Almost three weeks ago, my husband and I were married.
In my short time to reflect on that day, here are some of my thoughts:
1. When people say, “It will fly,” they mean it. Before you know it, you are leaving the reception. There are multiple people you wish you could have spoken with longer. You are simultaneously exhausted and energized because of the adrenaline of the whole thing.
2. At the end of the day, what matters is that you got married. Everything else is just to celebrate that. I had a couple of really close friends and family members share this with me (more than once) and I am so glad they did.
3. Photographer. Now, I have heard many people say, “Don’t hire your friend as a photographer, go with the professional, you will regret not having the photos you wanted.” To that, I say, “psh.” Daniel and I knew from the beginning that we wanted our friend, Michael, to take our photographs. He has done a couple of photo sessions with us before and aside from the fact we love his photography, we love him! I have heard many people talk about how uncomfortable they felt on their wedding day because they hired someone they didn’t know. Daniel and I couldn’t have felt more comfortable. And, Michael was up for our crazy ideas.
4. Have fun. Whether that means staying up the night before a little later than you thought, or eating great food (regardless of whether or not you will “fit” into the dress), have fun!
5. Think ahead. So many people will be wondering how they can help and what they can do the days leading up to and the day of the wedding. As I have experienced being on both “sides” of that coin, both wanting to help and hearing if there is anything to do, I have two suggestions. First, if you are one that is wanting to help, ask those around the bride if there is anything to do. Usually, they know of, or can find, an answer. Second, if you are the bride and everyone seems to be asking you, remain cool. At that time, it may seem extremely overwhelming that so many people need something to do, but in all reality, they are really trying to show you how much they love you by trying to alleviate any pressure from you. Thankfully, I had women with me who knew how to answer people and not bombard me with questions.
6. Hair. Shoes. Hemming. The necessities. Okay, so I have to admit that the week before the wedding, I didn’t have my hair figured out. Nor did I know what shoes I was going to wear. And, the Monday of the wedding, when my mom and I were going to work on bustling the dress, we realized, oops, we should have had it hemmed. We called up to the Lincoln bridal store (2.5 hours away) to see if they would still take it, and sure enough, they did. So, when I hung up, I packed up, and got in the car. I also realized, in order to hem the dress, I needed shoes. After hours of searching the week before, I finally found some cute ones less than a mile away from the bridal store! Along with that lack of preparation, I was asked the night before the wedding if I had purchased my garter. Also a, “no.” Yet again, I was saved by my maid of honor! She found a beautiful one the day of the wedding. My hair was another fun adventure. In my mind, I knew it would turn out, it just took a little bit longer than any of us were expecting. And thankfully, when I did my own trial run at the beginning of the morning, I had enough honest women in the room to tell me not to keep it that way! As I look at some of the pictures, I just smile because I love how my hair turned out, and I love the story behind it!
7. Go with the flow. Okay, so I have to admit something else. The reception didn’t go “as planned.” Daniel and I worked on this plan that had times marked out on it, so we would get everything in and leave before the ice cream shop down the street closed. However, the plan didn’t happen. We realized, pretty early on, that the “plan” wasn’t going to be such a cookie cutter plan. Thankfully, we had flexible people with us. There were a couple of saves that happened such as:
-cupcake line: after Daniel and I cut the cake, we started handing out the cupcakes to people. We weren’t planning on it, but it turned out splendidly. We were able to talk with people as they walked by, which then allowed us to feel as though we saw everyone.
-MC (emcee): one of my former roommates had DJ-ed a wedding before, which I found out the week of, or week before, the wedding. Daniel and I used this to the max at the reception. We had already planned on having some friends introduce various aspects of the wedding, but the little details we didn’t think through, we dropped on her the last minute. She flew with it, and helped everything flow together beautifully. Without her willingness and ability, I think the reception would have been a bit more stressful!
-pictures: we decided to wait to see each other until the ceremony, which left some pictures for after the ceremony/during the reception. Our photographer stole us away for 5 minutes of the reception, and I am so glad he did! At the time, I was a little stressed, and wanted to hurry back to the reception. The other day, I told one of my bridesmaids about this, and she said, “I didn’t even know you left!” So, though everyone says things like, “all eyes are on you,” or, “it’s your big day,” really, you can take a breather and do spontaneous things like steal the flowers from the entry table of the reception and go take pictures!
8. Pictures before, pictures after? I just alluded to the fact that Daniel and I decided to wait to see each other until the wedding. The truth is, he waited to see me. I was able to see him. We used the matron of honor’s father’s tie as the blindfold while taking pictures. I know people have differing opinions on this topic, so all I can speak of is our experience. I was so surprised that Daniel didn’t even try to sneak a peak during pictures. We still took pictures with bridesmaids alone, groomsmen alone, families, etc. so we could get a lot out of the way before the pre-reception pictures. I have heard many people say one of the advantages of taking pictures together before the wedding is so the couple can have a little bit of alone time during the day. I think I understand why this could be some extremely valuable time, but at the same time, I wouldn’t change how we structured our plan. We were able to have a lot of fun together and get some great (and goofy) pictures. This is such a couple by couple decision, that a blanket statement made by many just doesn’t help.
9. DJ/no DJ? For our wedding reception, things didn’t go as planned (as previously noted), but they were still a lot of fun. We expected people to dance a bit more, and people did, but we also had a lot of people sitting around tables, talking. I loved this about our reception. Daniel was in charge of the music, and he did a great job with making a playlist that we didn’t really hear most of (so, he eventually burned so we could actually listen to it on the drive back to Chicago). The week of the wedding, the music aspect got a little, well, stressful, to the point that we wished we would have just hired a DJ. Looking at it now, I wouldn’t have changed it. We danced a little with people, but we primarily spent time talking or goofing off. We had a blast.
10. Customize it. Daniel and I are both musicians and have musically talented friends. During the reception, we both sang two songs, which was so much fun. We sang to each other, and just had fun with it. This example is just one of the ways that we chose to customize the wedding day to ourselves. There were definitely aspects that we didn’t feel needed explained 100%, because we weren’t overly concerned about them. Then, there were other parts that we deeply cared about. All that being said, a tip of advice is, know what you want to have done a certain way, and leave the rest in trusting hands. My maid of honor put in so much work on the invites and programs. She created something we both fell in love with. Also, my sister-in-law is an amazing wedding planner and designer, so she took care of the design aspect of the reception and ceremony.
I could elaborate more but for now this is all I have.