I was on the lawn at Danada House in Wheaton, Illinois, smiling and looking classy in my black suit, while inside I freaked just a little bit out.
The bride and groom weren’t asking much from us today. They only really cared about one thing: my trio had to play “Seasons of Love” from the musical Rent. It was this couple's favorite song in the whole world. We’d learned it. We were ready. But their pastor, an adorable guy who looked like he'd been doing weddings since the 1920s, had blown right by that part of the wedding on autopilot.
They swapped rings. They said their vows. And now Pastor Forgetful was working his way toward pronouncing them husband and wife – without their favorite song.
If this sounds like no big deal to you, you may be right. But you are NOT in the wedding business.
So I had two choices: I could steal the spotlight from a geriatric priest and just start rocking out as loudly as I could. Or I could skip the one thing I’d been told would make the wedding day for the two people at the center of it. I just wasn't loving either option.
There’s a lot of pressure put on us wedding vendors by you wedding couples. But there’s even more put on you wedding couples by us vendors. We bombard you with our talk about “your special day” and this or that “big moment.” We tell you it’s the most important day of your whole life, and we hope you believe it: If you understand how perfect things must be, we think, then maybe you’ll hire perfect vendors such as us. (We know that other vendors are not truly perfect. But we are.)
All this pefection talk creates a sort of feedback loop that can crank up the pressure on engaged couples and their wedding vendors unnecessarily. You’re only doing this once! It’s the ultimate statement of who you are as a couple! It should be perfect and unique, like your own Citizen Kane performed live in a single take! It’s the most important day of your life!
But it’s not. And we're so grateful you already know that.
The wedding day is not the most important day of anything. It’s just the one we pick to represent the others. That’s what humans do; we need a focal point. Like keeping Sabbath is supposed to help us have more peace all week, and eating stuffing on Thanksgiving is supposed to help us have more gratitude all year, marking your wedding day is how you tell each other, “I am with you all the days, not just today.” And then your friends and family eat and drink and dance as if to say, “we’re with you, too.”
Now that’s worth celebrating.
That’s worth every favorite song and flawless dress and picture-perfect ballroom you can get your hands on. It’s worth red-eye flights and booked hotels and digging deep into the family archive for a slideshow. It’s worth carefully planned budgets and immaculate place settings. It’s worth an agenda that’s realized and executed down to each impeccable detail.
It’s just not worth forgetting the big picture when one of those details turns out a bit different than we all intended. Because those details don’t make your wedding day. Your wedding day makes them.
And you know this already. That’s why I believe I was the only nervous person on the lawn outside Danada House in Wheaton, Illinois, the day the pastor skipped the perfect song. The bride and groom were cool. They smiled and made romantic eyes as Pastor Forgetful pronounced them husband and wife.
And then the bride gave him a look.
“Oh,” said the pastor. “Weren’t we going to have a song? Should we just do that now?”
The couple nodded. And the trio played.
And it was perfect.