One of my closest friends and bridesmaids has urged me throughout the wedding process to “write a blog post” about events from the bachelorette party to the getting ready process on my wedding day. I have struggled thinking about how to capture an event as momentous as a wedding in a neat blog post. Instead, I am going to be a hypocrite by doing the thing that annoys many people throughout the planning process and give advice.
But, first a few thoughts on my wedding. I don’t often use the word perfect because I think it sets a ridiculous expectation that can never be met. However, for me and Shaun, and our families, our wedding felt perfect. The weather was spectacular and our venue looked exactly how I pictured it when we picked it. I felt beautiful and comfortable and loved. One of my favorite moments from the day was during my LONG walk down the aisle (it felt like a mile) right before we reached the crowd over the string quartet playing “Somewhere over the Rainbow” (my all time favorite song after dressing up as Dorothy for Halloween for ten years) my mom said, “Isn’t this everything you had dreamed it could be?” That is when I started to get choked up and took in the magical moment and even though I didn’t have a detailed vision of my wedding this felt like what I would have dreamed about.
With that little perfect fairy tale at the same time I was still myself throughout the wedding weekend. During the party I still wanted to make sure the tips were handed out correctly and had a moment of worrying that the band was not playing enough or that the night was ending too soon. However, I am trying to realize that these human moments do not sully any idea of perfection in my mind. Perfect for me is the way I felt walking down the aisle or at our first look or watching Shaun get choked up during his vows or laughing at the toasts or dancing with my nieces and nephews. Sure we got lucky with the weather and I felt proud all my planning from the band research to menu planning paid off, but at the end of the day perfection isn’t about the weather or how you look it’s ultimately about how you feel. (Although I am pretty sure that great weather and a beautiful venue don’t hurt in helping you feel good).
With that in mind as former anxious bride (phew it feels good to say former) I know it is hard to keep that in mind. Here are my words of wisdom:
- Pick the aspects of the wedding that matter to you both and put them above everything else. This piece of advice can probably be found in bridal magazines (buying these was admittedly my favorite part of the wedding planning process), but it still bears repeating. This also does not have to be one thing, but can instead be a tone to the wedding. For Shaun and me we wanted our wedding to be warm, casual, and fun. That meant we spent tons of time researching a band that would keep our guests on the dance floor the entire event and played the time of music that we loved. We did not want people sitting at their table having a seated formal meal so we had a buffet where we wanted good comfort food. I felt like everything from the food, band, and even alcohol (kegs from a local brewery) reflected who we are as a couple.
- Remember remember remember what the day is really about. The ceremony was definitely one of my favorite parts of the wedding. I loved sharing our relationship with our family and friends in the funny and intimate way we chose to. Sure you want a great party, but you are really doing this whole thing to commit to each other and share your love with the people closest to you. Try to keep reminding yourself of that throughout each wedding planning annoyance as hard as it is. (I would also recommend the book A Practical Wedding which does an excellent job advising on how to keep this in perspective throughout the process).
- Create your own traditions and buck some traditions. A big part of Shaun and my relationship is our rituals together. Every year we bake Christmas cookies (and make ourselves sick eating them), when we travel we always buy a magnet, and other silly little things like that. Wedding planning is a fun place to create new traditions. For us we promised no matter what to always open our presents together (usually with glasses of red wine in hand) and make that a special time we set aside to do something together. It was challenging at times when one of us was away and there was a huge box in our living room, but for the most part we stuck to it. I loved creating our own wedding traditions like this, but I loved even more bucking traditional wedding rituals. I am not sure what sparked this, but I just decided I definitely did not want to wear a veil. When the woman at the bridal store tried to pressure me and say things like “No one thinks they are a veil person” or “this is the only time you will wear one” I still stood firm. I think she thought I was a little crazy when I declared it was because I am a feminist. I did not throw a bouquet, do the horrah (mainly because of fear of falling), or anything that did not feel important to Shaun and me. This tradition of bucking tradition continued when we got the top layer of our wedding cake from our caterer the day after our wedding and realized there was no way we would be able to transport it easily back to our apartment. Instead of eating it on our one-year anniversary we decided we would eat it on our one-day anniversary. We took forks to the beautiful red velvet cake and it was delicious. (We barely ate any of the cake at the reception and it definitely tasted better that day then it would after being in the freezer for a year).
- There are all sorts of expectations that it is extremely hard to shake, but even though you are a “bride” (yuck) you are still you! If you hate to be the center of attention it is okay to hate being the center of attention at wedding events. If you make jokes at serious moments it is still okay to crack a joke during wedding meetings. If you get anxious about decisions (ME) it is okay to hate being asked questions!
- And finally – filter the advice people give you even my wise words. No one knows your relationship with each other, your family, and your friends, better than you!
Since the wedding weekend has ended I keep waiting for the disappointment that it is all over to sink in. The wedding was everything I could have imagined and so I have no real desire to do it all over again (“perfection” is best left untouched). I do feel some sadness that our family and friends will not be in one place again, but that feeling is overcome by gratitude that it all worked out so well in the first place and that we have these wonderful memories. Part of the joy of the wedding has honestly been looking back on it with Shaun and my family and friends. It never gets old hearing people tell you what a wonderful time they had (I am still holding out that I might get featured in a wedding blog – yes this is slightly humiliating to admit). As I expected I do feel a huge amount of relief to be a “normal” person again and not a “bride.” At the end of the wedding weekend you get a spouse and that is a pretty amazing prize. Instead of disappointment I feel excited about the many more memories and monumental moments I will share with my new husband and our families and friends.