New­ly­wed game

Sug­ges­tions for those cur­rently in the agony of plan­ning their wed­ded bliss

GA Voice - - Theater -

Peo­ple tend to write about wed­dings in spring­time, when the world is lush and green, bri­dal par­ties cover the steps of ev­ery house of wor­ship like a taffeta amoeba. But by then it’s too late.

Those beau­ti­ful June wed­dings were planned in the gray, dreary days of win­ter — a per­fects set­ting for tense ne­go­ti­a­tions over bud­gets and whether so-and-so is go­ing to be your best man be­cause there will be a bar at the re­cep­tion and you know how he gets.

My hus­band and I were mar­ried a lit­tle over three years ago on a beach in Mas­sachusetts. We called it “elop­ing to a dis­closed lo­ca­tion” be­cause “des­ti­na­tion wed­ding” im­plied we would be cov­er­ing the cost for any­one but our­selves, which we had no in­ter­est in do­ing.

As we were ut­terly un­en­cum­bered by the con­straints of tra­di­tion — on ac­count of us both be­ing dudes — we were able to meld tra­di­tion with our own ideas, and came up with some­thing that worked for us. We ap­plied the same con­cept to our mar­riage.

Since our wed­ding, I have stream­lined the lessons learned into a few di­gestible point­ers, which I share with re­cently-en­gaged friends. As a pub­lic ser­vice, I of­fer them here:

• Have the wed­ding at a time of day when peo­ple don’t ex­pect you to feed them.

No mat­ter what any­one tells you, you do not have to give th­ese peo­ple a steak. It is ex­pen­sive and ul­ti­mately point­less. When peo­ple re­flect upon your wed­ding, no one is go­ing to say how good the salmon was.

Plus, peo­ple don’t know how to eat when they’re in nice clothes. Once upon a time, they did. But life isn’t an episode of “Downton Abbey,” and all you’ll end up with is a lot of as­para­gus tips be­ing awk­wardly dug out of cleav­age.

I’m talk­ing about that bride and groom get­away where peo­ple throw shit at your head. Tra­di­tion dic­tates that the guests can’t leave un­til you do.

This is a holdover from when it was com­monly ex­pected for the new­ly­weds to be vir­gins, so the wed­ding night was a really big (and

• Do not leave early.

of­ten dis­ap­point­ing) ex­pe­ri­ence. As­sum­ing no one’s wait­ing out­side your room for a bloody sheet, chances are you’ve al­ready tested the goods. So stay at the party.

The most im­por­tant peo­ple in your life will all be gath­ered in one place at one time for you. Don’t wish you’d stayed longer to see your fa­vorite cousin. Let your guests know be­fore­hand that the bride and groom will NOT be do­ing a sched­uled get­away. Guests can leave when­ever they want to, or stay til y’all all get thrown out.

• Most im­por­tant: Pay at­ten­tion to each other.

Your wed­ding cer­e­mony will feel like sky­div­ing: It is one of life’s most glo­ri­ous and bizarre ex­pe­ri­ences. One can eas­ily lose track of what’s hap­pen­ing in the moment.

Be­tween the cer­e­mony and re­cep­tion, af­ter y’all take pic­tures, find 10-15 min­utes for the two of you to be alone and process what just hap­pened. You will need to be self­ish.

Drink some water, smoke a cig­a­rette, do what­ever. But get away from ev­ery­body for 10-15 min­utes, and you will laugh hys­ter­i­cally, and also cry, and also marvel at the moment. And breathe. Then go back to the guests and cel­e­brate.

Hy­drate. Don’t lock your knees when you’re at the al­tar. Don’t put any­one in your wed­ding party whom you won’t wish to look at pic­tures of for the rest of your life.

Stash a kleenex some­where on your per­son. If you don’t have a good spot for a tis­sue, tell your in­tended spouse be­fore­hand to dab away your tears with theirs, which will make ev­ery­one go, “Awwww” and will one day be your fa­vorite moment in the wed­ding video.

Your wed­ding will not be the most im­por­tant day in your life to­gether. That day can’t be planned, and will only re­veal it­self long af­ter it hap­pened.

Your wed­ding is the day you threw a big party to cel­e­brate the of­fi­cial start of your jour­ney to­gether. So make it your own, don’t put your­self in debt over it, and en­joy the cel­e­bra­tion.

• And then there’s the lit­tle stuff.

To­pher Payne is an At­lanta-based play­wright, and the au­thor of the book “Nec­es­sary Lux­u­ries: Notes on a Semi-Fab­u­lous Life.” Find out more at to­pher­

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