(Sorry, really long post ahead)
Just yesterday I read this amazing and honest blog post from The Florkens about how she did not enjoy her wedding. In short, she enjoyed PARTS of her wedding, but was frustrated, stressed and disappointed looking back on it as a whole. (Read the whole post here.) I can’t blame her. She had some major mishaps.
The post really resonated with me, and I so appreciated her openness. Because honestly, I’m not 100% sure I did either. Now, hear me out. Overall, I think I am far happier with my own day than she was hers, but I definitely have lots of regrets. I often wish I had a time machine to go back and redo that day, and many days leading up to it, but then again, I do believe that you have to live and learn. A wedding is something you’ll probably only have one of, so I do feel a little sad that I can’t redo it like I could a birthday party or something. But, we can’t live a life full of regrets. So I try to move on and accept that in the end, the important part of that day, and its entire purpose in the first place, was to marry the man I love. I may not be able to redo it personally, but I can share some of the lessons I learned with bloggy land, and my best friend who is currently planning her own wedding. I’m inundating her with tons of advice, and maybe it’s too much, but she hasn’t told me to back off yet, and seems to want to hear it, so I keep giving it. I figure that hopefully she can learn from my mistakes anyway.
But then again, even if someone had told me everything that I’m telling her, I don’t know how much of it I would actually would have taken. It’s one of those things where you have to learn it on your own. You have to do it your own way, hope for the best, and deal with whatever comes up.
Just some of my lessons learned/reflections from/thoughts/regrets are:
-Not having a photo booth. I don’t have nearly as many photos of my guests as I’d like, and now I’m having a hard time remembering who was there for what parts.
-Investing so much in so much. I intended to have my entire wedding for under $10k. I know I went over that, but I purposely haven’t calculated how far over I went because I’m afraid to find out how bad it was. Instead of outlining and sticking to every expense within a budget, I just haphazardly bought things I liked whenever I found them. “Oh, this ribbon is cute. I’ll buy it. Hopefully I can use it somewhere.” I didn’t. That scenario happened a lot.
I also spent a lot on my bridesmaids gifts. Probably too much. I really wanted each girl to feel super special and to know how much she meant to me, so I showered them with stuff. No, not like all-expense paid trips to Hawaii or anything, but a lot for me and my budget. I bought personalized tote bags (which alone were my entire budget for their gifts), but instead of stopping there, I filled the tote. They each got a pair of flipflops, a necklace and earring set, a DIY survival kit that included items like sewing kits, gum, mints, chocolate, hair spray, body spray, nail files, nail polish, eyeshadows, combs, safety pins, bobby pins, and even more stuff that I just can’t remember, plus my maid of honor and matron of honor also got personalized compacts. They loved their gifts, which warmed my heart and made me think it was all worth it. But, now I’m questioning if it was. Because it made me max out my credit cards (yes, plural cards), I’m far in debt and ruined my credit score and chances of getting a house as soon as I wanted. So while I’m glad I got them so much stuff and they loved it, was it really worth it? Cal got his groomsmen engraved beer steins. That’s it. He spent on those what I spent on the tote bags alone. And they loved them just as much as my girls loved their stuff. So, was it quantity or the thought that counted? I’m torn on that one. Mostly because right now I hate how irresponsible I was with my money. I spent a lot that I did not have.
But it wasn’t just on our wedding party gifts. I overspent in every area that wasn’t big. See, I rationalized it by thinking I could get more little stuff because I got really good deals on the big stuff. My photographer was a good friend who gave me an incredible rate. My caterer also shaved off some of the price just because he was 5 minutes late to our consultation. My dress was from David’s Bridal and my budget was $1,000, but my actual dress was only $650. Win! I ordered nice but fake flowers on Etsy instead of using real flowers. So since I saved in those areas, I could spend a little extra elsewhere, right? Yeah, if I didn’t go overboard. But I did. I bought pretty much everything brand-new when I could have rented or bought used. I didn’t coupon and watch sales nearly as much as I should have. UGH. I am literally still paying the price for those decisions.
-I was too worried about everyone else having a good time that I didn’t allow myself to. By the reception, I caved, and man did it feel good. After the meal, I just sat at our empty table for a long time, acting like I was picking at my food so no one would think I was being anti-social, but really, that was my time to breathe. I tried to look kind of busy, but I really just needed to sit and not talk to anyone. I had been talking and smiling and hugging all day.
-During photos, we were a little rushed on time (not as much as the Florkens – they had only 20 minutes!). We did all the posed shots with family members first so that they could leave and have a small break before the reception, but I truly regret that now. Because I don’t have nearly as many photos as I’d like of the wedding party, and mostly, of Cal and myself. We have some, but I wanted tons. I really really want so many more of just us. Too late now. We had to end before I felt done so we could stay on schedule. I should have put my foot down and demanded we finish, because in that moment I knew we didn’t have everything I wanted, but everyone else was eager to leave, so I wanted to make them shut up happy. Was it their wedding day? No, it was ours. But I lost sight of that.
-I didn’t stalk my husband during the reception dancing. After my much-needed moment alone “poking at my food,” I really wanted to spend lots of time dancing with and talking to Cal. But, he ran off to the upstairs hotel bar, and was outside with his family probably about half of the entire reception. I was not happy about it, but instead of going to get him, I just complained about it and danced with my girls. Which I enjoyed too, but I really wanted my new husband! Where was he?!?! Someone grabbed him for the crucial moments like the cake cutting, garter toss and first dance, but those aside, I barely saw him. I knew he wanted time to catch up with his family and relax too, but he missed a lot of moments inside where I was. Some of the songs he had requested and that we were looking forward to he completely missed. I should have hunted him down and told him he will NOT leave me again. I had envisioned us spending that entire evening side by side, but I never really conveyed that to him. After my table moment alone, I went back to caring about everyone else but myself and let him do what he wanted. Maybe I should have joined him, but I didn’t want to leave the people that were still in the ballroom. What would they have thought if neither of us were there? But who cares? It was OUR day. The one day we had full right to do whatever we wanted. But I didn’t capitalize on that. Sighs.
-I wasn’t in the moment. I didn’t take time outs to just sit and breathe. It started like right away, too. My makeup took longer than I had planned for, so I had to ditch my mom and leave right away to rush to the other salon to get my hair done. Which made me feel really frantic. During my hair, I was delivered an Edible Arrangement from my friends who weren’t able to make it that day, and while I ate it, that’s the last moment I remember feeling any kind of calm. As soon as I finished it, I started freaking out that my videographers weren’t at the salon yet, and they were supposed to be filming me getting my hair did. Then, afterward, I ran to the hotel/reception site to drop off my overnight bag and pick up a bridesmaid so we could drive to the ceremony together. We were behind, but still needed to eat, so ran to get some fast food, and I sped on the interstate to make it to the ceremony site and finish getting ready. That is when the day really starts getting fuzzy. It may have been an entire hour, I really don’t know, but I swear, it felt like not even 5 minutes. I felt more frantic than I ever had in my life. At one point, I was trying to put my shoes on, and I was falling over, and I was yelling for help, but my girls were running around panicking just as much as I was (I think?) and I got upset that no one was helping me, even though I know they had to get ready too. When Cal’s sister was putting my necklace on, I remember feeling so overwhelmed that I was making this awful face that actually made it onto the video. Then, my mom never showed up to our dressing room. She was nowhere in sight. I hadn’t seen her since like 9 am at the makeup place. I had her corsage and was upset she wasn’t there. Granted I had never told her to be there, but I assumed she would be. So I made a bridesmaid literally run across the museum grounds to hunt her down so she could wear her corsage. I was actually really upset she wasn’t with me getting ready. Again, I had always envisioned she’d be there, but never told her to be. The next time I saw her was in the church as I walked in to Halo, my version of Here Comes the Bride.
I don’t remember much of the ceremony either. I know stuff happened, but the thing that stands out the most was Cal’s pocket square was crooked, and I kept staring at it. I think I actually tried to fix it while we were standing up there. I don’t recall the vows much if at all, and I have no clue what message the pastor gave. Something about cats was in there and that we met at Perkin’s to discuss the ceremony earlier. That’s seriously all I remember. Then all of a sudden we were skipping down the aisle, and next thing I know, I’m hugging 130 people in the receiving line and we’re walking through bubbles. Then photos, which were rushed, and the groomsmen were complaining about everything, which made me furious, but I let it go. In the party bus to the reception, I remember a little more, probably because I was forced to sit down. But I was worrying about the reception and how we’d do the grand entrance, wondering if everything was decorated properly, if the food was there yet, etc.
So in short, I was rushed, stressed, overwhelmed, worried and tired. And I should have not worried about anything that day. Who cares if the ceremony started a little late? It would have been worth it to take 5 minutes to just sit and savor the moment while we got ready. I had intended on finding a moment before the reception to just sit alone with Cal, but that never happened because we were rushing to coordinate the grand entrance.
Anyone else out there reading this who has yet to get married, I hope you can learn from my mistakes. I know I have even more regrets than I listed here, but I have to stop writing this novel sometime. If you are already married, what lessons did you learn? What would you do differently?