I have been married for ten years this year. That’s a long time, everyone! Maybe not to my parents, but to my past college student self, my past middle school teacher self, to my teacher husband, swim coach spouse, kidless Office and Arrested Development binger selves, late night ice cream run couple, world traveler selves, and now to our two baby, school administrator and business owner selves, ten years is a long time, even if we still have eight months before the official ten year mark.
I look back at so many life decisions we’ve had to make together, and I am really proud of most of them. It’s not the really big choices that I often lament, so this is a good thing! Can I get an “AMEN!” But I do often look back on my wedding day and wish I had known a few things before this point.
Getting married is such an immensely overwhelming task (yes, a TASK, friends!!! It’s not a party until cocktail hour, and don’t you forget it!). So here are a few things I wish I’d known as my younger, less mature, not married for ten years self.
- This day is about your new spouse and you and the celebration of your marriage. While it is also a day for a mother to celebrate the wedding of her child, and a father to gain a daughter or son in-“love,” these incredibly important and meaningful additions come second to the fact that you are celebrating your union as husband and wife. So when lots and lots of people are giving really wonderful suggestions, remember that they’re suggestions, and that this day is a day for you and your spouse and there will never be another day like this ever.
- Details can really tell the story of who you are aesthetically, but at the end of the day, it is about the people.
3. GET A PLANNER!!!
I was a college student fiance. I was incredibly worried about my grades, and my parents’ house had just burned down, and they were expecting their first grand-baby, and had already done the wedding thing, twice, within the last 18 months, so there was a lot happening. I felt like I was constantly chasing my tail, and sometimes it was hard to tell which direction was forward and which was behind me. So get a planner, make a list of what you have to accomplish, and then hash this list out on a calendar with deadlines by which they must be complete. Do not think you “have time,” for my sweet friends, this is the wedding industry. You do not have time. You are competing for dates against princess brides who have been planning this day since they were seven. It’s a dog-eat-dog world, my friend. Don’t wait. You don’t have time.
4. (Here’s where my personal world collides with my business world—which is intentional)
So much of how I run my wedding photography business is based on what I wish I knew as a young bride. How I arrange my packages is based on the choices I wish I had as a young bride. But hinds sight is 20/20. So take it from me, the photographer who still doesn’t have an official album: plan ahead for what you hope to be holding in your arms after the wedding. Do you want a gorgeous folio box that holds your images that you can put on an end table? Circle that choice on the paperwork BEFORE the wedding. Do you want that heirloom album that beautifully tells the story of your day from prep to reception? Plan for it BEFORE the wedding. Know how it is getting in your hands, and plan to leave it in the photographer’s hands so you’re not having to do the work to get it to you. Otherwise, it won’t happen. I DISTINCTLY remember telling an older colleague of mine (I was working at a home-grown soap factory at the time) that I had just received scrap book supplies for Christmas and how I wanted to make a scrapbook out of my wedding photos (back when scrapbooking was a major thang—c’mon! You remember!). She said, “that’s wonderful! I would suggest giving yourself a deadline of a year. Mark it on your calendar and hold yourself to it.” To which my thought was, “Heck, Lady, a YEAR?! I’m cracking this project open tomorrow!” The materials still sit in my attic and my photos are still in a proof book. Life happens! Grades are due, rent is due, the car payment is due, over-due dinner dates are due, babies are due… life keeps on, and if you do not make a specific initiation in allowing others to do some work for you, you will invariably prioritize your time, and I promise that album design is not going to fall on the top of the list in those busy days. So, this is not a shameless plug to include an album in your package. These words of wisdom come from you less as a business person and truly from the heart of a young bride who now holds ten years of marriage and life experience who still has a proof book on her daughter’s bedroom shelf. Procrastination and “life cramming” is a real thing.
- Try to allow the day to run as slowly as possible.
Perhaps more than any other day in your lives (baby delivery equals so much adrenalin that it’s a different kind of surreal.), your wedding day is this out-of-body experience where you feel invigorated and numb at the same time. Time is flashing before you and moving at a snail’s pace without you there all at the same time. You care about every decision on that day, but you’re unable to make any of them. You know exactly what is supposed to happen and at the same time, you need a friend to help you pee because you’re just incapable of doing anything yourself that day. It’s just a weird and crazy experience. And you’re going to wake up and feel like you don’t remember anything from it. Trust me! So, really, really try to just absorb it all and enjoy it. AND EAT YOUR DINNER DANGIT! Plan all the details in advance. Make sure that everyone in charge of something knows what his/her job is EXACTLY before the actual day, and then TRUST them and allow them to do what they know you want them to do. Also, have a friend or family member who knows you well enough to help you make any decisions that might come down the line on the day of. This will alleviate so much stress on your part. Lastly, ENJOY yourself on this incredibly important wedding day.