Thursday, December 11, 2008

Lesson 1: Operation Google

Photo Credit: beegeye
After we decided to get married, I immediately began working on my Wedding Phobia Recovery Plan. And I did what I normally do when exploring a new, frightening and unfamiliar concept:
I googled it.

After a few hours of searching, I got my first lesson in wedding planning.

In case you don't feel like reading the rest of this post, or are looking for instant, potentially helpful suggestions, I'll cut to the chase: Once you add the word "wedding" to any search, you better be prepared to shell out the big bucks and limit your options.

Looking for a location for an event is one thing. Looking for a location for a wedding? Well, that apparently summons the Organized Wedding Mafia (OWM) who pop right into your browser, urging and begging you to spend, spend, spend for
The Perfect Location for your Big Day. Even when I googled "alternative wedding locations" the results were pretty scary.

Here are just a few examples:
  1. Golf Club. "Great for photographs." "Some have pools."

  2. Football Stadium. I guess a massive guest list is not a problem here. Just the massive bill.

  3. Zoo. "A memorable day." It sure would be. With all those animal smells and all. And I'm sure it costs only pennies to rent THE WHOLE zoo out for a day (!).

  4. An Island. I live on an island, Manhattan. And that's expensive enough. I can't even afford to go to another island on vacation, let alone pay for guests and all that they require. Oy.

  5. And now for my personal favorite: Castle. As in the castle at the McDonald's Play Land? Because I can't afford anywhere else...

When I didn't get the type of results I was looking for with the general search, I focused on New York, hoping to hone in on more creative local ideas. But my searches returned all the usual suspects: Various sections of Central Park (booked way in advance, not an option for an 8 month lead), The Boat House ($), Tavern On the Green (), museums, and Botanical Gardens. I'm not getting what is "alternative" about these locations. If even I was aware of them as wedding spots, they are definitely very popular. (The museum idea sounded kind of cool, but I have trouble even shelling out the admission fee at some of our finer cultural institutions.)

And then it hit me. I was working backwards! Instead of asking myself what I wanted, I was looking to the Internet to tell me what was available. Not even what was available, but what others had done. Others being more financially endowed individuals. Others who may just possibly have been swayed by the ways of the OWM, and influenced by which venues the OWM determined to be appropriate, ideal locations to celebrate a wedding.

I shut the computer down. And I closed my eyes. I tried to imagine Jake and I, exchanging vows, our family and friends nearby, and what did I see? What did I smell? What did I hear? And it became clear(er). I saw grass and trees. I smelled the fresh outdoor air. I heard the Rabbi's deep voice and the distant sounds of children playing and people laughing. No hotel banquet room smell for me.

OK, so maybe that's a little, um, cliché. But the point is, I was beginning to narrow down a vision of what I wanted and the feelings I hoped to create on our day. Definitely outdoors. Definitely casual. Definitely grounded. Simple. Comfortable.
No zoo animals or stadium lights. No golf clubs or exotic islands.

Initially I thought that the only consequence to adding "wedding" to my google search was that it made the prices skyrocket. Turns out, it also tended to limit the venues, the possibilities and my imagination. I wouldn't google "gifts for mom" to find something special and personal to buy my mom for her birthday. I would first think about who she is, what she enjoys, what kind of a gift might support her hobbies. This was no different.

Don't get me wrong...the Internet is an amazing resource, and I honestly don't know what we did in the days before google. And in between all the extravagant, outlandish, expensive and typical links that my search returned, there were some real gems. But I needed to realize my own desires before recognizing some of those good ideas. After all, my goal is to choose the wedding, not let the wedding choose me.

Next steps:

Make a list of the characteristics I want from my ideal wedding location.
Ask Jake to make a similar list.
Share our lists.

Lessons Learned:
  • Think first. It's OK to dream. No need to bust out the Rorschach Test, but a little introspection never hurt anyone. (Turns out that too much thinking, however, is not so good.)
  • Don't include wedding in my search.
  • Don't get caught up in what has been done. Find my own way.
I'll be back Google...

No comments:

Post a Comment

Share your thoughts!