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Your wedding day is a story. It has a beginning, middle, and end. Like the beginning of any great story, the ceremony is there to set the tone and introduce yourselves as husband and wife. The reception comes next, and is the plot of the story. This is when your community of family and friends celebrates in unison while breaking bread and toasting one another, likely to excess if you’re throwing a Wisconsin wedding.
The end is your Grand Finale. Your portal into married life and happily-ever after. This moment is sometimes overlooked in modern weddings. Gone are the days of running off into a beer can strewed limo. Instead, guests trickle out, the DJ starts to yawn, and a child is found sticky and sleeping underneath the sweets table.
But there are many who have revived the Marital Send-Off and are giving it new life, thank goodness. Photographers love the tradition because it allows for beautifully candid moments that capture real emotion, a moment of unstructured whimsy. Now that it has become a no-no to throw rice at the exiting couple (because of the health risk to area birds, and also because it feels weird to throw food at people), we have all sorts of variations to choose from that might be better suited. How about giving your farewell to a path of attendees waving sparklers? How spectacular it might feel to run through a cloud of finely milled glitter, or seeing rose petals float down upon you. For an October wedding, dry fall leaves make a fitting (and free) substitute. Faux snow creates a stunning winter scene. I’ll bet one or both of you have a sports team you favor. How about rally towels? Landing a great spouse is a major victory after all.
The creativity allowed for weddings today means the options have broadened, and the tunnel of love through which the newly married couple escapes is sometimes replaced with or augmented by an event that creates a clear cap to the evening. Fireworks are a great opportunity to entertain all ages while saying “goodnight.” It might also be nice to collectively light and send away Chinese lanterns, the more the better on a clear night. Some even include an enclosed wish or prayer for the couple, which can be a nice way to incorporate spiritual beliefs, sending well wishes straight to the heavens. Similarly, releasing a pair of white doves symbolizes the purity and sanctity of the occasion, the joining of two lives into one shared journey, and the peace required in any marriage should it be expected to stand the test of time or holidays with the in-laws.
At a recent wedding, the groom’s family sang together a tune they have used for years to teach younger relatives how to spell their very long and very Polish name. Only this time, they invited the bride to sing it with them since one day she would need to sing it to her kids. It was very special and unique to that particular brood, not a dry eye in the house. Perhaps there is a family tradition in your annals that can be shared with your guests. Making the conclusion of your wedding a show of family unity can be a powerful moment, and one they will talk about for years to come.
Maybe your distinct Grand Finale is the vehicle by which you make your getaway. Limousines are classically elegant. A vintage car is charming, and the elders in your party will appreciate the nostalgia. If you’re English, a hackney carriage taxi is a cute option. A horse and carriage screams storybook romance. A motorcycle and sidecar is a kick to both ride in and watch zoom away. If it’s feasible in your location, a hot air balloon ride is over-the-top, both literally and figuratively. Think beyond the obvious for a send-off that is memorable and attuned to your personal taste or lifestyle.
It is important however to keep to a schedule if you decide this will be your farewell so your guests know when and where to be. Timing is critical. Ideally, your departure should occur late enough that your guests are growing tired, but not so early that you miss all of the fun. Additionally, remember that if there are children involved, safety is imperative. If the children in your party can’t be trusted with sparklers, maybe glow sticks or blown bubbles are a better choice. Other bad ideas include shooting pistols into the air or throwing snowballs at the happy couple.
Your story’s ending can be whatever you want it to be. You may choose no send-off at all. You may decide to be the one found sleeping under the sweets table. Many couples prefer to shimmy on the dance floor until the bitter, hazy end. But for those of you giving your guests one last romantic glimpse of you at your happiest yet, here’s to you and the road ahead by which you travel together.
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