Lessons From A (Very Recent) Newlywed: Part II


Heather Hawkins Photography

It’s here. Your wedding day has arrived, and you’re feeling calm, collected and ready to do this thing. Feeling adequately prepared, you’re well rested and ready to tackle all that the day will throw at you. How? You read Part I of Lessons From A (Very Recent) Newlywed, and now you’re about to read Part II, and the duo left you in an ideal state of preparedness. Ready to fulfill destiny? Read on, brides to be.

1. Don’t get too drunk the night before.

Let’s start with the obvious, which is waking up as fresh as possible on your big day. This means saying “sayonara” to puffy eyes or a swollen face, which inevitably means saying “Nope” to that shot offered by your cheering cousins at your rehearsal dinner the night before. Trust me, it all sounds fun in the moment, but the next day you’ll be kicking yourself as you search for the Motrin.

2. Have an escape plan

…For the rehearsal dinner, that is. It’s so easy to get caught up in chatting with your nearest and dearest, but when the clock strikes [Insert your ideal leave time here], it’s time to jet, or you’ll end up closing down the venue before you had time to blink. Assign a committee to cordially pull you away from the crowd. Mine was my mom and sisters, who took me aside and reminded me to Houdini from the party before another conversation started. I did, and was happy to be in bed at a reasonable hour to get my beauty sleep before the big day.

3. Wake up early. Enjoy the morning.

Beyond marrying my best friend, one of my favorite moments of the day was in the morning. My mom, maids of honor and I woke up, threw on comfortable clothes, grabbed coffee, and took an impromptu walk on the beach. We didn’t talk about anything in particular; it was just about enjoying one another before the craziness of the day began. Starting the day this way was the true icing on the cake as it helped to ground me and kept my mind clear from anxiety before all the prepping began, which at that point was exactly what I needed.

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Isn’t That Charming

4. Have a fabulous playlist for getting ready

The morning of your wedding day is a blast, but let’s be honest, it’s a production. Between hair, make up, putting on your dress and getting to the venue, it’s hours and hours of primping and prepping. Have a groove-worthy playlist crooning in the background throughout it all to keep the mood light-hearted, and don’t forget to sing a favorite song or two along the way. Your bridesmaids will thank you.

5. Speak up.

This one is simple, short and sweet. Speak up. Don’t love your hair or makeup? Say something. Want a picture of a special moment? Ask. It’s your day, so make sure you’re communicating all that will make it absolutely perfect for you! The last thing you want to do is look back later and think, “If only I would have….”

6. Just dance.

My husband and I did our best to make the rounds to say hi to everyone, but after a certain point, we cut ourselves off from mingling and headed to the dance floor. We’d been to so many weddings where the bride and groom didn’t get to dance at their own wedding, and to us that was heartbreaking. More than anything, we wanted to make sure we prioritized one another on our wedding night, which for us meant doing the “shopping cart” on the dance floor. “That girl” and “That guy” in photos busting hilarious dance moves in the middle of the crowd? That was us on our wedding night, which we would have had no other way.


Sean Money + Elizabeth Fay

7. It’s all good.

Things will go wrong. Take a moment right now to accept this, and move on.

That exact mind frame is exactly what you should practice on your wedding day. Food orders may get messed up, speeches could start late, and the iPod playing the mother/son dance could stop working – (Gah! All of this did happen at my wedding) – but it’s important to remember that the day is bigger than all of this. It’s about your marriage, and truly, all the other stuff is just details. Let it flow.

8. Stop to take it all in.

The best piece of advice that I got on my wedding day was to remember to pause and take everything in. It all goesbysofast and before you know it, you’re looking at photos thinking, “What just happened?!” I have vivid memories of specific moments where I paused to remember to remember. I’m so happy I did that, because among the craziness of the day, it reminded me to stay in the moment and truly enjoy it all.

With Part I and II behind me, I’ve laid out the key pieces of advice that helped to make my wedding day a success. I know I’ve only skimmed the surface of all there is to know, though. Wives – both newlywed and years in the making – comment below tell us your input! What are your lessons learned for your wedding day that you found to be most important?

Emily Vanderbeek_Headshot _150About Emily: Emily lives, works and plays in the skyscrapers of Chicago. By day she’s a digital advertising professional and by night she blogs at Isn’t That Charming, where she documents *Inspiration for a charmed life*. Follow along on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook!