By Monte Durham
Your wedding day is one of the most important days of your life, as well as your spouse and both of your families. Happiness and stress abound on that special day; many, many good things happen – and sometimes a few aspects go awry.
After being involved with hundreds of weddings and blessings of couples, there are a few little insights that I wish I had imparted to the blissful brides before the big day.
Below are my best efforts to compile and distill a few gems of advice that can make all the difference in whether or not you have a wonderful, harmonious wedding or one that is memorable but perhaps not in the way you had hoped.
Here are a few things you should be certain to do:
Have an open mind when dress shopping. The dress that is perfect for you may not look as perfect on Instagram. Similarly, that dress that doesn’t seem appealing at first glance on the rack may be perfect for your body type.
Go with a firm budget in mind. Know where you are willing to compromise. Food and drink are usually the largest items in the budget. If the perfect dress or stunning flowers turn out to be a bit more than you budgeted for, figure out where and how much you can trim from other places in the budget. Virtually everyone will be willing to work with you to maximize your budget.
Keep in mind not only what is most important to you on your wedding day, but, as I often say, “Who’s paying is who’s saying.” By that I mean that as a bride, you may not want to include particular friends of your parents or serve a particular dish. However, if it is your father’s BFF from college or his favorite food and he is underwriting the wedding, it is probably a good idea to figure out a way to invite his buddy or incorporate that dish into the wedding menu.
Have a very clear vision of the day. Are you trying to make the day romantic and sweet or sophisticated and elegant or edgy and contemporary? It is easy to get swayed if you aren’t sure what you want.
Be aware people are going to great expense to be in the wedding party or even attend the wedding. Being a member of the wedding party can easily cost between $1,200 and $1,800 for the dress, shoes, travel, hotel and wedding present. Wedding guests may have traveled a long way to be there for your big day. Be sure to circulate and thank them or even consider having a receiving line at the reception.
Make sure the day is encompassing and inclusive for the families and the groom and his friends. No one enjoys a rehearsal dinner or wedding reception where every toast or talk is an inside joke.
Be prompt or early to the wedding venue. Many weddings work on a tight schedule, and if, for whatever reason, the wedding starts 20 minutes late, someone should let the wedding guests know why there is a delay.
On the flip side, here are some thoughts on what never to let happen on your wedding day.
Don’t walk around the reception with a beer bottle in your hand. Many a special photo has been ruined with the “beer bottle in hand” look. Simply pour the beer into a glass. You will be glad you did.
Avoid giving into the temptation to raise your bouquet over your head after you are pronounced husband and wife. The wedding guests do not need to stare at your armpits. Save the cheering for the reception. If you do raise the bouquet over your head as you start to walk down the aisle, you will regret that decision later when you see that moment captured in scores of photos.
Don’t expect flower girls, ring bearers and pets to behave at the altar. There is an excellent chance they will not, and you will be upstaged by their antics or the dog that decides to suddenly “mark” the groom’s pants.
Don’t be afraid to set boundaries. Guests love the certainty of being told, for example, that the attire is black tie or “cruise” casual for a beach wedding or sport jackets or whatever. Don’t give options about dress. Be specific about what to wear and your guests will appreciate it.
Don’t be lulled into thinking your wedding day is only your day. It certainly is one of the most important events of your life, but your wedding day is also one of the biggest days of the groom’s life and his parents as well as yours – not to mention your grandparents. Be gracious even in the face of glitches.
All of the words of wisdom above come from first-hand experience of what has gone well and what hasn’t at the scores of weddings I have been involved in. And one last tip: Savor the moment.
The writer is the image consultant for “Say ‘Yes’ to the Dress Atlanta” and owner of Salon Monte.