This brings a question that I've been wrestling with as a performer…
If you or your beloved is a performer by trade, how much of the wedding is a “performance”? I feel like my guests are an audience and I worry that I'm not going to give them a good enough “show.” -Leah
This is a great question, and one that I totally relate to. I hope I made it clear in my Authenticity vs. Attention post that this issue is one I wrestle with a lot. Little known Ariel Trivia: I started college as musical theater student on scholarship. I lasted one semester before bailing, but the when you spend your formative years singing and dancing, you can't ever really get rid of the jazz hands.
Since what's the most important to me about weddings is their authenticity to the couple getting married, of course it makes perfect sense that a wedding that includes a performer would have, well, an element of performance to it! All weddings have at least a tiny bit of performance in them — if you're shy, you can minimize your performance by having the officiant do most of the talking, but you're still asking your community to witness your commitment. And when a bunch of people are staring, it's hard to not feel like you're on stage a bit.
If the stage is your home, that can be a comfortable place. I'm reminded here of Claire & Bobby's puppet wedding, where the groom was a puppeteer the male flower girl was a stand-up comedian. Of course there was a sense of performance to the wedding, but as Claire pointed out, “The things that meant the most though, were how seriously we took becoming equal partners.”
Then there's Laura & Dave's karaoke wedding, where the invitations were complimentary VIP tickets to a show entitled “Music, Love, Cupcakes – A Most Unusual Wedding.” Despite all the silliness, Laura pointed out that, “There is a fine line between ‘making fun of' and ‘having fun with' your wedding. We were always careful not to cross that line, and our ceremony was very beautiful.”
Then there's Wedding! The Musical, which I featured in my book. Jen & Scotto's wedding was an hour long musical theater performance that the bride and groom wrote and starred in.
As guests were seated, they introduced the “Very Special Episode”:
They hilariously reenacted their first date:
And the groom serenaded the bride, his voice cracking with tears and emotion:
It's a delicate dance, balancing your desire to entertain with your desire to convey the sincerity, complexity, and emotions of committing yourself to your partner. I think the key, as with all performances, is quality writing. It becomes crucial not to let the message of your wedding (love, commitment, partnership, challenges, etc) not get lost in the bouquets being shot out of cannons or singing. I think this is a balance that even non-theatrical types can wrestle with … do you get so excited about your menu that you forget to memorize your vows? Did you spend so long on your DIY decor that you forgot about the emotions that are going to come up when you exchange rings? As always, pull back from the details and the jazz hands and remember the sentiment.
I'd love to hear from other offbeat dancers, singers, actors, aerialists, stilt-walkers, and performers of all kinds: how are YOU balancing the sincerity of your wedding with your natural reflex to entertain?