Mike and I have been in Michigan all week and are attending a wedding today in Davison! I love weddings, though there's always a part of me that compares every wedding I've been to with my own. Mike and I had a medium sized wedding. We invited more than 200 people and around 150 RSVPd "yes." Of those 150, maybe 135 showed up, but only because we promised there'd be free food and liquor.
I was pretty much the first of my friends to have a wedding, but several of them will probably be tying the knot here in the not so distant future (Taylor I'm looking at you), so I figured I'd write down some advice I wish had been shared with me during the planning phase.
• Make a list of the five things you really really really really WOULD DIE WITHOUT. These are the only five things you're allowed to have an attitude about. Anything else you are not allowed to take issue with. You don't want to look back on your engagement with embarrassment because you couldn't or wouldn't take off your "princess of the world" hat. The only exception to this rule is if you feel your wedding is being hijacked by a controlling family member or fiancee. Don't be afraid to put your foot down, and don't be too apathetic.
The things I really wanted going into this whole shebang:
1. A great dress (I liked my dress, but if I could do it over, I would skip the strapless ball gown and go with something less heavy and more whimsical)
2. A great photographer (Given what I had to work with locally, ours were OK at best and really affordable)
3. Great food (YES! Our caterer was great)
4. Small guest list (Kind of...)
5. Open bar (CHECK!)
• Don't argue over the guest list. Maybe your mom wants to invite some crazy friend of the family who nobody has heard from in 10 years. Maybe your sister has a list of people she'd like to invite who know all about you and your life but whom you've never met. WHO CARES. 99% of these people will not come, and even if they do, aside from an obligatory "hello" at some point during the evening, you won't even notice them. I had a number in my head: 150. As the invite list continued to creep above 200, I would freak out, get pouty, and then start picking people to vote off the island. Of the people who came, I spent the evening celebrating with ONE.
• Put down the pizza. Step away from the ice cream. I promise, you won't regret running that extra mile when you get your photos back. I wish I could have hired someone to follow me around and slap all the bad food out of my hand. Team up with your future spouse to get in shape before slipping on the dress and tuxedo.
• When tracking RSVPs, keep in mind who is coming with youngin's and seat them somewhere special. If you can procure an off-site babysitter for the wee ones, do that. If you find a homeless man outside, pay him $50 and a sack of candy to take the kiddos and hide them for a few hours. Crying babies will literally ruin your day. Unless you feel differently than I do about children, then by all means let them run around all over the place. If you're lucky they'll spill juice on your dress!
• Regardless of the weather, find a way to take pictures with your new husband/wife. Maybe it's humid out. Maybe it's drizzly/foggy/hurricaney. Maybe it's too cold. Maybe there's a tornado warning. Suck it up. Umbrellas make great props, rain or shine! Find somewhere pretty to take pictures. That means after you take the obligatory group photos in front of the alter, GO SOMEWHERE ELSE. Go outside. Find some pretty trees or interesting architecture. If you don't, you will regret it.
This needs to be your mantra: It's about the marriage, not the wedding.
• If you're stocking your own open bar (like we did), make arrangements in advance to have friends/family haul off the left over liquor. Mike and I are beer and wine people, and we have an entire closet dedicated to the liquor that didn't get finished at our reception. Gin, Whiskey, Tequila, and Rum galore! If prohibition ever happens again, we will be all set.
KEEPING IT TOGETHER
• Listen to your wedding planner. Or whoever is executing the details (see next tip). Don't leave too early or the sparklers will not all be lit, your photographer will not be ready, and you won't get the grand exit you were hoping for. In the grand scheme of things, this doesn't really matter. But it will bug you when you get your photos back. Also, be prepared to wait upwards of 4 months to get your professional shots back, especially if you hired someone with a high job volume.
• Get a wedding planner. My mom probably could have done everything on her own (and she did 90% of it) but had the wedding planners not been there during the process and ultimately the day of, I don't know if the wedding would've happened.
• Your maid of honor should stash a bag somewhere readily accessible. In this bag there should be three things: DEODORANT, PERFUME, OIL ABSORBING SHEETS. Spare make-up is not a bad idea either.
• Finally, if someone, ANYONE, offers you $10,000 (or any sum of money) to forego the big wedding, TAKE IT. TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN.