“Always a bridesmaid and never a bride” – was a phrase I heard and lived for many years. After being in and attending over 20 weddings by the time I got married, I pretty much knew exactly what I wanted and what I did not want for my husband, myself, my girls, his guys and our guests.
I think our wedding was fabulous and I have never felt so much love from so many people in one room. It was by far, the greatest day of my life, not only because I was marrying the man of my dreams who has exceeded every expectation I had for a spouse, but because all of the people I loved from my old friends and family to my new friends and family were all together.
I loved planning my wedding, but am certainly not a professional, but there are certain things that I think went extremely well. Based on my many years as a wedding guest, bridesmaid, maid of honor and of course, bride, here are some thoughts:
1. You and your husband should make the decisions. While we greatly respected our parents’ opinions, what they wanted/suggested, was not always what we did. One of the issues we had early on when planning our wedding was deciding to invite children. Many of our cousins and close friends had little ones and we had to decide whether or not we should invite them. In the end, no kids under the age of 13 were in attendance other than our nieces and nephew who were in the wedding. Our wedding, our choice. Done.
2. Choose a reception venue that lets you walk through their kitchen. I had never thought about this before, but the owner of Perona Farms, where we had our reception, invited us into the kitchen on a day when they were having a wedding. In other words, it was cooking in action. It was not specially cleaned for our visit. The floors were not greasy, it was extremely clean and there were inspirational signs hanging above from the ceilings reminding the serves to smile and to treat their customers like they were family. We were sold.
3. Let your bridesmaids choose the style of dress after you choose the color. We’ve all been there as bridesmaids – feeling horrible uncomfortable in a dress that makes your butt look big or is totally not your style. It makes for an uncomfortable day to say the least and it shows – in person and in all of the pictures you try and smile sweetly for. I did not want that for my girls. My girlfriends are incredible. They are from all different eras in my life and come from all different backgrounds. My thought was – they are all different as people, so why couldn’t they be different as bridesmaids? I chose a beautiful royal blue for my color and let the girls try on different styles so they would be comfortable. After all, I want them to have fun and feel good about themselves. My only request was that their dresses were long and to the floor. The girls were very happy that they were able to choose the style and shape that fit their bodies. I also let them choose their shoes. One of my girls does not ever wear heels and she was relieved when I told her that flats were fine, as long as they were silver.
4. Skip the bouquet and garter toss, especially if most of the crowd is older. I will never forget my ex-sister-in-law telling me of a wedding she and my brother attended where a heavier, unattractive girl caught the bouquet and the DJ had to practically beg the single guys to come out and catch the garter. I felt awful for her and I was not even there! Once I heard that, it was out. No way someone was going to feel badly at my wedding.
5. Enjoy cocktail hour with your guests. My husband and I truly love and enjoy our family and friends and wanted to spend as much time as we could with them on our wedding day. We skipped the traditional cocktail hour with the bridal party and enjoyed it with our guests. This also made it more comfortable for the dates of those in the bridal party who might not have known many other guests. We did get introduced before dinner which worked out great.
6. Get the traditional dances out of the way first. Right after you are announced, go right into the first dance and the dances with the father and mother. It’s less painful for the guests and the dancing later on does not need to be interrupted.
7. Play slow music when dinner is served. There is nothing worse than when guests are asked to be seated for dinner and a great dance tune from the 80s gets played. I am not going to lie, I have gotten right up from the table to go out and bust a move, much to the dismay of the waiters and waitresses who are trying to serve the food. Make sure the DJ/band holds the best dance songs before or after the food is served.
8. Dance! My husband and I enjoyed our wedding to the fullest. We were out dancing with everyone and did not go to the tables until towards the end of the night. Enjoy the party. Dance to the songs you so meticulously chose! It’s your day!
9. Step back a moment and take it all in. This was a piece of advice given to me by several people before I got married and I am glad I took it! Take a minute and stop everything to look around at the people in the room. It is so amazing to see your guests smiling, laughing, dancing, drinking and enjoying themselves. To know that they were all there for us made my heart swell.
10. Know that something, inevitably, will not go as planned. My florist forgot to put the three while calla lilies in my bouquet, there was a major screw up at my hairdresser and cocktail hour had to be held inside since the heat lamps were not working. Even the DJ played a song we specifically asked him not to play. Guess what? Our day was still perfect for us and all of those little things were just that – little things. They did not take away from or ruin our day by any means. Do not let them ruin yours!