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A small and intimate wedding

For the first time in my life, I was asked to be a witness at a wedding. It was not an ordinary wedding, not the kind I'm used to attending or providing music for. There was just the bride, the groom, four witnesses, the camera man and his assistant (his wife), the judge, the judge's assistant, and one guest.

I am sure it had crossed the marrying couple's mind what kind of wedding they would have. Everybody getting married thinks of these things. After all, there is so much choice nowadays. Do you set a budget and let that decide how many people you will invite? Do you make up a guest list and then try to fit into what you can afford?

Weddings are sensitive occasions. Feelings can get hurt at weddings, long-time friendships can be broken at weddings ---- equally old wounds can be healed at such gatherings. If you exclude someone at a wedding, would he be hurt? If you invite someone who declines your invitation, would you be hurt?

There is a sense of obligation --- to invite members of your family and their respective partners --- as well as your close friends and their partners. "Who should we invite" becomes the question rather than "who do we want at our wedding." Soon, the guest list grows into a monsoon wedding. I have been to weddings that lasted several days, with every grand aunt and step-great-grand uncle and nth cousin you can think of. I have also been to wedding receptions that proceeded like a Star Wars Trilogy with trumpets announcing the arrival of the bride and groom, who subsequently toast tirelessly to a hundred tables of hungry guests.

The problem with the "invite everybody" weddings is that you soon discover there are hundreds of people more important than you. I remember the excitement at being invited to a close friend's wedding. I had known her since I was 4 years old and expected to be her oldest friend. I travelled across the continent to arrive at her wedding only to discover that I hardly knew her. While she was chatting with everyone, she had only one sentence to say to me, "You look older." I was a stranger unintroduced. My wedding gift, a set of sterling silver weddings I had bought with my meager student savings, probably got lost in the big pile of wrapped wedding gifts. I never found out whether she liked those earrings. From that day onwards, we drifted as apart as the oceans and continents that divided us.

Instead of letting the guest list drive your wedding, you can decide from the outset that you will have a small and intimate wedding. In the Netherlands, you are allowed four witnesses with a minimum requirement of two. For such an intimate wedding, you decide to ask your best friend, a man you've known for over half of your life, to be your witness. You ask your daughter and son, not their spouses or their families. You tell them it is a small and intimate affair. They don't understand why their spouses are excluded, but they accept your decision. You decide to treat everyone to the finest champagne reception in a covered boat in the historic canals of Amsterdam followed by candlelit dinner at a famous two Michelin star restaurant in the most prestigious hotel in the country.

It seems that you can either decide on an exclusive wedding and invite very few people and let quality count --- "less is more." Or you go all out (and even go broke) and invite everybody.

Today as I sit on the boat and watch the newly weds being filmed for a DVD to be sent to the bride's family overseas, I couldn't help but think what a splendid idea it is to have a small and intimate wedding. They are not eloping, for they have others to celebrate their special day. They have not invited everyone because they want to revel in the moment, when they are able to gaze into each other's eyes without being distracted by the guests that queue for their attention. And I, a mere witness at their wedding, feel more special than at any wedding I've ever attended ----- and it's not even my own wedding!

Interested in improving the way you make decisions? The forthcoming Bon Journal Decision Making Guide contains sound advice from experts on career management, relationships, and other kinds of decisions. Contact the editor to order this invaluable e-book now.

1 September 2005 Thursday

Related links:
analyticalQ weddings
Naarden-Vesting stadhuis
More photos of Naarden-Vesting
Amstel Hotel
Mr and Mrs Van der Linden in Naarden
At Naarden Vesting stadhuis
Mr and Mrs Van der Linden in Amsterdam
On the boat in Amsterdam
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Anne Ku at Ilp in May 2001
Anne Ku

writes about her travels, conversations, thoughts, events, music, and anything else that is interesting enough to fill a web page.
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