5 Things I Learned from My Wedding
Above Photograph By: Tom The Photographer
So you just got engaged
You said yes to the ring! Now what? Your childhood dreams finally came true and it’s time to make all those saved Pinterest boards a reality.
The other evening I was chatting with friends, one of which is in the middle of planning her wedding coming up in 8 months. She had just secured a venue and was so excited, yet calm and totally focused on how she wanted her wedding to be. To be honest, I was impressed given the trend for many younger brides-to-be with a mission to have the biggest, most expensive and most social media worthy wedding.
Every person/family has their own set of goals, measures, and even social expectations of what “has to happen!” Being a bit more “seasoned,” I begin to wonder, is that really necessary? Some brides and parents of the bride (like mine) may adamantly exclaim “yes”, but have we all stopped to think a little more in depth about the bigger picture and the ultimate goal of the marriage?
Call me young and naive at the time, but I didn’t care about the flowers, a bridal party, the venue or what kind of food was being served.
Looking back, and although I was only 20 years old when I got married, I recall being so ecstatic that I was marrying the man of my dreams, my soulmate, the love of my life that I could care less about the razzle dazzle of the wedding itself. For me, it was about the ceremony and the scriptures that were read before our vows and celebrating to good music with dear friends afterward.
Call me young and naive at the time, but I didn’t care about the flowers, a bridal party, the venue or what kind of food was being served. As I look back, almost 25 years later, I ask myself if I would do things any differently? Heck “YES!” Here is what I would change:
Please note: Every bride has their own thoughts, dreams, circumstances and how they want their wedding to be. I am just sharing my personal thoughts - especially with the passage of time and the luxury of hindsight!
Choosing a venue
Honestly, if it were up to me, I would have had my wedding in my parents’ backyard where my sister had her wedding. It was beautiful, had enough room to accommodate and the big bonus… it was free! As I look back at my own wedding, we had it in a really nice hotel. The ceremony was in a ballroom and the reception was held in a larger ballroom that was like a garden room with a beautiful waterfall and skylights all over - beautiful back drop for pictures. But that wasn’t who I was back then nor do I think it’s who I am today.
What I would have loved was a beautiful venue regardless of location where I could take photographs to remember the day. If I were to do it all over again, I would hands down have a barn or backyard wedding where I could take my shoes off after the ceremony and dance the night away. That (and saying our vows) was my favorite part of the day. So before you spend an exuberant amount per head, think about if that is in fact what you really want.
How many guests to invite
We had over 200 guests at our wedding. Middle Eastern parents (like the Italian families we see in movies) have lots of family (my dad is the youngest of I think 13) so a majority of guests were family. However, my father, being the business man that he has always been, invited existing clients, prospective clients, and past clients. I remember people congratulating John and myself and I had no idea who they were.
Looking back, the wedding was supposed to be a celebration of John and me getting married. Not a business transaction for dad - lol. Love him to death, but if I were to do it all over again, I wouldn’t even invite half my relatives! I may get disowned, but that’s ok.
What would be perfect for me is if we invited our close family and those we had extremely close bonds with along with our closest friends. I don’t think I would want my wedding to be any larger than 75 people maybe 100 at the most. Although our wedding was so fun and turned out great, I think it would have been so much cozier if we didn’t have so many of the “acquaintances.”
Looking back, the wedding was supposed to be a celebration of John and me getting married. Not a business transaction for dad…
Picking your wedding dress
Sensitive topic… I know. And it’s the one place where I say, buy it, rent it, pay whatever you want for it but get EXACTLY what you want. I remember trying on dress after dress and thinking, I look like I’m 30 (don’t laugh - I was still so young back then) and I want to look my age and be comfortable and most importantly, look like me and who I was. To this day, I wouldn’t have changed my dress - it was the perfect reflection of who I was - a tomboy and easy-going young adult. I basically found a dress that was like a glorified t-shirt.
If I were to do it all over again, I would not mind wearing the same dress (although I don’t even know where it is - I may have actually donated it, or thrown it away!). Twenty-five years later, although I would be perfectly content wearing the same dress, I would more than likely have it a bit less tomboyish. I think I am less of a tomboy and a bit more elegant due to the age thing (can you sense my eyes rolling).
My take away here is don’t go for the most expensive dress or what the hottest celebrity is wearing. Buy/rent/borrow a dress that is a reflection of you.
If I were to do it all over again, I would not mind wearing the same dress…
Don’t forget the flowers (or do)
I still chuckle when I think back to my wedding. This is how relaxed I was about the whole thing and how all I cared about was marrying John. A day or two before the wedding, we realized we had not ordered any flowers - I just never thought of it and my parents thought I had taken care of it already. Nope - not the case. Oops.
Luckily, my dad knew a guy (don’t all dads know a guy) who had a floral warehouse but all he had at the time were carnations. Yep, carnations. So literally, 30 minutes before the guests arrived for the ceremony at the hotel, my mom, dad, uncle, and John’s parents were dragging vases from my parents’ home to the hotel and decorating them with carnations.
Fun Fact: Our photographer almost fired me and walked off the job the day of my wedding. Why? He was getting ready to take photographs of me before the ceremony and I had no bouquet! Again, it was not top of mind for me. Luckily, my aunt who had gotten married a couple years earlier had her silk bouquet (that’s how some brides did it back then) and she ran home and retrieved it from her attic… and that’s what I ended up using for my bouquet. Thank goodness she had that or the photographer may very well have walked away!
What shoes to wear
Yes, shoes. I have never been a shoe girl and because John and I were so close in height, I wore flats which were really convenient and super comfortable. Having said that, I received a lot of grief from some as to why I wasn’t wearing sparkly heels or something fancier. No thanks, not for me.
Again, I think it’s important to wear what you want and not what is expected or perceived as to what you should wear.
When all's said and done, it’s your day. Regardless of your budget, just because you can spend it, doesn’t necessarily mean you should. Especially if it muddies the essence of what you want your day to be like and is not true to who you are. Twenty-five years later, I am the happiest about marrying John. While the wedding was fun, those things come and go, but what remains is who you are and who you continue to evolve to be so stay true to that!