As a recent bride I've had the opportunity to experience first hand what to do and what not to do to create the best wedding experience for yourself as well as your guests! If you are a bride, you know a bride, or you're just collecting information for that day that your knight in shining armor gets down on one knee, see my list of wedding advice below!
1. Make it personal
Andrew & I had our Maid of Honor individually ask us questions about each other and our relationship and videotape our answers. We compiled this, as well as some images of us growing up and growing together throughout our relationship, into a video that played right at the beginning of our ceremony. Since all of our guests were from all over the United States and weren't able to be around us on a regular basis, this was a fun way to let our guests get to know us on a more personal level before they witnessed one of the most personal things in a relationship, marriage. We definitely recommend adding in personal touches like this!
2. Write your own vows
First off, neither of us are writers. You don't have to be, all you have to be is in love with that other person in order to be able to say something meaningful. This is something I will strive to encourage everyone to do! We'll be calligraphing them and hanging them above our bed in the near future.
3. Create a website
Our guests thoroughly enjoyed our "Explore" page on our website! Many of them actually came a day or two early to specifically visit some of the places we recommended! Plus, as I mentioned before in a recent post, there's no better place to put the nitty gritty details that don't fit on your invitation suite or detail card.
4. choose Reusable decor
Buy decor that you can reuse! We decided instead of decorating with flowers, we were going to create vintage looking pots full of plants paired with vintage brass candlesticks as our decor, with plans to use them throughout our new home! We also used a glass keepsake box as our card holder, and it now contains many small wedding items as memories from our wedding (i.e. invites, vow books, dried florals, bridal accessories, etc). Instead of a guest book, we had our guests engrave their names in a silver platter that now adorns our walls. A linen banner that I calligraphed our first dance lyrics onto was made into a canvas and is now a show-stopper piece in our living room. Needless to say, these items are now a constant reminder of our special day, as well as a great investment that lasts longer than a day! (see this post for a look into my wedding/home decor)
5. have an Unplugged Ceremony
Kindly ask your guests to power off their devices during your ceremony. There's something special about walking down the aisle and seeing everyones smiling faces instead of a camera or cell phone. In addition to that, I hired a professional to photograph our wedding and I knew I didn't want to see the distraction of cell phones or cameras in those images.
6. Your Guests Won't Notice
There are so many details that go into a wedding and each detail means so much to you, but if something goes wrong, your guests won't know. To keep your sanity, take a moment and say, "they won't know." Your guests have no idea if you didn't complete that extra project you were hoping to get done or if your grooms tie wasn't the right shade of blue. Don't focus on the details, just focus on the end result, you'll be married to your best friend at the end of the day and that's all that matters!
7. Make Memories Together
On your wedding day, you're going to get pulled in so many different directions. Everybody wants to say "congratulations" or take a picture with you, which is not a bad thing — if you do it together! Make a promise to stick by each others side throughout the night. There is nothing you will regret more than having memories on your wedding day without your other half.
8. The Big Three vendors
Choose wisely when deciding on your caterer, DJ, and photographer/videographer. You want your guests to love the food and dance a lot. But even more importantly, at the end of the day all you have left is the memories (and of course your husband), so be sure to choose a photographer that shares your style so that you will want to hang those photos up on your wall for years. And if you have the budget, spend the extra money on a videographer, you will not regret it!
9. enjoy Bridal Bliss
You don't need to be bothered while getting ready for your wedding day. Print out schedules & details anyone might need ahead of time, make sure to include everything your guests may need to know on your website (i.e. addresses & times), give your personal attendant or Maid of Honor your phone, and enjoy your bridal bliss!
10. Thank your parents
Whether your parents helped with the expenses or not, more than likely they were the people you complained to, took your stress out on and maybe even yelled at a few times. More importantly though, they raised you and took care of you up until this moment when they hand you off to your new husband. Don't let all of their hard work go unnoticed.
11. you can't have your cake & eat it too
For me this was a big challenge because we all want that special day with everything included. However, I figured out that you have to pick & choose. If you spend that extra money on the photographer, you may have to cut back on your decorations or something else. It is possible to have your perfect wedding day within your budget, just be strategic, and don't get caught up in having a "Pinterest perfect" wedding. There's nothing worse than being broke newlyweds or causing your parents to take out a second mortgage for one day of festivities.
12. take a honeymoon
Just do it. After all of your wedding planning and then your special day there is nothing you don't deserve more than to go on that honeymoon you dreamed of with your hubby to relax and enjoy newly married life. If you budget for it ahead of time and start a small bank account where all your gift money goes to, your dream honeymoon can be achievable. Your honeymoon is the best excuse to splurge and go on a big adventure because who knows when the next chance will be. I went on a dream honeymoon to the Amalfi Coast in Italy and it was worth every penny!
I hope you find this advice helpful in your planning process and that you're enjoying this season of life with your fiancé. Don't hesitate to reach out for any bridal advice!