On July 13, Will and I will celebrate our one year wedding anniversary. It’s hard to believe that just a few short months ago I was a nervous wreck, trying desperately to drink enough mimosas to calm my nerves…but not so many that I would break out in that blotchy white-girl rash on my chest. I was about to walk down the aisle and straight into my future. Everything was about to change.
I was stressed. I was excited. I was overwhelmed. I was overheating.
When I look back on our wedding day, I can’t help but get a little misty-eyed. Of course I’m biased, but in my humble opinion, our wedding day was sheer perfection. Surrounded by the people we loved most in the world, we said our “I do’s” and became our own small, perfectly imperfect family.
But believe me, the process of planning our wedding was far from perfect. It was incredibly stressful and time consuming. More than once we seriously considered throwing in the towel and heading to the courthouse. Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed and we were able to celebrate the beginning of our life together with our nearest and dearest.
Now as we head in to wedding season once again and make plans to attend the upcoming nuptials of our friends, I can’t help but reminisce. Looking back, I laugh at all the time I spent worrying about centerpieces, invitations and our wedding web site (seriously, no one looks at it) . That is why, as a former bride and basketcase, I have decided to share the ten biggest takeaways from my experience. Each bride is different, so take my advice how you will, just know that I’ve been there and got the t-shirt.
Here goes nothing….
1. Set your budget early. No seriously, set a budget. Even if your wedding will be featured on VH1’s Platinum Weddings, set a budget. Did I mention you should set your budget?
2. Once you know what you can afford, decide what’s most important to you and budget around those items. If you know that you want the entire reception space dripping in roses, understand that it will be a huge cost, and you will have to cut corners somewhere else….and you will probably send a few guests into anaphylactic shock.
3. It’s your day…but it’s his too. I know you’ve heard this a million times, but seriously, don’t forget about the groom. Let him be involved in the planning process. He’ll say he doesn’t care….he does. Ask him what he wants. My hubby had three requirements for our wedding: no pink, open bar, and a say in choosing the cake flavor. Easy enough. Let your groom take ownership of some of the planning, that way he won’t feel like a guest at his own wedding.
Boys will be boys.
3.5 It’s also a day for your families. Everyone and their dog will want to help you plan your big day. And EVERYONE will have an opinion. I am blessed with an incredibly supportive family and in-laws who were nothing short of amazing when it came to helping me plan. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t overwhelmed with trying to find a place for everyone to be involved. If you’re a control freak like me it’s hard to let some of the details pass into other’s hands, but do it anyways. They will be grateful to play a part, and your wedding will be that much more special.
I am so lucky to have these two wonderful women in my life.
4. Don’t pick your bridal party right away. I know the second that rock is on your finger you’ll squeal like a little girl and rush off to tell your best gal (or guy) pals. This is not the time to drop the “will you be my bridesmaid” bomb. Take some time to think about who you really want standing by your side on your big day. And DO NOT under ANY CIRCUMSTANCES ask someone to be a bridesmaid because you think it will heal a friendship/relationship. If you’re not getting along now, chances are that asking her to be in the wedding party will not mend fences. Ask the people you know support your marriage, are genuinely happy for you, and won’t judge you when you have a meltdown trying to pick a cake topper.
My beautiful bridesmaids….I could not imagine my day without each of them there to share it.
5. When the big day arrives, make time for your dad (or whoever will be giving you away). Don’t forget that for the majority of your life, he played the role of leading man. Now, he has to pass that role on to your husband…there’s a reason it’s called giving away the bride. So make some time for him and let him know how much his support and love means to you.
This is a favorite of mine. Such a perfect moment.
6. Stop trying to keep up with the Jones’. Seriously stop. So what if Sally got married in a French castle, or if Suzie gave all of her guests bottles of Dom Perignon? If you want to get married wearing a red, white and blue bikini and drink 40s at your reception, do it! Who cares!? You just do you, boo boo. Stop worrying about trying to out-do everyone else. Make memories, not impressions.
7. Be kind to your wedding party. They are your friends and family, not your personal servants
8. When it comes time for the bachelorette parties and bridal showers, enjoy the moment. At my bridal shower a friend of my mother-in-law turned to me and said, “Enjoy it while you can, it will never happen again.” And she was right. Take advantage of, but never take for granted, the fact that your family and friends love you enough to throw you multiple parties!
My girls killed it on the bridal shower. Boom.
9. When your big day arrives, something WILL go wrong. Let it go and move on, you have better things to worry about….like getting married! Eeeeek!
10. Never forget what it all means. You are having a wedding to get married, not getting married to have a wedding. So many brides get caught up in the details that they lose sight of what really matters. And at the end of the day, all that really matters is the love between two people who have decided to spend the rest of their forever together.
Mr. & Mrs. McMartin
I honestly could add about 20 more thoughts to this list, but for my own sanity I will stop here. If you’re planning a wedding, don’t forget to enjoy the process, these will be your very first memories as a married couple, so make them special.
And remember, the joy is in the journey…
Until next time friends,