Been thinking about a lot of things lately in regards to this. The biggest revelation was a friend asking John what the most important thing to him would be. He started by saying my experience and happiness, but she persisted- what was most important for HIM! He said that he doesn't like to be the center of attention. He doesn't want it too be too rigid and orchestrated- he would prefer for it to be casual and relaxed- people can just do their own thing. (Clearly the ceremony is generally planned and overall there is an outline of events and organization). This thought was so profound to me as it took me out of the mindset of planning every little detail and getting my heart set on things going a particular way in a particular order and how foolish that would be! Much better to continuously remind myself what it is all really about- celebrating our union. That this is about everyone having a good time, not forcing people to do certain things. I want to provide options- fire, a photo area, a place/way to leave us messages, a place to boogie, food, etc, but not need to have them used at a certain time, way or by certain people.
Thinking of John not wanting to be the center of attention will be something else I have to be mindful of- there are ways to muffle that sensation- for example- with the first dance, perhaps I could dance with my dad and he could dance with his mom and then everyone can join in and then we join together so it isn't everyone staring at him :P
My approach is to gather all the info that sounds exciting and inspirational to me. Even stuff I know I could never work out myself. Then from that I start weaning it down to some really meaningful things that I think I'd like to have involved. I want to keep in mind simplicity, eco-friendly, and casual and relaxed. I love knick-knacks and things in their right place and themes and random awesome decor and favors and presents, but I want to step back from all of that and consider two parts of that - 1) the less I spend on the wedding the more I have for the honeymoon and 2) those THINGS aren't what make the wedding memorable. Less can be more. The moments, the interactions, the laughter and the joy are the memories. Making it for me and mine and about me wouldn't necessarily require more than me showing up- I don't have to have a zillion themed decorations to emphasize and even take away from me.
This blog has served largely as a gathering for all that initial inspiration and I have done some categorizing and commenting to indicate the pieces that stand out. I have thought about the issue of most of my family being in NM and most of our friends and his parents being here in CA. I have thought about how it would be cool to have it at home, but perhaps not very realistic with probably a minimum of 75-100 people (all those spouses and kids- most of my 50ish people I listed out are family (and their guests), and not any aunts or cousins either!)
I have thought about the issue of kids- not sure why it gives me an ooky feeling to have children there. I suppose a mixture of worrying that they will disrupt and take the attention away during the spiritual and ceremonial parts. I guess I don't want them stealing the attention, but that is pretty ridiculously greedy- pretty sure I will have plenty of attention on my own wedding day :P Even if I didn't want children under a certain age to come, there is family that would have them and it seems unfair to request the kids not to come. I can of course provide kid-friendly activities and even super distracting kid activities to keep them occupied. It was suggested that I involve them, but I am pretty meh on that idea. As a kid I went to several weddings and mostly they were boring and stressful- had to be all dressed up on on my best behavior and yadda yadda.
As for the actual bridal party I have thought about that a bit. John's best man will definitely be a woman. He doesn't have many guy-friends. As for my maid of honor, at this point in my life I have a wonderful handful of very diverse lady friends, none of which is somehow massively closer to me than the rest. When I think about what the bridal party is for- a group of people close to me that I want to help me coordinate and help this wedding happen, I get a better idea. When I think of who I want as my point person, my #2, I think of my mom. But when I think of making her wear a bridesmaid dress and go to my bachelorette party, that seems all wrong- she will have her own unique role in the wedding without needing the title of maid of honor.
Also I don't have to conform to these pre-defined party-members. I can come up with whatever support team/group with whatever names I want. Mine. MWAHAHA! But as for not hurting anyone and not asking too much of anyone, that gets trickier. I want someone to be able to be close and easy to call in a heartbeat and creative and excited about the same things as me. I want someone who is comfortably able to drop other things and help me out in the week preceding. I guess a lot of these will again be filled by mom and I don't have to worry about all that :P For the actual day of the wedding, for who I feel really right and comfortable with as being separately recognized, I would say my sister Kiva. Otherwise I would just involve all of my ladies as equally as possible as they will each be a valued treasured presence in this event, just as they are precious friends in my life.
As for location, if it were in NM and not at my dad's house, there are many options. As I am quite interested in (at least part) outdoor, NM is a great choice for the stars and the rarely rainy weather. I would imagine there could be venues just as expensive in either state, and awesome deals as well. I want somewhere unique and special (who doesn't) and against the grain, but I do understand there are places designed to host and serve a pile of people and that will be a wise and efficient place to be :)
If it were in CA, I am not sold on a beach location really, though I remain open to it. I saw a beautiful area in the Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Garden that would provide this out-of-the-city and in a secret garden feeling as well as a nature-y surrounding. I want trees and moonlight, dammit. If it were here in CA and I needed to bring all of my ladies together to help me get ready and do all the finishing touches, I would wish to do all of that at John's parent's house. When I think of getting ready and having my moms do my hair and make up, I can't imagine it in my 1 bedroom apt. :) I want them to be in PJs and have late night giggles and breakfast, and we would need a larger location for that, and a hotel doesn't look right in my head. My family would certainly not all fit there, but if my ladies and maybe my moms (?) stayed there, some of the less financially *wiggles fingers in search of words* well some people could crash at Mata's and some could get a hotel together. If we were in NM, I would want to do the sleepover/getting ready at my dad's house for the same reasons.
I don't need it to be big, but I have a huge family, so it's kinda all or nothing on that front. As for friends, together we do not have a huge massive group, so I think it would be under the 150 mark or close to it.
I want it to span across more than one day and have some activities to contribute to the memories/celebration. Some examples I have seen that I liked are going to an orchard and gathering peaches or strawberries and then using them for a meal everyone shares. I like the idea of the bridal party/anyone who wants going paintballing in thrift store dresses. It isn't a cheap option but something a decent size group tends to have a blast with and really enjoy each other's company in that is memorable and unique that I know NM has to offer is white water rafting. I wouldn't mind a hike to gather wildflowers for some deco or just for fun. I would LOOOVE to somehow involve a trip to see saltwater fish tanks however that could be arranged, but that is something -I- love and I am not sure if it would be meaningful to anyone else- it is something I could do alone anytime :P
I like rollercoasters/disneyland so that could be an option, though again, mega expensive. I love zoos and a zoo trip would be a blast :) I wouldn't mind a board game night (or multiple nights!) and maybe a puzzle out for chilling out! I would LOOVE a fishing trip, but I would only want people to come if they would enjoy it :P
Anyway, that's quite enough for now. I will gather more of my thoughts and jot down some more of the results of all the chewing on these ideas :)