Your wedding day is supposed to be perfect. We spend so long preparing and refining, and then if something doesn’t go quite according to plan it can be heartbreaking. Yes, of course we should get a grip and a little perspective – after all, there are some unfortunate brides who are unable to afford the designer dress and shoes and are forced to choose between the two. I jest, of course; some can’t stretch to either. Boom boom. But forewarned is forearmed, so I thought I’d share the things I wish I’d known whilst planning my wedding.
Things I Wish I’d Known Whilst Planning My Wedding
In all seriousness, we are very privileged to be in a position whereby a small flaw on our wedding day is our greatest concern – there are far bigger problems in life (see my post about one of the more serious issues facing some brides here). That said, with the benefit of hindsight, I appreciate there are several issues that had I foreseen, I may have handled differently.
So here are my pearls of wisdom for those of you that can still benefit:
1. Be Discerning About Where You Make Savings
As with all brides and grooms, as we went over our budget for the umpteenth time, we desperately tried to look for areas in which we could be a little less frivolous and a little more frugal. In some, we chose to be totally ruthless: free bar? Er, if you want to get battered at our soirée, you can fund it yourself, Mate.
We got married on a Thursday. In fairness, it was the anniversary of the day we met four years previously, so there was more than just penny-pinching involved in the decision. Unfortunately, what this essentially meant is that many of our guests were gone by 9pm: you may be worth taking one day off work but, in my experience, only parents, siblings, and one or two very special friends will be prepared to stretch beyond that. Yip, even if they have been aware of the date for the better part of a year.
2. Hope for the Best, Plan for the Worst
Ah, this little gem covers a multitude of inconveniences, from mild annoyances through to devastating revelations. My own particular experience (which I have come to terms with, and at this point deem to be so undeserving of my time or care that I cannot bring myself to detail it here – though, I may at some point choose to make it the subject of a future post) was definitely of the latter category. At the time, I thought that my wedding was ruined. Certainly several (extortionate) dinners went to waste. In the event, we had an incredible day with one or two bad apples absent. They are conspicuously missing from family photos and the fallout lasted for a couple of years in one situation, and continues to this day in a second. Things will never quite be the same.
My point? Your wedding day is one of – if not the – most important days of your life. Not so for those around you, possibly not even those you expect to take a lead role. People will disappoint you. Be prepared for that and you may not feel so desperately let down.
And if it does happen to you too, remember: once you are married, you will always have an ally.
I found that helped me to heal.
3. The Morning Will Fly By
Don’t kid yourself that five hours to get ready gives you all the time in the world to take a leisurely bath. I can promise you that you will not find yourself staring at the clock willing it to hurry. That morning will pass in a blur of nervous excitement (hopefully), or (more likely) panic – particularly if the florist is late or you are decorating the tables yourself, etc.
My advice? Delegate, Delegate, Delegate! Don’t be a control-freak Bridezilla – let your bridesmaids/ mum/sister/wedding coordinator help you.
4. You Will Not Have an Appetite
I am not in any way condoning not eating on the morning of your wedding. A champagne breakfast on an empty tummy could prove disastrous: if not because of the increased potential of face-planting in the aisle between your guests (particularly, if like me your grand entrance involves descending a staircase in stilettos), then because the registrars could halt your ceremony if they believe you are drunk.
What I will say is this: an extravagant (read expensive) spread for you and your bridesmaids may be a little overkill when everybody is anxious. That pesky nervous excitement I mentioned earlier will likely put paid to any thought of a rich and fatty fry-up. If you think the party are more likely to nosh down some pastries, perhaps consider a mini champagne afternoon morning tea. Something light is better than nothing at all – and a wasted feast. (By the way, you probably won’t eat much of your much-anticipated, divine wedding breakfast either. So try to force down two of those decadent scones during the morning, Lady!)
I adore our wedding album. However, on the day of our wedding, our photographer was rude to me when I was getting ready. I am generally quite an assertive person, but it was my wedding day and I chose not to create an atmosphere with the person we were paying to capture and immortalise some of our most treasured moments. I wanted to be relaxed and happy in the images, and I think you can see that I was; after the formalities at least – I was a total jibbering wreck during the ceremony itself. Unforgivably, she was rude to many of our guests too.
Given the volume of remarks from various friends and family members following our wedding, and the huge sum of money we paid to the photographer, I wish we had made a complaint. It never seemed like quite the right time to do so, but when you are parting with that sort of cash you expect a certain level of professionalism. Her attitude was not only unprofessional, but impolite and ignorant. I should probably let it go, but in retrospect it makes me a little mad every time I think about how we allowed her to tarnish our day. You shouldn’t ever have to put up with that attitude, but least of all on your wedding day.
My advice here is simply to be satisfied with the service you are receiving and not be afraid to speak up – or get one of your bridal party to do so on your behalf, wink wink – if there is a problem.
6. Venue Kick-Out May be Abrupt
Towards the end of our evening, when we had only half an hour before the DJ was due to finish his set, we were really trying to make the most of the time we had left. We were unexpectedly made aware by the venue that we were required to clear the bridal room and orangery within that last thirty minutes (we had been under the impression that as the accoutrements could be stored at the venue until the following morning, they could also remain in situ). Suddenly, it was panic stations. We missed some guests leaving and felt very rushed. I lost my wedding dress bag in the melee. It was an unfortunate and unanticipated end to the day – not least because we were all a little worse for wear by that time.
To ensure no surprises wherever you are holding your reception, be sure to check ahead of time and have a clear idea of the venue’s protocol and expectations in terms of your departure.
7. Don’t Leave Room for Your Fiancé to Panic
So intent was I on waking up refreshed, that the night before the big day, I went to sleep at a very reasonable time. (I know, right! This still impresses me too!) When I woke up on the morning of our nuptials, I had a lovely text message from my hubby-to-be, which, true to tradition, I did not reply to. I only discovered (after being late to the ceremony as I was being sewn into my dress) that my poor partner was panicking that I had changed my mind and intended to leave him at the altar, so to speak.
Make a plan with your spouse-to-be so that you both know the ‘rules’ of communication on the day. I can’t believe in retrospect that we didn’t have this conversation! If you want to avoid talking on the phone, a romantic alternative could be to have a bridesmaid and the best man swap notes to be passed on to each of you. I wish I had done this to put my man at ease; apparently the expensive engraved watch (and silk leopard print boxers) he received were not sufficient reassurance…
8. You Could Book the Wrong Honeymoon
After all that, no doubt by the end of your big day you will be desperate for some much deserved R&R. We love Italy, and it was a no-brainer for us to go on an amazing cruise around the Med that would take in several places we were yet to visit. (Bonus: it ended in Venice where we got engaged. Less of a bonus: hubby contracted gastroenteritis just in time to be confined to our room as we docked in the most romantic city in the world. Superb.) If you want to get the most out of a cruise, you need to be up and out every day, all day. It was an incredible experience, but by the end of the fortnight I was totally exhausted and ready for a break. Alas, it was time to go back to work.
This is the one occasion in your life when you have carte blanche to splurge on a holiday without the guilts. Perhaps you have a very firm idea of what you want to do or where you want to go. But I urge you to think carefully and do your research…
In spite of these minor issues, I adored my wedding day and honeymoon. In fact, it is the little flaws that make our most enduring memories. So I don’t dwell on these things – and neither should you if one or two things don’t quite go according to plan. That said, I hope that these pointers will help you to achieve your own dream day with as few imperfections as possible. I would like to conclude with a nice apt idiom:
The Serenity Prayer
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
If these pointers of things I wish I’d known whilst planning my wedding helped you, please consider sharing!