Photo by Alex Jones Photography
It’s not every day that you get married, so it’s hard to be 100 percent prepared for it when your special day finally arrives. Sure, you spend months, maybe years meticulously planning every aspect of your wedding in the hope that it will be that perfect fairytale occasion you always imagined, but there are bound to be little surprises along the way.
I got married on October 3, 2015, and here are some of the things I wish I could go back in time to tell myself before making that long, exhilarating, daunting trip down the aisle.
*Wrangle the groomsmen’s sizes early on.
Our bridal party included friends and family from all over the world, so I asked my bridesmaids to begin ordering their dresses in the spring of 2014. I’m not sure why it didn’t occur to me to ask my husband to do the same for the groomsmen, when we had three coming from Ireland and one from Buenos Aires, but it was a month before the wedding before he had collected all of the sizes, and I was having a panic attack.
Luckily, we were using a small, family-owned tux shop in Brentwood with a very talented seamstress who was determined to put all of the groomsmen in properly-fitting tuxes, despite the lateness and inaccuracies in sizing. Maybe ours was a special situation because of all of the international groomsmen, but I don’t think so. Boys will be boys, so don’t leave them to their own devices when it comes to wedding attire.
*Don’t procrastinate. You may want to, but just don’t do it.
I think back on the things I planned to do the week of the wedding— frame some of our engagement photos to set out at the reception, put together little welcome packets for all of our international guests, make a cute sign asking people to please take one favor per person (I really wish I had gotten to this one. We gave out bomber bottles of a homebrew, and after some guests left with three each, there weren’t enough to go around).
These tasks may have taken an hour or so of my time, yet the moment guests started arriving on Wednesday, there was never a hope that they would be accomplished. The lesson here is if you think it could be important, don’t save it for the week of the wedding.
*Transportation is key.
With most of our guests situated in downtown Pittsburgh at the reception venue, my thought was that they could utilize public transportation, cabs or carpooling throughout the week. This wound up being mostly true, but standing in the lobby of the hotel assigning carpools 30 minutes before my wedding rehearsal in Mt. Lebanon was not as simple as I had envisioned.
Over the weekend, there were groomsmen stranded on West Liberty Avenue in the pouring rain when their Uber broke down on its way to the rehearsal, we were unable to get to the hair salon the morning of the wedding due to a road block for a marathon in Shadyside, and my parents’ car, organized for my immediate family, wound up stuck on the Parkway 30 minutes before the wedding ceremony. Many of these hiccups were probably unavoidable, yet if I could go back in time, I would tell myself to make a solid itinerary of the week and create a firm Plan A and Plan B (and maybe even a Plan C) for how everyone would get around.
*Feed your bridesmaids before you leave for the ceremony. Or at least tell them to eat.
I returned late from getting my hair done the morning of the wedding to find that my bridesmaids’ hair appointments at the hotel salon were also running late— and none of the girls had eaten. We had plenty of time to get ready together before the limo arrived, but not quite enough time to order room service. With visions of one of my girls passing out in the middle of my ceremony in mind, I picked up the phone without a second thought and ordered some pizzas for the limo to pick up on the way there.
Now, this may come as a huge surprise to you, but believe it or not, churches don’t like it when you show up in your pristine wedding attire with three large boxes of saucy, greasy pizza an hour before your ceremony. After some very cross words from the wedding organizer (followed by dirty looks), my bridesmaids were exiled to the bathroom with their pizzas, and I have no doubt that in the 2016 Wedding Rule book, there will be a new line reading, “Pizza is, under no circumstance, permitted at the church on your wedding day.”
*Either hem your dress using your reception shoes or invite a seamstress to your wedding.
I am just over five feet tall, so I thought I would give myself a bit of a boost with a pair of five-inch heels for the ceremony. I took these heels to all three fittings, and everything was perfect… at the church, that is. I bought an adorable pair of blue sparkly flats for the reception, and I was about to go out and dance when I noticed the five inches of material on the floor that either my husband or my father were bound to step on.
Luckily one of my best friends’ mothers, who is a seamstress, came out of nowhere with a mouth full of safety pins and saved the day. But our fast-paced father-daughter dance could have turned into an embarrassing mess if she hadn’t.
*If there is something important to you that you wish to have with you all day, don’t let it out of your sight.
I lost my adorable beaded wedding clutch after the wedding ceremony. It contained my phone, my stupidly expensive wedding lipstick, my fashion tape, and about half a dozen other items that I felt were essential for the day. I’m sure some well-meaning individual tried to be helpful by putting it inside a bag of ceremony leftovers in my parents’ car, but we didn’t wind up finding it until late the next day.
*Appoint a person who makes sure you talk to everyone.
I think one of the most surprising aspects of my wedding day was how popular I had suddenly become. I was being pulled every which-way and being hugged and lifted into the air and twirled around by everyone in sight from the moment I left the church, and I was happily flustered by the time the reception began.
Following dinner, I thought I had made it around to most of the tables before my DJ was dragging me off to the side saying “The dances really need to start now…” It wasn’t until my husband and I returned to our bridal suite and began opening presents that I realized there were at least two dozen people that I didn’t even see the entire night. There is nothing worse than opening a beautiful wedding gift, knowing that you didn’t even get around to saying “hello” to the person who was thoughtful enough to bring it to you on your special day. Whether it’s your mom, your maid of honor, or even your wedding planner, be sure to make it someone’s job to pull you from table to table, making sure you leave the reception without missing guests.
*Travel sites should guide your honeymoon search, but they shouldn’t be the “be all and end all.”
Looking for a smaller, boutique resort for our St. Lucia Honeymoon, I went to a travel site and read hundreds of reviews. I landed on this gorgeous, secluded 4.5-star-rated resort with an enormous wine cellar situated in the rainforest on a cliff overlooking the ocean. It sounded like paradise, and according to the reviews, it was.
We arrived and found they weren’t over-exaggerating about the beauty of the place, but what none of the reviews mentioned was that you were miles from the nearest town (which was dodgy, to say the least) and the windows had no glass in them. On our first evening there, we received three visitors: first it was a brightly-colored tree frog hopping around on the desk, followed by a large person trying to break into the only window left open by the turn-down service, and finally by a tarantula crawling around in the rafters.
Needless to say, we woke up on the second day and the first thing on our agenda was figuring out how to get out of there. We managed to get into one of the larger resorts on the island for a couple days at the end of our stay, but it wasn’t soon enough for my dad— who Liam-Neesoned us out of there to a third resort the moment he got wind of what had happened. Our honeymoon was absolutely lovely in the end, and the bright side was, after three resorts, we got to see most of the island. But if you are going somewhere unfamiliar for your honeymoon, I highly recommend talking to friends who have been there or consulting a professional such as a concierge or travel agent before booking your trip.
*Everything is going to be awesome in the end.
Everyone says that something will go wrong on your wedding day, and I found that they were quite correct. Yet the moment I began that long walk down the aisle, all of my nervousness melted away and everything was perfect. In fact, I suddenly found I couldn’t feel anything at all except extreme happiness to be marrying my best friend— if a dementor had appeared on the steps of the church, I could have performed a perfect patronus (for those of you that don’t speak “Harry Potter,” I’m saying the day was positively joyful). So try not to worry, and try not to stress. You are going to have the time of your life.