Everybody loves giving advice to brides-to-be. Once you start planning a wedding, everything from the flowers to the honeymoon location is up for debate among your family and friends. However well-intentioned their opinions may be, though, they're likely not advising you on what will really help you have a fantastic time on your big day – the practical tips that will keep your day running smoothly and stress-free. Things like: how to plan your getting-ready schedule, what type of dress will leave you unable to sit down at the reception, and how to make sure the wedding doesn't pass by in a blur.
The following pieces of advice are known to every former bride and, if you learn them in advance, can actually help you to have a calmer, happier wedding day. Read on to discover the secrets that will help you feel like a bridal "pro!"
1. You're going to end up taking off your shoes.
Those spectacular four-inch Jimmy Choo heels you bought even before you found your dress? Those are definitely coming off at the reception. Don't forget: the reception will last at least four to five hours, and you'll spend much of that time on your feet, greeting guests and dancing with your friends. Ask your maid of honor to stash a pair of comfortable flats or flip-flops at the reception and swap out your pretty, but painful, heels!
2. Everything will take longer than you anticipate.
Don't underestimate your getting-ready process and how much time it will take to not only complete each task, but to get from one place to the other (for example, from your house, to the bridal suite, to the "first look" location, and finally to the venue). And don't forget that at each step of the getting-ready process, you'll be bombarded with family members and friends wanting to talk to and congratulate you. Budget more time than you think you need, so you can get ready without stressing about being late. This will also help you look more relaxed in photos!
3. You might not be able to relax in your dress.
Did you ever try to sit down or dance in your perfectly snug bridal gown when you tried it on at the salon? Although you'll look spectacular walking down the aisle in a very-fitted dress, you may be surprised by how hard it can be to sit down at your table for dinner at the reception – and how challenging it might be to bust a move like you usually do at the club! Mermaid dresses can be particularly difficult to dance in. Keep these practicalities in mind while shopping for a gown, and if it's important to you to be able to move freely, look for dresses with a breezy skirt and a bodice that allows you to easily bend at your waist.
4. You probably won't eat.
It's easy for newlyweds to forget to eat at their receptions. You'll be so busy talking to guests, dancing, and listening to speeches that before you know it, the night is over and you're starving as you head back to the honeymoon suite. If you've been drinking, it's especially important to eat, so you don't pass out and wake up with a hangover. It's okay to take a break from all the chatting and dancing to sit down and enjoy the meal you worked so hard to plan. Your guests will understand! Many couples also ask to have plates of food waiting for them back at the hotel, so they can enjoy the meal after the celebration.
5. Your best friend after the ceremony: your make-up artist.
After a tearful ceremony, you'll be grateful to have some help touching up your makeup. This is even more important if you're taking portraits between the ceremony and reception!
6. The little details don't matter. Really.
Right now, it may seem like your entire world is centered around invitation fonts, centerpieces, and napkin rings. And the thought of the flowers wilting, or the favors accidentally being left at the hotel, or the napkins not completely matching the tablecloths, sound like embarrassing catasrophes. But repeat after us: No one will notice. They'll be too focused on how happy you are to be marrying the love of your life than realizing that the sugar flowers on the cake ended up more blue than purple. Enjoy planning the details, but always remember that your guests will have fun at the wedding as long as you're having fun... even if there are a few mishaps.
7. The day will be over before you know it.
This is one piece of advice that you will likely hear from other brides, but it's hard to truly appreciate how the day flies by until you've experienced it. Make a conscious effort to slow down and take it all in, even if that means physically standing back during the reception for a few moments and watching the celebration unfold, soaking in all of the love and happiness surrounding you.
Opening photo by Renee Sprink Photography