(all photos are sneak peeks from our photographer, Alison Yin Photography)
I’m finally done with this… my wedding recap! Truth be told, this is my third draft of this. I really struggled with how to write this, how much detail to go into on various topics, and how to do the milestone justice. My first draft was 6 pages all about how to navigate the body image, “perfection” pressure as a bride, but then I realized it was too drawn out and I wanted to consolidate the whole recap into one post.
SO, without further ado, here is a little wedding recap! I should also mention that my professional photos haven’t come in yet, but here are some teasers from our photographer. Also, if you want to see our 6 minute trailer recap video, I gave you the link at the bottom! Watching peoples’ wedding trailers is my favorite thing ever, so if you’re as obsessed as I am, I am happy to indulge you with ours 🙂
Long story short, our wedding was so much freaking fun. Ryan and I knew that we wanted it to be a huge lively party with tons of dancing, and while we did everything we could to ensure that happened, we also knew that there was only so much we could control. I remember the week before the wedding, saying to Ryan, “I know that we have a vision for what we want it to be like, but I just want us to not be SO attached to that, so that in case it’s different, we aren’t disappointed.”. It’s a weird thing – you spend an entire year planning for this one weekend and you have such a vision for what you want, yet you really don’t know what’s going to happen the day of. Are people actually going to dance? Are they going to party in the way you want them to show up? What will the mood and vibe be like? Everyone is coming into the weekend with their own things – leaving babies at home, their own stress and exhaustion, their own LIVES – and you just never know how it’ll all go.
My favorite thing about our wedding weekend is that it DID go like we wanted, and for that I am forever grateful. In fact, it was even better than expected. People really showed up for our wedding in every way, making us feel like we were in this bubble of love and excitement all weekend, and for that we are so grateful. As we go through this post, I’ll share little things I think we did that helped create that vibe.
But let’s step back for a second and talk about one of your biggest questions – did I feel pressure to look perfect / lose weight / “tone up” for the wedding day?
When we first got engaged, a lot of you asked me this, and to be honest, at that point I didn’t feel the pressure. I do think this can be attributed to the work I’ve done in this area.
I know, deep in my bones, that my worth… that how much I am loved… that how much fun I am capable of having… that my happiness… is just NOT correlated to how perfect my body looks. Ever. And even on my wedding day.
Then came wedding dress shopping… the moment that can be SO triggering for any woman.
Personally, I was actually okay during this whole process, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t have to actively work on it. Here’s some advice I can share if you’re about to go through this:
- If you’re someone who feels like this may be hard for you, keep your group small (I just had my best friend and mom). First of all, it’s easier to listen to your own intuition around what you like when there aren’t a million opinions. Second, less eyes staring at me felt less intimidating.
- Know that EVERY SINGLE BODY will have some dresses that look great and others that don’t. Just because a style doesn’t look good for your shape or size, doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you.
- Given that, I went into dress shopping perfectly okay that some things just wouldn’t work for my body. That didn’t make me wrong or gross or bad or ugly. It is just how it works! For me, I have big boobs that made a lot of dresses really difficult. There were so many styles I wished I could have pulled off but I couldn’t; I just had to accept that and CHOOSE to love my beautiful body instead of getting angry at her for not looking like other peoples’ bodies.
- When you walk out of the fitting room and step in front of those mirrors, try as hard as you can to watch the way you’re speaking to yourself. You can say things like “Okay this dress doesn’t look great on me, but others will. I still love you, my sweet body.” or “This dress looks great in some areas but not in others. It’s okay, every woman has parts of her body that she struggles with. This is a normal human experience.” Those are some examples of compassionate and loving self-talk. Know that we ALL have to do it, it’s just part of life and being a person on this planet, especially a woman.
As I got a few months out from the wedding, I did feel a desire to work out more often and get in shape, but it came from a place of excitement, which I think is so normal and OKAY! Just because you want to get in shape doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong or not loving about that.
However, it’s important to ask yourself: is my desire to get in better shape coming from a place of joy and excitement or from a place of fear?
Coming from a place of excitement looks like: “I know that nothing DEPENDS on me losing weight or getting in shape, but I think it would be fun to use the wedding as motivation to take my fitness to the next level. It could be fun! And if my body doesn’t change at all, that’s okay too! I don’t need it to.” Note that here, it’s more about getting into the wedding spirit and having fun with the whole crazy process vs. any element of self-worth or self-confidence being dependent on your body’s changes.
Coming from a place of fear looks like: “if I don’t get in shape, I won’t like the pictures, or people won’t think I look beautiful, or I won’t feel confident, or I won’t have as good of a time as I want to, or people will judge me, etc. etc.”. The list goes on. If you’re going through this, ask yourself, what am I afraid of if I don’t lose weight or get in shape?
About a month before the wedding, my psoriasis was flaring up and spreading to my face (not cool), so I did start watching what I ate in order to calm my body down. Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease during which the body attacks itself, and it’s often caused by gut issues or foods causing a heightened immune response in the body.
However, any sort of strict restriction always causes me MORE stress, which I know my body didn’t need (stress is a huge autoimmune trigger). So, for the few weeks before the wedding, I dabbled in the Autoimmune Protocol (which I felt awesome doing) but also let myself eat whatever when I really wanted it. I would call it a very conscious intuitive eating approach: combining a high level of nutrition knowledge about what my body was experiencing and what foods typically help calm my body down, but also feeling into what I holistically intuitively needed at any point. It wasn’t always easy – and to be honest, I struggled with it at times – but I think I did a pretty good job managing all the factors that went into me feeling well mentally, physically and emotionally.
At the end of the day, I didn’t lose weight for my wedding, nor did I really tone up. I was just the same old me… the same person Ryan proposed to a year earlier. When I look at the pictures, I don’t see a perfect body. I don’t see myself at my skinniest. But I see ME, and a girl who had the best freakin’ time at her wedding.
Okay moving on… I wanted to share my top tips for getting through the wedding planning process + the wedding weekend in the best way possible. Some of this is borrowed advice that other people gave me, and some of it is what I learned along the way:
The year of wedding planning can be one of the most special times with your mom (or friends, or whoever is helping you plan). My mother-in-law sat me down when we first got engaged and gave me this advice, as it was given to her when her daughter (Ryan’s sister) got engaged. Although there will be stressful times, never lose sight of how special of a time this is for your relationship with your mom. I can’t tell you how many times I cried because I knew the year with my mom was fleeting. The endless phone calls / emails / texts… the dreaming and visioning… the meetings alongside one another… it was all so special to me and something I made sure to savor as much as I could.
Set the stage for how you want things to go with your mom. One thing I did that I think was smart, was I sat my mom down at the beginning and said “I know you and I sometimes have different tastes, styles, and ways of getting things done, so I just ask that we both recognize that and try to be patient with each other.” It was a great little chat and I think it set the stage that we WILL disagree, but we can also intentionally be patient with each other. I always remembered that conversation when we were frustrated or approaching something differently.
Even when you get stressed, remember how lucky you are to GET to be planning a wedding. This is SO HUGE. Do you know how many women would kill to be in your shoes, planning a wedding with someone you LOVE? That is such a special thing, and it’s important to never take it for granted. Remember, you GET to do this!
Let’s talk about a Wedding Planner. We decided not to splurge on a full-on wedding planner because we thought we could handle a lot ourselves, but we did hire a month-of planner. If I were to do it again, I would do it exactly like this. I highly suggest getting a planner at the end, but sometimes a full planner isn’t needed – just know how much time you have and what you are capable of! I also had time and flexibility, but if I were working a demanding job, I may have hired a full planner.
Block off time in your calendar for “wedding things”. The wedding emails truly never stop, especially toward the end. It can be insanely overwhelming. Even though you see them constantly bombarding your inbox, I suggest blocking off time in your calendar to do wedding tasks, instead of feeling like you have to respond all hours of the day.
Try to act in a way that you would be proud of. One thing that I think can be frustrating for brides during the planning process is that there are so many other people involved who you can’t control. Bridesmaids and groomsmen, your family, your in-laws, all the vendors you’re working with, etc. There were so many times I wanted to snap at someone for something, and I just kept telling myself to act in a way I would be proud of. Deep breaths, understanding, speaking with kindness, patience. I was NOT 100% perfect at it, but I kept trying.
Trust your gut when making decisions, always, and don’t be afraid to do things differently. One of the reasons I think our wedding was awesome is because we trusted our intuition on so many decisions, even if that meant doing it unconventionally. For instance, I really didn’t click with any FL photographers, but I loved our SF photographer who did our engagement photos. I went out on a limb and asked if she would fly to FL to shoot our wedding and she was up for it. Everyone LOVED her and we felt so happy we did that. I did the same for all of our vendors we chose – from the design to the music to the venue to the style of tent – I didn’t say yes until it felt right.
When you get caught up in all the decisions, ask yourself, “do I even NOTICE this at other peoples’ weddings”? This is a question I asked myself constantly. It’s so easy to get caught up in every detail being SO IMPORTANT. All of a sudden you find yourself obsessing over the color of the linens or the direction the stamps are facing on our invitation envelopes and you’re like WHO AM I. Whenever I found myself struggling with a detail, I would zoom out and ask myself, “do I even notice this at other peoples’ weddings?”. For instance, I have never once noticed the linens at anyone’s weddings, so why should I care so much about my own? This question is a good gut check and helps you put into perspective all the details and the fact that none of it matters THAT much!
On the same note, know what DOES matter to you. We really wanted a lively wedding, and we knew the band was a huge part in creating that, so we put a ton of time and attention into choosing our band. We ended up choosing a Fusion Band which was a DJ and Band mix, so they could play both classic wedding music and modern tracks. It was AWESOME.
Go away together to reconnect the week before the wedding. This is one of the very best pieces of advice we got from my friend. The weeks leading up to the wedding are so insanely busy, and it’s likely you and your partner are operating like two CEO’s running a project. It’s easy to feel disconnected from the entire reason you’re having a wedding: to celebrate the love you and your partner share. So, carve out time – at least a few hours, but maybe even a full day or night – to go away just the two of you in the days leading up to the wedding. We went to a beautiful hotel, ate a delicious leisurely breakfast, and used the time to reconnect and write our vows from an open heart.
Take in the Ceremony. A million people will probably give you this advice, but it’s a goodie so I am going to put it here! When you’re up there at the alter or chuppah or whatever, make sure you take a minute to look around and ground yourself into the moment. It’s likely that you’ll feel overwhelmed and nervous up there, but you want to be sure you really take it in! This is your wedding and all these people are here to love and support you. Look around and breathe it in.
TEQUILA SHOTS. Yes, yes. So, you guys may know I am not a huge drinker, and at the rehearsal dinner and leading up to the wedding I didn’t really drink at all, but once we got to the party of the wedding, I felt like I needed something to take the edge off. By that point, it had been a LONG day with so many nerves and I was finally over the hump and ready to just have a freakin’ good time. But it’s kind of hard to just “let go” as the bride! About 45 minutes into the party, I turned to my friend and said “I need a drink.” However, as the bride, it’s virtually impossible to sip a drink – you’re dancing and all over the place. So, ½ tequila shots became my best friend. It was an awesome little trick I discovered! Since I am a baby and can’t do a full tequila shot, I did little ½ shots throughout the night. AND IT WAS THE BEST. It took the edge of nerves off, helped me just let loose and have so much fun, yet still kept me relatively sober. Highly recommend.
The bride and groom set the vibe. You’ll also hear this A LOT, but I think it’s just so true! Ryan and I wanted our wedding to feel really warm and heartfelt, and to also be a PARTY. So, we put all of those things into it. We wrote our own vows to bring a more personal, emotional vibe to the ceremony (I was scared shitless to do this, but I pushed myself and am so glad I did), and spent forever choosing meaningful and unique music for the ceremony. I think it helped set a warm, loving, and fun tone early on. And then at the party, we went ALL OUT. We danced the entire night, through the very last second of the after-party, and it brought so much energy to the night! I think when everyone sees the bride and groom having fun like that, they feed off of that energy and get into it, too.
Prioritize YOU having fun! Yes you are the host, but I really believe that you should also prioritize YOU having fun. Since Ryan and I both love to dance, for us that meant spending 90% of the wedding on the dance floor. Ultimately, people said that seeing us have fun energized them to have more fun, too. Again, the bride and groom set the tone.
Okay, I’m going to cut myself off here. I hope this advice helps you if you’re about to plan your wedding or are in the middle of it.
I’d love to hear from you in the comments below:
- If you’re planning a wedding, what has your experience been like?
- If you’re married, what was the best piece of advice you received?
And lastly, here is the link to our video.
Lots of love,
P.S. A list of our vendors… Venue: Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach. Catering: Constellation. Photographer: Alison Yin Photography. Videographer: Senderey. Wedding Coordinator: Polka Dot Events. Floral and Design: Simply Events Design. Tent: Sperry Tents. Band: RockWithU.