Wedding Recap and Withdrawal

Lessons learned

Wow, I can't believe we did it! Wedding preparation is such a crazy process, I want to share a few lessons learned and reflections from my big day:

1. The details really don't matter that much.

I spent a lot of time and emotional energy on the DIY details of the day. For some things, I wasted way too much time and energy. Yes, the details are great and some guests will 'ooh' and 'ahh' over them. But, at the end of the day, this is not a photoshoot. This is your wedding, and it's the big picture items (the ceremony, guest comfort, the bar, food, dancing) that make a wedding awesome.

2. Engage your emotions.

I found it really difficult to engage emotionally regarding the wedding. It was just easier emotionally to think of it all as a big event I was planning. The day of, it hit me. This is my WEDDING. This is the day I commit my life to my husband. This is the day that friends and family come to celebrate our love. I really could have gave a crap at that point if the napkins matched the centerpieces.

3. Mental snapshots and time management.

Everyone says it and it is so true: the day goes by SO quickly. I tried to take mental snapshots throughout the day, which was super helpful. One of the worst parts about the wedding is that there are so many guests you want to spend time with. I encourage you to take advantage of the week before to visit with out of town guests. At the reception, don't just hang out with your wedding party -- visit with the people who you don't get to see often.

4. Photography

On the same note, it's super helpful to get the pictures out of the way early. I'm still kinda bummed about missing cocktail hour for our wedding photos, but it would have been SO much worse if we hadn't gotten family pictures done beforehand. The first look is really special. Professional photos aren't in yet, but here's a family friend's shot of ours:


5. Bar decisions

We decided to only host beer and wine, not hard alcohol. I kind of regret that decision. Part of our rationale is that we knew there would be some partiers at the wedding and we wanted to keep things from getting too crazy. The thing is, those people still got crazy even without hard alcohol. The people who did shell out for mixed drinks were folks that were staying respectable. Of course, this was their choice but I felt bad that they had to pay out of pocket for anything the day of the wedding. I realized that people will behave how they want to behave, no matter what's hosted.

6. Vows and amplification

I really encourage everyone to write their own vows. It made our day so special. However, don't be fooled like we were by the officiant who said that the mic on her lapel would amplify us. We found out later only the first few rows could hear us.

7. Giving away centerpieces

I didn't give too much thought to what we would do with the floral centerpieces after the wedding. I assumed folks would take them but I forgot to offer them out to people. I definitely encourage you to specifically offer centerpieces to people unless you want to take home more than half a dozen centerpieces like we did! Luckily, our centerpieces and archpieces have lasted the week and brightened up the house.

I hope this helps!! This board was so helpful during the wedding process.


Re: Lessons learned

  • I definitely agree with 1-4. I'm so grateful I spent most of my wedding planning time on A Practical Wedding, which really emphasizes that how your wedding feels is so much more important than how it looks. 

    Along with your mental snapshots suggestion, try to write down your wedding memories as soon as you can. I spent some time on the Sunday after our wedding writing down everything I could remember from the day. I especially value this for two reasons. (1) Once you get your photos back, those snapshots kind of take over your actual memories. It's nice to be able to go back to your writing and see the rest of the story. (2) We had a Quaker wedding where guests stood and shared thoughts and prayers with us. We didn't have a videographer, so writing those words down is the only way we can keep them!

    The only thing I really disagree with is writing your own vows. This is a personal choice and people should do what's right for them. For example, we used the traditional Quaker vows, and we really value their long history and the fact that they tie us to generations of my husband's family who have said the same words.

    Your photo is adorable. Congratulations!!
  • I wish more people planning wedding with partially hosted bars would read #5.  No guest should have to open up their wallet during the reception.  
  • I agree with alot of what you wrote, although I think vows are an extremely personal choice.  I also wanted to add, donating your leftover flowers (such as centerpieces) to a nearby hospital or nursing home is a great alternative to sending them home with guests.  As a guest, I find the "games" to determine who should get the centerpiece extremely tacky and most people probably aren't even interested in taking one anyhow.
  • I loved a lot of what you said, however I agree with another writer about vows. While some couples do feel comfortable writing their own vows and sharing them in front of everyone I know that for my husband and I that was not something we wanted. We decided to say the standard "do you?" "for richer and poorer" vows however we wrote each other letters. His best man delivered his letter to me and my maid of honor delivered my letter to him before the ceremony. That way we were still able to write our own vows but we kept them between the two of us. Now the letters are framed and hanging in our bedroom. Nice keepsake from the day. 

  • 1. The details really don't matter that much. Agree 100%. If I could go back in time and save myself countless hours of sewing flowers, etc. I would. I'm glad I did some of it, but I could have done SO much less. 2. Engage your emotions. Agree. 3. Mental snapshots and time management. Agree! Budget in more time than you need.. everyone will tell brides this, and so often it's ignored. I budgeted in a tiny bit more time than needed for each thing and it wasn't enough. Things so often run over in weddings, plan for it. Our photos during cocktail hour took significantly longer than planned for, so we were late to the dinner, which I felt really bad about. We should've done more photos pre-ceremony to prevent that from happening. 4. Photography Agree. I didn't want to do a first look at all, but I can see how they work well. As many photos as you can get done early, the better off you seem you'll be. 5. Bar decisions We hosted beer, wine, well drinks and 2 signature cocktails and made sure lots of water, juice etc. was available too. I encourage people to think carefully about your signature cocktails- we offered 1 that was a white sangria that had a very low alcohol content, and 1 was a blue agave margarita with a higher alcohol content but still not too high. I was amazed that almost every person we saw drink was drinking 1 of the signature cocktails- so like I said, choose wisely. Plus, they're fun- our drinks were our wedding colors, and we made fun signs for them ("his and hers" since we each chose one of them). Yes, Pinterest shows way too many wedding signature cocktails now. Yes, they're still a great idea lol. Did one of my bridesmaids get very drunk and break dance, because she loved the margarita a little too much? Yes indeed. It was hilarious. And it probably would've happened even if we'd only hosted beer/wine because she loves beer too. 6. Vows and amplification Writing our vows was great, and saying them was even better. I can see how many people wouldn't care to write them or to amplify them though. 7. Giving away centerpieces Agree!
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