So between reading the forums, being a photographer (so experiencing a lot of weddings and hearing what people said), and even being married before (though I didn't do the whole planning a big event thing) I thought I knew pretty much what to expect. I was so wrong and things went soooo much better than expected. Thank you to everyone who answered my questions, took the wrath of etiquette for questions I wanted to ask but didn't, and who just provided their experiences.
1) Really truly nothing mattered after I was H's face waiting for me. My cathedral length veil caught on the bricks as we walked down...and it was funny. I cried... and laughed at the same time (I expected H to tear up..I'm a giggler). World of difference from when I was married before to someone who wasn't even close to my soulmate. It was awesome. I would not change a thing. We enjoyed every moment and it did fly by.
2) I did programs as an "I have extra money why not" type thing. After reading the forums I expected people to leave them at the ceremony site and not say a word- not a single one was left and people actually came up to me to tell me they LOVED them. Ok... now for the truth... it was a little warmer than we expected and they were fans so people actually USED them. The same for the bridesmaids fans I decorated for them. I also put out a bucket of cold bottled waters for people to take prior to the ceremony... those were appreciated as well.
3) We stopped behind the chairs and did a receiving line. THANK YOU to whoever suggested this on the forums. We made the decision last minute and it definitely let us see everyone AND it had the added benefit of not having to hunt down people for the pictures afterwards because they stayed at the end of the chairs and the few people we had to remind to not go anywhere we could. (H is traditional- no first look and no regrets about that from me). We actually got to attend our cocktail hour and our guests went straight to cocktail hour because we told them we'd join them shortly and where it was as they passed through (all one venue but different parts).
4) Loved our guest book- I did a photo book and the first couple of pages included pictures of our parents and grandparents (most of whom had passed), followed by our childhood with our siblings, some of us dating, and then my bridal shoot with pictures of him from other events in a tux (yeah... we attend a lot of banquets). Lots of compliments on it and people have asked to see it since. I'm pretty sure I'll pull it out just like I do any other photo album or old year books and it's got lots of fun messages from our guests.
5) I had a huge ball gown and had no issue using the restroom by myself. Large restroom anyway, locked the door, and managed to ball it up in front of me. Just didn't want to burden my MOH or anyone else with that task. We (my bridesmaids and I) all laughed about it later... I was a "big girl and went all by myself". A little thing.. but for those that are modest or just don't want to ask for help, with the right restroom, it can be done. Even with a ball gown.
6.) Flowers- I had Real Touch flowers and put sprigs of Eucalyptus in them so they would smell nice. Several people were surprised they weren't real and new SIL actually tried to TAKE the bridesmaids bouquets (we put them in vases all over the place for the reception as decoration) and was upset when I told her they were the bridesmaids and she's have to ask them. So I guess that was the best compliment I could get on them. LOL
7) Favors- this is kind of a mixed good/bad. I fully anticipated everyone would take the cupcakes and leave our wine glasses. People actually went back and got the wine glasses people didn't take (SIL mentioned above included) and we had lots of cupcakes left over. Note: Our wine glasses just had a graphic I designed on one side and Thank You for Celebrating with Us! and the date on the other. Our names were NOT on them. We did have some extras behind the bar that never got put out so we have a large set to put in our bar at home like I wanted, but I was surprised. The cupcakes were amazing. People were just full but they still ate a lot of the left overs at the after party.
8) Yes... the food was amazing.... and everyone commented. So glad we didn't skimp here. 2 passed and 3 stationed apps during cocktail hour, 3 meat choices and took care of gluten free and vegetarians at dinner, open full bar. People were happy nobody got stupid drunk. We did run out of Jack Daniels at the very end... but by then no one cared (and I had bought A LOT, it's just a family favorite). We have a ton of beer and wine left over. I used the Total Wine calculator and we will definitely use it (so no, didn't bring it back). I think all the liquor got opened so we did well there and but I bought more than the calculator said we needed because I knew our guests. The excess beer and wine was because they drank more mixed drinks than the calculator said.
9) LOVED my photographer. (Link to pics below)
10) Lots of compliments on my attention to detail and communication from all sides- vendors and guests. Yes... thanks to everyone who reminded me that it wasn't just about the bride and groom. Take care of your guests and vendors. The decorating details weren't expensive but there was definitely a wow factor when you walked in the room... one guest told me this was the fanciest wedding she had ever been too. LOL... I DIY'ed most of it and extra lights and little touches don't cost that much compared to overall. Save a little bit for those things a few LED lights under the centerpieces or under the cake stand do make it pop... cost an extra $30 and no one realized why it looked so much nicer but you could see the difference between when we set up and when they turned the lights on.
1) Yeah... RSVPs... Not as bad as others have commented but I will be a better RSVP person in the future after this.So frustrating that people don't RSVP or RSVP and change it late in the game (both ways for us) Nothing you can do about this. Our PRIVATE (can't emphasize that enough) Facebook group really helped with that and getting people to book their rooms by the deadline. Just make sure you phrase it "trying to make sure everyone gets the great rate and a spot on the shuttle" not "if you don't book your rooms there will be no shuttle". I did the former but I really wanted to scream the latter.
2) Our anniversary cake melted... but it was funny and now we'll get a fresh cake in a year so not really too bad. We went with real cream cheese icing and it was warm outside and the cake table was by the door.. If I had told this to the caterer (we brought the cake because my favorite baker didn't deliver out there) they could have put it in the Fridge and brought it out later and it would have been fine... but we got pictures so like I said, it was good for a laugh.
3) People (including vendors) left their timelines at home... and then asked me for them. Again... it really didn't matter but just a thought for others. It would be good to have your DOC or someone have multiple copies so they could give them to the people that want them. SIt all worked out, but just a tip.
4) And there will always be 1... I had one person that was difficult day of (ok and actually the days preceding too). She clearly wanted the day to be about her and was determined to be a PITA. She tried to be passive agressive on a few things, posted to FB how important she was, and the day after the wedding didn't understand why we (H and I) didn't want to spend the day with her (we waited a few days to leave for HM). I pretty much laughted about it except when she snapped at me in the bridal room for trying to help with something (she wasn't a BM thank goodness, but was having drama with a wedding related item she was part of). Then I waited until she left, demonstrated I thought she was #1 (nobody but MOH could see) and MOH shut the bridal room door. I immediately felt better and both MOH and I laughed about it. Yes, childish and rude on my part but since no one but the 2 of us knew, it was a tension breaker and I'm sure the whole internet can keep my secret..
5) Gifts- people were waaay too generous and H and I felt a little guilty about it. He actually wanted to return some of the money people gave us... uh... no, that's kind of rude. We did get one gift that was expensive but not on our registry nor did we have a place for it and it had no sender... turned out it was an Amazon registry gift and they shipped the wrong item (found this out because Amazon keeps track for your Thank Yous!) so we'll be able to discretely take care of it and actually thank them for what they meant to send.
So that's it. Really long post but thought I would share while it was fresh. There are a ton more things I am sure I should be saying and some more important. One of my favorite compliments of the day: My male cousin as he was leaving: "I usually don't like weddings, but I loved yours. I had a great time. I even cried... I never cry." Best part of the day: Being married to the most amazing man in the world. And it hasn't stopped being amazing since.... so it wasn't the hype.