By Ingrid R. Pipes
One reason my husband and I work well together is that we’re complete opposites. Although, when we started planning, this got in our way because we both wanted some different things that didn’t necessary blend well together, like my love for ‘60s MoTown and his for ‘80s hip hop. The task of having to focus on having an additional theme to filter it through, like 1920s travel or a Golden Age Circus was overwhelming.
If someone were to have asked me when I first got engaged, “what are your biggest priorities to have for your wedding?” I would have answered “everything.” The flowers felt as important as my dress, which felt as important as our music. Every decision was met with a trail of curiosity and wonder. Would this guest book be unique enough? Would people be offended by our lack of personalized vows? Are we keeping close enough to our overall vision?
The first big decision we got to make was our invitations. We wanted something warm, formal, and timeless. I wanted it to set the tone for our wedding, and we were pretty sure our theme was going to be something vintage. We sifted through hundreds invitation books until we landed on the BT Elements book, we loved the whimsical style. (Mostly, I loved the ribbons they used to hold the invitations together.) After falling in love with several styles, one of the sales people suggested to just pick a color and not worry about a theme yet. We were in the early stages of planning, and she had seen it a million times before: things can change when you have a whole year to make decisions.
As soon the suggestion was made to us, we had a planning epiphany. This wedding is about us. The theme is us, not some arbitrary style choice or an interest we have. All our talk about our planning was null and void. Decisions came a million times easier for us. When planning our vows, we both felt uncomfortable sharing too much of ourselves, so it was easy to say we would skip personalized public promises. Having the theme be us, our personality was featured in every other detail.
We struggled most with music. Once we stripped our wedding of a strict theme, the options opened up. Our DJs (and musicians,) 3West Productions, worked with us to have different music for each part of our day. We had our cocktail hour first and played big band a swing while our guests noshed. For our ceremony, there was acoustic guitar playing me down the aisle to “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” While people ate dinner, soft and current indie quietly serenaded. The dance floor was packed and booming over MoTown and Soul, mixed with requests of any kind from our guests, which included the hip hop and R&B. My dad and I were able to dance to Bruce Springsteen without the song seeming out of place. If we had stuck with a theme, I’m not sure much of our music would have fit within our “vision.” Instead, we were able to fit in all of our favorite tunes and please our friends’ ears as well.
Every suggestion made from family memories, like what people prefer to eat or what style photography to have, was quickly brushed off our shoulders with, “we’re choosing to do what’s true to us.” My favorite part of ditching a theme was how flexible it allowed us to be. It became a true celebration of us, and the rest was cake. All that mattered was that at the end, we were married. When the wedding theme was us, we get to relive that theme every day of our marriage.