What Makes a Wedding Great?

The happy couple.
The happy couple.

This weekend we celebrated the wedding of my cousin, and as the big day approached, I got to thinking: what is it that makes a wedding great? Or awful? There are so many factors and I am glad to report that at this event, many more were in the first camp.

1. You need to like everyone involved. If you are dreading going to a friend’s wedding because you hate the person they are marrying, you probably shouldn’t go. Nobody is interested in your pouting. You should also have that discussion with your friend, preferably before planning for the big day has started. Fortunately that was not the case here. We couldn’t wait for cousin-in-law to officially join the family.

2. Have a Plan B. I am not talking about an alternate fianceé here. Having a wedding on the beach in Florida in May is high risk. You should have a rain plan. It could have been 93° outside on the sand. It could have been pouring, or just 97% humidity. In fact, it was beautifully warm with a breeze. Had it not been so lovely, it would have been indoors. That is the beauty of having the wedding at a big hotel.

3. Good food/ Good drinks. If you have glossed over point #1 and you really don’t like people involved, then there better be some good booze involved.

Sno-cone-like daiquiri from the rehearsal dinner.
Sno-cone-like daiquiri from the rehearsal dinner.

It would be pretty bad if you hate the people involved and get stuck drinking crappy tequila, right? (We were plied with Patrón and Knob Creek. Good all around). OK, this is really a 3a, but assuming the food is good, eat a lot at the cocktail hour.  (By “a lot” I mean “I am not above stalking the guy with the baby lamb chops, and you should not be, either.“) This does a couple of things: first, it frees you up to dance, photo-bomb (more on that later), or whatever. Second of all, the food is ALWAYS better during the cocktail hour. Always. I have been to more catered events than I can count and I can tell you firsthand, eat at the cocktail hour. Trust me, the baby lamb chops, mini beef wellingtons, sushi station – all of it – is going to be better than a piece of banquet chicken. Fortunately at this particular wedding, the cocktail hour was truly outstanding with all the above plus pasta and assorted fried stuff – crab cakes, coconut lobster… –  I cannot, however, comment on the main course as I ate none of it. Nope. Too full from the baby lamb chops I kept shoving in my mouth (all the while feeling oh-so-grateful for stretchy clothes). I was not, however, too full for the aforementioned tequila and bourbon.

4. Good Vendors. A good photographer can make all the difference. I really do hope that the wedding photos come out good, but am not terribly optimistic. The photographer on hand was a sweaty mess that refused to pose the family for family photos, refused to take more than one shot of the extended family, and could not keep me from photo-bombing at every available opportunity. (And that was before the tequila and bourbon drinking began… it only got worse).

5. A Good Band and Lively Guests. I may get a lot of flack for this, but I am going to go on record and say this: get a band. Spend the extra money. Scrimp somewhere else. A wedding is not the time to hire a DJ. A good band will engage the crowd, play favorites from many different eras and help provide a flow to the evening (or afternoon, or whatever), letting people know when the appropriate time for toasts is, as well as getting people on the dance floor. This band was excellent at that, plus they sounded good. (Note above when I did not touch my main course).

Do you have a favorite (or least favorite) part of a wedding? Wedding horror stories? I’d love to hear them. Share in the comments section below!

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