Hindsight is a wonderful, if not mildly frustrating, thing. It’s all very well and good learning a lesson from an experience but most people don’t ever go back to have a second wedding! So here are 13 things from my own experience that I recommend prioritising on your wedding day.
1. Start the DIY early
We didn’t have a lot of DIY in our wedding (we did the stationery ourselves but that was about it) but even then I wish we’d started it much earlier than we did! These things always take longer than you anticipate so give yourself a fighting chance and get those craft supplies out sooner rather than later! I can’t think of anything worse than still having DIY to do the night before your wedding. That is so not fun!
2. Have your hair and make up done by a pro
I did my own make up, but looking back I really wish I’d had a professional make up artist to do it. I hadn’t yet discovered just how amazing make up done by someone who knows how to contour and properly blend eye shadow can be. I had a few trials in the run up to our wedding but I must have been going to the wrong people because I left each one thinking “Meh, I can do this myself, what’s the point?”
While, in the end, my make up was okaaaay, I would have looked, and felt, a million times more beautiful if I’d had it done by someone else.
I strongly advise having at least one trial before the wedding day (of both hair and make up) to make sure the person you book understands exactly what you want. Bring photographic examples with you to show how you want it to look, and afterwards have someone take photos of you from every angle. It might look great in person but you’ll want to know how it photographs too.
By the way, if you’re in the UK I love and recommend Elbie Van Eeden and Lipstick and Curls for hair and make up, and Allison Cameron for make up. Other artists that I’ve worked with and loved around the world are Regan Rabanal (make up), Kristen Jackson (hair) and Eryk Datura (make up) in New York, Your Beauty Call in Vegas (both), Lauren aka Queen of Blending in LA (make up) and Bernice in Melbourne (make up).
A lot of couples don’t seem to like asking for help, but believe me, most of your friends and family will be happy – thrilled in fact – to lend a hand. You can not do everything yourself, especially on the day, and especially if you are having a DIY wedding!
Its also a really good idea to have a specific person in charge of certain things, for example the playlist (if you’re not having a DJ or band), keeping the photo booth ticking over and riot-free, and for rounding up wayward family members for the group photos!
4. Have a ceremony rehearsal
We had a rehearsal the day before our wedding and at first I thought it was going to be weird, “Who needs to practice?? I thought, “surely I just walk down the aisle and say ‘I do’?”.
But there’s a lot that goes into some ceremonies (particularly religious ones) so it’s a really good idea to have a run through. In ours, we actually had to respond with “I will”, not “I do” so I would have got that wrong for starters..!
It’s also good to find out in advance things like what to do with your bouquet, who’s going to pass you your vows and when, and where you have to go to sign the marriage certificate.
You’ll also probably be really surprised just how poignant the ceremony is. I’m not a teary, emotional person but I burst into (happy!) tears when we were practising our vows. I’m glad I didn’t do it in front of a church packed with every single person I know!
Oh and practice your walk down the aisle. I practically sprinted down the thing I was so nervous and excited. I was at the bottom before the song had really even begun. Take your time!
5. Have a back up copy
…Of everything! The music, the group shot list, the seating plan… you just never know. Give one of each to a responsible bridesmaid or groomsman.
6. Make time for photos
If you want some of those beautiful portraits that you’ve seen all over your photographer’s website, then you need to set time aside for them. You’ll be looking at around 15-20 minutes, which, in the grand scheme of things isn’t that long. Taking just a little while away from your reception to do these will be so worth it, I promise. We only did about 5 minutes of portraits on our wedding day and I don’t really like any of them because they were so rushed.
Remember, these will probably be the photos that will grace your and your parents’ living room walls for the rest of your lives so they’re worthwhile taking some time over! I wish we had.
For bonus points, do some more as the sun starts to set, during the magic ‘golden hour’. The light will be flipping incredible and you’ll get some totally amazing shots. You seriously won’t regret it. It’s also really nice to have an excuse to escape the party and have a little space and a few moments with your new spouse. For the rest of the reception you’ll be talking to everyone else constantly!
7. Get photos taken with the people you love the most
While we managed to get a photo of nearly everyone who was at the wedding, I wish we’d had some photographs taken with the people we love the most. Grandparent’s especially. It sounds morbid, but you just never know how long they’re going to be around. My Grandmother has since passed and my Grandfather, now at the ripe old age of 95, is in a nursing home in Ireland. I wish I’d had a photo taken with them on the happiest day of my life.
8. Practice your first dance
I couldn’t have cared less about the whole ‘first dance’ thing, but I do wish we’d taken some time beforehand to plan what we might do. We’re not exactly natural dancers so an embarrassing shuffle to All You Need is Love was about as much as we could muster. Even if we’d just planned a little spin or a dip or something it would have been much less mortifying.
9. Buy flat shoes
Seriously. You’re going to be on your feet ALL DAY and by 8pm I guarantee you’ll be kicking off those oh so beautiful but oh so painful bejewelled skyscrapers and wishing you’d bought something cute and practical.
10. Skip the traditions you don’t care about
I’ll never forget throwing my bouquet, it bouncing off the back wall and hitting my maid of honour in the head. I really wasn’t that bothered about the tradition of throwing it, and in fact I forgot about it completely until someone reminded me to do it right at the end of the night!
Don’t feel obliged to include anything in your wedding just because it’s tradition. If you don’t care about it, ditch it!
11. Get the speeches out of the way early
Most best men, father’s of the bride, and grooms will be pretty nervous about their speeches. So give them a break and get them out of the way sooner rather than later. That way, they can enjoy the rest of the evening and they won’t have drunk too much beforehand!
12. Eat the food!
You will be a bundle of emotions all day, and whilst the champagne will slip down easily, you’ll probably forget to eat. Or you just won’t be hungry at all. But, seriously, eat the damn food and taste your cake! Not only have you probably spent a lot of money on them but I bet it’s all your favourite stuff too! You might as well enjoy it, even if you don’t really feel like it at the time. Eating will also massively help the inevitable post-wedding hangover!
13. Realise what the most important thing is…
On the day you won’t really care about the little stuff. Not because you didn’t bother or make an effort, but because you’ll be so happy to just be getting married! You won’t care if your flowers wilt, you splash a bit of red wine on your dress, or you forget to cut the cake… its all part of your story.
What matters the most is that at the end of the day you’ve said “I do” and you fall into bed, as husband and wife*, realising just how lucky you are to have found each other. It’s then that the fun really begins anyway (no not that you kinky mare) – the MARRIAGE!
*or wife and wife, husband and husband – yay!