At the 1979 Cannes Film festival, 3½ years after initial filming for the movie began, acclaimed film director Francis Ford Coppola premiered his Vietnam War epic, Apocalypse Now. It was a pet project for Coppola, who felt at the time he had earned enough creative capital through his success with The Godfather that he could make the most thought-provoking film of his career. What Coppola wasn’t prepared for was what’s now known as one of longest and most arduous production periods for any film. In a press conference that week in Cannes, in a brief moment of honesty and drama, Coppola described the effort it took to make his vision a reality: “We were in the jungle, there were too many of us, we had access to too much money, too much equipment, and little by little we went insane.”
In getting ready to plan a wedding, I felt no truer words had ever been spoken.
The day after our engagement, Kristin asked, “What colors do you envision for our wedding?” Colors? We don’t need no stinking colors! It felt like something I should have an answer for but didn’t. It was like the pop quiz in junior high or the “logic games and critical thinking” section of the LSAT. Since I hadn’t done the reading the night before, this was going to be more complex than I anticipated.
From conversations with other women, it was deemed a faux pas just to pass the buck to Kristin under the age-old assumption that she had been thinking of this day since she was a little girl. I was advised that it’d be in my best interest for this to be a collaboration.
And I learned very quickly that it should be. Sort of . . . .
The colors question gave me the impression that my input was needed and it’d be good to have a variety of ideas. Because I hadn’t thought about it much, I assumed the best course of action was to improvise. And by improvise I mean I started speaking in a stream-of-consciousness rant about the things I like. Bad idea.
One by one, my contributions were mowed down. Half-baked concepts were buried with statements like “There will not be any Caesar salad at our wedding!” And it continued:
• “No, we will not have a deli slicer at the cocktail hour for made-to-order sub sandwiches.”
• “No, we will not be putting the registry Web sites on the save-the-date cards.”
• “No, Sambuca will not be our signature cocktail. “
• “No, we will not have a tiger at the ceremony or a picture of a tiger on the back of your tuxedo jacket, regardless if the hotel said it was cool and there’s a tailor who said he could do the stitching in a very classy way to make the tiger seem less ferocious. Stop watching My Super Sweet 16, as that does not make for good wedding planning!”
I couldn’t imagine what it must be like for a woman who has been cataloguing for years all the possible combinations of ideas she could involve in her wedding. Not to mention getting the opinion of everyone in the family on how this should play out—from color patterns to dress colors to table runners to flower arrangements to what she will wear to what everyone else will wear. It dawned on me that for women, the problem is exactly the opposite of what it is for guys. They have too much vision, too many opinions, and too many options, because I believe they have seen and remembered everything from every wedding they’ve ever been to.
I think of Kristin like Coppola in this planning process. From a creative standpoint, she’s a mad genius looking to pull together a lifetime of ideas, concepts, and thoughts, with the challenge that any of it could become a reality, which in and of itself is daunting. My ideas serve as the color swatches of futility. I provide her a quick and painless glimpse at what could happen if I was left to plan this on my own. My lack of vision provides her with a clearer view of what she’d actually want on the big day. By having someone there to cover all the bad ideas, it only helps to bring the good ones to the surface.
My role in the planning process is to help prevent the bride from going insane in the jungle.
Read Carl's story from the beginning.