How We Used Applied Improv at Our Wedding

On March 11th, my wife, Krista Simonis, and I revealed our elopement with a reception of family and friends. Putting together a wedding reception is stressful enough, but one where you are already secretly married is doubly so. At least at first.

As improvisers and applied improv trainers, we realized it was time to take our own advice while planning this event. We followed our LASER method of applied improv: Listening, Accepting, Supporting, Embracing Opportunity, and Releasing Mistakes.

Applied improv skills helped in our planning a wedding.

We found that most of our stressors were being caused by us not listening fully to one another or those helping us. We also felt as though we weren’t being heard either. Once we sat down and actually fully listened to one another utilizing the exercise of Repeater, an applied improv exercise where you must repeat back the last few words of the previous speaker, we realized that we were essentially saying the same thing. This happens frequently when we focus on what we are saying to realize it was just semantics.

Once we got past this barrier, we started to accept each other’s ideas. We did this through the classic improv rule of “yes, and.” Taking someone else’s idea, accepting, and building upon it led to some great moments at our reception. With everything from the selection of the food to our first dance, (where we commented on the whole idea of weddings while everyone could hear us “So they’re just gonna sit there this whole time and watch us? This song is like 3 minutes!”). These moments came about through us accepting and building upon and were memorable not just for us, but those in attendance.

Marriage is built on the support of each other and those around you.

A marriage is built on the support of not just the couple but those around them. With the support of our closest friends and family, we worked to make our efforts and accomplishments look as great as possible. And it showed.

We embraced opportunities given to us by deciding not to purchase desserts. In applied improv, we teach how if people are given an opportunity to contribute, then the process excels. We invited people to bring their own desserts and ended up with everything from dragonfruit to a traditional wedding cake, all provided by our friends and family. This enabled the opportunity for others to participate in our special day, and us to enjoy a literal room full of sweets.

Mistakes are to be learned from and laughed at in the future.

Lastly, we released mistakes. Problems happened. We had a broken cotton candy machine. We ran out of plates. But at the end of the day, none of it mattered. What did was being together with our friends and family. Celebrating our decision to spend the rest of our life together. Applied improv has taught us that mistakes are to be learned from and laughed at in the future. That’s how we grow.

Applied Improv is not just for the corporate world, or the stage, but for life’s ventures as well. Time Magazine, Forbes, and Entrepreneur have all written and published articles about the positive role applied improv can have in the workplace and the home. It leads to success in business, and, as we found out, wedding receptions.

About the author:

Matthew Russell, CAI-SP, is the Creative Director and Applied Improv Trainer for The Fresnel Theater & CSz Maine. He is married to Krista Simonis, his business partner, and fellow trainer. Together they live in South Portland, ME with their two cats Bitsy and Jerry.