Earlier this year I was fortunate enough to marry my best friend and the love of my life.
On March 10, 2019, Kevin and I got married at Camp Lucy in the Hill Country of Austin, TX. Knowing that I am definitely NOT a night person and would want to leave my own wedding early, we chose to celebrate with a garden-themed, brunch wedding.
It has been nine months since I walked down the aisle and unfortunately before I could take the time to recap life took me in some directions that required me to step away from blogging for a bit. But now that I am back to writing, I can’t help but see all that time that has passed as a blessing in disguise.
Several people in my life have recently gotten engaged or started their wedding planning, and being a fairly recent newlywed myself I have felt the urge to share my tips, two-cents, and advice with them.
But knowing what I do now, the advice I would have given a month after the wedding would be so much different than what I would say nine months after the wedding. The amount of time that has passed has truly helped me get in touch with my own feelings, internal struggles, and experiences behind wedding planning and getting married. Because as a serial realist, I can confidently tell you that putting together a wedding is not all just cake tasting and hunting down RSVPs. There are fabulous ups and debilitating downs that go into planning this celebration.
Today, I wanted to share 8 brutally honest truths I truly wish I knew before I got married.
It May Not Be The Best Day Of Your Life, And That’s Ok
After getting engaged, I lost count of how many people told me that my wedding would be the best day of my life.
I won’t lie, it was difficult for me to wholeheartedly agree. While I was not excited to have a wedding, period, (I wanted to elope, Kevin wanted a wedding) I still convinced myself that the day it took place I would change my mind. Fast forward to today and while I still love Kevin more than anything in the world, our wedding day was definitely not the best day of my life. In fact, I think it barely cuts my top five.
For a while after the wedding, I was wracked with guilt over not feeling the way I was supposed to about the big day. I felt like an entitled, unappreciative brat for not looking back on our wedding day with an exuberant smile. But there were a lot of things that put a damper on the big day for me. I felt anxious, I was severely ill, I didn’t really feel like myself, and the entire day was very surreal. I was just truly out of my comfort zone the whole time, which made it difficult for me to truly let go and embrace it.
I’m not here to say that your wedding won’t be amazing. In fact, even as a self-proclaimed wedding Grinch, there are several moments from our big day that makes me tear up just thinking about them. But the thing I want to stress is that no matter how you feel after your wedding day, whether it be pure bliss or a sense of vague nothingness, you are rightfully entitled to your feelings. Embrace them and don’t let yourself dwell or feel guilty.
Saying “Yes” To The Dress May Not Include Waterworks
Growing up, I binged “Say Yes To The Dress”. Each episode had the same formula that always ended in that shot – with both the bride and her entourage breaking down in happy tears after finding THE dress. I looked forward to having that moment, the moment I looked at myself in the mirror and felt like a bride.
When we went dress shopping, my mom, sister, grandma, and I trekked all the way to Chicago for my bridal appointment. It was January, and I trudged into the bridal salon covered head to toe in jackets, hats, and scarfs. I remember looking in the mirror and only being able to focus on how unglamourous I felt. But that didn’t matter – today I was going to find my dress.
I grabbed the five dresses I had fallen in love with in the showroom and headed into the fitting room. With clamps running down my back I walked out and stared at my reflection. My family was fairly silent, and so was I. I thought it was very pretty and I felt good in it, but I didn’t feel emotional.
One by one I tried on each and every dress, feeling underwhelmed by the silence that fell in the room when I walked out as well as how I looked. No matter what dress I was wearing, for some reason my mind kept going back to the very first one I tried on. So I jumped back into it.
I walked out and looked at myself again. My mom shrugged and matter of factly told me it was very pretty, and my sister and grandmother nodded in agreeance. The attendant placed a veil on my head, and I found myself nodding too. I felt pretty in it and my mom was right, it was a beautiful dress.
But surprisingly, I didn’t feel emotional and neither did my entourage – the only thing I felt was validated that this was the right dress for me.
Weddings are emotional times, but not everything throughout the planning process will be as happy tear-filled as the media and society portray them to be. You and your group may bawl your eyes out when you find the right dress for you, but you may also feel the way I did, with a sense of slight disconnect yet still feeling sure you are making a logical choice. Either way, as long as you feel beautiful in your dress the story of how you purchased it shouldn’t matter.
Wedding Planning Is What You Make Of It
I’m not afraid to admit that I am stubborn as a mule. Like, I seriously am convinced I am one of the most stubborn people on the planet. So when Kevin and I got engaged, I made it very clear what I wanted: to elope and spend the wedding money on a house downpayment or an all-out, five-star honeymoon.
Kevin, on the other hand, is much more of a traditionalist than me and made it clear that he had always wanted a fun celebration with all of his friends and family there. Logical? Yes. Infuriating for my selfish dreams of a celebrity level honeymoon? Also yes.
As a result of this, throughout the next year of planning, I let my stubbornness and disappointment over having a wedding really get to me and put a damper on the entire process. I was constantly in a negative mood, let every single wedding invoice be enough to ruin my day, and ultimately towards the end, I stopped caring at all, asking Kevin to handle planning details because I was feeling too overwhelmed by it.
Now as I look back I regret it. Is spending all that money on a party something I wanted to do? Of course not. But I had the full opportunity to turn lemons into lemonade, yet instead of grabbing some sugar and turning the situation into something sweet, I gave up and threw the lemons in the trash can.
Your wedding day will be special, but the planning process should be too. You can come in with a resentful and negative mindset (like me), or you can save yourself the unnecessary stress and truly enjoy it. Savor those little moments with your significant other, laugh through stupid disagreements over silly little things like napkin colors, and admire your husband while he is trying on his suit. Weddings are stressful, but the entire process is truly what you make of it.
Don’t Go Into Debt Over Flowers
I get sick to my stomach when I think about how much we spent on our wedding, and I know I am not alone. Weddings are expensive…like…gut-wrenchingly expensive. But looking back, I think one of the biggest regrets I have is spending so much money unnecessarily.
Even if you aren’t the first in your family to say “I Do”, coming into planning a wedding, you will still likely be very new and unfamiliar to the process. For me, I truly didn’t know what I was getting myself into aside from my perfectly curated Pinterest board. As we started meeting with vendors, I began getting advice.
“A 4-piece band won’t be enough, at the very least you will need 6!”
“Your guests can’t serve themselves! You’ll need station attendants at the buffet!”
“The room won’t look right unless you pay a little extra to hang ivy from the chandeliers.”
You go through all of these choices, upgrades, and upcharges just to realize that on your wedding day, the last thing you notice or think about is your thousand plus dollar centerpieces or upgraded chairs. And to tell you the truth, that is also the last thing ANY of your guests will notice.
At the end of the day, upgraded flowers are just flowers and upgraded plates are just plates. The only good that came out of our expensive floral centerpieces was our decision to donate them to a local hospice after the wedding (P.S.: IF YOU ARE GETTING MARRIED PLEASE DO THIS AS THEY WILL JUST BE THROWN AWAY OTHERWISE).
Never go forward with the very first vendor you find – ensure you shop around to make sure you aren’t being taken advantage of and don’t spend extra on over-the-top extras just to have them. Just focus on good food and good music and your wedding day will be great, other than that those additional splurges and upgrades are genuinely unnecessary.
Things Will Go Wrong
Let me tell you something, on the day of my wedding I felt like complete and utter crap-o-la. After getting back from the honeymoon and going to the doctor, what I thought to be pre-wedding nerves turned out to be a very severe and rare bacterial stomach infection (gross, I know). I’ll spare you the details, but just know my poor photographer and I got very close during my reception.
But that wasn’t the only thing that went wrong – my hair comb kept coming out and you can see it prominently in pictures, my body was broken out, I forgot to book a tanning appointment before the wedding, some of the wrong people walked during our ceremony, we ran out of hors d’oeuvres during our cocktail hour, our MC got some of our bridal party’s names wrong during their grand introduction, and many of our guests didn’t want to dance.
While in any other situation I may have let these things upset or phase me, during the wedding I was feeling such bliss that I could absolutely care less about the tiny issues and errors that arose. I was happy and I was officially married to my best friend. At that point, a chandelier could have crashed on my head and I would have still been smiling.
That being said, make sure you hire a high-quality day of coordinator for your wedding day. You will not regret it.
It WILL Go By Fast
This is such a cliche thing to say, but everybody is so right – your wedding day literally flies by. For me, I felt like I had gone from sitting down to start my makeup to making our grand exit in the blink of an eye. I remember when our coordinator came by to tell us they were announcing the last call for the bar, Kevin and I were shocked. We couldn’t believe that 5 hours had flown by so fast.
For me, one thing that helped me to truly enjoy the moment and memories was our decision to hire a videographer. When you are living through the day and standing there reciting your vows you are going through so many emotions that some details begin to get blurred or slip right past you. Words can’t explain how thankful I am for our amazing videographer and photographer who helped capture these moments in a way that lets us relive the day over and over again.
When it comes to your wedding day, the best advice I can give is to try to take as many mental snapshots as possible and savor the moment. Because the day will fly by faster than you could ever believe.
For The Love Of God, DON’T Do A Lavender Toss
I’m not even writing a full paragraph on this, I’m just going to let the picture speak for itself.
Just know trusting your college friends to toss dried lavender at you is a bad idea. Seriously. You will find it EVERYWHERE. Unless you want tiny purple flowers in your ears, hair, eyes, and where the sun don’t shine, I recommend exploring other options.
Happily Ever After Isn’t Like The Fairy Tales
Isn’t it funny that every Disney movie always cuts off right after the wedding? We see the couple kiss in the moonlight or drive off in their car decorated with “Just Married” on the back windshield, but what’s next?
What Disney fails to show is how Cinderella and Prince Charming feel when they come home from their honeymoon, sit on the couch, and say “now what”?
I’m not going to sugar coat it, the post-wedding blues are real, people. Even though I HATED wedding planning, I found myself to be in a massive funk once we got back to normal life. After doing nothing but planning for at least a year, you can’t help but feel like you are supposed to have to find another large milestone to start working on next, but you aren’t quite sure what to do. I also noticed that I felt severely sad about the concept of losing my identity and childhood. No longer was I going to be the same girl I had been for the past 26 years of my life. Moving forward I would have to change my name, future plans, and I would never be able to celebrate the holidays with my family the same way again. I was somebody new, and it broke my heart.
I found the best way to combat those blues is to give yourself small or long term things to look forward to and focus on communication. Regarding my identity loss, I worked harder on calling my family more often and ensuring that I didn’t let my feeling of self fade away. Kevin and I decided that we would go on an annual anniversary trip, which helped me when I was feeling down because it gave me the opportunity to research places we may want to visit and feel excited about another tangible date. But even small things to look forward to, like a weekly date night, can help keep the blues away.
But another thing happily ever after doesn’t show are the great parts that follow the white dress. Marriage didn’t change the dynamic of Kevin and my relationship, but it made things so much better in my opinion. Life just feels more fun with your husband. The pride you feel over their accomplishments, opportunities, and promotions truly touch your heart more than ever, while those silly little moments you have together make you feel so much more connected.
Life after the wedding may not consist of sparkly gowns and a perfect, drama-free life; Instead, it may just be you and your husband sitting on the couch at 4 am, jetlagged, with a couple of pints of ice cream binging Shark Tank together. And if that isn’t a true happily ever after, I don’t know what is.
Is there anything you wish you knew before you tied the knot? Was there something that surprised you or that you were glad you did? Share in the comments below!
Venue: Camp Lucy – Ian’s Chapel
Wedding Dress: BHLDN
Bridesmaids Dresses: David’s Bridal
Day Of Coordinator: Simply Sweet Weddings
Photography & Videography: ML Photo & Film
Flowers, Catering & Decor: Whim Hospitality
Officiant: I Do Ceremonies