We have all heard wedding day horror stories, and we all have nightmares and fears before the big day, but how realistic is it to expect that something will go wrong on your special day? And how realistic is it to expect that everything will go right?
Here is one real bride’s summary of all that went well on the wedding day, and eeeeverything that didn’t. In this week’s three-part series – today, Thursday and Friday – I outline the highs (things that went better than expected), lows (things that just plain went wrong and nothing could be done about it), and learning points (tips on how to avoid the problems we faced!) from our big day. If an element of the wedding day isn’t mentioned, it means it went as well as planned!
Part 1 (Wednesday): Highs
The things that went better than expected…
• Social activities: We wanted our wedding to be a social affair: something enjoyable, an opportunity for people to meet and get to know each other, and more of an “experience” than just a one-day event. And it worked better than we thought! Several people gave us positive feedback on our rehearsal/dinner, welcome drinks and farewell breakfast… and many wedding photos show people, posing together and hugging, who hadn’t met each other before festivities.
• No one MIA: With school vacation traffic, limited parking and a hard-to-find ceremony location, I was terrified guests would turn up late to the ceremony or simply get lost completely. To combat this, we provided super detailed direct- ions on our wedding website and in welcome letters to our guests, and also arranged mini-bus transport from the hotel to the ceremony. And of course, I had wasted my time worrying – all guests were on time and accounted for!
• Ceremony and vows: My groom and I revised so many drafts of the ceremony text with our officiant that we perhaps got over- used to it. We kind of forgot how personal, humorous and touching it was until our guests burst out with laughter (often at un- expected points) or wiped away tears during the proceedings.
• Weather: Although we deliberately scheduled our wedding (with outdoor cere- mony) in the least rainy month of the year, a week before the wedding a storm was fore- cast for our day. We already had an under- cover back-up ceremony venue arranged, but we manically started buying large umb- rellas, making phone trees, and ordering marquees from our equipment supplier. Later in the week, the forecast was downgraded to rain on the day (still not good), but the day before the wedding the forecast changed to rain not coming until late at night. And on the day it was clear skies and sunshine, perfect!
• Receiving line: In my husband’s culture, where church weddings are stand- ard, it is common to have a receiving line after the ceremony… but we weren’t sure how this would work for a beach ceremony, at which two-thirds of the guests (from my country) wouldn’t have seen a receiving line before. Where do we stand if there are no church steps? Where do our guests go afterwards, without wandering off so that they miss group photos? I many times told my groom we should just skip the receiving line idea because of the hassle. In the end, of course, it went fantastically. We told our bridal party and parents what to do and to lead people out to our photography spot, and everyone else just foll- owed suit and soon caught on to what was happening. Now, I am sooo glad we had the receiving line, as it was a good way to actually see and speak to each and every guest so early on in the (hectic) day!
• Decorations: Our close monitoring of costs meant the decorations were far fewer and far simpler than I would have liked… but, when I first saw the recep- tion room for set-up the day before the wedding, it looked absolutely amazing! Our centerpieces were beautiful, and our fairylights on the ceiling added a starry sky to our reception. It doesn’t look like much in pictures, but in person it looked fantastic!
• Reception dinner: Living on the opposite side of the world to our wedding location meant that we were not able to do a tasting of our wedding meal, and had to rely on the advice of our function manager. And great advice it was! The food was fantastic, and many people complimented us on it.
• Wedding cake: We were very dubious about our cake maker. She would often not respond for up to a month on email and her at-home bakery turned out to be in a yard with a burnt-out car and scary guard-dog. (My bridesmaid did the tasting honors, and her boyfriend was worried to leave her there. :S) Our jaws dropped though when we walked into the reception room and saw the cake: it was magnificent! Grand, exquisitely decorated, and gobsmackingly taller than we expected!
• Fixer-upper: I appointed one of the bridesmaids to be the day’s fixer-upper: if something needed fixing, or a guest was complaining, I would send the most assertive of my ladies in to deal with it. And I’m so glad that role was appointed in advance! People did come up to me and say it was too warm in the reception room, the music was too loud for talking, and my bridesmaid took it all on board! It was extra handy considering my tight dress and broken train meant I couldn’t move around the room too easily.
• Parental curfew: Our venue required the reception to end at midnight (rather early in our opinion), and my parents informed me about a month before the wedding that they planned to leave at 9pm anyway and probably wouldn’t come to any of the social activities. It made me feel like they didn’t care very much about the wedding, and was the cause of my first wedding planning cry. 😦 Despite asking me even on the night if we could bring forward our big send-off (erm, no) they did actually stay to the end, and did join the rehearsal/dinner, welcome drinks and farewell breakfast. They are not big social butterflies in general, but once the wedding festivities got started, they seemed to get into it!
• Bouquet toss: One of my biggest (but silliest) worries for the day was that I would throw the bouquet badly: that it would fly up into the ceiling and simply crash-land at my feet, that I would hit someone in the face with it, or that it would get destroyed in a ceiling fan. To my surprise, I tossed it directly into the surprisingly large crowd of girls (I was also worried no one would to participate) and one single lady caught it expertly. No band-aids required!
• Grand finale: We wanted to end the evening with a splash, so that things went out on a high note and to give our guests an incentive to stay until the end (ahem, cough, my parents). As it turns out, practically everyone stayed until the end of the night, and our big final singalong numbers had everyone belting out the tunes on the dancefloor. Phew!
• Sparkler send-off: I was so worried about the sparkler guard-of-honor as our grand exit, as it just seemed to be a logistical nightmare. The MC would have to explain it to our guests, the bridal party would have to hand out the sparklers and get everyone lit and lined up outside (and lined up far enough apart that we wouldn’t have to test out the flammability of my wedding dress), and the venue had to remember to isolate the smoke detectors so that alarms wouldn’t go off or pour water on our guests! In the end, it all went smoothly and looked absolutely magical! (And, most importantly, no one caught on fire.)
• After party: We hosted an after party in a villa at the resort where the recep- tion was held, and where most of our guests were staying. The hotel was very concerned about our plans for an after party, and about the noise and alcohol quantities involved, and tried several times to talk us out of hosting it. We warned the best man of their concerns, and we arranged to keep the music low, plus keep the windows and doors closed so the noise wouldn’t travel. In the end it went fantastically, and even my groom’s grandmother and parents joined it! A hotel staff member dropped by once to ask the volume be turned down, but otherwise it all went fine.
What things on your special day turned out better than you expected?