Hello everyone! I wanted to jump on here and give some wedding tips! Not all of them are the typical ones you’ll find online. I actually typed these out a week before my wedding because I figured once the wedding happened, I might forget most.
We’ve been in total marriage bliss! I love being married to Josh!! I feel like so many pieces of my life came together the moment I got to say my vows and devote myself to him (and vice versa). Honestly, being married has been my favorite thing about life! I also love going through our wedding photos (this was our photographer and she was amazing). The photos bring back so many memories. If there’s one thing I can say to the bride-to-be it’s this: The wedding goes by in a blink. And while the actual day is magical in its own right, every day afterwards will be even more important. I wake up so incredibly thankful of the life I’ve been given and to not only have Josh in my life, but to call him my husband. That’s the real magic right there. So, if you or your friend are getting ready to walk down the aisle, congratulations!! Here are some tips from a newlywed!
LAY OUT YOUR DREAM WEDDING TOGETHER BEFORE PLANNING ANYTHING
I think most people would say “duh” to this tip. However, I always thought I would love a big, blown out wedding with a long, dramatic ceremony, overdone florals, and an extravagant reception. I imagined at least 200 guests being there along with every, single extended family member. I imagined needing to plan everything down to a tee and needing charts and spreadsheets. Turns out, I didn’t want any of that at all, which I didn’t discover until well into the planning process. I was have anxiety nightmares every night over the wedding and I knew that it should not be that way.
Josh and I began planning a wedding thinking we’d want a more formal affair. However, as time went on, we realized that a formal affair has never been our style. What we really wanted was a wedding to celebrate us as a couple and to center on the marriage we were entering into. The decor, the politics, and the unending drama of trying to keep every wedding participant happy was not our priority. So, we opted for a quiet semi-elopement in Sedona, Arizona. As soon as we threw out the big wedding plans and made a plan for a wedding with just us, the priest, a few family members and a few close friends, we could breathe again.
GET EVERYTHING DONE EARLY
One of the first things we did was buy our wedding rings. There are plenty of wedding timelines that you can follow that will give you a different answer for each thing. So, here’s my answer: do it ASAP. Even if you have a year till you’re married, do it now. We bought our wedding bands 9 months before we said “I do” and we were incredibly grateful that we did.
The sooner you do it, the better financial picture you have. Finances play a huge role in a wedding, even if you’re not the one paying for it. The sooner you pick out a venue, time, dress, rings, cake, photographer, flowers, the sooner you will have a financial game plan and the sooner you can kickback and enjoy your engagement.
Another tip: You can go to Minted and have your invitations and save-the-dates saved and ready to go as soon as the time comes to send them. I highly recommend doing this so that if you decide to use a photo from an engagement session, you can pop the photo in the save-the-date and send them off. Addressing postcards and envelopes takes up a lot more time than you think.
And another tip: Draft your guest list as soon as humanly possible. People will be moving throughout the year and are usually tied up in life events. So, when you email them for their address, they may take a few weeks to get back to you.
ONLY FOCUS ON YOUR TOP 3 PRIORITIES
Pick 3 must-have priorities for the wedding. Stick to them and let everything fall into place around them. For Josh and I, it was an amazing photographer (ours was the incredibly talented Jenn Wagner in Phoenix, AZ), a beautiful location, and married in the Church. Cake, florals, hair, makeup, dress, tux, etc. fell around those 3 items. Of course, we still had a beautiful arrangement of all those things, but our 3 priorities were the big-ticket, we’ll-spend-what-we-need-to-spend items. The “non-negotiables” so to speak.
When you first start planning, everything feels like a priority. However, I want you to remember that just because something is a priority, it does not mean that you don’t get the other things. We still had lovely bouquets, but we didn’t spend nearly the same amount of energy on them as we did making sure we had the right photographer.
THERE WILL BE LOTS OF DRAMA, SO BE PREPARED
One of my favorite people told us early during the engagement that weddings and funerals bring out people’s true colors. He’s a priest, so he sees a lot of weddings and funerals. And it could not be truer!
A wedding will draw out people’s worst sides, including yours. Expect a lot of crazy and a lot of unsolicited opinions from every angle. You can either go mad trying to get people to manage their crazy or you can accept it and let them do their thing in the background.
Take this as opportunity to grow! With all the crazy comes great insight to the realities around you. Here are some tips for drama management:
- Listen to the crazy, but don’t be the crazy. Recognize that some people may have had a bad wedding experience in the past. Maybe they’re in an unhappy marriage. Maybe they’re divorced. Maybe they never got the wedding they wanted. It’s an emotional time for some people that are close to you and that’s okay. It’s okay to let them feel emotions without taking them on yourself.
- This is the perfect time to start practicing boundary setting with your spouse-to-be! As a married couple, you both will be setting boundaries. Boundaries aren’t meant to be a negative thing. It’s okay to keep your private business private. At one point or another, Josh and I had to establish boundaries with both sides of the family. This will be a normal part of marriage and can actually be detrimental to your marriage if you don’t get it down.
- Friends will also start showing their “true colors”. Some friends will step forward and be amazing. I was fortunate enough to have a group of great girlfriends who were nothing but supportive. And that support made the engagement and wedding so much more fun! Other friends will seemingly fall off the face of the earth or will become hyper-judgmental of your relationship. Try not to linger too long on the negative ones. Take it as a queue that maybe your friendship is not what you thought it was.
MAKE YOUR WEDDING DRESS FIT YOU, NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND
I by no means fit into the tall, skinny model category, which is what most pictures of brides are in magazines and dress shops. There is a lot of pressure to fit into your wedding dress before the Big Day. While no one wants the nightmare of choosing a dress, getting it fitted, and then gaining a bunch of weight, there is no need to diet or go on a fasting bender for a dress. Dieting will make your skin look dry and hollow instead of glowing, so avoid it.
My grandfather picked out my wedding dress. Ultimately, I obviously had the final say. However, my mother and I were browsing online at a dress store. My mother, my grandmother, and I all had different ideas of what my wedding dress would look like. I wanted something low-fuss, elegant, full skirt but not “fluffy” (completely blown out ballgown). My grandfather paused my mom while she was scrolling and pointed to one. I thought it was beautiful! When I got to the dress shop, I tried on about 10 dresses, but I kept going back to that one dress and it became my dress!
There are some things I wish somebody told before I went dress shopping. So, here they are:
- Ask what cup size the dress comes in. Most dresses have structural boning to them that act like a corset. This is great for helping you sit tall and add shape to the dress. However, boning usually doesn’t leave much adjustment for bra cup size. First, determine whether or not you’re wearing a bra. Then, take note of the cup size of the dress you’re trying on. Lots of things can be altered about a dress, except cup size. So, if you need a different size, be sure the shop puts that in their notes, especially if your dress has to be made.
- Bring your wedding day shoes. This was another thing we bought early on (rather, my mom got them for me!). You don’t want to be wearing flats while trying on dresses if you plan to wear heels for the Big Day. You also want to be sure that whatever shoes you have in mind match your dress. If you want to pick your shoes after the dress, ask the dress shop if they have shoes there you can wear while you try on. Usually, they do. Just be sure you know what heel height you’ll ultimately want to end up getting.
- Ask how much give is in the dress. It is incredibly unusual for someone to buy a wedding dress and have them fit perfectly. Most of the time, you’re going to need it altered, which may mean letting it out in some areas (by the armpits, upper back, etc.). It’s difficult for a tailor to work with anything less than 1/2″. Ideally, 1″ would be great. If you need more than that, then go up a size, which leads me to my next point.
- Always buy bigger. It’s easier to buy a bigger size and have it taken it than it is to let it out. This is especially true if you have curves. For example, if your waist measures for a size 8 wedding gown, but your bust measures in between a size 8 and a size 10, then buy the size 10. Don’t let your vanity tell you otherwise if you want your dress to fit right.
- Ask if the gown comes in different lengths. My tailor had to take 5″ off of my hem! Yes, I’m short. My mother discovered after that you can buy your wedding dress in different lengths, much like jeans. Not all designers have that option for their gowns, but ask anyway just in case.
- Buy the dress for you current size, not what size you think you might be. Don’t buy with the notion that you’ll squeeze now and then it’ll fit later. Between juggling the stress, planning, and other life stuff (job, school, etc.), you’ll probably still be your current size. That doesn’t mean you’re “lazy” or “can’t do it” or whatever. It means, realistically, it’s better to have your bases covered than to put excess pressure on yourself.
YOUR GROOM ACTUALLY HAS AN OPINION
This should be another “duh” moment. It’s his wedding, too! While Josh and I did make a lot of decisions together, there was a learning curve I went through first. Most of the time, I heard how grooms didn’t care about the specific details of the wedding. However, this is a myth. In reality, they do care quite a bit.
I first discovered this when I bookmarked save-the-dates on Minted. I asked Josh to help me pick one. I misread him and thought he would be bored to tears. It turns out, he was very vocal down to the color of the font! This made wedding planning even more exciting! Josh and I planned our wedding side-by-side from location and date to flowers to cake to photographer. The only thing I had a solo-say on was my dress, hair, and makeup. It’s much more comforting and less scary to tackle a wedding together than to wing it and go with what “sounds good”.
HAVE A STRESS MANAGEMENT PLAN
Let’s face it: You’re going to get stressed. Sometimes, you’ll be stressed over stupid things. Sometimes, you’ll be stressed over drama. Frankly, none of the things are going to be worth stressing about, but anxiety might show up anyway. Don’t wait until your hair is falling out to make a game plan!
The best thing I found to do was keep a stress management routine, even on the days I felt fine. This meant that I took about 1-2 hours out of each day to do something relaxing. Sometimes, it would be a bubble bath with some epsom salts. Other times, it was catching up on my novel reading and burning a candle. Maintaining something I could look forward to unwind at the end of the day was important to keep my anxiety manageable!
I hope all these tips helped! Overall, just know the day is going to be wonderful. Sometimes, you can plan everything and something might slip up or not go according to those plans. And that’s okay! To be frank, you probably won’t know it anyway! Allow yourself to stay grounded and remember that you are about to marrying your favorite person in the whole world! Nothing else matters. You will look beautiful. The wedding day will be beautiful. The marriage will be beautiful.