I was engaged and planned my wedding religiously for two and a half years.
I know – it was a long engagement. It worked out, though! I wouldn’t change a thing.
Well, that’s actually not true. I definitely would change a few details, looking back on it. Despite all my planning over those years, I still missed some of the biggest moments of my day simply because I wasn’t actively looking for them. While I have pictures and a video to look back on and try to imagine what those moments were like, it’s not entirely the same as having the actual memory.
As a bride, your day rushes by in a blur because it’s so easy to let your attention get pulled in a hundred different directions throughout the celebration.
This is why I’ve compiled a list of moments to make sure you catch throughout your day below. Some are from my own experience, and others are from brides I’ve known over the years. One thing is for certain, though: if you carve time out of your busy schedule to make sure you actively participate in these moments, you’ll never feel like you missed any part of your big day.
1. During your beauty appointments…
Have your photographer or one of your bridesmaids taking pictures, and stagger your timeline to where you don’t feel rushed. Relish in the fact that your closest girlfriends are by your side on this important day, and laugh about the adventures you’ve all had together. Consider having all of your beauty appointments together at the same place so that you can order light refreshments and relax before the hectic moments start. I also suggest having someone else do your hair and makeup so that you’re not stressed about looking perfect.
Tip: Hire a day-of planner to make sure everything works out and your timeline is perfect so that you really can just relax here.
2. After you’ve gotten into your wedding gown…
Take a moment to look at yourself in the mirror and reflect on your love for your soon-to-be hubby. I’m not just being sappy here. Trust me – the day will seem like it’s flying by so quickly that it’s possible to forget why you’re even going through all these motions. So just take the chance to stand, breathe and reflect. It’s worth it! Also consider checking out the ceremony site briefly so that you already know what it looks like by the time the doors open and your processional begins.
Tip: Add five minutes to your getting-ready timeline specifically for this.
3. When the doors first open for your bridal processional to begin…
Immediately find and lock eyes with your groom so that you don’t miss the expression on his face when he sees you. This may seem like a “duh” statement, but you’d be surprised how many brides say this completely slipped their minds until they were nearly to the altar. While you may be tempted to look at all your admiring friends and family once those doors open and the music starts, seek out your groom first. This is the single most-regretted aspect I have of my wedding day: I looked everywhere but at my husband until I actually made it to the end of the aisle!
Tip: Consider a first-look photo session.
Not only will having one give you an amazing opportunity to spend time alone with your soon-to-be husband, but it’ll also reduce your nerves, speed up your hectic timeline, and keep him forefront on your mind so that you naturally look to him when those doors open for the actual ceremony. Besides, the tradition of waiting to see each other until the ceremony has pretty archaic and unromantic roots, if you didn’t know!
4. As you’re leaving the ceremony…
Your recessional is an opportunity to walk hand-in-hand down the aisle in front of your friends and family for the first time as husband and wife. Take the moments in by looking around and smiling! Let yourself be giddy. Let yourself giggle. Enjoy the ride to the reception venue, too!
Tip: Opt not to have a receiving line directly after the ceremony, as is tradition in some churches.
These last forever, and they do nothing but hold up your celebration at the reception…where guests are actually supposed to congratulate you!
5. While you’re dancing with your new husband or dad…
Take a moment to really look at him! Don’t get so focused on remembering the dance steps that you forget to share in this special moment.
Tip: Take the pressure off by saying you’re just happy to be dancing with him.
Let him know that it’s not really about the dance steps so much as it’s about the moment. He may snicker at the statement, but he’ll appreciate it secretly!
6. When dinner begins…
Make sure you eat! Guests will be a discouraging force to this the entire time by talking to you, congratulating you, and hugging you. They understand you need to eat as well, though, so make sure you savor your reception meal with your new husband. Guests will understand, and you shouldn’t miss out on raving about the food later.
Tip: Ask your caterer to make a to-go box for the two of you to take when you leave the reception.
7. During the reception…
Step back from the fray and watch your guests having fun at the event. Take advantage of the moment to really admire all the décor in your reception hall. Also, take the opportunity to hug your parents and thank them for their help in getting you this far.
Tip: Use one of the “dance breaks” in between the special events during the reception to do this.
8. After the cake cutting ceremony…
Make sure you get a slice of cake – and eat it! Almost every bride I talk to says she really didn’t even taste her wedding cake for the first time until a year later, when they cut into their first tier on their anniversary. Don’t be that bride! Enjoy every part of the reception you worked so hard to plan.
Tip: Ask your caterer to include a slice of cake for both you and your husband with your to-go boxes as you leave the reception!
9. During your last dance…
Reflect on the day with your husband and admire the reception décor one last time. Keep in mind that the fun will only continue with a fabulous honeymoon!
Tip: Choose a meaningful song that’s not too sentimental and that always makes you smile. You’ll be happy you didn’t choose something that made you cry!
10. As you exit…
Be proud of the fact that all these people cheering you on have helped you come to this important time in your life! Make sure you wave and smile, and look back at your venue knowing that the day could not have been more perfect because you caught every moment – and not just via your photographer or videographer.
Do you have a moment you wish you’d caught on your wedding day, or something you hope you remember to watch for? Tell us in the comments below!
Images courtesy of Memphis wedding photography company, Yen Studios.