(Illustration via Delightfully Engaged)
If you listen to conventional wisdom, you’ll learn that you won’t remember a single moment of your wedding. It will all be a blur. And that is true for some brides. I’ve known several of them myself. I’ve known women who spent the entire day in a fog, or in tears, or stressing out over minute details nobody else noticed who missed their entire weddings.
Me? I wasn’t like that. I’ve known a lot of other brides who were more like me. They spent their wedding days really at their weddings and remember them clearly years later.
You may simply be the sort of person who gets caught up in emotions and forgets the details. It happens. But if your fog or forgetfulness springs from another source, there are ways to get more in touch with the moment and truly enjoy yourself at your wedding.
Plan the day in a way that makes you comfortable. It’s easy to get caught up in what’s expected or listen to someone else tell you what makes them relax. For instance, a lot of guides will tell you to make sure you have nothing whatsoever to do on your wedding day other than get married. For some, that’s great advice. For others, it’s a one-way ticket to nerves and stress. I helped make salads and set up the site on my wedding day, and I wouldn’t do it any other way. I’d have gone bonkers with nothing to do with my hands.
So think about whether doing something practical that day will relax or stress you. Think about whether having someone do your hair and make up for you will make you feel confident or drive you up a tree. Will having the photographer there while you’re dressing make you uncomfortable? Nix it if it will!
You’re an individual. Your stressors may be very different from another person’s. Work around who you really are. Don’t make yourself more stressed than you need to be.
Consider doing formal portraits before the ceremony or after the honeymoon. Mr. Twistie and I had all our formal photos taken before we went to the altar, and I would do it that way again. In China, some couples have their wedding portraits taken up to a year in advance. Still other couples have found it practical to hire a photographer to do candids at the wedding itself, but save up the formal portraits for after the honeymoon. Yet others will take all the formal shots that don’t require both the bride and groom in the shot before the ceremony, and the few remaining ones afterwards.
Any of these scenarios means less of a gap between the time the couple ties the knot and the time they arrive at their own shindig. That means earlier access to food, fun, and your guests.
Have a receiving line. I know a lot of people think this is stuffy, old fashioned, and for the birds, but I still think it’s worth doing. Why? Because it means you don’t miss greeting anyone, and you don’t spend the dinner hour missing the food because you’re hopping from table to table and then tracking down stragglers. If you’re having more than fifty people at your wedding, a receiving line just makes things easier.
Then once the line is done with, you can relax and concentrate on interacting with your guests rather than calculating who you’ve missed saying hello to. You can get the meal you paid for instead of getting two bites before you have to race off and talk to someone you missed. And eating your meal? Helps you keep from getting light headed from hunger. It also helps you keep the alcohol from hitting extra hard on an empty stomach. All these things help keep you in the moment.
Ditch any traditions you don’t care about. Reading over a typical wedding reception timeline can leave you thinking you’ll spend the day running from one photo op to the next with no chance to catch your breath. Funnily enough, most of those traditions and photo ops are entirely optional. If any of them make you uncomfortable, annoy you, or just seem like too much trouble, you are perfectly free to not do them. If there’s something you’d rather do, like hire some belly dancers or a magician to perform, there’s no law against having them. Do what seems like fun to you.
Organize as much as you can in advance, and then put it into someone else’s hands on the day. One of the things that relaxed me the most in the days leading up to my wedding was the fact that I’d crossed my i’s and dotted my t’s and had all the paperwork at my fingertips. When you know you’ve done what you can to make things smooth, it’s easier to believe that it will go reasonably smoothly.
Of course, something will go wrong. It’s the nature of life. So on the big day, have someone deputized to handle all crises and make sure everyone knows who that is. Don’t try to handle every little detail that goes wonky yourself. Go play with your guests and let your assigned deputy – whether that’s a bridesmaid, a relative, or a hired day-of coordinator – deal with missing flowers, the ring bearer’s stage fright, and Great Aunt Beatrice’s dislike of the choice of processional music. You don’t need to deal with those things in the middle of your wedding.
Speaking of things going wrong, remind yourself regularly that perfect isn’t going to happen. If you’re comfortable with the fact that something will go wrong, chances are you’ll deal with it more rationally when something does go wrong.
Whether it’s something small like a bridesmaid in sudden need of an aspirin, or something big like finding the bakery delivered the wrong cake (That actually happened to a friend of mine! But since she was ready for something to go wrong, she decided that the gold frosting fit her color scheme and that the fact it was a fiftieth anniversary cake that would feed her entire guest list was a good omen), if you’re aware it’s coming, you can roll with the punches better. So keep your head and your sense of humor. It will relax you and help you stay in the moment.
While planning things, make sure you take time out to do non-wedding-related things, too. It’s easy to get so focused on menus and seating arrangements and choosing just the right readings for the ceremony that you forget to live your life in the meantime. But if you take time to see movies, go bowling, take night classes, and just hang out with friends, it’s a lot harder to get so completely obsessed that you lose sight of the bigger picture. Sure, your wedding is important. It’s a major life-changing event. It deserves its due importance… but it isn’t everything.
Remember to make time for the other things in your life. It helps keep things in perspective.
When you’re at your wedding, be at your wedding. You’ll have a better time and remember things the photographer didn’t happen to catch with the camera.