Unless you’re brand spankin’ new to Generation grannY– in which case, hello! Welcome!– you probably know I got married this past December. I wasn’t exactly shy about filling my social media feeds, and maybe yours, with updates and pictures during our four month engagement.

Not to toot my own horn or anything, but our wedding was pretty awesome. Despite a very short planning period, most everything went off without a hitch. Feel free to read about some of the details HERE.

I can speak from experience when I say that weddings still remain absolutely whimsical and fascinating even after you’re married. So whether you’re more single than a one dollar bill, in a new relationship, or have been married for a few decades, I think you’ll enjoy this post. And if you’re currently planning your wedding, which applies to about 75% of my friends, then you’ll REALLY enjoy this post.

Here are some friendly pointers to help avoid unnecessary stress or awkward moments on your wedding day:

1. Clearly mark “plus ones” on the invitations

Wedding plus ones are tricky. Where do you draw the line? How do you tell your friend that the guy she met on Tinder last weekend is not worth your $80? What if your cousin shows up with that girl you think he hires just to be his date at family events? I’m telling you right now, it’s amazing how many wedding guests think it’s their own decision whether or not they get to bring a plus one to a wedding. I did not want to deal with awkward questions (or demands), so I specified how many people were invited on the RSVP card. Very few people will mistake “We have reserved 2 seats in your honor” as “Feel free to bring all 6 of your small children.”

wedding RSVP

 

2. Speaking of invitations, don’t trust the post office

I got this delightful “return to sender” envelope exactly four months after I sent it. FOUR MONTHS. Luckily, Aaron and I followed up with each of our guests to make sure they received their invitations, or else a handful of them never would have known they were invited. You’re not being a pain in the butt if you ask someone for their RSVP– you’re ensuring that they know their presence is wanted.

post office fail

 

3. Do a walk through of your reception hall after you finalize the table layout

Our table layout looked fantastic on paper, but my wedding coordinator suggested we go back to the venue and measure things in person the Sunday before the wedding– just to be sure. I was confident that everything was good to go since I trusted our venue had created layouts a million times before, but it’s a good thing we triple checked. As it turned out, our band stage was going to take up the entire dance floor. What was drawn on paper was completely disproportionate in reality. Luckily, we were able to push a few tables closer to the bar and slide the stage into a corner, and everything still looked beautiful. All’s well that ends well, but I was very close to showing up at our reception only to find that we didn’t have a dance floor. (Shout out to my wedding coordinator, Lindsey Hocker with Simply Perfect Events, for saving the day with that one.)

dance floor wedding

 

4. Give very specific information to your vendors

I might be a little Type A, but I gave a down-to-the-minute, personalized schedule to each of my vendors, which included instructions in bold red lettering that were specific to each vendor’s responsibilities. This included certain wording I wanted when the band announced us, how to pronounce names, and exact moments that were important to capture. Hopefully you trust your vendors– and definitely don’t hinder their creativity, but it never hurts to say exactly what you want. Trust me– they want to know!

abby grace

With our amazing photographer, Abby Grace (black dress), and two other couple friends who are using/have used her as their photographer!

 

5. Don’t expect your trial hair and makeup to look the same on your wedding day

I didn’t do any trial hair and makeup appointments before my wedding, because all of my married friends told me that their hair and makeup looked considerably different on their wedding day than during the test runs. It’s pretty much impossible to duplicate a look, so just brace yourself! If you’re going for a very simple look like I did, my advice is to find really professional, highly-rated beauty vendors that you can trust, and skip the $100 trials. That way, you’re not comparing the day-of look to what you saw in the mirror the first time.

wedding hair

 

6. Test your spray tan

While I don’t believe trial runs are always necessary for hair and makeup, I strongly believe in testing out your spray tan. A great time to try one is for your bachelorette party. Spray tans are very easy to recreate if you like the color they give you, or you can request to go a little lighter or darker on your big day. The most important part of the trial is making sure you’ve found a studio that doesn’t turn you orange, and doesn’t use a formula that will make you look like you have a skin disease when it begins to fade. Not a cute look on your honeymoon. Whatever you do– don’t use a machine. In Virginia Beach, you can get a custom spray tan for $40, which lasts about one week.

Spray tans are weird, yes, but they also trim off about five pounds for the camera, and are a whole lot healthier than baking your skin in the sun or a tanning bed. Even if you don’t want to look super tan, they can give you just enough color that you don’t look translucent in your pictures. I personally loved mine from Sun Buni Brown Custom Airbrush Tans.

spray tan wedding

 

7. Pack a snack

This tip is often talked about, but I’m going to reiterate common knowledge: You’ll be too excited and nervous in the morning to eat very much, and way too distracted at the reception to enjoy the food you so carefully picked from the catering menu. Give your coordinator or Maid of Honor a protein bar to protect with their life until after the ceremony, then quickly scarf it down before pictures. I ate mine in Aaron’s pickup truck on our way to the reception venue for portraits. You’ll thank me for this reminder, I promise.

pick up truck

 

8. Don’t undervalue the honeymoon

When you’re planning, it’s easy to focus all of your energy and money on the wedding day, but if it’s at all possible– make room in the budget for an immediate honeymoon. It doesn’t have to be a two week tour of Europe or an all-inclusive stay at a tropical resort (though ours certainly was the dreamiest of all dreams), but do something.

I can’t begin to express the value in spending serious alone time with your new spouse in the wake of the wedding. It’s tempting to put off the honeymoon a few months to save money and accrue more time off of work, but I promise you that no level of grandeur can compare to the first few days of wedding bliss. If all you can manage is 3-4 days on a limited budget, then by all means, drive to a nearby town, rent a little room at a bed & breakfast, and roll over each morning saying “Hey, husband!”

Aaron and I learned the power of marriage in that one week following our wedding– it truly is different than dating or being engaged. Giving that bond the full attention it deserves in its first few days of life is something that will carry your marriage for a very long time (i.e. forever).

honeymoon blog pic

 

9. Understand the power of your bridal energy

As our premarital counselors reminded me over and over again, the vibe on the wedding day always matches the bride. If she is focused on the love and lifetime commitment– not the tiny details of the event– then guests will, too, be full of joy. If the bride is letting loose on the dance floor, the guests will also boogie the night away. If the bride doesn’t care when something goes wrong, nobody else will notice or care either. On the flip side, if the bride is upset when something veers off course (it will– you can’t avoid it), everyone else will feel tense and awkward. If the bride is drinking too much and gets messy, guests will start getting out of hand, as well. If the bride isn’t smiling, neither will the rest of the crowd.

[Ex: My bustle completely broke after a dancing foot ripped off all the ties. I could’ve let it distract me from dancing, or worried about the condition of my dress, but I was very aware that my reaction would set a tone. Besides, I was too elated with life to mind carrying my train around the rest of the night!]

No pressure, ladies, but basically the entire success of your wedding rides on your shoulders– so mentally prepare yourselves. The good news, though, is that “success” has nothing to do with how pretty your centerpieces are, how nice your hair looks, or the how white your dress is by the end of the night. Success is achieved by spreading the love you feel for your spouse like a lightning bolt that surges through all of your friends and family. That’s the kind of wedding that will not only lift you onto Cloud 9, but inspire everyone in attendance to live a life full of love.

dance floor

broken train wedding

 

Aw, man, I want to do it all again! Still with Aaron, of course. I guess that’s what vow renewals are for!