Over the next fortnight I’m going to start recapping our wedding, the ceremony our reception and the little details which made it perfect for us: writing our own vows, having alone time after the ceremony, the wedding advice postcards. However, like anything with the benefit of hindsight there are a couple of things I would do differently. As I am now officially a smug married (thank you, Bridget Jones) let me pass on my assvice – do you see what I did there? – to you gentle reader. In the hope that another bride-to-be might avoid the same pitfalls I fell into, here is my list of things I would do differently.
Wait to announce your engagement online
After we got engaged, we immediately drove over to both our parents to tell them in person, I rang my friends, aunties and uncles and then I updated my facebook status. Uh-er. Looking back, I wish I’d left a day or even a couple of hours keeping it a delicious secret between us and our nearest and dearest. By announcing it when I did as well as the lovely congratulations the well-meaning questions started pouring in. ‘When’s the big day?’, ‘Where is it?’ even cheekily ‘Am I invited?’. Raising factors we hadn’t yet considered and inevitably stressing me out. I wish I had given us a bit more time to enjoy the moment without having to think about the practicalities. Knowing my impatient nature however still even with hindsight I am not sure I would have been able to restrain myself.
Don’t buy into the wedding myth
This leads me to mistake number 2. I’ve talked before about how I was never one of those brides who had their wedding pre-planned from the start. I was a complete novice, ignorant of so many things other people knew from birth. The next day as a gift somebody kindly bought me some wedding magazines. And being the readaholic I am, I devoured them instantly and started to panic. We needed so many things and there was no way we could afford any of it. That night I went to bed physically shaking with anxiety. It took me a good fortnight to discover sensible blogs like A Practical Wedding or Rock N Roll Bride. I’ve said this before and I’m sure I’ll say it again, but you can have a two person wedding or a 200 person wedding. Do whatever you want, whether it’s chair covers or mason jars but remember it’s just stuff you don’t need any of that to have a wedding.
Throw an engagement party
Our friends Roger and Sarah, whose anniversary we were to later steal, threw fabulous engagement BBQ in their back garden. We got engaged in snowy December, a time of year where even the frugal weep at the thought of their overdrafts. Throwing an engagement party seemed like an imposition on our friends. Also shouldn’t we be saving our limited money for a wedding? But if I’d know we would not marry for another year and a half I would have thrown us a party. Now older and hopefully a bit wiser, I realised you need to celebrate milestones. We should have thrown a cheap party in a pub. (Hopefully) you only get engaged once you might as well celebrate it.
Be pickier about your venue shortlist
The first three months of 2011 where spent driving throughout Surrey, Sussex and Hampshire to over 36 venues. And this was our shortlist. With hindsight, I wish we had limited our search even further. Yes, there were some venues: the barns, the marquees, the schools that we had to visit to realise that this was not where we wanted to hold our wedding. But some venues I could see from the web that they weren’t for us and we wasted valuable time and petrol confirming that. It all worked out in the end as our venue, the Elvetham, was as beautiful as it appeared online and so much better than I had ever imagined.
Order your wedding dress in the right size
When I was measured for my wedding dress I was right in the middle of two dress sizes. The shop asked me if I was going to lose any weight or if I wanted to order the dress in the size up. Stupidly I ordered the dress in the size down. Then I injured my foot and was unable to exercise, this combined with the stress of University made losing weight very tough. The week before my first fitting I actually had nightmares about my dress not fitting causing so much stress and anguish. In the end they only had to take the dress out around my hips and in around my waist. But the worry was the last thing I needed when I was writing two essays. Remember it is much easier to take in a wedding dress than take one out. And if you can go for a lace up back dress as it gives you so more flexibility if you put on or lose weight before the big day.
Double, triple, quadruple check your guest list
My biggest wedding faux paux still makes me cringe. I handed my hen night invitee’s list incluiding email addresses and mobile phone numbers over to my sister who decided the easiest way to organise the hen do was through facebook. However, I didn’t realise that a friend of mine was not on facebook. Because I was kept in the dark due to some key and awesome surprises, I didn’t notice that my friend was missing from the facebook group. As I was so distracted by Uni, it wasn’t until a mutual friend told me that I realised she had been inadvertently not invited. I really hurt and upset her, as she rightly assumed that the omission was deliberate. So double, triple and quadruple check your guest lists not just for the wedding but for the hen do
Write down a list of essential photos and take them early
I did write a list of must-have photos, the vast majority of which we took. But there a couple of things that got missed or I didn’t think of until later on in day. I should have got a shot of my best friend making me up, I should have got a shot of us signing the register with our witnesses, I should have taken a shot with just me and my mum, I should have got more shots with the evening guests and I should have got a shot of HWSNBN and me holding books up in front of our faces in front of the library wall. Before our photographer left he asked if there was anything else we wanted to do. All these thoughts flashed through my head, but I was swaying on my feet by then. If there are pictures you NEED take them early in the day before you get smile fatigue. Mostly, I’ve come to terms with this. I was really conscious that I wanted to strike a balance between having some great photos of the day and also enjoying ourselves and I think we got this right.
Unlace your dress before dinner
Picture the scene. My very glamourous best friend Debs wearing a pair of rubber gloves lacing into my dress. (To prevent her nail varnish rubbing off on the dress.)’How tight do you want it?’ She asks. ‘Tight, faint-inducing tight.’ And the dress was perfect, as long as I was upright. But when I sat down for dinner I managed my vegetable tart and half a rice ball before my corset started digging in. You know all those jokes people make about how your wedding meal is the most expensive meal you’ll never eat? So true. My family asked if I was OK, I’m fine I snapped hangrily at my poor dad (definition: anger bought on by hunger). Finally my mother in law dragged me off to the toilets and loosed the laces (yet another reason to forgo buttons) after which I forced down a whole other rice ball. So ladies loosen your dress before the wedding breakfast
Don’t video your own wedding
Out of all of the above, this is the only one we both still regret. The subhead gives the impression we fixed camera’s to our head, Smack My Bitch Up style, but we’re not that weird. We didn’t want to ask family to film the ceremony as they wanted to be present enough to enjoy it. So poor HWSNBN on the morning of the wedding set up the tripod and video camera up to video it automatically. In his befuddled state when he was checking the angles there was nobody else in the frame to check the position. The shot was perfect… when we were sat down. When we stood all you could see was our headless bodies and hear the words we said 😦 After we signed the registrar HWSNBN checked the camera and realised the mistake. If only the camera had been tilted up by just an inch or two we could have seen our faces as we say our vows and as we sat down. This still makes me feel very sad. I still haven’t made peace with the fact that we have a perfect video, if we were headless horseman. So don’t video your own wedding and if possible have two people filming just in case something goes wrong. But we have our photos and I can hear the words, which is more than many couples have.
OK, get to the comments smug married’s and tell me lessons learnt from your wedding