Plan Ahead to Avoid Headless Chicken Syndrome

If you listen to most people, you’ll think it inevitable that you won’t have the time or energy to enjoy your own wedding. After all, there are so many things to worry about on the big day: photographs, working out how to talk to everyone you invited, dealing with the crisis of a missing bouquet or a bridesmaid with a run in her stocking, fitting every expected tradition into the time you have the hall… and the list goes on.

The good news is you don’t have to spend your entire party worrying about how to fit everything in. Just take a few tips from me, and you can have as much fun at your wedding as I did at mine.

1) You don’t have to do your photos immediately after the ceremony. Mr. Twistie and I, for instance, did all our formal shots before the ceremony. My brother the alpaca rancher and his bride did all the shots that didn’t require both the bride and the groom in the same picture before their ceremony and the rest after the ceremony. In China, the current fashion is to get wedding portraits taken as long as a year before the big day. And there’s no reason you can’t simply put off the formal portraits until after the honeymoon if the rest of the wedding party doesn’t mind… or if you don’t feel the need to have them in the shots.

The advantage here is that you get to your own party far more quickly, allowing you more time to see everyone and a little breathing room. Also, you’ll look fresher and less stressed in the pictures, which is great for your album.

2) The receiving line is your friend. I know, I know, it’s old fashioned, but it really does work. If you have a receiving line, then you are guaranteed to have a chance to at least greet every single guest and thank them for coming. Then, once you’ve thanked Great Aunt Gladys for being there and said hello to your new father-in-law’s boss, you can have real conversations with the people you most want to see or cut a rug or even (gasp!) eat some of the dinner you paid for without worrying that you missed someone important who was in the restroom while you flitted by their table and drank a toast.

Taking half an hour to be formally gracious at the outset can save you two hours of hunting down people you missed when you should be enjoying yourself.

3) Deputize someone to handle crises. This is your day and you should drop as much stress off your shoulders as possible. That said, something will go wrong, and somebody else should handle the problem if at all possible. Also? This person should sit you down and make you eat if you don’t do so on your own. Choose your level-headed MOH, your mother, your notoriously efficient second cousin, or hire a day-of coordinator as you see fit. Just don’t worry about every niggling snafu yourself.

If you’re spending your time worrying about a backed up sink in the men’s room or a flower girl who rebels against the dress at the last minute, you’ll get frazzled. Let someone else do the worrying. Find out what went wrong later.

4) That said, pack an emergency kit well before the wedding so that there are materials to work with in a pinch. Make sure you have: a pain reliever for headaches, band aids, breath spray, anti-persperant/deoderant, a couple disposable razors, eyebrow tweezers, clear nail polish in case of stocking runs, duct tape, a needle and thread, nail clippers, and anything else that seems as though it might come in handy in an emergency.

Give this kit to the person in charge of disasters. Do not hold onto it yourself.

5) Just because it’s done doesn’t mean you have to do it. Look, if you do every single thing expected by the Wedding Industrial Complex and everything expected by your culture, chances are you’ll wind up racing from photo op to photo op without getting a chance to take a breath. So feel free to ditch a couple traditions that don’t mean much to you. Warn the Best Man and the fathers that speeches need to be short. Forget about tossing the bouquet and/or garter. Have the DJ announce that you want everyone to feel free to get up and dance at the same time you do. You can even have dessert served without the cake cutting ceremony. Pick and choose what matters to you, and drop the rest like a hot potato.

Not having every act scheduled down to the nanosecond allows you to take the time to enjoy what you do have scheduled that much more.

6) In the last couple of days before the wedding, do your absolute best to become zen about the whole experience. Relax. Spend time with your intended, with family, and with friends where wedding talk is forbidden. Take a bubble bath or a long walk or treat yourself to a good meal or have a great workout at the gym, whatever makes you feel calm and confident. Make sure you spend those last few days eating balanced meals and getting to bed at a reasonable hour.

The more relaxed you are going into the fray, the easier it will be to handle any problems without losing your head. That will make it easier to just have a great time at your own party.

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4 Responses to “Plan Ahead to Avoid Headless Chicken Syndrome”

  1. blossom says:

    The one about dropping traditions is a good one. We skipped having a cake thus the cake cutting didnet need to be done. We had platters of assorted doughnuts which went done a treat. Also there was no bouquet toss or garter belt thing.

  2. Fabrisse says:

    My mom works as the wedding coordinator at our church — which often includes the reception. She says she has to convince couples to have the receiving line. When she’s succeeded, they’ve thanked her for exactly the reasons you stated above.

  3. JayKay says:

    My wedding is in FOUR days and this post came not a second too late. Thank you for the advice and I will try my best to relax…

    Oh yes, I will try. Succeed? That’s another story… 😉

  4. Twistie says:

    (Sends soothing thoughts)

    Best of luck and all happiness to you and your intended, JayKay!