The Wedding Planner, Part 1: Culture
Terry’s Thoughts (T2):
When we started planning the wedding, my thought was to allow Faith to have control on what she wanted for a wedding and for me to come along and say “Yup, works for me.” Well, that’s not how it worked out. Faith is a ‘big picture’ person and knows what it should look like in the end, whereas I am both ‘big picture’ and ‘small details’ type of person. I know what it should look like in the end, but I also recognize that if all the steps are not done, the big picture will be very, very fuzzy and out of focus.
When we started, Faith had multiple ideas on where she wanted to have the ceremony. She comes from a large family and wanted to have the majority of them attend, but there is this thing called a budget that prevented us from renting out Daytona International Speedway or the Amway Center in Orlando to hold everyone. This caused her to have to face the fact that everyone she wanted to invite would not be able to be invited. My family is not as large and scattered, but there were people that I wanted to invite as well, thus cutting into the number of family and friends that she wanted to invite. As this was her first wedding (and last), I recognized that she didn’t really understand that everyone wasn’t going to be able to be invited and everyone was not going to attend. This was going to be hard emotionally on her and I knew I needed to be there to make sure she didn’t get discouraged.
With that, we agreed that I should take the lead in the planning of the wedding. I didn’t want her to look like the “bad guy” for not inviting everyone under the sun, but at the same time, we had agreed we would not go into debt to pay for a wedding that would only last a few hours and have to pay for it over the next 3-5 years. We had more important goals in mind: a house and being debt free so that we could pursue the goal of writing and speaking full time. So, we began the process of selecting a site that would be both elegant yet have the potential to have a large quantity of guest. Our first thought was the church that we attended and using the chapel. It was large enough to hold the number of guest that we agreed upon inviting, but also close to where we wanted to have the wedding to accommodate everyone who were going to travel to attend the festivities. One of the things that we kept talking about was the fact that we wanted to keep the cost of decorating down to a minimum. I am a minimalist and enjoy simple yet elegant things. As we started “considering the costs” of decorating the space, it became more and more apparent that it was going to cost more that we budgeted to get the look that we were hoping for. To this end, we began to open our search to other places.
It was during this time when Faith spoke with someone who told her about attending a wedding at a museum. Hmmm…a museum you say? Which one? My mind began to race. As a self-professed history and science “geek/nerd”, I thought a museum would be the perfect blend of elegance and affordability. We could look like a million-dollar wedding, but not have to pay a million dollars. As we got more and more information about the site, we became more and more intrigued about the idea of getting married at the museum. It had a planetarium and several other potential places to have the ceremony. So many options, so little time. So, we decided to call and make an appointment to check it out. Boy, were we in for a surprise when we arrived. We met the person that helped arrange events at the museum and she gave us the grand tour of the museum. ‘Where has this place been hiding and why didn’t anyone tell me about this place before?’ I asked myself. Each location had more and more to offer. Some too much, while others not enough. I knew what I wanted in my head and in my heart but didn’t know if they could offer it. Were we in for a HUGE surprise.
Just like any salesperson, the best was saved for last. We were taken to the newest building and it knocked me off my feet when we entered the front door. The space was grand, yet simply elegant. As we toured the gallery, my head was spinning with all the things that I knew I wanted to see for our wedding but didn’t know if it was available. Boy, was it available! From the gilded frames to the skylights to the beautiful artwork, the museum WAS the decorations. No need to add anything else (in my opinion.) As we continue to walk around, I could see certain things in certain places. This was the place! I didn’t need to see anymore, I just needed to know how much it was going to cost. Then reality hit…the cost. (Cue the music…) It was the ENTIRE AMOUNT that we budgeted for the facility and decorations. Well, there goes the hope of cutting down on the cost. We took the package back with us and told our host that we would contact her on Monday of our decision. Time was of the essence. We needed to make a decision and make it soon.
As we talked on the way to lunch, we were both excited about the prospect of being married in such a beautiful setting. The setup, staffing and tables were included in the pricing and we had access to the entire gallery building after the wedding! For someone who appreciates both art and education, this was a win-win-win! As we debated, I explained that with everything that was included in the price, the only thing we need to bring was the food and the music! They would even allow us to bring in our own caterer (as long as they were licensed and insured.) Cha-ching! We both knew that this was the place that we were going to commit ourselves to one another, but I have a hard and fast rule: no major decisions without prayer and waiting at least 24 hours. So, we prayed about it and didn’t talk about it until the next day (Sunday.)
When we saw each other at church, I knew what the decision was going to be, and I could see it in her eyes as well. After service, we both agreed that the museum would be our best option and would save our sanity because so many things would be included in the price that we would have either had to coordinate or pay someone to do. All I could say was that our peace of mind was worth the money. Sometimes, paying a few dollars more for extra peace of mind is a worthy investment. With that, the first major piece of the puzzle was in place and now onto other things such as catering, linens, music and centerpieces. But that is for another time…
P.S. For those who would like more information about the museum and all the wonderful exhibits that they have available, please visit www.moas.org . I am 100% certain that they would enjoy a visit from you and your family.
When Terry Asked Me to Marry Him
When Terry asked me to marry him (after I said yes) my immediate thought was I wanted a wedding ceremony. I wanted a pretty dress. I wanted my friends and family there to share my joy. I wanted my kids to be a part of my ceremony. I wanted something simple, but I also wanted it to be memorable. The first few folks that I told that I was engaged were Davion, Nicholas Jr., and Faith De’Yanah (Princess)-my wonderful children. Davion immediately said he wanted to walk me down the aisle and give me away. I knew I wanted Nicholas to sing and he gladly agreed. I wanted Princess to be a bridesmaid, but she wanted to be a flower girl, so I had a 16-year-old flower girl. My kids were genuinely so happy for me, which really blessed me. They could tell how happy I was which in turn made them comfortable.
Terry and I had already talked so much about marriage and neither of us wanted a long engagement. I had spent years thinking I’d never heal from divorce, years fearing that no one would love me, more years thinking I’d never be able to trust and years thinking it would be hard to find a man who treated me as well as God treated me. After 17 years of “thinking”, I wasn’t about to spend more time than necessary planning a wedding day. Terry proposed in December, we were married in March.
I wanted a simple (small) wedding with a pretty dress, but there was a large problem with my small wedding plans. My large family, my large church family and my large group of friends and supporters (my village). Trying to figure out who I could invite from my village was torturous. Then Terry had the nerve to want to invite people too. Thankfully, he’s an only child. I don’t think our invite list was ever 50/50. I think we started at about 70/30. Terry knew that was stressing me out; he was so gracious.
Initially, I was very adamant about wanting to get married in a church. I didn’t want it in a large sanctuary though. That felt too detached. We explored some options at churches, but I wasn’t in-love with any. While trying to find venues for my wedding in Florida, my daughter and I were also planning her sweet 16 in Georgia. Terry and I traveled to Georgia to check out some venues for Princess’s party. While in Georgia, I started up a conversation with a stranger (as I often do). She was visiting Georgia for a friend’s wedding where she was a bridesmaid. I inquired where the wedding was being held so as to check out the venue for my daughter’s party. She told me that the wedding was taking place in a museum. I didn’t know that museums hosted private events. Well, turns out that 16-year-old girls aren’t so interested in having a party in a museum, but I found it quite intriguing for a wedding. When I returned to Florida, I reached out to the Museum of Arts and Science to inquire about their wedding packages. To my surprise, the rates were not as pricy as I had thought. I shared my information with Terry who was immediately fascinated as well. We both love history and art so we planned to go view the museum.
The wedding coordinator at The Museum of Arts and Sciences at Daytona Beach was very professional and thorough. She also had very high ratings and high praise from previous brides. From our first conversation, I knew I was dealing with someone who knew what she was doing and operated in excellence. The museum offered many options for the ceremony. First, we viewed the planetarium. I liked the idea of the planetarium. It was different and would definitely be memorable. The planetarium engineer showed us the lighting variations and the options for the starry night we wanted on display. Terry asked him to show us the night of our first date. Although it was special sitting under those starts with such a loving and thoughtful man, I realized how impractical it would be to get married under the stars. To really appreciate the planetarium, the lights had to be low. I feared tripping and I was worried about our how our photos would show up in such dim light. Next, we viewed a few other galleries in the museum. The galleries were well lit, open and beautiful. I could see myself getting married there, but there was more still to show.
The final stop on the tour was the newest addition to the museum: The Cici & Hyatt Brown Museum of Art. When I walked in, my heart was filled! I had found my venue. The building was stunning! Natural light poured into the gallery from every angle. It felt open, it felt simple and it was certainly memorable. The second half of the building was a 2-story gallery with an open stair case which made a lovely wedding backdrop. That was my venue! I was in love! I could tell Terry liked it too, but we had some things to discuss before we could sign the contract. We would have to revise our guest list. At that point, we were about 80/20 with 80% of the guest being mine. So, deciding on the museum meant making more tortuous cuts to my portion of the guest list.