I've been an old married lady for just under a week now, and I thought I'd offer some handy-dandy advice for those of you still gearing up to walk down the aisle! So without further adieu, here are my top 10 pieces of advice for brides to be:
10. For the love of God, don't leave everything to the last minute. Just don't!
I am a huge procrastinator, but I regret leaving so much to the last minute. Granted, there are some things you just can't do in advance, like frosting the cake, etc. However, there were plenty of things I could have done in advance but didn't. I was up until nearly 2am doing last-minute wedding things when I should have been in bed. Trust me, when you get down to the wire, you will want to hanging out with your out-of-town guests and not putting the finishing touches on your wedding programs.
9. Eat something. And not just on the wedding day.
The old “make sure you eat something!” advice is pretty tried and true for brides. But, in my experience, this is super important for the days leading up to the wedding, as well. A few days before my wedding, I was so nervous and excited that I lost my appetite completely. And I am a chick who ALWAYS has a big appetite. So have a plan, keep some easy-to-prepare meals at home, enlist friends or your partner to ensure you've had something to eat, or do whatever it takes to make sure you don't go without.
8. Leave time for sleep — work out a sleep schedule, and come up with relaxation techniques so you can sleep when it counts.
Two weeks before my wedding, I couldn't go to sleep at all because I had so many details running through my head. Then, in the last nights before my wedding, I was exhausted enough to sleep but couldn't because I had so much to do! So map out a sleep schedule and stick to it! I almost had a panic attack the night before my wedding. So, If you have any history of anxiety, even if you think you're fine now, it may surface before your wedding. If you have relaxation techniques that have worked in the past, start practicing them and be ready to use them if needed.
7. If you don't have a DJ/band, have a plan and get someone to be the MC.
If possible, assign someone to be your MC and give them instructions in advance. Otherwise, they won't know what to do, you'll be too busy to direct them, and things will get hectic. This applies even if you aren't having a formal wedding with all the expected elements. We didn't do toasts or first dances but we still would have benefited from having a friend be the MC to give the guests some directions or info or just to entertain them now and then. I do regret letting this element slide.
6. You can't do it all. Repeat: You can't do it all.
I am just a wee bit of a control freak, and back when I started planning, I was under the royally screwed up impression that I could do it all. But I couldn't, and you can't either! If you are having a mostly DIY reception like I did (meaning you don't have a lovely banquet staff there to handle everything) then you need to rely on friends and family and give them jobs in advance. As the time ticked down on my wedding, I quickly realized I was spreading myself too thin and began delegating. If people want to help you, accept that help and let them handle some things. No, it might not turn out exactly as it would of if you did it all yourself, but you can give direction. And frankly, seeing the input from other people is part of what will make your wedding amazing.
5. Keep in mind that some people will leave after dinner/cake, and this doesn't mean your wedding is lame.
I had a small wedding, only about 55 guests total. A lot of them left early on, after dinner and dessert, and I felt lame. But it was the older guests/relatives who left, and the young ones and our friends stayed. This is typical of almost every wedding. When you go to a big wedding, it's not as noticeable, but with such a small grouping of guests, having half of them take off seems like a big deal. Just keep this in mind and be excited to spend time with those who are still there!
4. You won't get to spend quality time with each and every guest.
If this was true for me at a wedding of 55 people, I can't imagine what it's like at a wedding of 200. I still feel guilty about not really having the time to chat with some out-of-town family members or even some in-town friends who came. Sadly, I just don't think there's much you can do about this. You'll be excited and nervous and tons of people will be trying to talk to you. You just won't have time to have a meaningful conversation with everyone.
3. If at all possible, have sex that night.
This isn't always realistic, and there's nothing less hot than forcing yourself to do it when you're not in the mood. But I do suggest trying to save a bit of energy at the end of the night for this. I honestly thought I'd be too stressed and tired for some post-wedding marital nooky, but I was wrong. And thank goodness because it was awesome and I was glad to end the night/start the marriage that way! Of course, if you end up passing out instead of doing the deed, don't beat yourself up about it.
2. Don't second guess yourself or the wedding after the fact.
I admit here and now that I am guilty of this and must follow my own advice. I LOVED my wedding and had an amazing time, yet now I am looking back and feeling a little weird about it. Did people have fun? Was it too small? Too weird? Should I have had hard liquor? What could I have done differently? JUST STOP. If you thought it was lovely at the time, then it most definitely was. Just enjoy it for what it was and be happy.
1. Be prepared for a difficult transition out of wedding planning mode, but be excited for your new life.
In the days following the wedding, it was hard to get out of the planning mindset. I'd see something cool in a store window and immediately think, “How can I incorporate that into my wedding?” before realizing the wedding was over. With that said, part of me is actually relieved the wedding is over and that we are back to our regular lives. The wedding is a time of joy and happiness and all that, but it is just one day and then it is over. Your love and the rest of your lives are left — so focus on that, and how to maintain that love and happiness for the duration.
So those are my top 10 pieces of advice — except for the bonus one, the most important one: You are spending months, maybe even years, worrying over what amounts to be a big party; have fun with that. And by all means get detail-obsessed if that is your thing. But truly this day, if it goes right, is about you and your partner. So my last piece of advice is… when the day arrives, forget about those details and the centerpieces and the seating chart and focus on your partner. If you can do this, then all of it, down to the very last detail, will have been worth it.
Good luck, everyone!