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0939 Planning a Wedding

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Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 939 – Planning a Wedding.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 939. I'm your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

Our website is ESLPod.com. If you want a Learning Guide for this episode, become a member of ESL Podcast by going to our website.

This episode is a dialogue between Seamus and Cathy about getting married. Let's get started.

[start of dialogue]

Seamus: What’s that?

Cathy: It’s a planning book for our wedding.

Seamus: We aren’t getting married for a year and a half.

Cathy: I know, but there are so many things to plan. We have to book the hall far in advance, you know, and once we set the date, we have to send out save-the-date notifications to our friends and family.

Seamus: I thought that the point of putting off the wedding until we finish school is to take the pressure off and allow us time to plan – later.

Cathy: It is, but it’s never too early to start planning for a wedding. I’m meeting with a wedding coordinator next week to get the ball rolling.

Seamus: A wedding coordinator?! We don’t need a wedding coordinator. We can make all of the arrangements ourselves.

Cathy: You have no idea what goes into pulling off a wedding and reception. There are caterers, photographers and videographers, entertainers, ice sculptors, animal trainers (you know, for the swans and the doves), and . . .

Seamus: Are you serious?! You’re not planning a wedding. You’re starting a circus!

[end of dialogue]

Our dialogue begins with Seamus asking Cathy, “What's that?” Cathy says, “It's a planning book for our wedding.” A “wedding” is when two people get married. It's the ceremony in which two people get married. They promise, usually, to be with the other person until they die. Of course, a lot of them are lying because they don't stay with the person until they die, but that's the idea anyway. That's what you are thinking when you get married, and you get married in a ceremony called your “wedding.”

Seamus says, “We aren’t getting married for a year and a half.” Seamus is saying that they are still 18 months away from the actual wedding. He's a little surprised, I think, that Cathy is already planning the wedding. Cathy says, “I know, but there are so many things to plan. We have to book the hall far in advance.” “To book” means to reserve, to make a reservation. The “hall” (hall) refers to the place where the wedding reception will take place.

The word “reception” means, basically, the party – the celebration that will happen after the wedding. We call that the “wedding reception.” We do not call it the wedding party, because the “wedding party” refers to the people . . . the bride, the groom – the woman and man getting married – and the other people who are in their wedding, who are their close friends or family members, typically. Cathy says that they have to book the hall “far in advance.” The phrase “far in advance” means long before something happens, well before the actual date that this event will take place. Cathy says they “have to book the hall far in advance.”

She also says, “Once we set the date, we have to send out save-the-date notifications to our friends and family.” “To set (set) the date” means to select or determine the exact date that you are going to get married. “We're going to get married on June 23rd. That's the day we will get married.” That is “setting the date.” You can set the date for any important event. You can set the date for the beginning of a new project in your company.

It's common in the United States, when two people decide to get married, to tell their friends and family as soon as they have set the date. They do this so that their friends and family can “save the date.” “To save a date” means to put it on your calendar and not plan anything else because you want to go to this event. “To save the date” means to leave that date free so that you can attend, in this case, the wedding. A “notification” is either a letter or an email or some way of communicating news to you. “Save-the-date notifications” are often sent out as little postcards, although nowadays I guess you would send an email to tell people the day that you are getting married so that they will be able to save the date.

Seamus says, “I thought that the point of putting off the wedding until we finish school is to take the pressure off and allow us time to plan – later.” Seamus is explaining why he's a little surprised that Cathy wants to start planning the wedding. He says, “I thought the point of putting off the wedding until we finish school is to take the pressure off.” The “point” here means the purpose, the reason for doing something. Seamus is saying that I thought the reason we were putting off the wedding was to take the pressure off. “To put off” something means to delay it, to decide you're going to do it at a later date.

“To take the pressure off” means to do something that will make a situation less stressful, perhaps by making it at a later date so you have more time to do whatever it is that is causing you stress. Seamus and Cathy apparently decided that they would finish school – perhaps they are college students – before getting married. That's why they put off the wedding until after they finish school. This was done to take the pressure off of them – to make the situation less stressful, so they don't have to worry about studying for school and planning for their wedding.

Cathy says, “It is,” meaning that is the reason why we put off the wedding, “but it's never too early to start planning for a wedding.” Cathy says, “I'm meeting with a wedding coordinator next week to get the ball rolling.” A “wedding coordinator” is a person whose job is to help other people plan their weddings. Some people hire a wedding coordinator to help them find out which hall they should book, which caterer they should use. A “caterer” is a person who provides the food for an event such as a wedding and so forth. I did not have a wedding coordinator. My wedding coordinator was my now wife.

However, some people who have more money may actually hire someone to help them plan their wedding. The word “coordinator” comes from the verb “to coordinate,” which means to organize things – to make sure that everything is working properly, that everyone is doing the right thing, the thing they're supposed to do. Cathy is meeting with the wedding coordinator next week “to get the ball rolling.” The expression “to get the ball rolling” means to get something started, to make something begin to happen. We often use that expression when we’re talking about a large project, for example.

Seamus says, “A wedding coordinator?!” He's very surprised. “We don't need a wedding coordinator,” he says. “We can make all [of] the arrangements ourselves.” “Arrangements” here means plans. Seamus is saying that they don't need a wedding coordinator. Cathy disagrees. She says, “You have no idea what goes into pulling off a wedding and reception.” “To go into” something here means to be involved in something, to be a requirement for something else to happen.

“To pull off” something or “to pull something off” is a phrasal verb meaning to successfully implement or execute something – to make something happen successfully. That's “to pull off.” We usually use that phrasal verb when it may be very complicated or difficult to be successful at doing something. Cathy says that Seamus has no idea – doesn't know – how difficult it is to pull off a wedding and reception. He has no idea what goes into that planning.

Cathy says, “There are caterers, photographers and videographers, entertainers, ice sculptors, animal trainers (you know, for the swans and the doves), and . . .” And here Seamus interrupts her. Let's go back and explain what she was talking about. She says there are caterers. A “caterer” is the person who makes the food, who prepares the food for the big event, as we mentioned earlier.

A “photographer,” of course, would be someone who takes photographs, pictures. A “videographer” would be someone who makes a movie of your event. Nowadays, it's very popular for people to hire someone to make a little movie about their wedding. I never had this, but I got married, I guess, before this became popular. “Entertainers” are people who sing or dance or do something to entertain or to keep people happy at a large event.

“Ice sculptors” are people who make little figures or statues out of ice. For some reason, at American weddings it’s very popular, at least in some places, for people to get a sculpture made out of ice, usually in the shape of some animal, and use that in the wedding reception. Usually it's placed near the food. When my oldest brother got married – this was back in the early 1970s – he and his wife had someone make a swan, which is a kind of animal. They hired an ice sculptor to make this figure out of ice.

“Animal trainers” are people who make animals behave or make animals perform tricks, I suppose. “Swans,” we mentioned, refers to a type of bird. “Doves” are another type of bird. Cathy is saying, I guess, that she wants to have actual animals at her wedding. That is not typical. That is not usual or normal. Having someone make an ice sculpture for you is not that unusual, but certainly having animals at your wedding (other than perhaps your in-laws – the relatives of your spouse, of the person you are marrying) is not typical, is not common.

Seamus says, “Are you serious?! You're not planning a wedding. You're starting a circus!” A “circus” (circus) is a kind of entertainment. It's basically a large show that involves a lot of animals and animals doing tricks, that sort of thing. Seamus is very surprised that Cathy is mentioning having animals at the wedding, and he should be surprised because that is a very strange thing. Maybe Seamus should think again about marrying Cathy.

Now let's listen to the dialogue, this time at a normal speed.

[start of dialogue]

Seamus: What’s that?

Cathy: It’s a planning book for our wedding.

Seamus: We aren’t getting married for a year and a half.

Cathy: I know, but there are so many things to plan. We have to book the hall far in advance, you know, and once we set the date, we have to send out save-the-date notifications to our friends and family.

Seamus: I thought that the point of putting off the wedding until we finish school is to take the pressure off and allow us time to plan – later.

Cathy: It is, but it’s never too early to start planning for a wedding. I’m meeting with a wedding coordinator next week to get the ball rolling.

Seamus: A wedding coordinator?! We don’t need a wedding coordinator. We can make all of the arrangements ourselves.

Cathy: You have no idea what goes into pulling off a wedding and reception. There are caterers, photographers and videographers, entertainers, ice sculptors, animal trainers (you know, for the swans and the doves), and . . .

Seamus: Are you serious?! You’re not planning a wedding. You’re starting a circus!

[end of dialogue]

We’d like to think our scriptwriter – who’s also our script coordinator – Dr. Lucy Tse. Thank you, Lucy.

From Los Angeles, California, I'm Jeff McQuillan. Thank you for listening. Come back and listen to us again right here on ESL Podcast.

English as a Second Language Podcast was written and produced by Dr. Lucy Tse, hosted by Dr. Jeff McQuillan. Copyright 2013 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
wedding – the ceremony in which two people are married; the marriage event

* She dreams of having a large wedding with hundreds of guests, but he would prefer to invite only his close family members.

hall – a large room where an event happens

* Yevgeny and his fiancée visited more than 10 wedding halls before they found one that they both liked.

far in advance – long before something happens; early; with a lot of anticipation

* Pedro is so organized! He always files his taxes far in advance of the deadline.

to set the date – to select the day when a future event will happen

* I hope they set the date soon, so that we can buy our airplane tickets before they become too expensive.

save-the-date notification – written communication that lets people know about a future event so that they can avoid making other plans for that day, usually received before an official invitation

* As soon as we select the date for the next user conference, let’s send save-the-date notifications to everyone who attended last year.

to put off – to delay; to procrastinate; to choose to do something later, not now

* Why did I put off writing that essay until the night before it was due?

to take the pressure off – to do something that makes a situation less stressful, especially by lowering expectations or by extending a deadline

* Selling this house and moving into a less expensive apartment would really take the pressure off of our finances.

wedding coordinator – a person whose job is to help plan other people’s weddings

* The wedding coordinator recommended a wonderful baker for the cake and a talented florist for the flower arrangements.

to get the ball rolling – to get something started; to initiate something; to make something begin to happen

* What can we do to get the ball rolling and show some progress before the next meeting?

to go into (something) – to be involved in something; to be a requirement for something else to happen

* I never realized how much work went into shopping for a house.

reception – a party, usually a formal one, especially one that is held after a wedding or another type of ceremony or event

* The museum is opening an exhibit and holding a reception where we can meet the artist.

caterer – a person whose job is to make food for a large number of people and serve it at special events

* The caterer is cooking a few different things for us to try, and then we’ll pick the one we like best for the actual event.

videographer – a person whose job is to make a film recording of an event

* Each year, the company hires a videographer to records each the presentations at the conference.

ice sculptor – an artist who carves (cuts away small pieces to make a certain shape) large blocks of ice into designs

* Don’t ice sculptors feel sad when their artwork melts?

animal trainer – a person who teaches animals to do certain things or perform certain tricks

* Francoise has worked as an animal trainer for years and he has never been attacked by his lions.

swan – a large, white bird with a long, curving neck that swims on lakes, generally viewed as a symbol of grace and elegance

* We went to the park to feed the ducks and geese, so we were pleasantly surprised when we saw swans instead.

dove – a medium-sized white bird that is viewed as a symbol of peace, especially when shown with the branch of an olive tree in its beak (the mouth of a bird)

* Many Christian churches use a dove a symbol of Jesus Christ.

circus – a type of entertainment provided by a large, traveling group of trained animals, acrobats (people who swing through the air), musicians, and clowns

* The most amazing part of the circus was seeing a bear pedal a bicycle.

Comprehension Questions
1. Why does Seamus want to put off the wedding?
a) Because they need time to save up their money.
b) Because they want to get to know each other better.
c) Because they don’t have time to plan a wedding right now.

2. Who is responsible for making food for an event?
a) Caterers.
b) Videographers.
c) Ice sculptors.

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
hall

The word “hall,” in this podcast, means a large room where an event happens: “We need to find a large hall that can accommodate up to 900 participants for this year’s event.” In a home or office building, a “hall” is a narrow corridor with many doors that lead to other rooms: “The bathroom is down the hall, the second door on the right.” A “mess hall” is a cafeteria, or a place where many people share tables and eat at the same time, especially in the military: “I wish the mess hall served better food!” Finally, “city hall” is the building where the mayor and other representatives of city government work: “If you want to pay your utility bill in person, you can do so on the third floor of city hall.”

dove

In this podcast, the word “dove” means a medium-sized white bird that is viewed as a symbol of peace, especially when shown with the branch of an olive tree in its beak (the mouth of a bird): “It is common for doves to be released after a wedding, when the newly married husband and wife walk out of the church.” As a verb, “dove” is the past tense of “to dive,” or to jump into the water: “Karl dove into the water to rescue the little girl who was drowning.” The verb “to dovetail” means to fit together very nicely, or for two things to complement each other: “That idea dovetails nicely with what Adam proposed last week.” Finally, a “dovetail” is the point where two pieces of wood are fastened together by careful shaping, without using a nail or screw: “Have you seen the beautiful dovetails on this dresser?”

Culture Note
Trendy Weddings

Some people believe that weddings have become too “trendy” (fashionable or popular for a short period of time), with many “over-the-top” (taken to an extreme; exaggerated) “themes” (main ideas of what something should be about and how it should appear). Many “brides” (the women who are getting married) feel “immense” (extreme; very heavy; a lot of something) pressure to make their wedding more “memorable” (easier to remember) than other weddings they have been to, which “escalates” (increases) the trendiness. Often, the pressure “transforms” (changes) a bride into “bridezilla,” or a woman who is so “obsessed” (able to think about only one thing) with her wedding that she performs “irrationally” (in unpredictable, illogical ways) and becomes very unpleasant to be around.

For example, one popular trend is to have a wedding with a “country-western” theme. The ceremony and/or reception might be held in a “barn” (a large building where cows and horses stay on a farm). Guests and even the bride and “groom” (the man who is getting married) might be encouraged to wear “denim” (jean) “overalls” (a type of clothing that have pants and a piece of fabric over the chest and back, with straps over the shoulders), “checked” (fabric with many small squares of color) shirts, “bandanas” (brightly colored pieces of fabric tied around the neck or head), and cowboy boots. The decorations are often “rustic” (old-fashioned) and handmade. For example, many people are now using “canning jars” (glass jars used to preserve food for the winter) as “centerpieces” (decorative objects placed in the middle of a table).

These themed weddings can be fun and entertaining, but if they are “imitated” (copied) too much, people begin to think that they are “overdone” (have been done too many times) and they “turn to” (begin to consider) the next trend.

Comprehension Answers
1 - c

2 - a