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Perfect Brides and Grooms

They really do exist!

2003 Archive
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Jan-Jun 2005 Archive


While the Bride in this story was (and is) wonderful, it's not actually her that the story is about. This is more a "Perfect Friend" or "Perfect Gesture" tale. When my flat mate Jenny announced she was engaged, I was over the moon. Her boyfriend (now husband) Nick was a dear friend of mine, and I had introduced the two a year before. Her best friend Mary and I were avid to help out with the wedding plans, as Jenny was the first in our circle of friends to tie the knot. 

Now Jenny and Mary have been friends since they were ten; Jenny is the youngest of seven children, with an additional four foster brothers and sisters she is still very close to. Mary has only one sibling, a sister, Emma, who is ten years younger. So in their teen years, Jenny spent a lot of time at Mary's place, and she always got on very well with Emma. In fact, during their terrible teens, Jenny was often nicer to Emma (another youngest child!) than Mary was, with the result that Emma is absolutely devoted to her.  Nick is also from a big family, the youngest of five, with an uncle and aunt who were brought up by his father and who are closer to his older brother in age, so more like older brother and sister. They both wanted to have all their family there, and decided to have a fairly simple wedding without any attendants or big display so they could afford to have all their family and friends there for the celebration. They settled on a plain, simple ceremony in the local Chapel in the morning, with an alfresco reception in the local public gardens afterwards. 

As the last to get married in their respective families, there were lots of people willing to help, but rather than ask for money, they asked for help on the day - they had a spit roast that needed attending, help with getting older members of the family to the events, loans of picnic chairs and tables, preparing food before hand (please note the bride and groom paid for all the food, they just asked for help getting it ready) and so on. With two very  large, very loving families, everything was set to be lovely, relaxed and very much in the spirit of family.  Now Emma - remember Emma? - at this time was 15. She didn't have an after school job, but really wanted to give Jenny a wedding present that would be special. About 10 months before the wedding, Emma turns up at Jenny and my house with a big scrap book in hand. She explains what she wants to do for Jenny and Nick.  Now bear in mind Jenny and Nick are both the youngest and the last to get married in very big families. Most of their siblings and almost-siblings had kids, ranging in age from (at the time of the wedding) about 1 to about 12, around 25 children in total. Emma thought that the best wedding present she could give Jenny and Mike was to arrange to take care of the kids on their wedding day so the parents could get some quality time with the happy couple. She'd really thought it through:

Each set of parents was given two 'gift certificates', one for a "Mother's Helper" afternoon where Emma would come over to their house, help with the children and let the parents get to know her and feel confident with her abilities, and one for an evening or a Saturday morning's free baby-sitting so she could get more time to know all the children. She'd gone out and gotten her First Aid Certificate and did a basic Child Care course, so she was clued up on what to do in emergencies and how to handle the littlest ones. She'd written out in the scrap book a selection of games and activities for the children, working in time for food, naps or quiet time for the youngest, with some energetic games for the older kids and some sit down stuff for the youngest and anyone who didn't feel very energetic, plus contingency things for if it rained, was too hot, too cold, etc. She made or put together a whole lot of games and toys, including skittles, kites, 'baby rounders' (using a big, soft ball), horseshoes, skipping ropes, building blocks, some soft toys for the very little ones, coloring books and a heap of other stuff. She arranged for and brought a big rug under a sunshade, a changing table behind some discrete screens with spare nappies, wipes, etc, several pillows and light blankets for nap-time, and brought sunscreen and extra children's sun hats as the day turned out to be very bright. She organized and set up early in the morning before the wedding treasure hunts for all the children - one with clues to track down for the bigger ones and one that was more like an Easter egg hunt in one particular part of the garden for the very little ones. She organized the older children to help with lunch by waiting on the older family members, passing plates, helping the little ones eat, etc. 

The actual wedding day was wonderful, due in no little part to Emma's work with the children there. The kids had a wonderful time and the parents all mentioned how much they appreciated what she was doing and what a thoughtful gift it was. In fact, she made such an impression on everyone, she got invited to two dozen birthday parties over the next year at the children's direct request, and always asked after by the various parents. Several of them wrote to her after the wedding to say how well she had done and offering to be character references for her if she wanted to make some pocket money baby sitting or helping out at the local child care center after school.   A year after the wedding, Jenny called Mary and I to ask us something, and we were all agreed. Mary and I stood by smiling happily when Jenny asked Emma to be the godmother to her first child. 10 years later, she's been a wonderful godmother - and is soon going to be a Mum herself. I'm sure she'll be a good one.   



A few years ago, my two best friends decide to get married.  On the same weekend.  In two different but adjoining states.  So, being the super-friend (AKA single), I commit to helping with both, as one is on a Saturday and one is on a Sunday.  The first was slightly disorganized but joyous occasion, with a lovely catered meal etc. The real story is the second bride, Erica.  

On Friday night I arrive in town for the rehearsal dinner, and I am handed a packet, prepared by the bride, outlining a weekend itinerary (with driving directions), contact numbers for the entire party (who are all from out of town), a list of pre-arranged responsibilities for us as individuals and as (in my case) bridesmaids, and also a VERY detailed schedule for the wedding day.  Well, all planning and preparation had ceased when she handed these out, it was all execution from that point on.  And what execution!  She was utterly relaxed all weekend, even when I was late for her bachelorette party because of the first wedding.  

The wedding day was run perfectly, and on schedule.  Seriously.  Without a paid wedding coordinator or anything like it.  It was amazing.  I can honestly say after having been a bridesmaid 5 times (maybe more--I could have blocked out the really traumatic ones…) I have always been less than thrilled with the bride by the end of it all, except in this wedding.  I know at what cost it came, though.  I know there were many long, tear-filled nights of planning to make this event go off the way it did, perfectly, beautifully.  I appreciate that even more now that I am in the midst of planning my own wedding.  I should post some of my own story to the MIL section…


The way I coordinate weddings is I schedule all preparation and planning to cease a week prior to the wedding.  Everything should be done by then...all the favors made, the program completed, printed and folded, all assignments delegated, payments made, etc.  Everyone knows what their jobs and responsibilities a week in advance.  The week before the wedding is stress-free and fun as it should be.  But it doesn't require a coordinator to do that.


My brother-in-law married a wonderful woman this past October.  Their wedding day was beautiful and perfectly planned.  The one thing that stands out in my mind and the reason why I'm putting her in this category is this:  a couple of days before the wedding, the bride bought a box of expensive pastries for the bridal shop from which she had purchased her dress.  She had gone to another bridal shop, but because she is a plus-size woman, that bridal shop was not interested in helping her and made it abundantly clear.  The women at the bridal shop she bought her dress from were so nice and helpful, she wanted to show her appreciation.  Hence the pastries.  This is just one example of how thoughtful my sister-in-law is and I am so happy she is a part of the family.



One of my long time friends just got married this past July, and all in all it was one the most wonderful weddings I’ve ever been to.  I could go on and on about all that was perfect about the day, but I’ll highlight what made “Tilly” the perfect bride:

1)      She had six bridesmaids.  Two of them had just given birth prior to the wedding (one in February, one in late June!!), and another turned up pregnant, and even among the rest of us, we all had different body shapes, so instead of subjecting us to the horror of a dress that wouldn’t look good on any of us, she picked a color from David’s Bridal, and told us we could pick any dress we wanted in that color.

2)      I fell in love with one dress in particular, but my face fell when I realized it was from the “Special Occasions” section instead of the “Bridesmaids” section.  Guess what—Tilly was fine with it, and it looked great on me, and I could definitely wear it again!

3)      Still wanting to save our budgets, Tilly said we could wear any shoes we wanted, as long as they were light colored—but also didn’t mind that I did get mine dyed to match.

4)      Despite she and her hubby-to-be, “Jay”, being strict non-drinkers, they never imposed their views on anyone else, and provided the option for alcohol at the rehearsal dinner and reception, and bought the most gorgeous Waterford crystal champagne glasses as gifts for the bridesmaids, and silver flasks for the groomsmen.  Likewise, she also made sure there were vegetarian alternatives available for her MOH (or anyone else who didn’t eat meat.)

5)      Though a long term Protestant, she was baptized so that she could be married in the Catholic Church of her hubby-to-be’s choice, by a priest who had been a friend of the in-law’s family.

6)      When she heard my father (who she didn’t have to invite to begin with) would feel uncomfortable being “alone” at the reception (knowing I’d be running around doing bridesmaid stuff), she immediately added “and Guest” just for him.

7)      I have no driver’s license, and the wedding was in upstate New York, where the concept of public transportation is unheard of.  Knowing I wanted to help set up (the reception was on her in-law’s property in Lake George), she either drove me herself, or helped arrange rides for me, to Lake George, and to the rehearsal dinner, and then to the church the next day.

8)      She kept her cool and her smile throughout, despite her father getting dangerously close to an emotional outburst (he has a history of them), a hyperactive flower girl enticing the two tiny ring bearers to roll around on the floor beneath the altar, her grandfather deciding not to show at the wedding (although he had come to the rehearsal dinner the night before), and other various bobbles you can expect at a wedding.

9)      Overall making sure that the entire theme of the wedding was about Tilly and Jay, not some super-flashy affair purely for show, by putting little touches here and there, like having her brother play the music at the church, naming the tables at the reception after various nature spots she and Jay frequented, having native wildflowers as part of the arrangements, etc.

All in all, it was the prettiest wedding I’ve ever been to, and Tilly was the best bride I’ve ever even heard of, I thought she deserved a mention in Perfect Brides.  Thanks so much for creating this section—it’s such a great way to gush, especially after reading all of the horror stories in the other sections!



As with most other submissions to your site I would like to let you know that I have immensely enjoyed reading about the horrors of wedding etiquette faux pas (and worse!)  Etiquette Hell has kept me laughing for days- and I haven’t even made it through your wedding section. 

I am nominating my best friend and future sister-in-law Julie as the perfect bride.  First off, a little background:  My boyfriend (now fiancé) and I live with his older sister Julie and her husband Paul as well as their new baby girl.  As much as this might surprise some people we all get along wonderfully and really do enjoy living with one another.  The four of us started living together about a year or so before Julie and Paul planned to get married.  They graciously made my boyfriend and me their only attendants for their lovely wedding.

Julie was the perfect bride right from the beginning.  Never once did she freak out or display the least tendency toward “Bridezilla-ism” (and I would know- we live together!)  As her only attendant she graciously bought me my dress and shoes- and they were stunning (as well as being of my own choosing)- not some horrid taffeta construction in lime green or puce as usually seems to happen.  Paul also paid for my boyfriend’s tux rental and shoes- and we both received wonderful gifts during the rehearsal dinner that meant a great deal to us.  During her wedding she was poised and beautiful and really had fun!  Their wedding and reception was very nice and Julie and Paul made sure everyone had a great time.  Because their wedding fell on a 3-day weekend Julie and Paul wanted to make sure that their guests could make the most of their vacation days, so the day after the wedding they paid to have their guests take either a fishing charter trip in the area, or attend an exquisite luncheon tea in a nearby historic district.  After the afternoon’s fun they invited everyone back to their house for a casual BBQ.  As always they amazed me with their hospitality.  They are the perfect hosts!

I was so impressed with her wedding I am now making her my example of how to plan a beautiful wedding with grace while having fun doing it- because that is what getting married is about.  It’s not about the presents, or the flowers, or the invitations, the cake or even the dress- it’s all about getting married to someone you love deeply and sharing that wonderful occasion with the friends and family who mean the most to you.  I wish more people would not lose sight of this as they plan their weddings.



My cousin Mel was definitely a perfect bride.   I cringed when I received an invitation to her wedding to boyfriend Nat - not because I didn't want to go (I did, very much) but because I knew it would be painful to me, for the following reasons:

18 months before, my adored husband John had died very suddenly in the most distressing circumstances possible. This would be the first wedding I had been to since his death.  The wedding was on Valentine's Day, at the same venue John and I had our wedding photos taken. Nat had been a long-time friend of John's, and he and Mel had met at one of John's birthday parties. John had frequently boasted of his "Cupid" role in Nat and Mel's relationship, and had often asked when they planned to get married.  They hadn't gotten engaged until after his death. 

The ceremony was beautiful, the weather flawless and the company good.  John had been well-known and very popular with both my and Nat's family and he was very much "present" the whole day.  Everyone was thinking of him, talking about him, swapping reminiscences and discussing how proud he would have been and what he would have said about his role in bringing the marriage about.    The result was inevitable.  Despite taking the precaution of staying dead sober, I lost it in the middle of the reception.  My mother had to take me to a room off the main hall, where I howled like a wounded animal for an hour and a half.   Mel's reaction to being upstaged at her own wedding?  A quiet enquiry of my mother as to whether she could do anything or if I needed anything, then tactful withdrawal until I'd finished...then profuse apologies she'd not taken more steps to protect me from upset.    Further proof that all you really need for a fantastic wedding is the company of good people who care about each other.   



I think my friend "m" really showed a lot of class in her June 2005 wedding. This is M's second wedding and she choose to keep it small, family and closest friends only. She married in her Aunt's backyard, under a gazebo covered in leafy vines and decorated with home grown roses. She wore a simple, tea length dress, and her groom wore nice pants and a dressy shirt. There was no parade of attendants, just bride, groom and bride's son. The weather was beautiful and the pastor was a family friend. The family gathered around the couple in the yard, a few chairs were provided for the elderly but the ceremony was brief and lovely. Her uncle sang a solo as bride and her son walked up to the gazebo. 

After the ceremony, guests were treated to a buffet lunch and seated in a shady spot in the yard. There was tons of good, home cooked food and plenty of beverages both alcoholic and non. The wedding cake was a gift from the MOB and was beautiful and delicious and every layer was a different flavor so everyone could choose what they wanted. Bride's SIL did all the flower arranging and every table had a lovely bouquet as decoration, all were different and unique. The Bride and Groom didn't sit at a head table, they circled through the guests, visiting and thanking them for coming. There was no DJ, no horrible tacky dances, no dollar dance, just an afternoon of relaxing and celebrating the new marriage in a peaceful setting where you could actually talk to the person next to you. This was the most relaxed, personal and enjoyable weddings I have ever had the privilege to attend.

Thank you notes arrived less than 2 weeks later and in speaking to the Bride she told me that she and her Groom started their marriage with no wedding debt, everything was paid in full before the wedding day.



When I was in college, one of my very best friends, "Tina" became engaged to a wonderful man. She had been on-again / off-again with another guy through the last year or so, and had a rough breakup. All of her friends were thrilled when she met "Dave," and the two became a pair. It was only natural when they got engaged.   They were planning a wedding for the following summer, when Tina would graduate. Dave was in the Air Force, a medical technician. Well, the Gulf War began (Desert Storm) and Dave was called to go overseas. The pair decided to marry quickly before he had to leave, and the wedding was moved up to the next month, in December.   

As a busy student, and with pressing concerns about Dave going off to a war zone, Tina began planning a simple and meaningful ceremony. Dave asked his best friend to stand up for him, and Tina asked me, and I was honored to stand up for her. Tina BORROWED a wedding gown from a recently married relative, and we went to JC Penney and found a simple velvet party dress for me to wear, for less than $50. Tina purchased a pretty double-strand "faux" pearl necklace and bracelet set to go with it, as my bridesmaid gift. I still wear the set today.   Dave and his groomsman selected festive Christmas-plaid ties and cummerbunds, and Tina and I carried simple bouquets of winter chrysanthemums accented with pretty shiny red and green glass Christmas ornaments. The ceremony was warm and heartfelt, and a reception afterward was held at a friend's home, with a cake decorated with icing poinsettia flowers, and a buffet of finger sandwiches and other simple party fare.   Tina was such a happy bride, for all the right reasons. Happy to have found her match, and happy to have friends and family help her celebrate the marriage, even in the midst of worry about war. Tina and Dave are still married, and have two lovely children.   When I got married several years later, I kept Tina's wedding in my memory, to remind me to keep things simple and to remember what the event was really all about -- the marriage, not the wedding. I still hold Tina's wedding as one of the most genuine and beautiful I have ever attended.



I have a story that would fit in the "Perfect Brides / Grooms". My husband and I attended a wedding of one of his best high school friends. The groom was also a groomsman in our wedding, and he had brought that bride as his date to our wedding, even though at the time, they were "just friends". Even then, we commented to each other of what a great couple they would make, so we were thrilled to attend their wedding. Also, we are Catholic and they are East Indian, so getting to experiences each other's cultures was very enjoyable.

They were awesome. The invitation arrived about two months before the wedding, giving us plenty of time to make plans, as we had moved over fifteen hours away in the year before the wedding. Also, they included an extremely detailed insert that explained everything about the wedding ceremony, as it would obviously be performed in Punjabi and not English. Not only that, but they had a translator at the temple who also explained exactly what would happen just before the ceremony. This was very much appreciated, as otherwise, we would have had no idea what was going on! Also, as people are required to cover their heads in the temple, they provided boxes of brand-new scarves, in case the guests didn't have one, though we had been forewarned that this would be necessary, and we could bring our own. This was also appreciated, as we would have been horrified to have done anything that might be an offense to their religion.

The ceremony was long and colorful, and very interesting to watch. The reception was huge, yet not overly formal. People were allowed to sit wherever they liked. There must have been over 300 people there, as is the tradition in East Indian weddings. Still, the bride and groom made their way around the reception hall, and said hello to everybody. We were happy, as we had traveled so far, that they would take time away from their many relatives to greet us, and also to thank us for coming. The mothers of both the bride and the groom also came around the greeted everybody, thanking them for coming, and making sure that we were having a good time.

We would have been totally lost without their efforts. We would have shown up not knowing what was happening, not knowing how to behave (so as not to make any faux pas in their temple), and not knowing if they even noticed that we'd made the effort to come. Though we were exhausted from the long trip (we did the fifteen-hour drive in one day, without any breaks), we had a marvelous time. If only every couple could be so conscientious as to their guest's needs!



May I nominate my own wife for this category?  She really amazed me while we planned our wedding.   My wife had several women she really wanted to honor as bridesmaids, but narrowed down her list to six.  These women looked nothing alike.  One was a voluptuous red head who looked like a fashion model, another was thin and tall with black hair and olive skin, and another stood all of five feet tall and was a size 26 with no curves or bust whatsoever and extremely pale skin.  The other three were not extremes, but had differing complexions and figures.  Right away, my wife knew that no off-the-rack dress was going to flatter them all.  A trip to a few bridal stores confirmed this.  My wife also did not want any of these women to shell out money for a gown that screamed “bridesmaid” and would hang in a closet until it rotted.  My wife had several of those herself.   My wife went to a fabric store six months before the wedding and began looking through patterns for dresses.  She found a skirt and jacket combination that she thought would work with the six figures.  She then bought the remains of a large bolt of a discontinued bluish teal dupioni shantung fabric (something about dye lots), bought six of the dress patterns and enough matching buttons for six dresses, then cut out enough yards of the fabric for each respective dress according to the sizes the bridesmaids had given her adding three extra yards “just in case”.  She shipped these to each of the six women informing them that they could take the pattern to any dress maker they chose and could have the dress tailored to fit them as they wanted to look.  The only instruction she gave was that the dress needed to stay true to the design and the skirt should fall about mid calf as shown in the pattern’s picture.  The cost of having the dress made would be their only cost.  They could wear any style of shoe they wanted as long as the color was black.   Two made their own dresses; the others had someone make theirs for them.  The most any of them spent was sixty dollars.  Most of them asked to pay my wife the cost of the fabric and buttons.  That came to about twenty-five dollars.  The dresses all looked alike as they were of the same design, yet each was unique in its tailoring so that it truly fit the woman wearing it.  The women all looked beautiful and none outshone another in the pictures.  All of them wore their dresses many times after the wedding as the dresses looked like business/church attire rather than formal or wedding party gowns.    All six thanked my wife for her thoughtfulness.



I recently went to the most meaningful, fun, and altogether perfect wedding I have ever been to. The bride and groom were friends from our church. They were considerate of their guests, loving toward each other, and made the wedding a celebration of their union, not a show-off gift grab. Some of the things that they did:

-They had a lot of out of town guests. To give them information, they set up a website, listing hotels in the area. In addition, several of their friends offered to put people up in their homes if the guests could not afford a hotel. They also had lists of things to do in town, and tips for getting around Boston (not an easy feat sometimes).

-On their website, they explained that they wanted people to celebrate with them, not buy them things. But they also said that they understand that some people don't feel comfortable without buying a wedding gift. So they made a list of 4 charities they support, and strongly suggested that a perfect wedding gift would be a donation in their honor. They also had a modest, practical gift registry from Sears, for the diehards. I was more than happy to make a donation to the Red Cross for hurricane relief in their honor.

-The wedding was going to be held at our church, after which they bussed guests to Boston Harbor, then on to a chartered ferry over to one of the Boston Harbor Islands for the reception. They told people "dress as if you were going to a church picnic, or feel free to change when you get to the island". In other words, they took care of all the transportation, and gave people permission to get into comfy clothes ASAP.

-Children were welcomed and encouraged. The reception was in a large tent outdoors, and a nearby pavilion was stocked with balls, bubbles, and Frisbees for the kids.

-The bride wore a simple white wedding gown, the groom wore his best suit. The best man was the groom's sister. The man of honor was the bride's brother. They had about 8 other 'honor attendants', all very close friends and relatives, all dressed in nice clothes that they already owned. The flowers were beautiful, but simple - sunflowers and other bright cheery things.

-In lieu of favors, a donation was made to Outward Bound. The food was a simple, yet very tasty, outdoor barbecue buffet, with plenty of vegetarian and non-vegetarian food, an open bar, and a large (delicious) sheet cake instead of the traditional tiered cake.

-Other than the first dance, there were no other special dances. Everyone just had a good time, and the DJ played whatever people wanted to hear.

-The piece de resistance was the kickball game. I have never seen someone play kickball in a wedding gown before. She got a home run! It was an absolute blast, and everyone either joined in or laughed themselves silly watching.

The bride and groom were gracious, happy, and concerned about their guests. Even had mosquito repellent available, due to the outdoor nature of the party. I have never seen such a moving ceremony, nor have I ever had such a relaxed time at a wedding. Cheers and long life to the perfect couple!


Do you know a wonderful bride and groom who should be immortalized for their graciousness?  Send us the story and be sure to put "Perfect Bride" in the email subject line. Include a photograph if you want.

Page Last Updated May 18, 2007