Everyone tells you to make sure to "slow down and take everything in" on your wedding day — but no one says how to actually accomplish it!
How can I make sure I take a minute to stop and smell the roses on the day of my wedding? 100 guests, all those decorations, all that shit to do…
How can I make sure I take a second to slow down?
I have this cockamamie theory about memories: when you're in a state of continual non-stop stimulus, you brain doesn't have time to file any moments away for you to remember. As I said in the Offbeat Bride book:
So many brides report having foggy memories of their wedding days, and it's no surprise — with all the stimulation and people and excitement it's hard for your brain to slow down long enough to process and store any memories. If you make yourself step away for a moment or two, you'll give your mind the opportunity to imprint at least a few memories of your wedding day — these memories will be more valuable to you than any photograph or video. It's actually worth asking a trusted friend to remind you to do this several times during your wedding day.
So, now that you understand the reason why you really truly NEED to slow down on your wedding day, the next question is: HOW THE FUCK to do that when there are guests and logistics and food and music and so much stuff competing for your attention?
Here are a few of my suggestions for creating anti-memory loss moments:
Preparatory sacred snack-time
Have a snack in your Oh-Shit Kit, and wherever you're getting ready for your wedding, find a little corner where you can sit quietly by yourself to nibble some food and collect your thoughts. Being overstimulated often results in forgetting to eat, so this kills two birds with one stone: you get a little snack AND can take a special, perhaps even sacred, moment to reflect on what's about to happen.
If you're doing the traditional "one of you at the altar/one of you walks down the aisle" set-up, then only one of you will get this pre-entrance quiet moment… but I feel like there's a real value in the two of you being together for a moment of quiet before the ceremony. At my wedding, Andreas and I walked down the aisle together, so we were able to sit together holding hands "backstage" (which was actually behind some trees) while our officiant was getting everyone calmed down and opening the ceremony. I think it's important for BOTH halves of the couple to have some solitude before the ceremony.
Ceremonial collective deep breath
Ask your officiant to include a moment in the ceremony when everyone (guests included!) stop for a moment and take five collective deep breaths. This could be tied into setting the intention, calling in the directions, offering a silent prayer, or whatever else fits your belief system or ceremonial style. Just make sure everyone (you and your partner included!) stops for five breaths to quietly breathe, to listen, and be quiet for a minute. You'll all need it, and chances are that someone will get the shivers from the power of the moment.
Inspired by the Jewish tradition of Yichud, Andreas and I took a 15 minute walk alone together after our ceremony. Sure, we were tailed by our photographer, but she mostly just lurked behind us while we walked and chatted and held hands and were like HOLY SHIT DID THAT JUST HAPPEN WE'RE MARRIED NOW? It not only acted as a very solid dividing point between ceremony and reception, but also gave us some really important quiet time to just be together.
First married meal
So many couples forget to eat food at their own wedding reception, so ask someone to make sure you each get a plate of food, and then have them literally stand guard and allow the two of you five minutes (JUST FIVE MINUTES!) to eat quietly together. You could even have fun with it and have your wedding party stand around with their backs to you, visibly blocking you off from the rest of the reception. Give them secret service sunglasses. But seriously, just for five minutes: eat together and breathe. Chew. Swallow. WHEW.
Regardless of how you structure your wedding day, there are going to be transition moments: in between getting prepared and doing photos; in between the photos and the ceremony starting; after eating, but before dancing. Ask your wedding party (or family, or friends, or EVERYONE!) to remind you during these transition moments to step aside and take a couple moments to breathe.
Deep Breath Cards
…Heck, you could even give some wedding party members or
choice guests "Deep Breath Cards" to have on-hand, with instructions to hand one to you throughout your wedding day. Then their job would be to "stand guard" and fend off other guests while you take 60 seconds for your deep breath.
Obviously, my ideas won't work for everyone — you'll need to find methods that feel like a good fit with your wedding style and day-of flow. That said, I'd suggest scheduling in at LEAST one very clearly defined anti-memory loss moment, and baking it into your wedding day plan. (And when I say "bake it in," I mean ask someone to help you enforce it!)
I'd love to hear from our married Offbeat wives: how did you schedule anti-memory loss moments into your wedding day, and how did you enforce those quiet moments?