Tuesday 25 October 2016

10 things I learned on my wedding day

Published 26/05/2016 | 11:52

Journalist Joanna Kiernan on her wedding day
Journalist Joanna Kiernan on her wedding day

People are very keen to give you advice ahead of your wedding day.

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 A lot it is helpful and some is just unnecessary - Like the lady in one of the many bridal shops I visited, who advised me mid-appointment to tone up my bingo wings.

But this is one of the first lessons you learn as a would-be bride - the minute you mention you are getting married unprovoked advice starts flying thick and fast.

After months of talking about it and writing about it here, I celebrated my own big day three weeks ago, so here is my tuppence worth.

1. If you relax then everyone else will too.

Perhaps one of the most stressful parts of the run up to your wedding day is the amount of needless and irrational worrying you do about other people. Will they enjoy the day? What main course they will go for? How they will feel about the ceremony? Where they will stay? etc.

One of my oldest friends sent me a message a couple of days ahead of my big day, explaining in great detail how little she cared about the specifics of my wedding, but how much she wished that I would simply, relax and enjoy it all. It was the best gift I could have asked for. If you want a relaxed wedding, you need to genuinely be a relaxed bride.

2. It is not all about you.

This may be a revelation for some, but your wedding day is about you, your other half, your families and your friends collectively. With luck this will be your one and only wedding day and that is not just a big event in your life, it means a lot to those around you too.

After months freaking out about being the centre of attention on the day, this realisation was a huge comfort for me.

3. Hiccups will happen.

There is no such thing as the perfect day. My bridesmaids almost got lost on the way to the church because the lovely rustic road signs we had painstakingly painted were simply too small to be seen from a car going at any normal speed; my veil kept getting caught in the carpet in the church and half way through the ceremony I spotted that the candles I had made a mammoth expedition out of finding were never lit.

If you had told me any of those things that day before I may have had a meltdown, but the day of the wedding I was so happy that I saw them for what they truly were- insignificant.

4. Everyone loves a wedding.

When a friend of mine told me to be sure to keep the week before my wedding relatively free for unannounced visitors I immediately panicked - there was work to be done, nails to be painted and a day of lying still and braless (following perhaps the most important spray tan of my life) to consider.

However, the lead up to our wedding day was filled with such an outpouring of love, kindness and good wishes from distant relatives, former colleagues, school friends, neighbours and even perfect strangers that all of my more superficial concerns soon faded away.

5. Nobody’s a critic.

No one is out to get you. There are no covert fashion policemen or women in your wedding party hell bent on rating everything from your dress and venue to their overall experience out of 10. You've just spent too much time watching Four Weddings on TV over the last year. As long as you're happy with your choices, nobody else’s opinion should matter.

We made a few choices, which could be considered controversial in the traditional sense and three weeks later if anyone had an issue, I have yet to hear about it.

6. It is an emotional rollercoaster.

You never know what way you're going to react until your wedding day is upon you. Having spent months bawling my eyes out every time I saw Say Yes To The Dress and enjoying a lifelong reputation for being a particularly ugly crier, I was prepared for an onslaught of tears on my wedding day.

Save for a few wobbles, the convulsions did not manage to take a hold. What I was not prepared for was the zen-like happiness that consumed me once all of the plans we had made began to kick seamlessly into action. Tip: For those few wobbly moments I found throwing my head back and swallowing hard particularly effective!

7. It goes by in the blink of an eye.

Everyone says it, but this is because it is so very true. Your wedding day passes so very quickly and there is so much adrenaline and excitement and alcohol floating about that you will only remember small snippets of it afterwards. I was really hesitant about getting a videographer at first, viewing it as a tad lavish and/or surplus to requirements, but I am so glad I was talked around to the idea now.

8. Everyone knows what they are doing.

From your glam squad to your venue coordinator, chances are, as Dr. Phil would say, this isn’t their first rodeo. Unless you are horrendously unlucky, your wedding suppliers will know their stuff inside out and be two steps ahead of you all day. I went with my gut at every turn throughout the planning process and thankfully ended up with a dream wedding team, who could not have been more helpful, hard-working, insightful and on the ball.

9. You need some headspace.

A friend who got married last year advised me to take at least 15 minutes away during the day with my groom to calm down and take a short breather from what can be an overwhelming day. These few minutes were so valuable and gave us really time to take in the wonder of the day together, before returning to party the night away.

10. You cannot be both grateful and unhappy at the same time.

The priest mentioned this quote during our marriage ceremony and it really struck a chord with me. After months of worrying that I would turn out to be the worst bride in history, that I would look horrendous, fall up the aisle and become a bridezilla that nobody wanted to be around on the day- I suddenly realised that I was so grateful for everyone I had around me, that nothing could ruin the day, not even me.

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