10 year-old Caitlin’s dream wedding

I’m a very detail-oriented, super-organized… some might even say anal (though I wouldn’t – icky!) person. I like to create lists and mark things off them as I go. I’m the sort of crazy that writes things on the list if I’ve already done them, just so I can mark them off. Then I became engaged! All those charming personality traits intensified by about one million, and then one billion a month before the actual wedding. I tried hard to not be a bridezilla, and I think I succeeded (though I’m sure I had my moments), but that is due in part to taking the time to listen to past brides and people in the industry. I also learned some things along the way that I wish someone had told me sooner, so here I am, imparting my wisdom to you. Aren’t you lucky?

(P.S. Congratulations!)

1. Enjoy the engagement. Don’t start planning everything right away. Give yourself a few weeks or a month to enjoy your beautiful new ring (or necklace, bracelet, whatever) and your fiancé(e). Spend time together in a state of post-engagement bliss and relaxation! While the bliss won’t go away when you’re planning, the ability to slow down and relax whenever you want will.

2. Hire a wedding coordinator. Trust me. Just do it. “But we don’t have the budget for it,” I hear you saying. I get it, I totally understand, but know this: Our wedding coordinator saved us hundreds if not thousands of dollars based on her connections. Not only that, she was able to make sure the day went smoothly and that M and I actually got to eat. She was also great at keeping relatives that didn’t get along so well away from one another with grace and ease.

As an aside, don’t hire JLo as your wedding planning, she’ll steal the groom. Also this was a terrible movie. Image courtesy Columbia Pictures.

3. Get to know your photographers. With the engagement photos and the long photo sessions on the big day itself, it’s important you get along with these people. Not only that, the more they know you, the better the pictures will turn out because they will know what you like and dislike. M and I actually got to be good friends with our photographers (a husband and wife team), but if you’re not comfortable with that level of getting-to-know-you, that’s okay, too. Just have a conversation or two with your photographers about your personality, what you like/dislike, etc. It shows when you get the pictures back, I promise.

4. Eat. As I mentioned above, our wedding coordinator was great about making sure we actually got to eat some of the delicious food we had catered. But if you don’t get a coordinator (but you totally should), please make sure you find the time to eat. Eat a good breakfast in the morning, have a midday snack, and eat dinner. You’ll be on your feet most of the day, in a heavy dress, talking to tons of people, and (probably) drinking. If you don’t get some food in ya, you’ll be low-energy and maybe even grumpy. And no one likes a grumpy bride. Or one that faints from a lack of food.

5. Have fun, but not too much. Meaning don’t get wasted, fall-down drunk. You’ve been planning for ages and, if you’re like M and me, saving for ages, too. Don’t you want to remember the day? Getting drunk will definitely make for foggy, potentially embarrassing memories. I went to a wedding a few years ago where the bride actually undid the buttons in the back of her dress and her boobs came out. In front of everyone. She was having an alcohol-induced great time, but her guests (like her grandmother and new father-in-law) were horrified. Don’t be this bride.

Drink in hand.

6. Schedule the bachelor and bachelorette parties for the week before, at least. Because you want to have fun on your big night out with your friends, but no one likes a hungover bride, either. Especially the bride herself.

7. Bring a change of shoes. I had gorgeous, relatively low-heeled purple satin shoes for the ceremony and reception. Despite their comfort, I had been on my feet all day, sometimes in grass and over pebbles and rocks, and by dinner my dogs were barking. I changed into my Toms and was able to dance the night away pain-free. Make sure to pack some comfy shoes for the big day so you don’t have to limp around on the dance floor or avoid it altogether. If your dress is short, opt for some cute flats. If it’s long like mine, no one will notice your super-flat, canvas and leather foot clouds.

I swear I don’t work for Tom’s.

8. Do your dress research, but be open-minded. I research wedding dress websites and bridal magazines for months. By the time shopping day came along, I was armored with a list of dress style numbers. I ended up going with my third choice, the one I had randomly seen for the first time in the store. Do your research and know what you like/dislike, and you should be able to pick out your dress in no time, too. I’m not saying I rushed my pick, as I absolutely love my dress and would pick it again in a heartbeat, but since I knew what I wanted and what looked good on me, my choice was simple and quick.

9. Let the bridal party have a say when it comes to their attire. I picked a handful of dresses I liked for my bridesmaids, while keeping in mind their budgets and body types. Then I let them pick from that list. Everyone was happy and everyone looked great!

This movie, on the other hand, was awesome. Image courtesy Universal Pictures.

10. Have fun! If you don’t follow any other piece of advice, follow this one. This is your wedding day and it (hopefully) only comes once, so enjoy it!