I got married a few weeks ago, and recently discovered I'm doing a peculiar thing. When people ask how it went, I always say something that went right, and something that I think went wrong. "Oh, it was so fun! There was a ton of dancing but we forgot to do a send-off." Or, "Thanks! My bridesmaids looked so beautiful but I'm not sure I loved my dress."
It's probably really annoying: Unless it involves a funny story, no one wants to hear the bride bitch about a few small things that were not perfect on her day.
This pessimistic tick is annoying for me as well. We all create oral histories for big events in our lives, and I'm already training mine to be a downer. As my sharp wedding memories inevitably begin to blur, I want to be able to tell the story of that truly beautiful day I married my husband. Not that day I got married but forgot to put lipstick on before our pictures.
So in the spirit of shiny memories and self-congratulation, these are the 10 things I think I did absolutely right.
1. My bridesmaids picked their own dresses. This was only slightly stressful due to some last-minute dress changes, but each bridesmaid looked amazing in a dress that fit her style/body/budget, and my loose color scheme of blush-to-off-white.
2. Food was served buffet-style. Our caterer was incredible and set up a massive spread for our guests. (My favorites were braised short ribs over kimchee and tiny pork and mango tacos.) Buffet-style gave everyone the chance to eat when they were hungry, and not feel pressured to finish a coursed meal all at once.
3. No place settings. Other than not wanting to deal with the politics of a seating chart (seriously, there is not enough wine in this country to sustain us through the creation of a 160 person seating chart), we also wanted guests to feel they were at a cocktail party rather than a sit-down dinner. We had tall bistro tables set up around the dance floor, and four 10-tops with chairs against a glass wall with the hopes that limited seating would promote mingling. We're still hearing stories about disparate friends and family finally getting to know each other, and that would not have happened if they'd been seated.
4. We paid more than we could for our photographer. Wedding budgets almost always inflate themselves, but we tried hard to keep ours in line. It was important to us to find the right photographer, and when he came along, we made it work. We wanted someone relaxed and not only a wedding photographer by trade, and were so happy when we met Shane, whose work is rooted in photojournalism. When he quoted his price we shared a quick "holy crap" glance but signed the contract.
Moving the budget around to make it possible to work with him was the right choice. He was super easy to be around, and captured our day as it unfolded naturally. We've seen a few pictures from our wedding and already are thrilled with our decision to reappropriate funds.
5. Made a donation in lieu of favors. On our one month anniversary (November 6), residents in our beautiful blue state will hopefully make Maryland the next state to legalize gay marriage. In support of that, we donated money in the names of our wedding guests to Equality Maryland. We wanted to make it clear that we recognize how fortunate we are to have been able to get married, and our donation was a small way to show our loyalty to the cause.
6. No programs. Our ceremony was quick and dirty. Guests stood outside and sipped Natty Boh's (Baltimore's signature swill) and our talented classical guitarist friends played "Life on Mars" as I walked down the aisle. The entire thing took eight minutes and I couldn't stomach spending a few hundred dollars on programs. Instead, I painted a canvas and hand-wrote the program, being sure to recognize our wedding party, our officiant, our guitarists, and our families. It depends on the style of your wedding, but posting one sign as the program worked well for us.
7. Did a "First Look." We debated a first look for months, and decided a few weeks before the wedding to go through with it. A friend wisely pointed out that whether it's on opposite ends of the aisle or in an intimate pre-ceremony spot, you still get that first "!!!" look. Being able to see each other before the ceremony was lovely, and gave us time to take all our pictures and hang out with our wedding party before the madness of the reception.
8. Bought our own booze. Some venues or caterers will not allow this, but fortunately we got married in a working warehouse, so our rules were pretty lax. The beer/wine/spirits were dropped off during our rehearsal, and the groomsmen and my four brothers unloaded the goods. Our caterer provided mixers and made all the drinks during the reception, and after the wedding we loaded the rest into a car and took it to our house for the after party. We saved a few thousand dollars, and are still lousy with Tito's and Tecate.
9. Got ready at home. My bridesmaids slept at my house after the rehearsal dinner, and we spent the entire next day sipping wine, eating snacks, listening to Channel Orange on repeat, and having our hair and make-up done. Through other friends' weddings, I found talented and reasonably priced hair and make-up artists to come to my house and doll us up. At no point in the day were any of us stressed, and being home gave me time to do last minute pre-honeymoon chores like cleaning toilets and packing. Which was oddly calming.
10. Married the right guy. Seriously, though. Knocked this one out of the park.
Click through the slideshow below to see photos of Megan's wedding.