I’ll stop harping on about it soon, I promise – but planning a wedding with and getting married to Mr B4J this summer was one of the most fun things I’ve ever done.
That said, as I was going through the experience myself it was easy to see how it could turn in to an absolutely horrifying marshmallow coloured stress fest. So behold! My top tips for surviving your own wedding without your brain (or other bodily parts) melting…
1: Actually want to get married!
I know, I know. But in all seriousness, it’s 2013 and getting married is not compulsory. If getting hitched is not your cup of tea then don’t worry about it. There are plenty of other opportunities in life to eat cake and tell the person you love that you love them.
But if you do want to get married…
2: Do what you like!
There are lot of opinions out there about weddings. Some of them are nefarious $$$-extorting inspired (apparently there is such a thing as ‘you’re not invited but here’s the gift list anyway cards’ now. Bleugh.), but many of them are the unasked for nitpickings of well-meaning but often misguided loved ones. (I know of one girl having a family-induced crazy-spiral over buttonhole politics. Hint: there should not be such a thing as buttonhole politics).
Here’s the thing. In the modern construct, a wedding should be about two people who have decided to publicly and legally declare that they have picked the other person out of all other people to hang out with for the rest of their lives. That’s a significant, important decision. The rest is icing on a delicious cake – your delicious cake – and you can decorate it (or not) however you want. People will always voice their opinions, but when it comes down to it all you really have to do is only what you want.
(I suspect paying for the wedding yourself hugely helps you on this count – much better to have a wedding you can afford than be beholden to people who might have hitherto undisclosed fundamentalist opinions about the wording of your invitations or who quickly reveal they consider their contribution entitles them to bring a bunch of people you barely know let alone want to buy dinner for. Set ground rules before accepting donations…).
I bought my dress online. I walked down the aisle hand-in-hand with my groom. We didn’t have formal photographs or tablecloths or place settings or a fancy multi-course dinner. I did a speech. I danced my face off all night wearing a Fez. I had the best day: because it was totally ours.
3: Keep your body strong!
Planning a wedding is bloody hard work. Not just logistically – in the months to the wedding even if you’re not initially aware of it you go through a rollercoaster of emotions, stress and adrenaline (this heady combination made me maniacally efficient if a little boggle-eyed. I kind of miss it). Assuming ‘corpse bride’ isn’t the theme of your wedding, make friends with your body and treat it like you’d treat an extremely expensive racehorse: balanced meals, regular exercise, and sugar cubes and under-the-chin tickles when you feel the urge.
If you want to lose weight (and – full disclosure – I did shake off a bit of post-Mr B4J ‘happy padding’ before the big day), do so remembering that literally no one in that room is going to be looking at you saying ‘nice dress, shame she didn’t lose that last 3lb’. NO ONE sees your body as harshly as you do, least of all on your wedding day. Give it a break. Avoid crash diets like the plague (good advice for life) and use healthy eating and exercise to buff up in a way that enriches rather than depletes. I found that running really helped me cope with the adrenaline levels (love my Freya Active), but that also cake is good for your soul. There is a cake theme to this post. I may be hungry.
4: Make sure you are comfortable!
Everyone remembers a night where they went out feeling overdressed, or underdressed, or overexposed, or underexposed. Or where their heels hurt after five minutes and their knickers were eaten by their butt cheeks before they’d got out of the cab. Well, that night should definitely not be your wedding.
Wear the dress that you want to, and the dress that makes you feel good – whether that’s traditional white or untraditional gold or something totally different. When you try it on, stand up and sit down A LOT. Practice dancing in your heels. Make sure your bra fits perfectly (and works under your dress!), and that your pants don’t adventure off in either direction (until you want them to…).
Ditto hair and make-up by the way. Doing my eyeliner myself five minutes before leaping in to a taxi did require a huge slug of brandy to stop my hands shaking – but at least it was how I liked it. After a test session in Bobbi Brown I was rather petrified I was going to get married looking like a vampire…
5: Love your spreadsheets!
Mmm Google Drive multi-tab multi-user spreadsheet. Oh how I miss you, you gorgeous creature.
For real. From invites to addresses to budgets to bookings, it’s the only way to stay sane [and not totally bankrupt].
6: Go with the flow
However carefully you plan, however perfectly you imagine everything: stuff is going to go off course. It just is. But unless “off course” means your partner going missing, or one of your immediate relations bursting in to flames, then there really is no point freaking out (especially if crying makes you look as much like a boiled sweet as it does me).
Expecting change, and being flexible when something does misfire, means you don’t ruin your mascara over something that can be fixed with Google and a compromise. The casual, modest bouquet made from small wildflowers you ordered can arrive as a toddler-sized bunch of white roses that dwarfs your entire body. The minister can forget the order of ceremony and end up marrying you three times. Your mother can drink two gins and heckle you from the front row while you’re saying your vows. It doesn’t for one second need to obstruct what is an amazing moment between you and your favourite person of all.
* It did. He did. She did.
7: Don’t be a jerk to your bridesmaids!
I had a maid of honour. She was awesome. This is because she is a good friend, not because she was my unpaid skivvy for the day. If you want to be friends after your wedding day, don’t be a jerk to your bridesmaids.
Also, try and choose a dress that doesn’t rely on your best friends having to help you pee all night as if you were a toddler mid-potty training. Let them get drunk and dance in peace, Ms Antoinette.
8: Stay close to your partner!
The night before we got married, Mr B4J said “why do people spend the night before the wedding away from the person they’re marrying? You’re nervous, you’re stressed, you’ve got a million things to think about: why then remove yourself from the person who is best at making you feel better?”
The man I’m trying to remember to call my husband has an extremely good point.
We woke up together and spent most of the day together. We spent five minutes catching our breath alone before we walked down the aisle together. We made sure we caught up throughout the night. And at the end of the evening, we felt like we’d actually managed to spend our wedding together. Oh, and we snogged a lot – which is why the photos are a little gratuitous. But let’s face it: never again are people going to be so enthusiastic about watching you mack in public. Enjoy!
9: Savour every minute!
Not just the wedding: the planning too. It’s so much fun and then it’s over so, so fast. Take time to look around you and enjoy it all. Good advice for marriage, probs.
10: Don’t make your own bunting!
Trust me on this. You will never make enough, it takes forever, and outside of Pinterest who bloody cares about bunting anyway?