All pictures in this post are credited to, and copyrighted by, Michael Getlin Fine Photography/Getlin Media and are used by permission for personal/non-commercial purposes.
When you're over 40 and are marrying for the second time, you may feel more free to plan a wedding that's less bound by tradition and convention than a younger couple might. When Tall Paul and I started planning ours - and we were planning it, make no mistake; this was not "the bride and the guy along for the ride" - we wanted an event that was both formal and fun.
One thing we agreed on quickly was that this wasn't just a couple uniting, it was a family - and our children would be part of the event. The nondenominational minister we selected to officiate our ceremony encouraged us to customize and personalize it, and as we reviewed our options (she had five different ceremonies, and we were free to pick and choose what we wanted to include in ours from any of them, plus additions of our own), we decided we wanted to include a variation on the Blending of the Sands ceremony that would include all five of us.
Our kids has more conventional roles as well. My son, a college senior at this time last year, escorted me to the ceremony platform (we had an outdoor ceremony, and the site didn't have a center aisle, just a sidewalk down one side) - but he did not "give away" his mother. Tall Paul's children helped give out programs, and escorted the grandparents to their seats as the ceremony began.
We had a brief moment of insanity when we considered writing our own vows - I bought a couple of books for help and inspiration - but our minister helped us get over it. She spent enough time meeting and corresponding with us to craft a ceremony that contained what we wanted to express to each other and our guests, and her opening remarks reflected the time she spent getting to know us. (We're not regular churchgoers, but we wanted a minister to marry us, and after interviewing a few, we were very happy with our choice.) And the vows that she composed for us did not include the word "obey" for either of us.
Besides the two of us and our kids, the wedding party was small. Tall Paul's best friend (since high school) was his best man, and my sister was my honor attendant, as I had been hers when she got married. Neither of them had to do much more than get their outfits and show up, be in some pictures, and sign our license as witnesses - but my sister gave a very nice bridal luncheon/shower for me a few weeks before the wedding. Since it was a second wedding, our parents - each of us only has one living, his mom and my dad - were simply honored guests and didn't really have to do much either.
There was one person whom I really wanted to find a role for in the wedding, though, and when we decided to do the music ourselves I found the opportunity. Tall Paul didn't want a band, and we're both pretty opinionated about music, so we weren't certain what we might get if we used a DJ. We decided to create playlists in iTunes from our own library to use for the ceremony and reception music, and play them through an iPod-and-speaker setup. But we'd need someone to operate it, and without a DJ, we also needed someone to act as an announcer/MC for the events at the reception. This was a perfect job for my friend David, who had been one of my best supporters for a couple of years, and without whom I might never have been ready to enter the dating pool again - and who has no trouble speaking up or working a crowd. (He is "out there" in every way.)
Creating the soundtracks that David would run for us was one of the most fun parts of our wedding planning. We set up the playlists so that they'd be easy to follow - numbered in the order they were to be used, with the songs in alpha order within them so they could be selected quickly as needed. We had about forty minutes of upbeat vocal selections to play before the ceremony began, but the processionals were instrumentals - a selection by Enya for the parents' seating and matron of honor, and the theme from my favorite movie, The Princess Bride, for my entrance. We didn't have any music during the ceremony itself. Our recessional was our only big musical snafu - the ceremony was held outdoors, and we forgot extra batteries for the speaker setup, so I'm not sure anyone really heard "Happy Together" by the Turtles as we walked out. Once the music setup was relocated to the reception room, it was hooked into the sound system there, so it was loud and clear for the rest of the festivities.
Since we felt so strongly that our wedding was about family, we did something unusual during the "grand entrance" at our reception. First our kids were introduced, and then our best man made his entrance accompanied by his wife and sons; our matron of honor was also escorted by her husband and sons. We didn't have a head table, so the wedding party members sat with their families, and Tall Paul and I were together at a "sweetheart table" in the middle.
Aside from the processional/recessional choices, the musical moment that mattered most to me was the first dance, and that was the one that made Tall Paul the most anxious. We decided to address that anxiety by taking some dance lessons, and went through the Intro to Ballroom Dance class offered by the local Parks & Rec - twice. We didn't tell anybody we were taking the class, just in case we still sucked, but as it turned out we made a reasonably good showing with our foxtrot to Clint Black's "When I Said I Do." (However, Tall Paul says that may be the last time he ever dances in public...)
The kids took over the floor after our dance, and it seemed like we made some good party picks for the dance playlist, because it looked like people were having a very good time.