Hi ladies!!! I finally woke up from a 14 hour slumber about 30 minutes go after an amazing weekend of getting married, being with family and friends and celebrating a lifetime of happiness! I'd like to give a recap of my experiences and I will say off the bat--- things did go wrong, schedules were thrown out of the window and stress levels got a little high--- and it was a PERFECT day because of all of these things!!
I'll start off with the bad (only because it's not that bad, just more because these are great lessons learned):
- Scheduling of pictures: *this is soooo important* Bottom line: if you don't have a coordinator of some sort who is a no-kidding drill sergeant with time, either get one or build a ton of time for photos if you want to do them before the ceremony/outside or whatever. My DH and I thought that for efficiency's sake, we would do the 'first look' because we wanted a lot of family pictures and we have A LOT of family. So we orchestrated this whole idea of when we'd get stuff done, etc. Well, the guys were ready and good to go because they had very little to do. The girls, however, did not. I think when my MIL said she wanted her hair done and my aunt wanted her eyelashes done, it pushed the timeline back a tiny bit. Additionally, I had a corset back and that took FOREVER--- waaay longer than I thought it would. So there was no first look, and the photographer actually LOVED it because she was able to take a ton more picutres of us getting ready anyway. The interesting thing about this is that we had originally wanted to wait until the church to see each other--- we ended up doing that anyway and we were WAAAY happier.
- Cake designs: hahahahahhaa! OK, so I had specific ribbon that I asked to put on the cake and the like so it goes with my color theme purple, silver and white. The cake shape, etc, was exact but I have no idea where that blue and white ribbon design came from! But only I knew it... my DH had no clue! LOLOLOLOL!
- Shoes: ladies, ladies, ladies. Please, for the love of all that is riht in this world, if you're going to wear heels, wear them at least a day or two before around the house for about a good hour or so. You WILL be in your feet A TON. My feet (and now lower back) are hurting even 48 hours later!
- Customer service: Just know and be prepared for some things not going right. We had our reception at a hotel and had a block of rooms. I felt bad and slightly embarrassed that people's rooms were not ready when they said they were going to be. Luckily for us, DH and I were the only ones annoyed by it while others were just chilling, drinking some beer in the lobby, just happy to have a place to sit after their travels. If there's a way to complain (discreetly) then do it. But honestly, you just have to know that you can't control everything.
- DO NOT wait until the last minute to do your placecards. I know people switch around their count at the last minute (and we only had 2 no-shows, which is actually pretty good). But while I loooove my DH, he waited until the LAST POSSIBLE MOMENT to get me some ideas of who to move where for tables. I think he was so worried about offending some people that it locked him up. I should have pushed him a little earlier but we got it done.
- People who are there are there for you love you and are happy for you. I know, it's a no-brainer. But I'll be honest, I was COMPLETELY overwhelmed with how happy everyone was, chatting with each other, both sides of the dancefloor talking to each other and having a BALL. I never thought it'd be so lively or what not but it certainly was. EVERYONE had a blast!
- Thank you Theknot.com for making points about guests' comfort. I know above that I said that there are some things you can't control. But with the things you can, I think the things that enhanced our guests' fun were the following: although the ceremony and reception areas were in separate areas, they weren't too far from each other. Yeah, I know the saying if they love you they'll do whatever, but if you can help that, don't do that. People want to celebrate with you ASAP!! ; also, we wanted to make sure no one pulled out any cash for anything. I'm not saying everyone should have open bar, but I think the guests appreciated just going up to the bar and having a good time! (side note: if you have more than, say, 75 guests, highly suggest that you pony up the cash for a second bartender. We only had one because the hotel would provide 2 bartenders if the guest count was more than like 100 (we had 93 adult guests. gah!) If you're getting closer to 100, then get the second bartender. it's worth it).
- A quiet moment with just you and DH after the ceremony/before the reception or somewhere in there. After the ceremony, we took tons of pictures with the family and such and the photographer did such a great job in arranging it so that we did our own photos at the end. DH had also arranged it so that the bridal party and his mom and my aunt went off in the limo to the reception site and he had our car at the church. It was suuuuch a smart idea and it suited us SO WELL. So we took our time driving to the reception and it was funny because we were so excited we were wondering why other cars were honking their horns at us-- they clearly saw my veil and dress and his tux and were so excited for us.
- The details: I stressed sooooo much over things like invitations and stuff like that and I thought I wasn't going to be fancy enough or what not. DO NOT STRESS OVER THIS. Yes, you should definitely be mindful of the details, etc, but not under any circumstances hurt yourself or your wallet over these type of details. Do come to the boards to get ideas but don't feel less than because you don't have certain things.
- The DJ: Some people said that a DJ can make or break a party. I agree. I also think that the demeanor and livlines of your guest list can make it better too. As well as the bride and groom. It was A WONDERFUL mash up. I highly suggest getting a DJ that does weddings specifically/professionally. It is WORTH THE MONEY. Our DJ was amazing--- extremely interactive-- he walked around during the dinner portion asking people what kind of songs they'd like to hear. I heard amazing compliments about this. It completely reflected DH's and my style of interaction. I felt like it made people relax a lot more and people I never thought would dance ABSOLUTELY danced and the people I knew would dance DANCED THEIR BUTTS OFF ALLL NIGHT LONG. You can't ask for anything more (at least for me). Again--- this is if this is your type of celebration. While earlier on in the planning phase I thought I would want something a little bit more stoic, it certainly wasn't my personality. So the right thing happened.
I have so much more advice but I think I'll leave it here for now. But ultimately--- stay flexible, trust your gut on certain decisions (DJ, photographer, etc) and stay true to yourself. Don't do things to impress other people -- do things to make your guests feel welcome, comfortable and loved. Do things because of the reason of you being there in the first place--- the unity of two people who love each other. And the celebration/thankfulness of the people who love you. And DO NOT sweat the small stuff. No one notices random details--- and if they're noticing things like that, then I'm not sure why they are there!
Happy planning ladies and keep up the good fight. It is worth it!!!! LOLOL!