they don't have time to listen to your relatives' disapproving comments
c. they don't have time to change their mind every 2 days
d. even if they do change their mind (which they will anyway), they won't change it a zillion times before YOU make a decision
Again, make sure your parents agree with the general direction you're going, because you really don't want to upset them.
4. Do not let the parents talk to each other directly.
Do not, I repeat, do not ever let your future in-laws talk to your parents
directly about the wedding plans. They can always end up in a bitter fight that
may result in a 1 month to 1 year delay in your marriage. So always use yourself
as a buffer and filter out unnecessary comments and then use euphemism to tell
your parents what your future in-laws say.
5. Consult them when you make the final desicions
When you're ready to make the final decisions (the church, the registry,
the banquet locations), do consult them for one last time so you'll make sure
you do it right.
Remember, if you handle it well, a slightly stressful situation will not turn
into a potential disaster. Making the parents happy will ultimately make you
happy too, so it's worth the extra effort to respect their 'face' issue while
not entirely giving up what you want. Compromise is a key word here.