In this second half of tips and advice from past brides to future brides, we join up again with McKenna, MaryAnna, Mallorie and Megan (I really did have brides with a first name that didn't start with "M" this year!) to talk about details and favorite moments from their Big Day and the advice they wish someone had shared with them.
If you missed yesterday's post, be sure to read it for some feedback on their planning and organizational skills, plus how much of a Bridezilla they feel they were.
What would you change, if anything, about the first part of your day (hair and makeup, getting dressed, etc) before the ceremony?
McKenna: Everything was perfect! It just flowed.
MaryAnna: Ian says he wouldn't have changed anything about his getting ready except that they should have gotten dressed in a bigger room. Then they went to the brewery on site, so can't complain about that! I got ready at my parents' timeshare and it was perfect! The girls came over and we all had mimosas while looking at a beautiful view in the backyard! I was really lucky to have a friend that wasn't a bridesmaid who made sure we had lunch. We switched to a First Look at the last minute which was perfect! We got to spend a little time together before and neither of us was nervous for the ceremony.
Mallorie: As lame as this might sound, I would change nothing about the time I had before the ceremony. I had a fantastic time! I had allotted one hour for getting ready, everyone was on time and we had more time than I thought for pictures!
Megan: If I could add more time to my wedding day, that's what I would do. But in the end, there is never enough time to fully prepare on that day. My hair and makeup went fabulous. And then after those things were done, it's all a blur! Time flew! I really enjoyed having my full bridal party/bridesmaids with me that morning. We all met at the hairdressers and got our hair done together. Then we met at the hotel later that day, where we all got dressed and took a couple pictures. The day of the wedding, I didn't eat much. I wasn't purposely trying not to eat, but I literally did not have any time! So I suggest doing whatever you need to do to eat something beforehand. You don't have a lot of time that day, so be ready and have great ideas/places of where to take pictures. You are going to have your wedding pictures forever!
What was your favorite part of the ceremony?
McKenna: The vows and the unity ceremony. These were special because we were legally becoming one family.
MaryAnna: Ian says his favorite part was me walking in. (Awwww). My favorite part of the ceremony was seeing Ian's face when the pastor said "beer pong partners for life."
Mallorie: My favorite part of the ceremony was when our officiant declared us husband and wife and our dog, Sookie, barked the loudest she ever had! It was so perfectly timed and everyone thought it was adorable. I mean, I know she's a dog and doesn't understand what marriage is (or DOES she?), but it was super adorable.
Megan: For the ceremony, I really enjoyed the time before it when I got to give Ben his book of pictures. Although it just lasted only a moment, I just enjoyed the personalized gift I got to surprise him with. Also, during our ceremony, our mothers/parents surprised us with a slideshow of pictures synced with a pretty song. It was very nice and beautiful and meant a lot to us both.
What was your favorite part of the reception?
McKenna: Dancing with my husband and enjoying time spent with family and friends because that's hard to come by now.
MaryAnna: Ian says the reception was all pretty fun, but he really loved the mom/son dance. My favorite part was the last dance montage (that the DJ actually got right) because everyone was dancing and having a great time! We had a bar in the inn as well, so the afterparty started right after, which I recommend finding a place where they have everything all in one spot. There was also a porch that we wound up hanging out on until late after the bar closed.
Mallorie: My favorite part of the reception just has to be the moment when the entire wedding party was announced and Eric and I made our entrance. The music we had picked for those moments was so perfectly timed that I was literally weeping -- all happy tears, I assure you. It was very much like a movie.
Megan: My favorite part of the reception was just dancing and enjoying ourselves all night long. It is really neat to be sitting at the head table and look out and see all the people who came to support you and celebrate your day. I enjoyed dancing with everyone and talking with them.
Did you have any "hiccups" or obstacles during the day? Could it have been prevented?
McKenna: Nothing, thankfully!
MaryAnna: Other than the DJ, it was all perfect. I'm pretty sure the guests didn't really notice the issues with him anyway minus the messing up people's names when announcing them.
Mallorie: We had one hiccup during the day, just one. Eric and I headed to the ceremony site before the wedding party and I forgot my veil. I didn't realize this until we were ten minutes away from walking down the aisle! Luckily, the best man managed to speed his way back to the reception site where we got ready, grab the veil and get back just in time! I owe him my perfect ceremony. In hindsight, I would have put the veil on before leaving, but my vain self didn't want to ruin my hair.
Megan: Yes, we did have some "hiccups." The first one was that our musicians were unable to come to the rehearsal the night before. So, during the ceremony, the bridal party walked down the aisle too soon and then when I made my entrance, I went too soon, also. Oh well, it ended up being just fine! Another thing that bothered me was that I was not impressed with the food that was served at our reception. We didn't have the option of taste testing, and originally I was OK with that because both my best friend and my brother had had their receptions at the same place and the food was good. Well, for our reception, I did not feel it was good at all, but at that point, there is nothing you can do about it. Just go fill up on cake or cookies! Things aren't going to go perfect on your wedding day. But half of the time, your guests won't have any clue that something "went wrong." Don't get upset about anything that doesn't go as planned. Just go with the flow and enjoy your time with your new husband.
Is there anything you wish you could have done more of on your wedding day?
MaryAnna: Definitely make sure you eat! Our venue made sure we were in with the food and drinks all night. Give yourself a chance to dance and have fun, too! Wendy said to step back and just enjoy for a bit, which was such good advice as well!
Mallorie: I wish I had socialized a bit more with my guests during the actual reception. I had managed to speak with a majority of people at the rehearsal dinner the night before and knocked a few more out during cocktail hour, but there just wasn't enough time in the day. Also, the music was just too good to get off the dance floor!
Megan: I kept telling my significant other that "we have to make sure we get around to each table to say 'hello' to everyone." Well, good luck! Haha! I wish we could have had time to do that, but there is so much going on, that it is very difficult. Do your best to socialize on the dance floor and just acknowledge people by making eye contact. I was fortunate that I was able to greet a lot of people after the ceremony (which made me feel better). But in the end, we really had fun, and that's all that matters.
Did you have a second shooter on your day? If yes, would you say it was a positive addition to the day? If no, would you consider one in hindsight?
McKenna: No, but if I could afford it, I definitely would have.
MaryAnna: We had Susan as our second shooter. It was the best thing ever! I got Wendy all to myself while we were getting ready and Ian had Susan to take shots of them getting ready. It definitely added to our pictures and made things less hectic for everyone.
Mallorie: I did have a second shooter and it was fantastic going through all of the pictures! We had so many more options to pick from and I feel like shots she took were more natural. When we were getting ready, too, I liked the fact that I had a photographer and Eric ha a photographer. That way, we weren't missing any silly moments before the nerves hit.
Megan: Yes, I did have a second shooter for our wedding day. It was a fabulous addition to the day. It was so nice having her go take pictures of the groom and groomsmen at the church while Wendy was with me and my bridesmaids taking pictures. Also, the second shooter got some different angles of pictures and just different pictures in general that Wendy may not have gotten because she was busy with other pictures. I definitely would consider a second shooter. You will get more of those fun "candid" shots.
Why is a wedding photographer so important? What should brides look for in choosing one? Do you have an image that surprised you when you saw it or one that is your favorite?
McKenna: Because they capture all the beautiful moments, sometimes the ones you fail to see. You need a photographer who's easy to get along with and understands what you want. I have way too many that I love but I love them because you can see the love through the pictures. A picture truly is worth a thousand words.
MaryAnna: A wedding photographer is SO important. It was the top thing on my priorities of the wedding, no joke. Wendy had such beautiful photos that really captured people and when we met her for coffee and wound up staying for two hours just talking, we booked her right then! She made me feel like a supermodel for both our engagement session and our wedding pictures. I was 100% comfortable and relaxed both times and I think that was because Wendy and I had such a personal relationship. Gosh, I can't even pick favorites. We have like 200 favorites and it was really hard narrowing it down for our album!
Mallorie: When Eric and I first talked about the wedding, we had prematurely decided we did not want a photographer. Technology has evolved so much that we felt we were video all the way. However, when I realized that half of my family was behind the curve and wouldn't be able to see my videos on my Facebook profile, I realized how stupid I was being. There were going to be moments of that wedding that I wasn't going to want to go through hours of footage just to see, so why would I make my family and friends do it? Pictures are so important, not only to you, but to everyone involved. They're a great way for your guests to remember how much fun they had and take a peek at the moments that they didn't get to be a part of. The most surprising picture was one of our dog during the ceremony. Without my even realizing it, she had taken off across the aisle behind me, taking my mother-in-law with her! It was pretty hilarious. Out of all the photos, though, I loved the ones of my dance with my father. No one, not one of my wedding guests, had taken pictures of that moment. I found out from my DJ that everyone was weeping and couldn't take pictures. So, those are definitely the most precious. Those and the ones of everyone laughing during the wedding speeches. All four had us out of our seats, laughing until we cried. Perfection.
Megan: A wedding photographer is the most important part of the wedding day. That photographer is who is capturing your memories! Without that photographer, you wouldn't be able to look back at that day and look at all the wonderful things that took place. When selecting a photographer, the most important thing for me is personality. I want someone who is sweet, kind, easygoing, makes me feel comfortable, but someone who also knows what they are doing and is confident in themselves! Wendy Zook is all of that and so much more. She really did make this whole journey so fun and stress-free.
What was the biggest surprise (good or bad) looking back on your day?
McKenna: I was surprised how many guests didn't show that said they would.
MaryAnna: The biggest surprise was when my cousin, who no one had seen for five years, showed up right before the ceremony. She had just gotten in touch with me the day before and Ian said by all means add her to the list! We didn't tell anyone other than my parents and minister. She even missed the first bus, so I thought for sure she wouldn't make it. As we were walking in to get ready right before the ceremony started, a taxi pulled up next to us and started beeping. She came out of the car with her four kids and my other cousins (who were bridesmaids) started crying and yelling at me for ruining their makeup. Her mother apparently screamed, "Praise, Jesus!" when she saw her so everyone was very excited! I got "yelled" at by a few people for keeping it a secret, but I'd have to say that was the best surprise of my life.
Mallorie: Our wedding favors were little bags of handmade hard candy and $1 lottery tickets. We had a few winners throughout the night, nothing more than $10, which was super exciting! The biggest surprise, though, which wasn't even a surprise, was my complete and utter failure at tossing the bouquet. They took me up to the balcony, which put me about five inches away from the ceiling, and it just plummeted straight down. Luckily, I had a cutthroat guest, otherwise I'd probably have had to throw it again and risk another display of my utter lack of an athletic prowess.
Megan: I guess the biggest surprise was that there weren't any bad surprises, haha! The only thing I was truly surprised about was that our little flower girl and ring bearer walked down the aisle by themselves. During rehearsal, they were not very happy at all and did not walk down aisle. So I assumed it wasn't going to happen for the actual ceremony. But come to find out, they did walk by themselves and did an awesome job!
What's the biggest lesson learned? What do you wish past brides had told you beforehand?
McKenna: Nothing really. I had some past brides give me the insight so nothing really came as unexpected.
MaryAnna: I actually had some great advice from past brides beforehand, such as take time to just enjoy the day and that if you were really desperate, you could plan a wedding in a weekend so not to stress for a whole year!
Mallorie: I wish someone had really and truly described the moments before it was my turn to walk down the aisle. My mouth was bone dry, I was sweating, my hair was falling with every step, and I just wanted to run down the aisle as fast as I could out of fear that my heels would sink through the grass. Everyone said, "Oh, butterflies!" or "I was so nervous, I was shaking, teehee!" but no one told me about the other symptoms of being a bride. My biggest mistake, though, was not walking around the house in my (not shoes!) garter! I bought a garter without much research and it was so loose that it fell off of my leg when I put it on. Luckily my sister managed to rig it to my thigh just in time for the garter toss.
Megan: I was fortunate enough to have friends who have been married and were more than willing to give me advice. Biggest lesson learned: the tiny, tiny details don't matter. This is the most important day of your life but it's also only ONE day. Enjoy it. Don't stress over tiny details. It all falls into place. Also, always look for different ways to save money and stick to a budget.
Last bit of advice:
McKenna: Don't let anyone try to change your mind on what you want. It's you and your future husbands' day, no one else's. Let it be everything you dreamed.
MaryAnna: Get a return address stamp without your last names on it. I spent $10 on Etsy and have used that for our Save-the-Dates, invites, Christmas cards and thank-you notes. It saved me so much time! Bring extra cash with you to tip people. Be flexible. Remember that you're marrying the love of your life, so try not to give him a hard time in the process. Give yourself a day in between the wedding and honeymoon. Check wedding garage sale groups on FaceBook.
Mallorie: Please don't let anyone tell you what weddings should be like. No two weddings are alike, nor should they be. Your wedding is a representation of you and your husband. An extension of this would be to always listen to each other. If you have had a vision of your wedding since before you could walk, get ready to abandon some of those choices. That was your wedding, not your wedding to your fiancé. One more thing -- there is such a thing as "too many cooks in the kitchen"; use your bridesmaids, mother, future in-laws to your advantage, but don't give anyone too much power. You might end up with someone else's big day.
Megan: All I can say is Good Luck, Ladies! Everyone's wedding is different. Stay organized and that will keep your stress level low. Don't be scared to ask for help or suggestions. One thing I enjoyed was when I went wedding dress shopping, it was only myself and my mom. The less people/personalities, the better. On your wedding day, focus only on you and your significant other. It is your day and you need to be happy and having fun. Don't stress about saying 'hello' to everyone. Those who truly love you understand you are super busy and trying to enjoy yourself. They are just happy to be there and watch you celebrate your day. Don't stress too much. Trust me, it somehow all falls into place and ends up being your perfect day.