Being in the wedding and events industry for nearly a decade , I have orchestrated more weddings than I can count. Last year alone, in 39 weeks, I orchestrated 74 weddings. I have lost count since then. I am not one to say, “I have seen it all.” Because really, who has? But in all reality, I feel like I have come pretty darn close to it.
I have seen brides too anxious to even speak the day of the wedding, only able to nod, eyes wider than a slow loris when I ask, “Want a glass of champagne?!” A groom has “loved me” for months on end. Throughout the whole engagement experience, he and his bride shared with me their new business, their family dramas, and everything in between amongst appointments of cake tastings, and layout discussions– to then turn and stab me in the back, running to every wedding site you can think of slandering my name in endless lies, only in hopes of getting out of his final folio. I once saw a bride sob for nearly 45 minutes, yes, sob, because her wedding planner redirected the way her wedding guests would enter the reception tent due to rain…because “the guests entering from the left just was not what I envisioned”. I have been called by a grandma of the bride on my personal cell phone two days after my own wedding while on my mini-moon because she “just needed to know what shade of white the table linens were” for her granddaughter’s wedding…seven months from then. My personal favorite might just be the time a bride told me I “ruined the start of the rest of her life” because it rained on her wedding day. I like to consider myself pretty darn close with the Big Man upstairs…but I’m certainly not close enough to call the shots on when and if the skies will open up on any given day.
You are likely going to think I am either kidding or exaggerating in some or all of these stories. No, I am not kidding. No, I am not exaggerating. My dearest husband and my dear coworkers who have fallen witness to these moments will vouch that this is all, unfortunately, true. I sure do wish it was not.
You would think these stories make me exceptionally angry. Of course, sometimes, they do initially. However, when the dust settles, they make me sad. They break my heart. Why? Because I know hurt people hurt people. I know this bride or groom went forward with the expectation that everything would be perfect, nothing would go wrong, they would come in under budget, and everyone would get along the whole time. And when one or all of those things fall through? Guess who receives the brunt of the breakdown? The wedding pros, of course!
And so, to you, dear brides and grooms, from a wedding professional and recently wed bride, I want to share a bit of what I hope will be helpful advice. I hope you hear it. I hope you feel it. I hope you let it sink in before you let your nerves, Uncle Joe’s comments on the seating chart, or your cringing purse strings completely demolish this experience for you. I want you to rock your journey to the altar. Don’t you want to have the amazing experience you both deserve? (Say, “I Do”. It counts as rehearsal and you can check another thing off that endless planning to do list 😉 )
It all begins and ends with managing expectations together. The sooner you realize this, the sooner you’ll be able to shrug things off far easier and stay in your blissfully engaged bubble. Think about this simply: there are a lot of humans gathering together. A lot of them don’t know one another. All of them are emotional. All of them are human beings. The unexpected will happen. The people you so thoughtfully selected to join you two in this journey to the altar will disappoint you. They might hurt you. It might be during your cake tasting, it might be during your rehearsal dinner, it might even be on the day of your wedding. Uncle Joe will grumble at the seating chart. That acquaintance from college will toss out a backhanded compliment about your gown. Great Aunt Ingrid will demand that everything center around her. Cousin Sally will concoct a saga and tell Pop Pop Lance that he wasn’t invited. You know what they say…nothing brings out the best and the worst in others quite like a wedding or a funeral.
So how to manage your expectations and not let anything or anyone burst your bridal bubble? Expect the unexpected. Lean on one another. Laugh. Ask for help. Set boundaries with those tip toeing into crossing the line. Don’t bite the hands that feed you: be kind to your vendor team. They are on your side 1000%. Do not obsess and overspend on every single detail. No one will remember if the card stock for your place cards was pearl-tinted or not. Save the green on something that truly matters instead–like ensuring your groom’s favorite tequila is on the bar and your favorite Costa Rican recipe is served. Pop some of the bubbly you got at your bridal shower a bit early to enjoy together while you finish up that seating chart. Remember that this is not a show: it’s a beautifully binding magnificent moment forever shaping the rest of your lives together.
I had a tasting with one of my brides and grooms several months ago. They knew I was a recent bride, and the groom asked me for some final engaged life and wedding day advice. Phew. There is so much to say here— (y’all, I have a lot of wisdom for being married a year and four months, ya know! 😉 ). I took a deep breath and smiled at him. I told him, “The way the day goes is entirely up to you two. You two have to decide, right now, together, that not if, but when someone in your family or her family or a friend says or does something disappointing, you WILL shake it off and take back YOUR day. When the vendor makes a minor mistake, when Memaw says something God awful, when the cake falls over, when Kayla is offended by the shade of blue you picked, you have to look at each other and laugh. This is the only way you will be able to control how your day goes.” The groom sweetly shared that was the best nugget of advice they had received.
Just like most other pieces of wisdom, my advice comes from a place of prior pain. My husband Luke and I had an amazing wedding day. We truly did. The ice cream we special ordered from our favorite shop melted, some people we love said some pretty rough things, the beach we booked for our ceremony spot was closed due to hurricane damage, my body was still extremely fragile and in pain being only six months out of a life changing diagnosis and surgery, a mirror crashed and nearly fell on my sister, thus causing all of us to be extremely late in our hair and makeup and never quite feeling completely finished–and yet, it was all so beautiful. Why? Because we got married. Because just like we will have to for the rest of our lives, when things turned out differently, we looked at each other, gave one another a squeeze, and kept trudging forward.
Through all of this crazy, I genuinely feel blessed to be in the industry. I know that just like any Thanksgiving dinner, things during an engagement and wedding day can be bumpy. Everyone is just trying their very best. And just like that Thanksgiving dinner table, everyone desperately needs a hug and an affirmation that it will all end up okay.
Decide together. What kind of story do you want to tell your grandchildren one day? The mirror broke and the ice cream melted, so you wallowed the rest of the day? Or the mirror broke and the ice cream melted, so you took a shot of tequila together, smooched behind the bar, laughed and kept dancing? Which way do you want to start the rest of your story together? How will you set the tone for how you two handle the curve balls for the rest of forever? It’s all up to you. Start early on those vows, and vow together to trudge through the trickiness in this season. I promise you, laughing through it all is so worth it. Tie the knot, cross my heart.
Big Hugs. Always.
Need another boost up, beautiful bride? Dive in here: every bride is Beautiful.