When Mike and I got engaged at Railay Bay in Thailand in October 2014 (Out-of-this-world engagement in a magical place and a story for another time), the next question was, “What kind of a wedding do we want to experience?” This is a big question! Do you save for a massive party for one day? Keep it small and intimate? Rather use the money to put down a deposit on a home or travel for a few months? Yes, investing money in property might’ve been more rational… but, the experience we envisioned would be a priceless memory infused with our essence and an excuse to make time for what really matters. The result – our best day ever!
- Set a Clear Intention: LOVE CELEBRATION
After a lot of soul-searching and conversation, we decided that we wanted to create a LOVE CELEBRATION. To celebrate our coming together and to honour the people in our lives who has been part of our journey. We wanted everyone who joined us to have a visceral experience of what we valued and to communicate our deep appreciation for life, love and radical, real relationships. Our desire was to give our guests an opportunity to take a holiday and time out for themselves. We wanted our wedding to be the excuse for a bunch of amazing human beings to get together, have fun and experience connection to themselves and each other. To come to a raw, wholesome place to rejuvenate and unplug from the hustle and bustle. To create a relaxed space that they could bring themselves too as they are with no expectations. What do you want to convey that reflects what is authentic to you as a couple? What is your definition of fun?
- Guiding Agreement: Drop the Drama
Getting married is a big deal. There is a lot to organise and there are a whole lot of unconscious beliefs and feelings around marriage and what that means for you that’ll come to the surface. These will ask for attention and to be worked through. And it’s important to give this “heart stuff” TLC and get your “head around” it all. I never thought I would get married. I was never one of the girls who looked at diamond rings, wedding dresses or imagined my wedding day. The words “wife” and “bride” were concepts I needed to figure out! Due to the well-meaning opinions and expectations of all involved with a wedding – drama, ego and competitiveness can sneak in. We didn’t want this at all! Mike and I came up with our mutually guiding agreement of “a sense of ease” to keep us on track and to ensure we got the wedding (during the planning phase and the actual day) that we wanted – drama free! This “sense” of ease would guide all our decisions, and, if drama was evident and ease was not present, we’d change the way we were engaging with it and choose the way of least resistance. It was also good to remind ourselves that all we actually needed for the wedding to happen was each other showing up on the day. So what will your couple guiding agreement be to ensure you get to experience the wedding you want and to help you not get “hooked” by external stuff that is not yours?
- Manage Expectations: Communicate the Vibe
You want your guests to be relaxed and have an idea of what to expect. This will help them arrive in the right mood with the desired mindset so that they can act accordingly and enjoy themselves. The dress code which was “shoes are optional” for “Love Celebration Day Party” gave them a clue to the expectation, vibe and also left space for the surprise element too. We choose to have a destination wedding and extended the “love celebration” over 6 days. All our communication was electronic. We set up a wedding website that had EVERYTHING our guests needed to know on it! Basic info such as dates, activities in the areas, time of ceremony and reception, travel info and maps and accommodation. We also updated the website as our plans crystalised or when things changed. Tip! Pictures speak a thousand words and are instantly understood from a glance! Images communicate a message a lot more effectively then copy! We also set up a private Facebook page where we shared website updates and images and which also allowed guests to talk to each other about car pooling, accommodation etc and share Intel. Two weeks before wedding we created a Whatsup group for last minute updates and to keep us all in comms at the destination. The benefits were less admin (everytime someone asks for clarity or info, direct them to the Facebook page or website) and it kept the excitement levels up and everyone involved!
- Make the Circle Bigger: An Open Invitation
We didn’t want any of our guests to have “tasks” or jobs assigned by us that would add stress or a sense of obligation. We wanted people to get involved if they wanted to and if they could – no pressure! (Life sometimes gets in the way and sometimes, those who want to be involved can’t and have no capacity at that moment). We each had our brothers as our best men – no groomsmen or bridesmaids. Why? Well for us, we couldn’t choose. EVERYONE in our life has played a part in shaping who we are – and the sense of “unease” we experienced trying to decide who to honour “more” didn’t sit well with us. So, we put out open invitations for what we would like to have happen and what roles and tasks were “up for grabs” – the results were astounding and drama-free! We both had incredible hen and stag parties arranged by friends and family who stepped in to organise! Professional photographers capturing moments arranged amongst friends. Some of my girlfriends took me wedding dress shopping with bubbles and sisterhood to help me integrate the bride and wife concepts. My brother insured I got a dress that reflected me and made sure I didn’t feel like an imposter. A friend from Dubai conducted the sacred ceremony, another read a poem that moved both the men and women present, and another mate put his hand up for the job of MC. My foodie friend and yumminess connoisseur, made us our own signature flavours of homemade ice-cream for desert! My 88-year old rocking granny made over 60 pairs of crafted crocheted “no-shoes” as gifts for the girls attending the bachelorette party! Mates of mine drove the shuttles that transported guests. These are only some of the examples of how people got involved when we just put it out there. It was beyond perfect. Human beings are self-organising. Give them a vision and direction and they will come up with their own way to be part of creating the solution!
- Create the Experience: Know your Tribe
This was not a surface “theme” – but everything – from the décor, music, gifting, food and “vibe” reflected this intention and brought it to life. We wanted guests to feel nourished and to celebrate every aspect of life and love. The food was delicious, easy and wholesome, cocktails fresh and flowing craft beer. The wine we choose from our favourite wine farm (Moreson) and the cheeky Miss Molly range to add to the theme with names like “In My Bed Red” and “Kitchen Thief”. No one went hungry or got hangry – we catered for the vegans to the meat lovers. Every guest had their own hand-painted, DIY jam jar with their names on it and a handwritten love letter from either Mike or myself expressing our gratitude for them and what they meant to us. We had lawn games and epic DJs playing to the crowd, who had something that got every guest going. (Proof: wedding started at 11 am. At midnight we were still dancing and didn’t want to stop!) The overwhelming feedback from our love posse attending was that the relaxed, inclusive, 100% real vibe, the personal touches and how much we emotionally invested into each element of that day conveyed such attention and a quality of care that was invaluable. So, what kind of an experience do you want to create? What feeling do you want to infuse the day with and have the guests leave with? (Remember, the day is about you two, and you can only control how you feel – the guests are adults and it’s up to them to “come to the party”)
- Make space for the unexpected: Allow for Magic!
Bridezilla is a thing. And so is Control Freak. Neither of them are pretty. And both of them can stop you from allowing outside support in and creativity to blossom due to your tight grip around what you think has to happen for it to be perfect. Sure, it is your day and it is important to be clear on what you would like and what is important to you. But realise that no matter how much you would like to, you can’t control everything. And if you are distracted by the “details” and controlling, you run the risk of missing the day and the true joy and moments of meaning. The simple act of being clear about who we are and what we wanted to create, and then handing it over to let it unfold organically created absolute magic. All we did was create a few Pintrest boards and have a few Skype conversations to chat about what we had in mind and the energy we wanted to bring to the day. And we kept the channels of communication open and we showed up as relaxed people so that those who were dealing with us didn’t have anxiety around working with us. We were open to their suggestions and ideas and also trusted our gut! We put a rough blueprint together and order of events, shared it with those who were involved and tada! It was as though we had provided the canvas and those who were involved in the process – from the photographers, wedding co-ordinator, staff, friends, family – created a masterpiece beyond our wildest dreams as they got to bring their own flavour and creativity! Our clear intention also allowed us to be flexible when plans changed. For example on the day the wind was blowing – so the beach ceremony was no longer an option. Solution – same energy and feel but on the grass, over-looking ocean and sheltered. Perfect. Our “loose” form gave our guests the freedom to also come up with their own surprise contributions – like the above flash mob wedding blessing dance that they’d all practiced for the wedding for Mike and I!
Added Advice: Mini-moon or Honeymoon MUST!!!
There is a growing trend today to put off the honeymoon due to the busyness of our lives today and work. My BIG invitation is to at least take a mini-moon right after the wedding! Even if it’s only two days and you land up “glamping” and take the “proper” honeymoon later. There is so much that happens at your wedding. A soul contract. A day full of love and a whirlwind of surreal emotions! Take at least two days after to let it land. Reflect on the precious moments you witnessed and shared. What you felt. What you are grateful for. Rest and integrate. Share stories. Allow for experience to settle into your bones and sinew so that the juice of LOVE can permeate into your blood as a reminder of Life’s power and magnificence – and to keep you strong during the challenging times.
Until further notice, CELEBRATE everything!
Destination for wedding, Cintsa East, Wild Coast. Ceremony at Crawfords Beach Lodge. Reception and Wedding Co-ordinator, The C-Club. DJs from East London, Lazy Days. Photos by Full Circle Photography www.fullcirclephoto.co.za and Daniel Grebe firstname.lastname@example.org; Homemade ice-cream joy by Aliya
Taryn Harris is an Executive Coach, Human Asset Activator, Life designer, Speaker, and Creator of the Hardwire4Success and IN-BODY Programmes. www.tarynharris.com
Taryn moves people into their power and ideas, brands and organisations into their power through people.
Taryn focuses on developing interpersonal and leadership skills, with emphasis on emotional intelligence and the science of inspiration. Taryn’s speciality is activating ecosystems and individuals so that they are ready to align with, benefit and implement innovation and drive the adoption of new skills, behaviour and thinking. Her skill is to guide organisations and individuals to create buy-in and self-sustaining systems. She teaches you how to positively affect your mind and emotions by changing your biology to become more content, resilient, productive and confident.