You’ve probably seen this quote travelling around the social media sphere a lot (it’s Maya Angelou, by the way, and I’m embarrassed that I had to look that up), and while it’s spot on for how people think about each other, it also immediately popped into my head when I was thinking about writing this post. Because it’s true for your wedding day, too.
You’re going to forget what your cake tasted like. You’re going to forget what your Mum wore. But you’re never going to forget how your wedding day made you FEEL.
So, with that in mind, here are my top tips for having a heartfelt wedding that will make you feel all the feels for the rest of your lives together!
1. DON’T EVER LISTEN TO THE PHRASE, “BUT YOU CAN’T DO THAT AT A WEDDING!”
Because you totally can. Seriously. Somewhere along the way, people got a fixed idea of what a wedding “should” be like – white dress, white shoes, white chair covers, pastel flowers, nice demure couple repeating their vows obediently after the officiant…you get the picture. I’ve met couples who have been together for years, but who don’t want to get married because the whole white wedding palaver just doesn’t appeal to them. But no one’s told them they can have something else!
It’s your wedding, and if it’s something you love, you’ll love doing it. And you know what? Your guests will love it too, because you do, and they love you.
2. SURROUND YOURSELF WITH LOVE
The last thing you want on your wedding day is to have to deal with a family member you don’t get along with, or a pushy school friend who assumed she was going to be a bridesmaid without actually being asked! Obviously it’s awkward to exclude people, but it’ll be so much better on the day when you’re surrounded only by your absolute favourite people, all of whom are there to help you have the most stress-free, wonderful day ever. Especially during the getting ready part of the day – this is the time when nerves are stretched the most, so make sure you’re only getting ready with your nearest and dearest.
3. PERSONALISE YOUR CEREMONY
Gone are the days where you just had to say “I do” in response to the vicar or registrar, and finish off with a Bible reading! Obviously there’ll be certain limitations if you’re getting married in a church, but even though that might mean excluding the hilarious sweary reading you fancied, you can still do personalised vows and choose readings that have a special significance to you as a couple (check out my article on alternative wedding readings if you haven’t read it!). You could write your own vows from scratch, and read them to each other as a surprise on the day, or you could write them together beforehand, and both say the same thing on the day so it’s one less thing to worry about!
You could also include your favourite songs in the ceremony – either as background, or, as two of my 2016 couples did, have a full-on singalong to include all the guests at the end! Print the lyrics in your programs or just on a spare sheet and hand them out beforehand (just make sure it’s something most people know the tune to!)
4. BRIDES, DON’T WORRY ABOUT GETTING YOUR DRESS DIRTY
I know it’s instinctive. Your dress is mostly likely white. And expensive. And it probably drags on the ground. Obviously your natural reaction is to try and keep it clean! But, when you think about it…why?
You’re wearing it for just one day of your whole life. A joyous day, where the last thing you want is the fear of a dirty hem limiting your fun. Do you really think your guests are going to judge you for enjoying your day? If your bridesmaids are clustered around the campfire, singing your favourite song, you’ll want to rush over and join them, even if it means ducking through a muddy field. If your photographer suggests getting some amazing golden light portraits, but it means walking down that sand road, forget the dust and get those gorgeous photos! I’m never going to make you literally sit in dirt, but I promise you that all wedding dresses get dirty underneath during the day, however hard you try. So you might as well forget about the dress and concentrate on making amazing memories!
5. SKIP THE TRADITIONS THAT DON’T FEEL LIKE YOU
Just like my first point, there are so many things that are taken as standard wedding fare, but that you really don’t need to do. Don’t want a cake or the whole cake-cutting spiel? Don’t have a cake! Don’t want the bride to walk down the aisle while the groom waits at the top, having being ordered not to turn around until the bride gets to his side? (I’m gonna say this right now: I think that rule is TOTAL bullshit.) Then do it differently! Walk down the aisle together. Or one at a time, with the Groom a surprise too. There’s no rule that he has to be there first! This is one of the things I love about same-sex weddings: because so many wedding traditions are archetypally male/female, same-sex couples have to reinvent the traditions to suit their wedding – anything from getting ready together, to walking down the aisle separately, to walking down with both sets of parents. And I’m thrilled to see more straight couples doing these things their way now, too.
Other things you don’t HAVE to do: Speeches, First Dance, Garter/Bouquet Toss, Seating Plans, all that jazz. Your wedding is your oyster. If you just want to hang out at an epic barbecue in a field all night and catch up with your loved ones, DO IT.
6. REMEMBER TO BREATHE. AND REMIND YOURSELF THAT EVERYBODY IS THERE BECAUSE THEY LOVE YOU.
It’s pretty useless to say, “Try not to be nervous”, isn’t it? Like, if it was that easy, we’d all be doing it! But I can give you the advice above. If you’re feeling nervous about the ceremony, or stressed at the thought of all eyes being on you, just breathe, and remember that you’re getting married to the most incredible person you’ve ever met, and THAT’S what this is all about. That’s the feeling of joy you want, and the one that you’ll remember forever.