What do real brides have to say about the wedding planning experience? In the weeks leading up to her wedding, guest blogger Anna Maltby gave us the inside scoop on planning an interfaith wedding ceremony, nailing your engagement photo shoot, and more. With the big, beautiful day behind her, Anna gives us a sneak peek at her gorgeous wedding photos and a few of her favorite moments.
First of all, no, I'm not kidding. I really did have the most incredibly relaxed, fun, stress-free wedding day. Ask my bridesmaids; I think some of them were actually a little weirded out by how cool and calm I was on the big day. In fact, I'd even go so far as to say I had an almost-entirely-stress-free wedding week. Here's how you can do it, too:
1. Plan ahead—way ahead. Ok, I might have driven my fiancé a little bit crazy putting arbitrary deadlines on things (hey, I'm a magazine editor!). But getting wedding stuff done ASAP, like right now, while you're thinking about it, is absolutely crucial. After all, no matter how well prepared you are, approximately 152 annoying tasks you didn't realize you'd need to do will pop up in the month before your wedding, so all of the known entities you opt to "figure out later" are just going to make the period right before the wedding that much more painful. The timelines in books and magazines exist for a reason—use them!
2. Take the right days off. Yes, it's super helpful to have a day or two off before the wedding—you'll have friends and family in town and last minute errands to run, and you'll be more than a little bit distracted at work—but it's actually even more helpful to take a day or two off around the weekend before the wedding. My angel of a boss, Sara, granted me a super amazing day off that Friday, and it seriously made all the difference. I folded and assembled all our programs, attached name tags to our escort card/favor animals, put our table numbers in the frames we'd spray-painted gold, gathered up my six heavy bags of stuff, and took them all to our wedding coordinator's office. Poof, done, and out of my mind for good. And on my way home, I picked up my husband's wedding band (or I tried to, anyway—not everything went perfectly just before the wedding, unfortunately!). I kid you not: I got so much done that Friday that we actually had sort of a normal weekend! We went to a friend's birthday party, checked out a new restaurant for Sunday brunch, and did about 10 loads of laundry. Which brings me to...
3. Factor in the non-glamorous stuff. You've got your pre-rehearsal dinner blowout scheduled and you're on the books for an indulgent mani; but what about the laundry? Seriously. It's probably been way too long since you've done it, and if you're leaving for your honeymoon right after your wedding, you better get it done soon. Personally, I was also having my mehndi party at our apartment the Thursday before the wedding, so I knew it needed to be clean. If you can outsource any of this (drop off the laundry! hire a cleaning service from Groupon!) definitely go for it, but just don't forget that you have to do it.
4. Ask your friends for their last-minute tips. Honestly, you don't want to drive yourself crazy with panicky what-if scenarios, but I really wish I'd known how much time I would spend just before the wedding working on cards and gifts for my family, friends and wedding party. I'm really glad I did it—I can't tell you how unbelievably grateful you're going to feel toward everyone who takes part—but it really took a lot of time to figure out the right gifts, the right cards, the right wrapping paper, etc., for everybody. And side note, I should have bought stock in Papyrus.
5. Hire help. Even if we'd had the budget for it, I don't think I would have hired a full-on wedding planner (I'm way too independent and, uh, control-freaky for that), but I'm still so insanely glad I hired a month-of coordinator. The brilliant, beautiful, incredibly calming Sojourner Auguste and her team at Erganic Design handled everything logistics-related and basically kept me sane in every possible way that month.
6. Fight for it. Here's the truth: Weddings aren't just stressful for the bride. There's going to be a lot of emotions flying around on the big day, and no matter how determinedly you set out to have a totally Zen experience, somebody (probably a lot of somebodies) is going to make that a challenge. It might be someone who totally surprises you, but it'll happen—bridesmaids may freak out about dresses, cousins may freak out about family drama (neither of which happened to me, thankfully, but I am choosing not to air my personal wedding dirty laundry in such a public forum!), and they're going to come straight to you with it, even if you think that's the craziest, most inconsiderate thing to do. So here's what you gotta do: Be so Zen that they can't help but get Zen, too. Practice saying stuff like this very slowly and calmly: "I'm not sure what to tell you about that." "Don't worry about it; it doesn't matter to me." "Let's talk about that when the wedding is over!" And smile. They'll get the hint. And if they don't, well, that's what your coordinator is for.