I loved our wedding. Sure, we got complaints that there should’ve been more speeches. Or that my wedding party should’ve been bigger. Or I should’ve squeezed out a few tears. But who could cry on one of the happiest days of their lives? And quite frankly, who cares if I was wearing heels or not, or if my hair and dress changed a million times during the day? At the end of the night, we got married, and from what I hear, people had a damn good time.
So, because I was one of the first of my friends to get married, let Aunt Jo impart some knowledge and wisdom on Things that Made Day Go Good.
RELAX. Seriously. Once you’ve got all the big stuff taken care of at the beginning, like the hall, the photographers, the DJ, and whatnot, enjoy the ride. It’s hard to mess up a wedding. Breathe. Of course, it also helps that I was engaged to a project manager, so we budgeted and made our to-do lists and schedules pretty early on.
I took my heart rate and blood pressure a week before the wedding. Healthy as a horse!
Embrace teamwork. Let people help. Your friends. The groom. They are all people who have expertise and knowledge to share. Sure, the artsy stuff might not come out exactly as you had in mind, but that’s okay. Because nobody will notice. While the wedding day might be all about you, everything that goes into it is not. There were spats and discussions between us, our parents, my mom, E, E’s parents. E and I worked out well – he took care of the overall logistics and scheduling of the day and I handled the small details. Teamwork, yes? That’s why we’re married.
The most nerve-wracking part of the day was the walk down the aisle. You have to walk slow. There are hundreds of cameras pointed in your direction. You have to smile. And walk slow. I tend to goof when I’m uncomfortable, so it was really hard to stay proper and not do something stupidly awkward. And remember to smile without looking manic. And walk slow.
Build buffer time into everything in your schedule. Married couples kept telling us how quickly the day would go, and that we should take time to just sit back and take everything in. We took that advice to heart. Nothing was rushed. Our ceremony was 20 minutes – we gave it an hour in the schedule. Travel time was 15 minutes, we gave it 30 minutes. It gave us a chance to collect ourselves and not worry about rushing over to the next location.
Don’t DIY in bulk. I know I saved a lot of money trying to make everything myself. But I completely underestimated the time it would take. Making ten or 15 centrepieces would’ve been a breeze. Making 32 of them was brutal. My parents’ garage will have the spray paint marks to commemorate the experience for years to come. If we had gone with floral vendors instead of making our own, I could’ve continued going into my 9-5 office job for the entire week. Then again, we came in well under our original projected budget. I mean like tens of thousands of dollars under. Hm, maybe the trade off was worth it. You let your cheapness barrier decide this one for you.
Surround yourself with good friends. Our wedding party was our barrier that day. Our day-of coordinator was one of E’s project manager colleagues and he ran the show. Combined, they took care of everything. They set the hall up so that it was pretty when guests arrived. They arranged for missing pieces to be filled in. They never once asked us for anything. They packed everything up for us at the end of the night so that when we were ready to leave, we just had to hop in a car and go. I don’t actually know how much crap they took care of that we never knew about. I love my friends.
Get a good MC. I cannot stress how critical it was to our party to have a good Master of Ceremony. He was engaging and fun. He commanded attention. He was a good speaker. He kept the night rolling and set the tone for the evening. A dull MC means everyone gets bored. An engaging MC gets the audience into it. An engaged audience is a fun audience.
Get a good DJ. Same as the MC, a good DJ will make sure people will get up and moving. Ours set the atmosphere for the night, and we received lots of comments about the songs he spun. If anyone is interested: Robin Macdonald went above and beyond what he’s supposed to do for us. We had a great experience with him.
If you can’t go big, go home. E and I struggled a lot with our first dance. We both suck at dancing slowly and looking graceful. And I can’t take direction. So instead of forcing out an awfully awkward dance, we stuck with simple stepping to the rhythm. No dipping and spinning and twirling. This lesson covers everything. If you can’t do a zombie-themed wedding right, don’t bother forcing it. It’ll just come out a hot mess.
Good bartenders are a bonus. Our bartenders took the party to another level with their tricks. They were juggling glasses and bottles all night. And when the dance floor opened, they lit the bar on fire – literally. They made fireballs, fountains of fire, and flaming sambucas. Loved. It.
Bonus tip: For those of you in Toronto who need to buy decorations in bulk, but don’t want to pay the hefty shipping charges, I have two words for you: Creative Bag. I could have saved so much money if I’d known about the store earlier. Ribbon, wrapping paper, party favours, they have everything. Instead, I made repeated trips to Michaels to buy a million rolls of ribbon and wire and other crafting supplies. Ugh.
Other thoughts? What about you other past brides? Any experience you can share with those soon-to-be’s? Share share share!