...when you're planning a wedding.
There's nothing more time consuming, stressful and delightfully traumatic than getting ready for the biggest day of your life. Like many other things, this blog took a backseat to table plans, beauty treatments, dress fittings, decoration making and all the other million and one small things which crept up on us during the final few weeks before our wedding on Sunday May 1.
But now it's over. The lovingly made place cards are now red wine stained, the carefully chosen dress now languishing in its bag in the spare room and the frantically ordered candles still sitting in their unopened plastic bag. Because no, not everything went exactly and precisely to plan and yes, we had the most amazing day of our lives.
Though four weeks have now passed (during which time we've been enjoying a disgustingly long and extravagant honeymoon) I am still unable to fully appreciate just what happened that day. And so, to help me get my head around it, and to help any brides-to-be out there who are still in the throes of wedding planning, here are my five top tips from the big day.
1. Book the best photographer you can afford
This is my top tip and I can't stress it enough - our photographer Martin Plant was worth his weight in platinum. He helped the groom with a shaving mishap, tied all the cravats and generally created an air of calm throughout the day – as well as setting up some truly once-in-a-lifetime shots. Yes, we massively overstretched the budget on this one but now the day is over the main thing we will have to show for it is our pictures and to us that's priceless.
2. Lay on free booze, but keep it simple
We tied ourselves in knots about this one, not knowing how much people would drink and whether anyone would take the proverbial if we offered a free bar. We decided to pay for beer and wine only and I would highly recommend this as the best way to ensure everyone has a good time but that nobody orders a tray of 12 double brandies (I've seen it done!). Inevitably some of your guests will be on a budget so offering some free booze is a good idea if you want everyone on that dancefloor but (draft) beer and wine don't run up the bar tab like other drinks do and so we were able to offer these all night long, including some bottles of wine for the late-night drinkers. We didn't reach our financial limit and everyone had a good time.
3. Prepare something for your first dance
Anything. Seriously. Nobody enjoys the painful first dance where the couple sway awkwardly to the backdrop of a million flashbulbs and a soundtrack of Stevie Wonder, and these days (thanks to Youtube) your guests are probably expecting something a little more showbiz. We had a lesson with First Dance UK (just one) during which we choreographed an alarmingly simple routine which we rehearsed a total of about five times. It didn't take much time (or dancing ability!) and meant that we had something to focus on besides the fact that everyone was staring at us. Yes, we messed it up but my dress hid many of our mistakes and we really enjoyed surprising everyone.
4. Arrange something for the next day
One of the best things about our wedding was that we got to spend time with all our guests. This was partly because we kept our numbers down so we could get around everyone but the main reason we felt we'd had some quality time with people was because we had a BBQ the next day. Most of the guests came, it was a very relaxed affair in the garden of my now in-laws and it meant that those end of the night goodbyes on the wedding day itself were more "see you later" than "see you at Christmas".
5. Don't drink too much
Sounds boring but better that than waking up the next day not remembering anything. The day goes quickly enough as it is and drinking only speeds up time so why do it? For brides there's another element to this one too – every time you go to the loo someone has to help you with your dress; it's not quick and it's not graceful. Drinking less means more time with your guests and less time getting a bit too intimate with your bridesmaids – everyone's a winner. I drank hardly anything but the natural high was enough to keep me dancing all night long – and I was still the last one to bed.