The wedding is now nearly two months in the past, but I’m still thinking about it -- mostly because it was one of the best nights of my life and I would love to relive it (minus spending all the money).
It sounds cliché, right? One of the best nights of my life -- really? Hey, I’m surprised too. I imagined stress, drama, unforeseen disasters: buffet lines that never moved, drunken and rambling toasts, an empty dance floor save for one guy doing the sprinkler.
But instead, the greatest thing happened. We walked back down the aisle, husband and wife, and as soon as we got out of view, we wrapped our arms around each other and laughed in utter exhilaration. There are few pictures of me looking serene, contemplative or poised. I’m smiling or laughing in all of them. I’m impossibly happy.
During the reception, as we sat there at our sweetheart table and looked out over everything that had come together so well -- all the people in our life who meant the most to us, the people who had cheered our entrance as Mr. and Mrs. so enthusiastically -- all the stress and doubt fell away and this great big feeling of happiness settled over us. I don’t remember all the moments of that night -- it’s true what they say, it flies by -- but I do remember that feeling.
We worked hard to make it to that feeling, and may never have it again, at least not quite the same way. Short of reliving it via a magical time machine, the next best thing is to talk about it. Share the wealth. Pay it forward. Irritate people with unsolicited advice. Let it commence!
Be the red binder girl (or guy): In other words, be organized. My red binder was not just a fanciful collection of centerpiece ideas. I had contracts, questions to ask vendors, budget information, and lists and lists of things to remember, ponder and mull. I had maps, and phone numbers, even a calculator. I printed out pictures of our venue, which allowed me to show the DJ where he could set up and the photographer where she could shoot. Pictures and swatches of the dresses gave the florist clear ideas for coordinating colors.
Do not let people convince you this is being a bridezilla/groomzilla. Being thorough is not the same as screaming obscenities at your caterer for serving cantaloupe instead of honey dew. There will be people who throw out that terribly offensive word as soon as you open your mouth with, “I was thinking…” These people either got married 30 years ago when your parents still planned the whole thing, or are insanely jealous of how on top of things you are. At least that’s what I liked to tell myself.
Be thick-skinned: Your BFF will whine about not having a date to bring. Your in-laws will pressure you to have your wedding the same weekend as Nana’s birthday. Your fiancé will not care about favors, flowers or what color shoes your bridesmaids wear (but will, inexplicably, have strong opinions about what kind of tie the DJ wears and which Beastie Boys song is most appropriate for a wedding reception).
Do not take any of it personally. Human beings in general are selfish creatures -- it’s that whole survival thing. Many people’s immediate reactions will be to focus on how the wedding and its various details affect them. Don’t worry. It’s only a matter of time before you become that annoying friend who responds to news of a friend’s wedding date with, “June really doesn’t work for me…maybe you could do it in May instead?” (Oh, and the best Beastie Boys song? “Fight For Your Right (to Party).” Duh).
Screw etiquette: Don’t tell Emily Post I said that. But seriously, there are lots of antiquated rules when it comes to having a wedding -- what you should wear at what time of the day, who should host the shower, what color your cake should be. Only a few of these rules really serve a practical purpose; most serve to help people sell wedding planning books. Take all etiquette rules with a big (margarita and) grain of salt.
Case in point: After lots of agonizing debate, we decided not to have kids at the wedding, except for The Hubs’ niece and nephew. All the etiquette books said to simply write the parents’ names on the invitation and spread the news word-of-mouth. “Writing ‘Adult-only reception’ is tacky,” they said. Big fat flop. Our RSVP cards were full of write-ins, and we probably ended up hurting some feelings. Those three little words that would have been like Kryptonite to Miss Manners probably would have been well-appreciated by our guest list.
Make it count: Remember, you will (in theory) only do it once. Many people use this as an excuse to spend $200 on trivial things like monogrammed cocktail napkins everyone crumples up anyways or $1,000 for a three-foot-tall cake with frosting that looks like plastic.
What it really should mean is that you should make it what you want. Ignore what the magazines tell you about which colors go well together or what’s “in” for centerpieces this year, and do what makes you happy. Want a bouquet made out of aluminum wire? Sounds good. Want Mario-themed invitations? Go for it. Want to get married in a Taco Bell? Hey, whatever floats your boat. Want to get married dressed as Wonder Woman? Why not?
But seriously. A wedding is a big investment no matter how much you spend, and there’s no point in going through the whole shebang if at the end of it you feel like a cookie cutter.
We skipped the costumes or fast-food locations, but we did our best to inject our own personalities. Hey, we turned 13 pounds of strawberries into homemade wine! Not too shabby.
(Wine photo by Clare Norton)