The coulda, woulda, shoulda from a recent bride who still lived happily ever after.
It’s hard to believe that eight months have passed since we said “I Do.” As I look back— not only on my big day, but on the dozens I’ve covered for ALIVE and attended as a guest in the past year—I’ve picked up my fair share of coulda, woulda, shouldas that I’d be remiss not to pass along to the next bride in line. As you work your way from “recently ringed” to “happy honeymooners,” you’re sure to encounter a speed bump or two. But, don’t let it throw you off the path to happily ever after. Instead, troubleshoot this turmoil with tips and tricks from a been-there-done-that-bride.
SHOULDA ASKED FOR MORE HELP.
Whether you need invitations addressed, seating chart support or petals scattered down the aisle, there are plenty of people who are happy to help you. I was what you might call a “control freak” bride. I wanted to do everything myself, and up until the moment I walked down the aisle, I was putting the finishing touches on the centerpieces. I was a mess and caused myself much more stress than was ever needed. Last month, I had the pleasure of watching my best friend get married, and I was in awe. A native of Cape Girardeau, she was planning her St. Louis wedding from New York City, a daunting task for any bride. She asked for help, friends rallied around her, and she was a perfect bride because of it. Not only did this take a lot off of her plate and allow her to enjoy the process, but it also kept her glowing and stress-free all day, and well into the night.
SHOULDA REALIZED “BEST LAID PLANS” ARE NOTHING MORE THAN THAT.
Anyone in the event business will agree with this. No matter how long and hard you plan, something will go wrong. It may not be a catastrophic failure, but it’s virtually impossible for everything to go perfectly. Take the weather, for example—you simply can’t control it. I envisioned my outdoor evening ceremony at the Contemporary Art Museum perfectly. There was a sunset, and my hair was down, blowing in a gentle breeze. But, when Mother Nature decided to rain on my parade—and bring gale-force winds along for the ride—my perfect wedding hair was ruined. I opted instead for a simple ponytail that was much more “me,” and every time I look back on those wedding photos, I thank Mother Nature for working for me, not against me.
WOULDA PRIORITIZED BETTER.
Weddings are expensive. But, once you’ve spent thousands, what’s a few hundred more? Don’t cut corners on the things that are important to you. Instead, find a way to make a sacrifice somewhere else. Flowers weren’t my thing, but I had a clear vision for my centerpieces. Literally, like the Bridezilla I was, these beauties came to me in a dream. And, at the advice of a friend, I trusted them to someone who “does weddings on the side.” Not the best advice I’ve ever gotten. If there’s one thing about the wedding that you absolutely have to get right, invest the time and/or money to get it right. Skimp on the dress and splurge on the shoes. Skimp on the invites and go for the top-shelf bar. Work within your budget, but prioritize the bells and whistles.
COULDA BEEN MORE PREPARED.
This is a tough one. I mean prepared in every sense of the word: physically, emotionally, literally. Sure, maybe I could have hit the gym a few more times, but that’s the “coulda” that concerns me least. It’s the emotional stuff that really takes the toll on you. No one really prepares you for this, but there’s an outside chance that you might not love being a bride. Don’t get me wrong, my wedding day was the best day of my life, but I was not a good bride in the idealistic sense of the word. Some of us just aren’t built for the spotlight, and that’s okay. The most important thing to remember is to be you. Don’t be a “bride”—be you. A lot of brides get this really distorted idea of what a “bride” is and conform to it. Don’t do that. People love you and want to celebrate you for who you are, so there’s no need to smile and wave for the crowd if that’s not your thing.
WOULDA TRUSTED A FRIEND WITH MY CAMERA.
The best advice I can give as a bride is to give your personal camera to a friend. Pick someone close to you, who will be spending the majority of the day with you and the bridal party. (A reader or friend-in-law are great options!) This way, when you and your groom head back to the hotel to jet off to your honeymoon, you’ll have plenty of memories to refl ect on together without having to wait for the professional pics.
Photo credit: Beth Berry Photography