I’ve been a bride. Done that. Bought a t-shirt. There were a ton of surprises on my big day. But honestly, I felt like there were a few pieces of advice that I would have liked to have prior. Everyone’s wedding will have their own little quirks and each experience will be unique, but in my opinion… Every bride should take the following tips to heart when planning their big day. So here goes, in no real order of importance…
- Sure, you’ve got a list of everything you need to bring on your wedding day, BUT… Make a list also for things you want to bring BACK from your wedding.
You probably spent hours on your own crafts! Those custom programs took forever? Did you make your own photobooth (trust me, it’s easier to just rent one!!)? Did you make ornate decorations with your bare hands that you would like to put in your home? Seriously… You'd be amazed at what people leave on site and forget to collect, simply because they think someone else will grab them. Trust me, in most cases, they won’t. By the time you get back from your honeymoon, the venue may have thrown them out!
The best way to prevent this is to not only give your bridal party a list of things you must have back from the venue, but make sure the venue coordinator has a list of this as well. That way, if anything gets lost in the shuffle your venue coordinator will know to hang onto it for you until you get back from honeymoon, or can make other arrangements for delivery.
- While you definitely want to carve out some time on your wedding day for just you and your new hubby. It’s incredibly important for you to simply take a moment COMPLETELY ALONE.
One of the things I found during my big day was that from 7am I had no time to myself. Now I loved everyone that I spent time with the entire day, but it really does make it a blur because you are the center of attention for the whole day! That’s exhausting. Several times, I wanted to walk away from everyone and just take a moment to breathe… no cell phone, no questions, no talking. Fortunately, I did grab a moment where I snuck away and asked my bridesmaids to guard the door for me while I stood on the balcony of my wedding venue totally alone. At the time, I didn’t realize how much that would mean to me. I was dressed up in my beautiful dress, breathing in the cool, crisp air. My last few moments alone as a single woman. The day slowed down and a calm came over me.
- Which brings me to assigning a buffer…
When guests arrive to the wedding, they want to find you and talk to you. Some of these will be very quick convos, others… They want to talk for 20 minutes. You have TONS to do once the festivities start though. My best friend took it upon herself to ensure that I didn’t let the side convos distract me from staying on schedule because she knew I’d have a hard time not talking to people that took time out of their evening for my big day. Looking back, that helped so much! She knew there were important pictures I had to take by certain times. While we walked to go cut the cake, she grabbed my hand and just kept pulling me. When walking through a crowded room of people waiting to talk to you, your buffer will look like the rude one. Later I told people, “Sorry about that earlier. She was helping my photographer stay on schedule.”
- If you find yourself freaking out a little, do something more "normal."
Yes, I had my awesome shoes, my awesome dress, and every decoration that made me and hubby happy. It was most certainly Our Party. However, there were moments were I felt a little distant from everything. Like I was watching a wedding happen, but it wasn’t mine. I reached a real turning point in the evening when I was tired of feeling like someone other than myself. I put down the champagne and grabbed a beer instead and found a friend who was pumping milk in the backroom. We sat and talked for ten minutes and she told me all about her new baby.
It was such a relief to not talk about me, the wedding or our hopes for the future. Having those ten minutes to sit in the back corner, drink a beer and chatter on about nothing at all really helped me feel more like myself again. If you have a friend who doesn't feel obligated to only talk about your wedding, spending a little time with them could be a welcome break!
- Brief your key speakers/celebrants on anything they need to know about your guests.
In my experience with shooting weddings, I learned that it’s important to let your DJ and other speakers know about your guests. I prepped my DJ on certain edits of songs and to also not take requests from people (some people we know have a tendency to request AWFUL party-killing songs). Our DJ handled it like a pro.
- Don’t be scared to hand out a detailed schedule/agenda/to-do list to your wedding party.
I felt (and I’m sure I came across) super OCD as I handed my wedding party a very lengthy itinerary for the wedding day plus a to-do/reminder list of everything they committed to bringing the following day. I even highlighted parts of the schedule that pertained to the person that received the list so they could easily identify important information. At the top of the paper it said, “If you have any questions the day of the wedding, here are important numbers you should call. If this list doesn’t tell you what you need to know, call these people. Ryan and I will not have our phones on us.” While everyone made fun of me that night, after the wedding, they thanked me. Before they left for the venue that morning, they knew everything they had to do/bring and there was no question about what time they needed to arrive and also be ready.
- When it's all over, remember to thank your vendors… publicly.
I can’t believe the incredible amount of effort my vendors put in for my day. They took my random thoughts, and brought it all to life. After the wedding I wrote each one an incredibly detailed thank you as I wanted them to be able to use my comments as a testimonial to share with other brides and grooms.
If you really love your vendor, one of the greatest gifts you can give them is not just a letter of profuse thanks, but to also take it upon yourself to find a public site that rates said vendor and write something that could sway couples to call that company. I know it's not really in our job descriptions to act as their marketing departments. But as so many of them went out of their way for me, I am genuinely moved to want to make a difference to their business.
- Have a registry? DON'T write thank you letters in advance.
You've probably guessed by now that I'm a Type A personality. And when I read an online suggestion to write thank you letters in advance as guests start to buy gifts or make donations, I jumped at the idea. So precise, so organised! And I would be able to express my thanks without suffering perhaps quite as much letter fatigue as someone who wrote them all in one go (i.e. after the wedding).
What I found through the planning process is what everyone else here has found. That it is inevitable we will need colossal amounts of help before everything is over. And until it's all over you really can't get your head around who has helped you in ways that really need to be acknowledged more than the toaster you may receive.
I ended up rewriting the thank you letters because they didn’t feel personal anymore. I just paced it out and wrote 10 a day.
Right, so those are the things I wish I’d known on my wedding day. Hope this helps all you future brides out there!