our beautiful venue in the French Provence countryside!
I realise that wedding season has been in full swing for a good few weeks (or months) now, but I feel like I'm in the wedding season of my life, if you know what I mean! I'll be surprised if there's a year of no weddings for us before 2020, and every weekend my Facebook newsfeed is overflowing with photos of people getting married or being wedding guests.
When we were planning our wedding, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. The first one I attended as an adult was my own; none of my friends were yet married, and all I had was the internet. Not that the internet is a bad place to find help - in fact, I stumbled across many pieces of advice, planning tips, and general information whilst hunting around online. And the ones that I found most useful were not the comprehensive to-do lists or the "10 most likely things to go wrong on the big day" articles (seriously, are they just there to bum you out?). It was the personal accounts, the "everyone's different, but this is my opinion" tips on planning, and the unique afterthoughts of people who, with hindsight, knew what they would have told themselves pre-wedding.
We were extremely fortunate in that ours was exactly what we had hoped for it to be and more. I have no regrets or anything that I would change about that day even if I could - but like most, I do have a few funny anecdotes and memories that I will always be laughed at for, with my full permission! (a homemade program full of typos, a 3am argument over the Plan B seating plan chaperoned by one of my bridesmaids, to name a couple...)
This is really not an advice post, nor a post that is supposed to be intentionally helpful in any way - weddings are such personal things and I would never impose my ideas on others, but since these are the kinds of pointers that I found to be useful (and entertaining to read!) whilst planning, I thought I would throw them out there and perhaps they will be of interest to a few - I know that there are several blogging ladies who are planning weddings right now!
1 :: You can pick and choose your traditions.
E and I did not have the most traditional of weddings, although we did keep those that meant something to us. We wrote our own vows, we didn't have a wedding cake (we had an incredible dessert buffet instead!), we didn't have a Best Man or Maid of Honour and had 4 groomsmen and 4 bridesmaids (all of whom gave speeches, each one as special and memorable as the next), I didn't throw my bouquet (not sure why, but I'm just not keen on that tradition?)... just to name a few. I was reminded by many sources in the early days of our engagement that you don't need to do anything for the sake of it.
2 :: Savour your first look as much as possible.
I feel like this is a silly one, because who wouldn't?! But having read accounts where they were both too nervous to take in each other's faces when they first saw each other, I made a note of making sure I was as present in that moment as I possibly could. We chose to do a "first look" before the ceremony, which turned out to be the most special, yet relaxed moment - my girls and I came outside where the boys were waiting, and E's groomsmen made him wait to turn around until I had come closer to him. I loved having our bridal party witness this moment, as well as feeling like it was more private - and as we followed this up with photos, it meant we could spend the reception with our guests, rather than MIA with the photographer. Whether you're doing a first look or taking the traditional route and seeing each other on the aisle for the first time (which I think is equally beautiful), capture it, savour it, remember it.
3 :: Make sure you get fed by your bridal party during the reception.
Not exactly a surprising one, considering our love for food! But honestly, we made sure to tell them to bring us canapés during this time - not only because they were amazing and we chose them ourselves (our caterers were phenomenal), but it's absolutely true what they say about not having time to eat. Had we not asked our friends to bring the food to us, we wouldn't have had a moment to get any or be served any, being so busy chatting away. Really though, this was the best advice we took. Oh, and we ate every morsel of our dinner, don't you worry.
4 :: Enjoy the time spent with the ladies in your life (or men, if you're the groom!).
Some of my favourite photos of the day are of the girls and the boys in their separate rooms, getting ready and having a laugh. My bridesmaids and I did our own make up and hair, we had such a great time dolling ourselves up and getting excited. Seeing the photos of the guys being silly was also hilarious, and I feel like we both enjoyed our time leading up to the guests' arrival just as much as we did the rest of the day.
5 :: If in doubt, go natural.
When you're doing your own make up, you can feel under a lot of pressure to make sure you look especially good on the day. I did so much research for it, but in the end, I just did what I usually do (with a few more luxury products). I love seeing the photos of brides who stylise their make up with a stunning red lip or the trends of a certain era, but I knew that wouldn't suit me so I kept it very simple. It actually felt very calming to "do my face" as I always do, and I knew that E would want that, too. Unless you have a specific idea of a look you want to rock (which you should go for if you do!), keeping it natural is the safest bet, in my humble opinion.
Although this is probably not the first time you're reading similar thoughts if you're a bride-to-be, I think that those things are at the top of my list of "glad I listened to that advise", as they all came from elsewhere when I needed them.
Since our wedding, I've been to three, and I have this year and next year of being a bridesmaid - a role I'm yet to experience, so I'll be learning on the job. It's such an exciting and happy time, and I'm so lucky to be sharing these special milestones with my friends - trust me, I'll be wearing lots of waterproof mascara.