Peek inside a real bride’s journal of what happened on the big day
The big day is here! I must begin by warning you that this is very much the unabridged version of the wedding day diary. You know those director’s cuts of films, where they go back and include all the stuff they want and end up making it too long? Yeah, this is like that. 😀
(Want to hear what really happens during the final week of wedding prepara- tions? Check out the Reflective Bride’s blog diary counting down each of the seven days in the nuptial homestretch!)
Heeeere we go! Unsurprisingly, the Reflective Couple is too excited to sleep in until our scheduled 9am alarm time, and we are awake in our hotel room before 8am. We cuddle, giggle and whisper to each other, “We’re getting married today! Ha! How crazy is that?!” I fetch my laptop to exchange a few emails with our function manager and check the weather updates for the day. In splendiferous news, the hour-by-hour forecast now says blue skies all day, and the rain expected for that evening won’t hit until 1am! Awesome! Our reception ends at midnight, so the timing could not be more perfect.
My groom and I are staying at the resort where the wedding reception will be held, and so are many of our guests. I wanted to skip the hotel breakfast buffet in favour of a private meal with my husband-to-be, where we could avoid repetit- ive guest questions like “Are you ready? Are you nervous?” Unfortunately, the hotel doesn’t provide room service breakfasts. At the buffet, the first guest I see (a recent bride, who should know better) asks, “So, are you nervous?” Guh! I cover my annoyance with a wink and a cheery “Don’t ask!” We say hello to a few other guests and chat in the queue, but once my groom and I have our plates we take a table in the restaurant’s far corner for some privacy. Although I thought I’d be too nervous to eat, I’m famished and take three rounds at the buffet!
After breakfast, we set up the reception seating chart and stop by the function manager’s office. I rush back to our hotel room at 10am, to meet my fiancé’s brother to give him the video camera he will use for the day. Our hairdresser and make-up artist will arrive to a bridesmaid’s room at 10:30am, so I take the quickest shower ever and prepare everything to take over. Even with my groom helping, we soon realize that the wedding dress, bouquets, laptop (in case we need to look up a file during the day), handbag, emergency kit and bag of access- ories will be too much for the two of us to carry. I try calling the bridesmaids to assist, but none pick up their phone. We’re running late, so my fiancé and I schlep everything over there ourselves. The resort is quite spread out, so it takes 10 minutes to walk over, and I arrive quite sweaty (and annoyed since I can’t take another shower now).
When we arrive, we see why the bridesmaids weren’t answering; the hair and make-up peeps arrived early and the three girls are already being worked on. I’m feeling frazzled from the walk, but relieved that all is place. My groom and I set down our burdens, then head to the door for a priv- ate farewell, as he and I get ready to part ways for the day. The next time we see each other, I will be walking down the aisle! Wow! I’d love to say it was an emotional goodbye, but we are mostly just excited (or, in his case, nervous) for the day to begin. My groom heads off to pick up the groomsmen’s buttonholes and drive half an hour away to pick up our extra cakes (I’m still surprised no one volunteered to take those tasks for him to allow him to relax), and I settle in for some girly prep time!
I am a little stressed at first, and start assembling the hoop for my dress, laying out my accessories and unpacking the bouquets. The bridesmaids spring into action, making me sit down and relax while they take care of things. Soon it’s my turn for hairdressing, and the girls bring me champagne, crackers topped with different gourmet cheeses, and constant refills of water. I start to calm down, and remember what my fiancé and I vowed: while we can stress in the lead-up to the wedding, on the day we have to just chill and go with the flow. The brides- maids are dolled up now, and change into their dresses so that any messing up of hair and make-up can be fixed while the professionals are still here. The photo- grapher arrives and takes pictures of the bridesmaids while I finish up. I am ready far ahead of schedule, but we decide to start getting me dressed so the photographer isn’t standing around with nothing to do. It’s great that we start early, as dressing me takes longer than expected, especially tying me into my corset-backed dress. It is soon approaching the time to leave. The groom and his best man will depart at 2:15pm in the first round with the car, which will return to the hotel for me and the remaining bridesmaids, to depart at 2:45pm. The girls help me into my shoes and jewelry, and then I am ready to go! The first bridesmaid leaves, and another forces me to eat a sandwich that she’s cut up into tiny pieces so I can eat it with a fork. As we sit around and wait 20 minutes for departure, I feel nervous for the first time. The tummy butterflies commence!
There is a knock at the hotel room door, as the chauffeur arrives to escort us down to our car. The driver and a bridesmaid assist me with getting in. Now the nerves really strike! I start to take deep breaths to calm myself down, and use my hands to fan myself. We arrive early to the beachside ceremony site, so drive to the end of the beach and back to ensure I make my grand ent- rance precisely at 3:00pm. At last we pull up to the carpark nearby. My father and first bridesmaid are waiting there for me, and beach-goers stop to watch the scene. The photographer snaps a few pictures with me inside the car, before I am helped out on to the red carpet. We all walk together over to the entrance to our grassy ceremony site. Just outside, we hear that the music has begun, and the girls line up to make their entrance. My father and I link arms, and when we see that the girls are in place at the front, he and I emerge from around the corner.
My dad and I stand at the end of the long aisle. I see all my friends and family there, but they are a blur as I see my groom at the altar and I try to concentrate on him. I see he has tears in his eyes; I myself am too busy grinning like an idiot to let loose any waterworks. Everything in the ceremony runs according to plan. Unlike the rehearsal two days ago, I manage not to giggle or mix up words, and the groom performs perfectly as well. People chuckle in all the right places during our vows and story, and there are a few teary eyes in the crowd. I don’t even notice our professional photographer darting around, or whether beach tourists rubberneck during the proceedings. Our readings are beautiful, and the musical interlude is poignant (even if they violinist is off-key!). We exchange our rings, say “I do”, and the groom kisses the bride. We’re married! Hooray! My new Reflective Husband and I make our grand exit, and form a receiving line at the side. It is so wonderful to have an opportunity to speak with each and every guest personally (even if briefly) so early in the day.
After each guest has passed us, my brand spankin’ new husband and I follow them to a grassy area nearby, where will take group pictures. I feel relieved; now that the formal ceremony is done, the fun parts begin! And now that I’m not ner- vous, I’m painfully hungry. We take pictures with all guests, and then line up dif- ferent groups of friends and family. The bridal party stays on with us for more snaps, and our photographer leads us through the nearby woods and back to the beach, chasing the best light and the moodiest clouds. We have a great time! Very sadly, we run out of time for the groom and I to go to main street for some urban shots (oh nosies, I wanted “bride eating ice-cream in a café” snaps!). It’s time to head to the reception. Annoyingly, our photographer joins us in the car instead of taking his own, and chats to the driver the whole way, crapping all over our “first moments alone” time. Also annoyingly, the bridal party “tidied” the car and took all the snacks I’d put there for my groom and me. So hungry!
Cocktail hour and reception
While our guests enjoy cocktail hour, the Reflective Groom and I sneak into the reception room for some staged photos with our photographer. We have hired him only for the first hour of the reception, so we now do mock first dance, cake cutting and speech pictures. This is also our first glimpse of our wedding cake! It turned out massive, and very grand and impressive. Win! During the fake bridal waltz, my groom steps on my dress, which has been our biggest concern for the first dance. After we finish with happy snaps, my groom joins the guests for drinks… and I spend the rest of cocktail hour in the bathroom with my brides- maid, as she tries her best to hike up my wedding gown so that less is at risk of being stepped on. Grr, not happy about missing out on the cocktail hour and all the canapés we spent so long choosing! I’ve heard brides never have time to eat at the wedding, so I guess this is the beginning of that.
My groom has been keep- ing an eye on the bath- room, and when he sees me emerge he darts over to escort me into cocktail hour. We’d never planned to make a grand entrance to it, but everyone stops what they’re doing and breaks into applause! Very fun! I chat briefly with some guests and we pose for pictures, and five minutes later it’s time to head in to the reception.
The bridal party makes a timed entrance to music (to a standing ovation!), and the DJ introduces our MC for the evening. The MC does a fantastic job with setting the “formal but fun” atmosphere we were aiming to achieve. The entrées come out (I am staaaarving!) and the parents’ speeches begin, and I already can’t believe how quickly the evening is moving! My parents don’t tell any embarrass- ing stories about me (phew!), and my new parents-in-law share some lovely words welcoming me to the family. In the break after speeches, I get up to work the room, to chat with people who couldn’t join the other wedding festivities or need to leave early. I grudgingly drag myself back to the bridal table when I see that the next course arrives. This process (including the mad mingling) repeats for the main course, as the bridal party gives their speeches. However, this time – to my monumental disappointment – I can only eat half of the corse before I feel full. This loss of appetite happens again for dessert, and I assume it’s due to butterflies ahead of my speech and the first dance… and there not being much space for food in my much-tightened wedding dress!
Soon, it’s show time! I am up first with speeches. I speak a little faster than I would like, but everything goes smoothly, and the audience laughs, oohs and ahs in all the right places. When I return to my seat I see that two of my bridesmaids are crying. My first thought literally was, “Huh? What’s wrong with them?” Because I’ve practised my speech four times now, I had forgotten how emotional and meaningful the words were! Erm, oops. My groom has his turn at the pod- ium, and things again run smoothly (and I know that, because we’ve rehearsed our speeches for each other ahead of the day). And after all that speech giving, no one has managed to knock the wedding cake over while walking past it. Yay!
The MC takes over to give his closing words and introduce the cutting of the cake. And the cutting is harder than it looks! I’m glad it’s something you do together with the groom, because I wouldn’t have been able to slice through that thick layer of fondant and dense cake all by myself! Guests crowd in for photos, and we at last make the cut and feed each other a mouthful. A brides- maid sneaks in behind me during it to bustle my train. My shiny new husband and I now head over to the dancefloor. Our DJ is a little slow in starting the music for our first dance, so we hesitate awkwardly at the edge of the floor, nerves renewed by the break in flow. The song begins at last, and we launch into our choreographed routine! At last, months of practice culminate! Everything starts wonderfully, and there is a huge reaction from the audience as they realize we’re not going to uncomfortably slow dance junior-high style. We hit all the right steps at the right time… until about one minute into the song when a wedding day fear comes true: the groom steps on my dress. He steps on the back so heavily that the bustle breaks and the entire train unravels. Internally, I panic. We never talked about what to do if this happens. Do we keep going? Do we stop? How do I keep dancing with two meters of fabric trailing behind me? My dance partner hasn’t realized what happened, and I doubt the audience has either, so I push ahead. We make it through to the end of the dance, with whoops and big applause (even after the train-explosion). Hurrah! We take our bows and head into the bridal waltz, as our parents and bridal party join us on the dancefloor. The DJ invites others to join, but everyone is slow to do so and only half of the room gets up. Oh, well! The fun music kicks in, starting with the twist, and the party can now begin!
The party section is mostly mingling with some dancing. Although the music is fan- tastic (disclaimer: I picked it so may be biased) most people remain at the tables chatting. I realize that most groups are old friends and out-of-contact family members who want to catch up rather than boogie. Despite my big plans to dance the night away, I take the “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” approach and move from table to table to chat. People come up to gush how awe- some our first dance was and ask how long we’ve been practising. We answer cheerily, but both think to ourselves, “What? That dance sucked the big one! It was only half as good as it could have been after the ward- robe malfunction.” We also receive a lot of compliments about the ceremony, venue, food, decorations, music and more – a nice reassurance that our guests really did notice all the details we spent so long on!
My bridesmaids are a huge help during the party. With my unravelled train and too-tight corset, it’s difficult for me to get up from a chair and move around, so I just ask the nearest bridesmaid for whatever I need. I eat a piece of wedding cake (though only half before some eager friends call me up to the dancefloor) and am too busy mingling to try the other desserts on our cake buffet. Despite my hope to spend much of the party with my groom, we hardly see each other after dinner, but neither of us notices and it’s not a problem. At one point during the party, he finds me and says, “Do you realize it’s only 45 minutes until we start the grand finale? How did that happen?!” My heart breaks. Nooooo! I’m having such a wonderful time!
The DJ hasn’t warned us that he’ll just stop the music when it’s time to begin the grand finale, so my hubby and I scramble to the podium to grab the microphone before the silence gets too deafening. We give a final, brief speech to thank fam- ily and friends who helped out on the day, and then it’s time for the bouquet toss! To my surprise, a lot of girls crowd the dancefloor for the event (I had planned to invite all the fellas if the female turn-out was small). Although I have been worried that I would just hurl the bouquet into the ceiling, it lands in just the right place and one single lady leaps for the bouquet and practically tackles it (though she claims it just “fell” into her arms!). The DJ invites everyone to the dancefloor for the final three songs of the night: great sing-along numbers the Reflective Groom and I have chosen. The atmosphere is fantastic! Having everyone on the dancefloor together belting out the tunes is such an awesome way to end the evening. Even my parents, who had months ago informed me they would leave at 9:00pm, have stayed until the midnight conclusion. After the final song fades out, the DJ introduces our send-off with a sparkler guard of honor, and everyone goes outside to line up. I had worried that this would be a logistical nightmare, but the bridal party and venue staff set everything up smoothly. My husband I and I walk through, and it looks absolutely gorgeous! We walk a bit fast, so stop to turn around and wave to all our guests a few times before departing. What a lovely way to end the evening!
Back in our hotel room, we are so excited and happy with the day that we can’t stop chattering away about how fantastically it all went: “Do you remember this bit? Did you hear what she said about that? Isn’t it great how this and that turned out?!” We’re on such a high note and don’t want the evening to end, so decide to join the after-party. We take a few self-portraits together in the room while we’re still in our Sunday best (those photos are some of my favorites of the day!), and the groom has much diffi- culty figuring out how to get me out of my corset-backed wedding gown. (We now see why the train unraveled so much: the groom stepped on it so hard that the button for the bustle tore off and ripped a hole in the dress right over my butt! I. Kid. You. Not. Luckily there are so many layers of material on the dress that no one spotted the hole!) We are very close to getting scissors to free me from the corset when he at last finds the ribbons hidden underneath. Once the dress is off, we see why I could hardly move or eat during the night: the gown was strapped on so tight that my entire mid-section is red and the corset has broken the skin! I change outfits, and my groom and I head to the after-party, where we end up staying until 3:00am. It is another opportunity to see friends and family, and a great way to make sure the best night of our lives does not end too soon!
Despite all the stress in the lead-up to the day, the day went perfectly and we loved it so much! We are so happy with all of it, and several people tell us after- wards that it is the best wedding they have ever been to – what a compliment! All our planning, discussing and hard work paid off to bring us such a memorable day, as we celebrate each other and our marriage. At last!