The series concludes today! We have all heard wedding day horror stories, and we all have night- mares 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 – Wednesday, yesterday and today – 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 3 (Friday): Learning Points
These are the things that went not so smoothly on the wedding day (or just plain went wrong), but where with a little forethought or some tips from a previous bride might have saved the day! So I pass on these pearls of wedding wisdom to you, in the hopes that they can make your own special day that little bit better.
• Moving locations: My groom and I checked in to our hotel the day before the wedding. If I could do it again, we’d have moed a day earlier. There was al- ready so much to do the day before the wedding (bridal party luncheon, going over the ceremony with our coordinator, setting up the reception room), it was not wise to add the stress of packing, moving to the hotel and unpacking. If you and your fiance plan to move locations, move earlier. It’s far better to use (some of) the day before the wedding to relax and enjoy each other’s company.
• Preparation spots: If the bride and groom get ready in different places, give the bride the spot that’s the least distance to move. My groom and I spent the night before the wedding together, then on the day I moved to a bridesmaid’s hotel room to get ready, while he prepped in our room. Big mis- take! He and I had to carry to the bridesmaid’s room my 5 kg wedding dress, the bouquets, my laptop (in case we needed to check any wedding documents), my toiletry bag, emergency kit, and another bag with my shoes, hoop petticoat and veil. Carrying all that, we arrived cranky, sweaty and late to preparation. I realized later I’d left my special wedding day perfume and a few other things back in our original room (a 10 minute walk away). Sigh! It would have been far easier if my groom got ready elsewhere, as only his suit, shoes and toiletry bag needed moving.
• Cleansing wipes: Add cleansing wipes to your big day emergency kit. After arriving sweaty to the bridesmaid’s room there was no time to shower again, but a little wash down with cleansing wipes would have helped things!
• Mirror preparation: Get your hair and make-up done in front of a mirror on the day! This is especially important if your hairdresser and make-up artist are coming to you, rather than you going into a salon. My wedding day hairdo did not turn out exactly as I hoped, but by the time I was shown it in a mirror after it was all finished, it was too late to change it.
• Higher hem: I had my seamstress adjust the wedding gown hem so that it just skimmed the ground. What I didn’t consider is that I would be walking on un- even ground at our beachside ceremony. When my father escorted me to the aisle and we stepped onto the sandy, grassy ceremony site, I stepped a couple of times on the front of my dress, and had to switch my bouquet to the hand hold- ing my father’s arm, so that I could use my other hand to hitch up the front of my gown! My tip for you: if your reception or ceremony will be outdoors and on uneven ground, get a higher hemline; stepping on it makes walking difficult (and may even pull down the wedding dress, eek!).
• Wind: I was so worried about the prospect of rain at our outdoor ceremony that I forgot to consider another weather hazard: wind. If I could do the day over again, I would swap my wedding day loose curls for a tighter up-do. It was a complete bird’s nest before the reception even started.
• Veil plan: After I walked down the aisle and reached the altar, my veil started blowing across my face in the wind, blocking the guests’ (and photographer’s) view of me. Recalling another outdoor wedding where the bride spent the entire ceremony keeping a wayward veil under control, I immediately got a bridesmaid to remove mine. She passed it to my parents in the front row. When I asked my parents for the veil after the group photos, they had already put it in the car a fair distance away. As such, I only got to wear my veil for a few minutes, and not for any of our posed photographs (no dramatic veil snaps for me!) or the recep- tion. Not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but at dress fittings I never truly felt like a bride until I added the veil… so I was a bit disappointed to miss out on wearing it. 😦 If I had considered the problem of wind, I would have made a plan for what to do with my veil so that it was available later.
• Photography checklist: We gave a written list (an Excel file, in fact) to our professional photographer of the different combinations of family members and friends we wanted for the formal, posed pictures after the ceremony. However, there were lots of other casual photos I wanted, but which I forgot to tell anyone about. As result, we didn’t get a picture of our two grandmothers (our last surv- iving grandparents, who live on opposite sides of the world, and who will never have an opportunity to meet each other again), of me with my best friend, of the bouquet toss, and many other things. My tip: give all requests to your photo- grapher, or – if they’re not staying the entire day (as was the case with us) – give a list to a friend with a camera, and get them to take care of things.
• Stand firm: I wish we had stood firm with our photography requests on the day, so that we got the pictures we wanted. For example, we had requested some formal, posed snaps of my groom and me – standing side by side, regally clasping hands – so that we had something for our parents to hang on their walls. When I reminded the photographer on the day to take some in that style, he suggested we pose in front of a nearby wall. I thought to myself, “Why stand there when we have a gorgeous beach behind us?”, but decided to just go with it rather than make a fuss. Wrong! We got the photos back, and those pictures look awful: us against a yellow, run-down wall. Also, our agreement with the photographer was that he would stay for the first hour of the reception, but after half an hour he asked if he could go. True to our oath to not stress on the day and go with the flow, we said that was not a problem at all. In hindsight, I wish we’d made him stay and honor our agreement… espec- ially when we saw the photos afterward, and found out he’d only actually taken four photos in his whole time at the reception. Yeesh. The lesson is to demand what you paid for and what you arranged: if you want to avoid going ‘zilla your- self, get a helpful bridesmaid to step in and do the dirty work!
• Smile!: Cameras will be pointed at you non-stop all day, so make sure to smile! It’s not just the walk down the aisle and the cake cutting where guests will be snap-happy. Also, for the same reason, do make time to touch up your make up throughout the day. My lipstick and rouge were completely warn off half an hour into the reception, and in all the pictures after that I just look really pale!
• Get the whole world to smile with you: Pass that advice, too, to your bridesmaids. One of my bridesmaids has a grumpy-looking face as her natural face (yeah, seriously), and our photographer simply stopped taking pictures of her because she looked so glum – even cutting her out of pictures! And some pictures of her look otherwise fantastic, but we can’t use any of them for albums and such… because she looks like she’s about to bite someone’s head off.
• Check decorations: My silliest regret of the day (but still one I think about often!) is that I didn’t pre- pare better our welcome table and cake buffet table at the reception. I looked at lots of inspiration boards for these tables and metic- ulously purchased items for them, but my mistake was I didn’t realize how large these tables would be; even with all my buys the tables looked completely empty and unimpressive. My tip for other couples is to set up these tables a few days ahead, while you have time to buy extra things. Or, if you don’t have access to your tables that early, find out the dimensions of your tables and use another table to do a practice run.
So that’s the highs, lows and learning points of our wedding day in a nutshell! What are the biggest (or even the smallest) learnings from your special day? What’s the best wedding day advice you’ve received?