I got married almost two months ago. It truly was one of the best days of my entire life. Everything looked beautiful, everyone looked beautiful and the day felt like pure magic. Or at least what I can remember of the day because when people say it flies by, it REALLY does. In the morning, it felt like hours until I would be in my dress and walking down the aisle and then BOOM it was there and I was being sewn into my dress by my trusty bridesman who is crafty with a needle and thread in emergency situations (and in all situations actually).
I learned a lot planning our wedding and I wanted to write a blog about what I got from the experience because a lot of my education on how to plan this event came from other blogs and people’s stories of their own day. This is by no means a YOU HAVE TO DO THIS guide but more of a THIS IS WHAT I DISCOVERED AND MAY HELP YOU guide. So…here it goes.
1. Pick the right people to be in your wedding party
This is an easy and fairly obvious one. But seriously, really think about who you want next to you and who will be there in a pinch. My dress needed a hook and eye at the top because it was strapless and the woman who altered it put one in. SOMEHOW it came off. My mother noticed this as I was putting on my dress quickly because our photographer had been late and we needed to get ready to have my dad see me and then our first look. She had brought emergency needle and thread because she’s the best and her mom instincts were on high. She was nervous about fixing it, as any one would be, so I quickly caught my bridesman, Matt’s, eye and he just knew what I needed. He swooped in and skillfully and quickly sewed the hook back together so I didn’t flash everyone at the reception.
While this was happening, Alia and Bethany stood patiently besides me and my brother came up, put his hands on my shoulders, and just looked at me and without words said it would all be ok. My aunts were there, asking if I was ok, telling me to breathe. Without that team there, I’m not sure if the tears would have been kept at bay.
About 17 minutes before the ceremony, I had gotten too hot and was on the verge of one of my lovely panic attacks. All the guests were arriving and pictures seemed to be completed so I said I had to go upstairs. Up there, I had a Cristina Yang Grey’s Anatomy moment where I just begged to have someone take my dress off. It was too tight and I was sweating and couldn’t get a good breath in. Once unzipped, I still felt panicked and anxious and I hadn’t eaten enough all day (as most brides do). I had Bethany and Alia there, my mom, Matt, and Elena, who was our officiant. Elena sat next to me and said soothing words and hummed softly. My mom helped me into a cooler room and pulled my skirt up so my legs were free. She then asked if I need my dad. I said yes and he came up and everyone but him and Matt left the room. My dad, always calm, always cool, tried to make me laugh and realize I was going to be ok. Matt got to use the “It’s for the bride” line when he went to get me a Coke to raise my blood sugar and give me a little boost. It worked and I was downstairs and out that door, ready to get married.
Honorable mentions: My friends threw me the best bachelorette party of all time. It was exactly what I wanted and I spent two days in a literal Neverland.
Bethany also gave me the best bridal shower I could have imagined. Alice and Wonderland themed tea party, complete with hats and croquet! I have never felt so special or seen my mom have so much fun until my actual wedding day. Bethany and Barb, her mom, put it all together and made it so perfect and fun and I wish I could relive that party over and over. Sometimes I do!
2. Don’t buy wedding magazines
This being said, wedding magazines are a BLAST to look through. I bought a ton and my mom did as well. I torn out pictures of dresses I liked and we marked venues we wanted to visit. However, the majority of my research was online. There are so many sources for dresses, shoes, hair, makeup, venues, catering, etc online FOR FREE. Sadly, the wedding magazine seems almost overkill. With a Pinterest board and the Knot’s planning tools, you can find everything on their sites without every cracking open an issue. I won’t say they are a waste of money but if you wanna save some cash somewhere, that would be the place.
3. Let people help you
This was a big one for me. I was insistent on doing everything myself. That was dumb. God bless Donna Riendeau for stepping in and being the best at everything. Her and my dad did all our favors and thank the universe they did because I have no idea how they all would have fit in our apartment and the chocolates we had would have melted. She also helped me brainstorm ideas for everything and was a touchstone when things when wrong or I was lost in a sea of guest lists and table assignments. Matt did so much of the artwork we featured in our wedding, including our Save the Date. The rest of my wedding party was there for whatever I needed, which wasn’t much, but it was incredible that they kept asking even when I would say I was set.
3.1 Use your friends talents
Alongside letting people help you, ask your friends to help when they have special skills. Matt helped with the artistic aspect of the wedding. My mother did the organizing. Our friends Rachel and Ben were our videographers as their gift to us as they embark on filming weddings as a business. Our groomsman Brian knows calligraphy so he did all our invitation addresses. They were all compensated, of course, in booze or accommodations at the venue but it ended up saving a ton of money and had a personal touch to everything.
4. EAT and hydrate
I hydrated. But I did not eat. I have trouble eating when I am nervous or stressed or anxious or alive. I had a bagel, coffee, and watermelon all day until the cocktail hour. Then I barely ate at the cocktail hour because I was reeling after getting married and was still hot and slowly being suffocated by my dress. I did, fortunately, have time to eat at the reception which I have read and heard you don’t really have time for. That food was delicious and plentiful and I felt much better after getting something solid in me. It fueled my dancing for the rest of the night.
5. Don’t bother with a long engagement
We were engaged for two years. We had planned it this way and wanted plenty of time to figure out what we wanted to do and where we want to do it. We didn’t start until a year and a half out and we just looked at venues and I started seeking dresses. Once we found our venue, it was still a little early to really plan. The venue, Mountain View Manor, was awesome and included most of our vendors like the cake and food so we didn’t have to go looking for that. You can’t really plan anything until 6 months before the wedding. Obviously you have to get your vendors before that, like music and photography because they can book out fast (we learned this with photography) but invitations and guest lists and favors and all that happens so close to the wedding, my head was spinning even though I had two years to think it all through. I still had deadlines and decisions and sending everything out and getting everything back and organizing and it all happened in the last few months before our big day. Honestly, it didn’t matter how much time we gave ourselves. Everything is done right before the wedding no matter what because that’s just how it works. So I guess I could be married for two years instead of two months at this point.
6. Plan a honeymoon a while after the wedding
How do people gallivant around Europe after a wedding??? Or anywhere for that matter? We were beyond exhausted the day after. I felt like I had been in a washing machine on a spin cycle. My stomach hurt from dancing in my heavy, tight dress. When Katy Perry says you feel like a plastic bag blowing through the wind? Yeah, that was me post wedding. We took a mini moon, which is all the rage these days, to a bed and breakfast an hour outside Manhattan. It was perfect. We checked in and took a four hour nap. And then went wine tasting and bowling. Our big honeymoon is in December and is two weeks and we will be rested and ready for it when it comes. More power to you if you go right away, but I know for me, I would have been dead the first two days of any trip which I guess works if it’s on a beach.
7. Screw tradition
I gave up on a lot of traditional wedding things and I’m happier for it. Lincoln and I slept in the same bed the night before the wedding because we sleep badly without each other. We did a first look (also all the rage) which helped to get the ugly crying out before we were in front of everyone and was super special to us. We had both girls and guys on our sides. My brother was with me and Lincoln’s sister was with him instead of the other way around. I didn’t throw a bouquet. We didn’t do a garter. I feel when planning your wedding, stick to what you want and what makes it about you and your partner. We aren’t religious, so we didn’t have any prayers though we believe in stories and fairy tales and we had a Greek myth in our ceremony. Our Save the Dates were creative and unique and very us and not a cookie cutter photoshoot. I’m proud of that. We also didn’t have a guest book. We had our guests write us wishes. And we got gems like this from a staff member at the venue so I think we made a good call.
8. Keep your beauty regimen the same
Every wedding blog or magazine will tell you to start getting facials and hair treatments and lip injections and who knows what else. I got a facial. I had never had one before and I got a Groupon for a local spot and decided “Why not?” Well. I didn’t notice a difference. It felt amazing and I talked to the technician (they have a name and I don’t know what it is) about my skin and she was sort of helpful. But the next day, my skin was the same. And for the next week, it was also the same. It felt really clean afterwards and that was kind of it. My skin has always been pretty decent and I wrecked it trying new products and masks and all sorts of things I was experimenting with. I found that if I just stuck to my normal facial wash and moisturizer, my skin was great. I do agree with the idea that a wedding can inspire you to get fit and healthy and maybe some brides do learn new tricks that help their skin. But you don’t have to start getting $95 facials to be beautiful. If you already love how your skin or nails look, just keep it the same. I started drinking more water and taking vitamins. I kept getting manicures like usual and worked out a little more. I don’t think it should cost a fortune to feel beautiful on your wedding day. Most likely you already are and messing up your usual routine can screw with your body. Don’t get crazy just because there will be 3000 pictures of your face! Oh…that probably didn’t make it better…
9. Pick doable DIY projects
We lucked out and picked simple, cheap, and easy DIY portions of our wedding. I had found a lot of more complicated and expensive ones and slowly I realized I am not as crafty as I seem. Know your limits. If you are great at cutting out precise shapes from thick paper or knitting or decoupaging, go big. But I knew I wasn’t very artistic so I chose printing pictures of book covers and putting them in frames for our table numbers. It is not a time to challenge yourself!
10. Choose great vendors
DO YOUR RESEARCH! The internet is there so you can read about every thing any one has ever done! Look up the reviews for your vendors and make sure they are all positive before signing anything. Even if they have negative reviews, pick them apart a little and figure out if maybe it was a specific circumstance and not the general opinion of all their clients. Interview them. We lucked out with Mountain View and their incredible vendors. They met with each of us and loved our ideas. We were very clear about our theme and what we wanted it to look like and be and they went above and beyond with our expectations. Keep in contact with them, too. Sometimes vendors get overwhelmed during busy wedding season and you don’t want your plans to get lost in the shuffle somewhere or put off until the last minute. Most vendors will be grateful you were on top of everything. Make friends with them. They are your people making your wedding dreams come true and they want it to be perfect like you do.
11. The rehearsal dinner is the most fun
I had the best damn time at my rehearsal dinner. So many of our people were there and more arrived after the actual dinner. We sat out on the porch of the venue and drank beer and goofed off and it was one of my favorite parts of the entire weekend. I felt ready and excited finally after the months of anticipation and stress and my mantra of “Don’t die, you’re getting married!” No one expects anything from a rehearsal dinner besides good food and a practice of the ceremony. It’s a great time to dress up, have some booze, and relax because you made it and it’s all happening and there isn’t anything else you can do besides get in that dress and get down that aisle the next day. Lincoln and I took a moment outside before we went to sleep to just be with each other and breathe because we knew the next day we wouldn’t have much time for private moments.
12. Try and remember the day
I know everyone says this and it’s near impossible because everything goes by so fast. I do remember moments of the day and those are what will stay with me always. Treasure those moments and realize what they are when you can. For me, it was little things like my mom, looking beautiful, coming in the room and asking what shoes she should wear and all us unanimously deciding the sparkly ones. My aunts being in the bridal suite, laughing, all somehow wearing my wedding colors without even knowing. Seeing my dad for the first time in my dress. Seeing my wedding party all dressed and looking amazing and better than I pictured. Seeing Lincoln in his tux and his face when he saw me and scolding me for looking so beautiful and perfect. Catching Elena’s eye at the ceremony and almost losing our shit. Alex, Matt’s boyfriend, crying every time he saw me. Everyone’s speeches at the rehearsal and the reception. Dancing with Bethany and Alia to Britney Spears terribly as we tried to remember our choreographed dance. All the dancing. ALL THE DANCING. Looking up and just seeing everyone who was there and feeling like the most special girl in the whole wide world. It’s hard to remember because so much happens so fast but you will and it will be your happy thought if the day gets dark.
Venue: Mountain View Manor
Cake: Elliegant Cake Design
Flowers: Floral Cottage
Makeup: Marcie Haas
Dress: Alfred Angelo, original Cinderella design
Bridesmaid: Alfred Angelo
Tuxes: Vera Wang Black
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