Updated: Feb 7
Have you ever attended a wedding that felt like it was just checking the boxes? That the events throughout the day happened because it was what was expected, not what the Bride and Groom wanted to do? I have, and I can promise you that if that's how you are feeling about your wedding preparation you need to stop RIGHT NOW. This day is supposed to be everything YOU and your fiancé want it to be, not someone else's idea of the perfect day, so you should only include the things (and people) that are important to you.
To begin organizing your perfect day you need to decide what the purpose behind your wedding and reception is. Yes, it's to get married, but if that were the only reason then why are you inviting people to come to a reception? Today we will dive a littler deeper by asking ourselves:
What moments of the day are the most important to you?
Which need(s) will this gathering address?
One of my favorite authors on creating Meaningful Gatherings, Priya Parker, has shared some important tips on how to create an event, like your wedding day more meaningful for you, and your guests, in her book, The Art of Gathering. Today I'd like to share 4 tips from that very book that will help you determine the purpose of YOUR wedding:
Tip # 1: Zoom Out A wedding in and of itself has one purpose: to join two people in matrimony. If that is the sole reason you are inviting people to come to be with you on your wedding day then every decision you make will be a difficult one because you don't have a clear vision of what your wedding and reception experience should be.
If instead, (for example) you decide that the purpose of the wedding and reception is to honor the sacrifices and commitment of your parents, teachers and mentors than the guests, activities and atmosphere of your wedding day will have a specific direction.
Tip # 2: Drill , baby, drill
Take the reasons you think you are planning a wedding for and keep drilling below them. Ask why you're doing it. Every time you get to another, deeper reason, ask why again. Keep asking why until you get to a belief or a value. Here's an example:
Why are you hosting a wedding reception?
Because I want to celebrate my wedding with my family and friends.
Why do you want your family and friends together on your wedding day?
Because I want to bring together all the people who will be in our lives from here on out.
Why is that important?
Because we want our loved ones to know and like each other. Aha. Because we are building a new, bigger tribe of people with whom we will experience many firsts together. Aha.
Asking why can help us find an insight that can help us design the reception around.
Tip # 3: Ask not what your guests can do for you, but what you can do for your guests
While one of the guiding questions you can use to find a purpose is to ask: What needs do you have that this gathering could address? What happens if there is nothing YOU are in need of?
Perhaps instead, you can use this opportunity to think of how this gathering could help to address a larger need that you are passionate about.
What problem might your wedding reception solve? Instead of family bringing YOU gifts, what if you asked them to make a donation to your favorite charity? Or what if you used this opportunity to help your family and friends make meaningful connections with other members of your 'tribe'?
Alternatively, if you decided, as mentioned in the earlier example, that your purpose is to bring your loved ones from all your different social circles together, consider what their needs will be to make that combining a good experience for them. How will you arrange the seating, or what activities might there be to help them feel less awkward meeting new people?
Tip # 4: Reverse engineer an outcome
Think about what you want to be achieve, or how you want your guests to feel at the end of your wedding day, and work backward from that outcome.
You can also ask yourself:
What does your version of a successful event look like?
Describe one of your most meaningful weddings you have attended
You are proposing to consume people's most precious resource: time. Making the effort to consider how you want your guests, and yourself, to be altered by the experience is how you can be a good steward of that resource.
As Priya Parker says, "Having a purpose simply means knowing why you're gathering and doing your participants the honor of being convened for a reason. And once you have that purpose in mind, you will suddenly find it easier to make all the decision that a gathering requires."
Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts on how to make your Wedding & Reception better by finding your personal purpose for gathering your friends and family on your big day. In my next blog post I will give you actionable ways on how to use your Purpose to help you make those tough decisions that will make the biggest impact on your Wedding Day.