4-Step Checklist for Authentic Wedding Planning
“Find [yourselves] and express [yourselves] in your own particular way[s]. Express your love openly. Life is nothing but a dream, and if you create your [lives] with love, your dream becomes a masterpiece of art. Go now and create your masterpiece.” - Don Miguel Ruiz
We can’t believe it’s been a year since we stood on the sand and were legally married in front of a crowd of supportive witnesses.
Wedding planning was a little stressful at times, but maybe not for the reasons we'd initially anticipated. While planning, budgeting, disagreements, logistics, family politics, and trying to achieve perfection presented challenges at times, the most demanding part for us was designing a wedding that would be an expression of our authentic selves. We wanted to co-create something as personally meaningful and intentional as our Mutual Proposal.
Maintaining authenticity was so important to us that we would take pauses during the planning process if something didn’t sit well with us. In fact, we originally weren't sure if we wanted to get married because we believed at the time that it would not align with our integrity. However, throughout the process, we were happy to discover ways to make the entire experience an authentic expression of us as individuals as sharing a path.
Conceptualizing the Wedding
From the beginning of our relationship, we had very different conceptions about whether or not we should get married. Throughout the planning process, we came to a consensus and selected the outline of a traditionalesque wedding and infused it with what makes us who we are: Relationship Zen. Relationship Zen is not just a website or a brand to us, it is our way of being as a couple.
We planned our wedding from the inside out:
Know yourself: We wrote down and brainstormed what’s important to us as individuals when it came to our relationship. We captured what makes us, us.
Know your top 3 non-negotiables: Thanks to a friend of ours, we wrote down our three non-negotiables when it came to celebrating our relationship in the form of a wedding. For us, those three things were 1) cultural & regional fusion, 2) good food, and 3) a good time.
Visualize your intention: We set our intentions for our wedding and marriage through a special ceremony in nature led by a dear friend of ours. Reconnect with the story of why you’re getting married.
Plan the wedding features around the above: Infuse all the above into all aspects of planning: from your work with the wedding officiant, to your vows, to the music, to the guest experience, to the symbolic exchange… all the way to the party (and beyond!)!
Here's What Our Day Looked Like
The Wedding Ceremony
The Date: The wedding took place on a uniquely warm and beautiful May 6. That date was picked in relation to the new moon for that month. The New Moon provides fertile space to set new and positive intentions.
“This week offers one of the sweetest and most fertile new moons of the year – it is a time to build what you most desire to build” - Joan, Wedding Officiant
The Location: The ceremony took place on a beach with great significance to Lindsey's family and near her home town.
The Wedding Officiant: Our wedding officiant is someone who has been an important support for Lindsey since her childhood and she shares our Relationship Zen values.
The Symbolic Exchange and Vows: In addition to a sand ceremony and with the help of our wedding officiant, we crafted every word uttered and every action taken at the ceremony to reflect the concept that we are each responsible for our own happiness and that we are two wholes sharing a path. Here's a sample:
“Lindsey, will you honour David with integrity and presence, speaking openly and listening patiently to him? Will you support, comfort and challenge him, cherishing the sacred within him? Will you turn to him, accept him for who he is, and create shared meaning? Above all, will you nurture and be responsible for your own happiness recognizing that being true to yourself is key to a thriving relationship?” - Joan, Wedding Officiant
The same was asked of David.
The rings: Before we gave our vows, our wedding rings were passed down from each of our bridal party members. As they held the ring, they took a moment to meditate on their intentions for our relationship. When the rings got to us, all wedding guests were invited to send us positive light and love. The energy on the beach was truly amazing!
“The ring is a symbol of your intentions to build a relationship grounded on the principle of two wholes sharing a path. It also carries with it the energy and love of your supporters who remind you to open your hearts to not only give love, but receive love.” - Joan, Wedding Officiant
The vows: Our vows contained messages of mindfulness and presence. Here’s a sample from David’s vows:
“Lindsey, I take you as you are and who you are becoming. I promise to do my best to communicate through the eyes of love: that is to listen to you and learn from you, to support you and accept your support, and to honour your soul and the values you stand for. I will nurture your ambitions, celebrate your successes, and encourage you through your momentary 'setbacks' [...] I will work with you to foster and cherish a relationship based on self-love knowing that together we will manifest a dream of two far greater than we could imagine as individuals… I vow a reality that prioritizes happiness, simplicity, and fulfillment…”
The Post-Ceremony Reception
The intent: Many family and friends on Lindsey’s side could not travel to the reception where the evening party would take place, due to their age and health. Therefore, we decided to host a small after-party before heading to the evening party three hours away, where David grew up. This was in keeping with our first non-negotiable: cultural and regional fusion.
The location: The post-ceremony reception took place in a space where Lindsey had spent many of her childhood and teenage years.
The food: was catered by a local women’s group that Lindsey grew up with. You can bet the food was infused with love!
The Decor: To top it all off, Lindsey’s crafty family hand-made and decorated the hall with such care, creativity, love, and attention.
The Evening Party
The entertainment and food: We wanted this to be a cultural experience for our friends and for Lindsey’s family, so we incorporate more of David’s culture here with great Chinese food and a variety of music and dances including Mauritian Sega.
Party favours: Each guest was gifted Relationship Zen soap crafted by Lindsey and her sister to support their heart chakra. During our speech, we encouraged folks to soak in the beauty and aroma of the special rose, geranium, and lavender, essential oil blend when they use it.
Table themes: Each table was also named according to the energetic intention that we believed each group of guests would bring to the evening. Some examples were: “light”, “harmony”, “abundance”, “inspiring”, “sacred”, etc.
Throughout the day and night, we checked in with each other to be mindful of the experience, of how we were feeling and what we were thinking.
In summary, our best advice is to plan your wedding from the inside out by writing down your relationship's core values and attributes and infusing as much of it as you can in every aspect of the wedding.
“Love […] is unconditional, unchanging, and permanent. It doesn’t fluctuate –its source isn’t dependent on external factors. Loving is a state of being. It’s a forgiving, nurturing, and supportive way of relating to the world. Love isn’t intellectual and doesn’t proceed from the mind; Love emanates from the heart. It has the capacity to lift others and accomplish great feats because of its purity of motive.” – David R. Hawkins (Power vs. Force: The Hidden Determinants of Human Behavior)