It’s wedding season! Daniel and I are in 3 weddings this summer, on top of the others we’re attending, the bachelor and bachelorette parties, bridal showers, etc. I’ve been thinking about what advice I might give to friends who are in the wedding planning season. When I was planning my own wedding, I read through hundreds of articles—everything from how to pick the right registry items to fun games to provide the guests and how to create the best DIY invitations. I got so caught up in the details that I often forgot about the day itself. So here are 10 tips I wish someone had told me before the big day.
1. Bring an extra pair of shoes. By a random fluke, I happened to bring a second pair of heels to the wedding, and I’m so glad I did. My wedding shoes were comfortable for about five hours, and then they were very uncomfortable. I popped into the bridal room, changed into my second pair of heels and kept dancing.
2. Look in the mirror. We got ready in my parents’ living room because it had a lot of space and natural light. What it didn’t have was a floor-length mirror. My hair and makeup was done, I got into the dress and took pictures, then started to head out the door. That was when I realized I hadn’t seen myself in the mirror. My mom and I snuck away and it was a wow moment to see the whole ensemble for the first time.
3. Make sure your groom has something to do. It may take you and your girls three or four hours to get ready, but it’ll take your groom about 10 minutes. Loop in the groomsmen to make sure your future husband doesn’t sit around all day with nothing to do. Have them take him out to lunch, go to the shooting range or go surfing. It’ll take his mind off his nervousness until the festivities begin.
4. Put someone in charge of making sure you eat. I didn’t have a problem with this at my own wedding, but when I was a bridesmaid for a friend. It was about 30 minutes before the ceremony when she told us she hadn’t had anything to eat since breakfast. I ran off and was able to track down a bread roll. Don’t let this happen to you. You’ll be busy and excited and nervous and stressed—someone needs to make sure you eat.
5. Take a look at the reception area before the wedding starts. You’ve worked and planned for months to get everything right, from the menu cards to the guest book and centerpieces. Before the area is overrun by guests, take a sneak peek to see your hard work in its full glory. If your reception is in a different location from the ceremony, stop by on your way to the ceremony for a preview.
6. Put someone in charge of guest activities. If you have instructions for an activity, only about a third of the guests will read them. For our guest book, we wanted each person or family to sign on a new page so we could include a picture of them later. If we had just left written instructions, it wouldn’t have happened. Instead, we conscripted a friend to stand by the guest table and make sure everyone knew what to do. It worked perfectly.
7. Know who you can count on to help. Find someone outside the bridal party you can call on for small errands. For us, this was our officiate. Before the day, he told us that he would be available to us throughout the night to do whatever we needed. He was extremely helpful and ran several small errands, including moving our car up to the front entrance of the venue for the sendoff.
8. Make sure you and your spouse have a few minutes to yourselves to breathe. This means time without a photographer or videographer in your face. For us, this was during dinner. My husband wisely suggested we have a plated dinner instead of a buffet, which meant that everyone was eating at once and we had a few minutes to eat and talk without anyone else listening.
9. Say goodbye to the important people before your sendoff. Whether or not you’re going on a honeymoon directly after the wedding, your family and bridal party will want to say goodbye. When you do this, make sure they know that this is this official goodbye. At my wedding, my dad said goodbye to me but didn’t realize it was the “final” goodbye, and was disappointed later.
10. After the wedding, journal the details immediately. There’s so much going on that day that you’ll quickly forget the details, especially if you go on a trip afterward. Spend the first few days of your married life capturing memories on paper. For me, this meant on our honeymoon—on the plane, early in the morning before my husband woke up and on our scenic car ride across Sweden. We’re still newly weds, and I’m already glad I wrote about it right away while the details were still fresh. If you’re not into journaling, record some video logs instead—it might even make for a fun newly-wed activity.