Having just gotten married two weeks ago, I thought I'd share a little bit about my engagement experience while it's still fresh. I know of several sweet ladies who are currently engaged and so from one bride to another, here's everything I wish I'd known.
A FEW CLICHE THINGS PEOPLE SAY, THAT ARE IN FACT TRUE
In regards to the dress "Once you put it on, you'll just know" - I can't explain it, but something truly magical happens when you put on The Dress. I tried on many dresses at three locations and many were beautiful, but none were "mine". Once I put on the dress I ended up buying, it was like I was looking at the picture I'd always had in my mind. In that dress I felt like a bride, not like a girl in a pretty dress. So yes, you'll just know. And it'll be an incredible moment that you won't get back so soak it in!
"Something will always go wrong" - yes. Just yes. I know you're thinking (just like I did), what could possibly go "wrong". Everything is planned and I can't imagine something major not working out. Well it happens; in spite of all the planning and precautions, it happens. It was a few things here and there for us, and of course the minor issue of our photographer having to cancel two days before the wedding. Things will go wrong, but SO many things will go right! And the mess ups will find a way of working themselves out, turning your wedding into a dream come true.
"Take in every moment, because you're likely not to remember a thing" - I tried to do this as much as possible because I already know how forgetful I can be and I knew that the stress and magnitude of the day would inevitably only make me more forgetful. I would catch myself just stopping what I was doing to just say "You're getting married!" and then cry, ha! You don't have to do the crying part, but the former is necessary. Let it sink in. This is such a bright spot in your life, that to not take it in to it's fullest would be a shame.
A FEW THINGS I'M GLAD WE DID
+ I decided to not wear any jewelry or anything in my hair. Most people felt I should get more "fancy" and wear jewelry because it was a special occasion. I never wear jewelry or put my hair up. I wanted to stay true to myself and I'm so glad I did! Looking at pictures I feel like I look like myself and I love that. That's not to say that you can't be a little more shiny on your big day, but if it totally goes against you and your personal style, then it doesn't have to be for you.
+ We didn't have a "first look". Elisha was pretty adamant about not seeing me before the wedding. He wanted the first time to be when I was walking towards him down the aisle. This was hard for me because we got married when the sun had already set and I really wanted photos of us during the day. Fortunately, we ended up having an incredible photographer who got super creative. Elisha and I were led by my bridesmaids to a field prior to the wedding. We had our eyes closed the entire time and our photographer posed us and we got some exceptional shots. We would take turns looking at the camera, but never actually seeing the other - it was such a fun experience. The moment Elisha saw me and the expression on his face was priceless, so I am SO happy we didn't go with the first look.
+ We stayed true to ourselves. Sure, there's some really cute and trendy ideas floating around pinterest, but not every great idea has to be great for you. Early on I was pretty set on making this wedding about two things - me and Elisha. I wanted everything to convey who we were and celebrate that with our friends and family. So when people asked what our "theme" was or even colors, I'd just say... it's kind of a mix of things. Because we're kind of a mix of things. Nothing really "matched", but it went together because we go together. I'm really happy I didn't jump on any one bandwagon, but created and bought things that we loved, simply because we loved them. And I think in the end it all flowed and people loved it!
A FEW THINGS I WISH WE'D DONE
+ The little things. There are honestly not a lot of big things I would've changed about the wedding. It was just a lot of little things that sort of slipped my mind in the process. I didn't pack pens. We had our guestbook and advice cards, but I only put out pencils for the advice cards. They ended up getting used for the guestbook and everyone's words aren't as easy to read... I didn't get a chance to finish all of the chalkboard signs that I had wanted to put out...ya know, the little things that really didn't make a big difference.
+ Sparklers. We decided it would be fun to use birdseed for our exit. I made cute pouches (which i'll be sharing a DIY for here in the next few weeks) and filled them with seeds. I thought it was a cute idea because it didn't cause a bunch of "trash" that confetti would create and it was a little different then the weddings I'd been too. Well, in theory, great idea. Actually, it was awful. Not only did people decide it was a good idea to pelt handfuls at our faces, they were so tiny that they got in my dress and in our hair. We spent a good hour trying to get it all out! So, birdseed bad, sparklers, good.
A FEW HELPFUL TIPS
+ Have a plan. Knowing that several things will go wrong, doesn't mean you shouldn't have everything planned to a T. Even setting up Plan B's will be hugely helpful.
+ Hire a coordinator for the day of. Even if it's just a close friend that you trust. You need someone on the day of who will be able to handle the process and answering questions on your behalf. That's why it's best that it's someone who knows you well enough to know what you would want. I'm SO happy I had my dear friend Lydia for our big day - couldn't have done it without her!
+ Go with the flow. Here was my mantra, "at the end of today I will be married" - that was really all that mattered. The rest was fun, and beautiful and exciting, but all that truly made the difference was those two words... I do!
+ Use your resources. If you know someone who has a ton of glassware, ask if you can borrow it. If your friend has an amazing voice, no need to hire a band, just let them do their thing! If you're friend is an incredible artist, ask her to do your invites. We are so blessed with creative and gifted people in our lives that getting everything we needed was so much fun! It makes the wedding even more exciting because people you love aren't just attending, but they're involved.
+ Hand out jobs. If you haven't hired a cleaning crew, then just utilize your bridal party and family. Have a list of everything that needs to get done and assign different people to each job. They will be happy to help and feel like they're able to contribute.
+ The things you think will matter, kind of end up not mattering. It's funny because the things we poured the most time and energy into, kind of ended up not being the best things about the wedding, or just not really working out the way we thought. For example, our catering was from a food truck called Salsa Limon, from here in Ft Worth. We were SO excited to have the food truck because they were going to actualy be able to drive into the venue and serve from the truck. We love eating there, so it was special for us. After the planning and stressing of having them there, it turned out that the ac on the top of their truck made it too tall to fit in, ha! Day of, it really didn't matter, but it was just funny to think that we thought it would be the highlight and it didn't even come together. But it happens. Just don't get too attached to any one part of the day - except your groom to be!
I am by no means a pro, just a girl who went through it. This was such a wonderful time for me and Elisha. We grew so much closer and really saw how we worked as a team. If your fiance isn't as into the planning portion that's okay too, that's what bridesmaids are for! Which, I absolutely couldn't have made it to the big day without those sweet ladies. And a special shoutout to my sister, the ultimate MOH. But seriously, if she could be a professional MOH, she would make bank - so lucky to have her! Just have fun, take photos of the process, soak it in and enjoy - you're getting married! If you have any questions about anything leave them in the comments and I'll answer them as best I can!