A Wedding Planning Lesson from Gorillas

Posted by rnewton on Aug 16, 2011

Before getting to the gorillas, I want to talk about your discerning taste, and why, sometimes, “just good enough” is a very noble goal.  In this case, you want to ignore all the times your parents and teachers implored that you accept nothing less than excellence.

Chances are that when you start assembling your vendors – site, music, photography and others – you will look for perfection.  Windows with serene views of perfect gardens, masterfully seasoned sauces, exquisite linens, fashion quality photography and more.  And you will notice anything that does not conform.

I am going to tell you that it doesn’t matter, or certainly not as much as you may think it does.  It matters even less if you have a budget; perfection comes at a cost and “more perfect” is “more expensive.”

A few years ago some very smart guys, Daniel Simons and Christopher Chabris, performed an experiment.  They did it while at Harvard’s psychology department, a school where, somewhat ironically, “nothing less than excellence” is not a goal, it’s the starting point.

Here’s what they did: they asked a group to watch a video of people passing basketballs.  They also asked this group to count the passes.  Midway through the video a gorilla walks onto the center of the court, pounds his chest and walks off.   They then asked the spectators if they noticed anything unusual.  Amazingly, 50% never noticed the gorilla.

What this means is very simple: people won’t notice “flaws,” especially when distracted by the joy of the occasion.  So when you plan your wedding, instead of thinking of how to get around the flaws, think of how to create laughter and happiness.  That too is a noble goal.

BTW, if you are curious about this topic, aka perceptual blindness, you should check out Simons and Chabris’ website, www.theinvisiblegorilla.com, which also includes links to buy their book.  It’s really fascinating stuff.