Bridal Blogger Stephanie: What I Learned—and Signing Off
I’m sad to say goodbye. This marks the end of a year and a half of writing, nearly 50 posts—a mini novel!
In all honesty, I’m sad because it means our wedding and the nearly 540 days that went into planning it have officially come to an end. I’m not so sad about the planning part—I’m pretty thrilled about the conclusion of that! But I wish I could relive my wedding day over and over again. I find myself nearly every morning and night looking at photos and video to try to keep the best day of my life fresh in my mind, to not to lose a single detail. I try to put myself back in the moment and remember the way I felt when Pat read his vows to me, the energy of the room and how majestic it looked when we came dancing into the reception, how stunned I was by the exquisiteness of the flowers, the draping, and the light, how my sister’s and brother-in-laws’ speeches incited both hysterical laughter and tears, how mobbed the dance floor was at the after party and the crazy dance moves that comprised it, and how I went to bed so blissfully happy that I couldn’t repress tears of an all-consuming joy from streaming down my cheeks as I tried to fall asleep.
The good news: We invested a whole lot of time and money into finding the right people to help us remember the most important day of our lives. Our videographer CinemaCake—possibly the best wedding decision I made—delivered us our “Wedding Trailer” just a few days after the wedding: a sneak peek of sorts of what’s to come in our final wedding video. When I began the search, I wrote here about how indispensible it was for me to have a videographer. And my wedding only proved that further. As essential as photos are, the sounds and movement of the day complete the picture and give it so much more depth. See what I’m talking here, below (Editor’s note: And stay tuned for their “Love Story” video!):
I also just received in my inbox yesterday our wedding photos, which I’ve just about been dying in anticipation over—though I had lots of pictures from my guests to hold me over in the meantime. (And I had some super impressive photographers in the crowd; they took pictures that I absolutely adore and are entirely different from my photographer Susan’s.) Of my photographer Susan Stripling’s 600-plus photos, below are a few of my favorites.
Before signing off, I wanted to offer some advice to future brides based on things I learned, mistakes I made, and good decisions I fought for:
- Trust your gut. I find that I often rely on logic or common sense to make my decisions, but in the wedding planning process, sometimes you really have to go with what feels right. From choosing my venue to even choosing the house Pat and I are now living in, all kind of logical factors contributed, but ultimately, it was about what did I feel most comfortable in, what made me feel happy. I can’t impress upon this enough with regard to choosing a wedding dress. I had tried on so many stunning gowns and the opinions of my family and friends were pulling me in all kinds of directions. But when I put on the Enzoani lace gown, something clicked. It wasn’t the ah-hah, halleluiah, tear-inducing moment of Say Yes to the Dress, but I knew it. I’m not sure anyone else did, and their lackluster reactions made me a tad doubtful. But on my wedding day, it was so crystal clear to everyone. It was a dress meant for me.
- Learn to be decisive and confident in your choices. You are going to be presented with literally thousands of possibilities and expected to make decisions quickly. I tend to be an often indecisive person, and I like to carefully weigh all my options. That doesn’t fly in the wedding planning process. After being presented with 200 different table cloths to choose from, I realized that it was that 5th one that immediately caught my eye yet I was afraid to speak up about that was indeed my favorite. Say it. Go for it. Trust your gut. And move on to the next decision.
- Fight for what’s most important to you. I yearned for a more personal ceremony. It was one of my biggest priorities. And when I mentioned it to our families, there was certainly a lot of opposition, as the implication was a ceremony outside of the Catholic Church. In the end, they consented. While nearly impossible to pick a favorite part of my wedding day, I think I’d be safe in saying it was the ceremony. I had spent such a long time working on the script so to speak. I very purposefully selected specific readings that I thought spoke to us best. I catered the response to the readings to address us and our guests. Before the lighting of the unity candle, I wrote about our families’ heritage and history. When I told people we were writing our own vows, they’d look at me like I had three heads. And our vows were by far the best part of the ceremony. All in all, it was meaningful, intimate, personal, romantic. It was everything I wanted and dreamed of that I would have never had if I hadn’t fought for it.
- Many people told me not to stress over the details, that I wouldn’t even remember or take notice of them on my wedding day. But that night, I remember how there was the perfect combination of low and high centerpieces, how the color of the table cloths accented the flowers, how great the square tables and Lucite chairs looked within the ballroom, how thrilled guests were about the basket of flip flops, how much fun it was to have deserts butlered around the dance floor. Stressing over the details was worth it. It’s what made the wedding what it was, and it was so utterly rewarding to hear guests comment and take pictures of the details my mom and I spent so very long toiling over.
- Don’t leave big, important tasks for the end. While I by no means intentionally procrastinated like I did for a research paper in college, there were some very essential tasks that I should have never left until the last month, days, hours that had I not could have saved me a ton of anxiety. Planning a wedding consumes your life. Your free time disappears. For the last year and a half, I was constantly working on things for the wedding, yet I wish I would have crammed in the critical to-dos earlier on in the process (ie. writing my vows, crafting the ceremony, writing thank you’s to my bridal party and parents, gifts for my bridal party and parents, finalizing the program). I have a coworker getting married in only a few weeks, worried about all that’s left to do. I suggested to him that he do everything in his power to get as much done as possible now, be stressed now so that he can enjoy the week of his wedding. I wasn’t able to sufficiently calm down until just the day before.
- The planning process is inevitably going to be stressful. I think it’s better to come to terms with it. But ensure that you fully take advantage of the fun stuff. My favorite appointments: menu tasting, cake tasting, and meeting with the band. And try to pick out where your going on your honeymoon as soon as possible. Pat and I waited until the end, and the number one reason this was a bad idea, is that it only gave us a month to daydream about Costa Rica amidst all the craziness. It could have been my happy escape months earlier!
- Pat and I are currently contending with a ginormous list of thank yo’s that has built up from our showers and extended to the wedding. This same coworker mentioned that whenever he and his fiancé receive a wedding gift, they send out a thank you right away. Brilliant! Do this if you can.
- Lastly, savor each and every moment of your wedding day. This was the number-one piece of advice I got from past brides—that the day goes by so quickly, try to take it all in. I tried to take mental snapshots. While getting ready, I looked at all of my bridesmaids milling around laughing, smiling, looking stunning. Click. Just after meeting Pat at the top of the aisle, I remember trying to soak in the room, the flowers, the bridal party, the music, and I tried to squeeze in a quick glance at all of our guests. Click. During the reception, on the dance floor, I paused and watched all of my family members and friends swaying, jumping, grooving. Click. Just before entering the after party next door, I snuck into the ballroom once more to get a final look at the breathtaking room. Click. And during the last song of the night, I took a moment to fully take in my husband and the overwhelming happiness I was feeling at that moment. Click.
I thank each and every one of you for reading. I’m humbled and incredibly grateful to all of you who followed each week. It’s been such a pleasant surprise to hear from so many of you—former classmates from grade school, high school, and college, people I met while studying aboard, coworkers, family members across the country, old friends, and readers I haven’t yet had the chance to meet.
This has been a remarkable opportunity—chance to get back to writing. I think my journalism professors would be proud. A chance to document such an important time in my life that I’ll be able to look back on in such a vivid way. And a chance to be able to bring everyone along for the ride.