I always tell my brides and grooms the following: no matter how much you can plan, how much I can plan, how much your family can plan, your guests can plan, something WILL go wrong. Let's be prepared, expect the worst and let's not freak out. There is ALWAYS a positive in a negative and there is always a solution to a problem. And yes I always tell that to my clients that aren't even a bride or groom.
Do you know how many times I had to tell MYSELF that?! A lot! I had to not only plan this huge event, try to be different, coordinate the vendors and then hand everything off to my staff members to handle without my help the day of. It's nerve racking. However, I want to say that a week or two before the big day, I finally let go and calmed down. Well, that's until the rehearsal day.
As a bride, you will get nervous and you will realize, and say, "Oh my goodness, this is actually happening." Totally thought I would have been feeling that all year, but I didn't. It just felt like another event to me. A good and bad thing, I guess. My friends started to arrive from out of town the week of the wedding, I started packing up my dress and my overnight bag for the hotel, etc. It still didn't hit me. I got all ready for the rehearsal day, dress, makeup, all of it. Still didn't hit me. We packed up the car with everything and off we were to St. Paul to enjoy our wedding weekend. I was fine until we got onto the highway. I started getting a sick stomach and started freaking out. It FINALLY hit me!! "Holy moly, this is really happening. I'm getting married." Well, that's when the first problem of the weekend happened.
My brother called and said that he wasn't sure if they were going to make it to the rehearsal because him and my parents were on the way to Landmark Center when one of tires blew out. Well first of all, thank goodness they were okay because they were on the highway (See? A positive in a negative). They were currently at the shop trying to get someone to change the tire. I asked if he was kidding because he's totally someone that would do that to me, but he wasn't. I took a deep breath, thought for a moment then said, "Okay, well just get it changed and if you miss the rehearsal we will go over it at the groom's dinner." I didn't freak out, there was no point. There was also nothing we could do to speed it up because we were already on our way and we couldn't be late (there was a wedding actually going on that day at 5pm so we were on a time crunch since our rehearsal was starting at 3:30pm). This stuff happens and I just HAD TO figure out a backup plan. Problem one out of five million solved. Boom! Next!
We got to St. Paul Hotel and were able to check in early. We brought up all of our stuff and while we were getting situated in the room, my brother texted me and said they were at Landmark. Well, that was a fast tire change! Thank you to whoever changed out that tire for them, you saved us time. Anyways, we walked over to Landmark and saw my brother and dad up on the second level looking at us. so I waved for them to come down. That's when everyone started to arrive. I said my hi's, etc. and when I saw my brother and dad walking towards me that's when I LOST IT...AGAIN! I cried and started freaking out, freaking out in a good way. Then everyone kept asking me if I was excited, ready, you name it. I cried like four or five times. I saw my staff and told them that I think that I have to run the rehearsal a bit and put my wedding planner game face on so I wouldn't keep losing it. And that's exactly what I did and it helped! My dad on the other hand... ;)
If you know me and how I work on events, my production schedules and notes are always very detailed. I prepped everyone as much as I could. For instance, I shared the production schedule with everyone every week for the last month, I had meetings and exchanged emails with them every week, you name it. However, the way the ceremony music was supposed to be played wasn't working, meaning that the people who were physically running it didn't understand. If you remember me blogging about it and if you have worked with me when it comes to productions other than weddings, you know that I plan that stuff to the T! It's super important to run a production smoothly like fading out from one song to another, etc. A planner AND a bride does not want to go over that the day of the rehearsal after they did all this prepping with them for the last month, especially when they are on a time schedule. Again, I took a deep breath, thought things through and I went over it again straight from the production schedule. You just gotta do what you gotta do to get problems solved. Besides, there is a rehearsal for a reason, right?
The rest of the night was priceless. I am SO glad that I hired a videographer and requested that they film part of the rehearsal dinner because things were said that I will never get back. You'll have to wait to see what that was when I post the video ;) Onto the wedding day.
Woke up at the crack of dawn, 5:30am to be exact. A few hours later, things finally started...about an hour and half past the time they were supposed to. So although things were way behind, I'm so happy I planned more time per person to get their services done than what was really needed. All the stylists got up to speed and before we knew it, time flew and it was already 11am! We had to pack up everyone's things and head over to Landmark Center now that our rental time had started (their bridal suite is HUGE! Hint: take this in mind when looking at venues. Otherwise, where is everyone going to hang out? Put their stuff? Also make sure that they have enough outlets.)
Another situation happened once we got over there. I walked in, started talking to my staff when I saw them and out of the corner of my eye I noticed that my flowers were all dark reds, oranges and lots of greenery. As you readers know, the main flower was a teal/navy hydrangea which is why we chose that as the base color for everything! I was FURIOUS!!! I don't know how many times I sent the photo from Pinterest and stressed that the hydrangea was my base color and should be the main flower with the accents of the red and orange flowers. I also mentioned I didn't want a lot of greenery because there shouldn't be a need for it considering the hydrangea would take up a lot of room. The staff had already noticed it and was taking care of it. They called the florist and told her she had to come back with more hydrangeas along with spray paint because not only were some painted navy/teal (the hydrangeas that are pictured in that Pinterest arrangement come from Holland which they are about $20 a stem. We got ours from Oregon which weren't quite the color I wanted so she had mentioned she was going to spray paint some of them), but some weren't. They were brownish looking. I love the mix-matched look, but again, the hydrangea was the main flower/color so the colors had to be matching....and in the right color for that matter. So with this dilemma happening, I told the girls to focus on that and fix as much as they could and I'll take care of the photo shots and making sure they were taken (<--remember this part because it plays into effect later on in this blog post) - I have a fashion intern and an events team at our weddings. The fashion intern makes sure that everything is running on time as far as getting ready along with making sure the photo shots are taken (similar to a fashion shoot) while the events team works with the vendors and the set up).
Everything was running smoothly upstairs once we got to the bridal suite, but everything was such a blur that I realized that one of my bridesmaids didn't have all of her makeup done. I really, really wanted a photo of all of us in our robes holding our glasses (aka their bridesmaid gifts), but it wasn't an option because we all had to get dressed (planned forty-five minutes for me to get in my dress due to it being a lace-up). So I just had to get a picture of me and my two MOH's and you know what? It turned out really cute! All the while, my mom was an hour late to makeup. Of course, even though I paid for it, she barely got anything done because she didn't want to (she's a very stubborn woman). Oh well, some things you just can't care about the day of your wedding.
I got all ready and did my final touches then proceeded down one floor where my parents were waiting. It was very important to me to get a first look with them before anyone else saw me. My videographer went ahead of me to make sure they were ready then was going to shout when it was time for me to walk over. I was left alone and I started to cry and hyperventilate. Holy moly, this was harder than I thought! She shouted, I walked down and cried once I saw them. Such a beautiful moment, and once again, I am SO glad I got it all on video.
Next up was my first look with my bridesmaids. I came down to the first floor, walked out the doors of Landmark where I was positioned at the top of the steps while the girls were on the sidewalk. Let's just say I planned for a flawless moment, but as I was walking down my veil got caught in the door!! Haha!! OMG, it was so funny! And yes, all the times my veil got caught on something, or anything funny happened for that matter, WILL be in the video! If you're asking yourself, "Did her veil rip?" No, it did not...thank goodness!
It was time to get on the bus and go see my husband to be at the lookout of Smith Ave bridge and the St. Paul skyline. I started to get really nervous on my way up there. I just imagined my fiance decked out in his awesome suit and how handsome he would look. I also got nervous because I didn't know what he was going to think about me and my dress. Would he love it? Would he think that I would have chosen something different? Would he cry? Not cry? Yes, these things run through your head. I see them and I immediately duck behind the bus seat and wait anxiously for the bus to stop and open the doors. One of my MOH's came out with me so she could position my dress and veil. As I was walking towards my husband, I just remember thinking, "OMG, I just want to see him already!!" On my way, the wind blew and my arm went up to prevent it from blowing away which I also had my bouquet in that hand. Our photographer got the best shot of it because my bouquet actually got STUCK in my veil! It was hilarious! Anyways, I walked up to him, tapped him on the shoulder, he turned the opposite way which was not part of the plan because the photographer wanted to get his reaction on the side he was on. So that just didn't happen. The fiance didn't cry and I didn't cry. I think I got all my tears out the night before at the rehearsal to be honest and, well, he is just not much of a crier. We got a few photos of each other together and we proceeded onto the bus. Didn't think about it then, but I was in such a blur that I realized I didn't do a first look with my brother who was one of the groomsmen. I will never get that back, but again, there's nothing you can do about it. It's crazy how that "blurriness" the day of your wedding can take over your whole body and make you not think of things that are pretty common sense (which is why we have the fashion team to help with that stuff, haha!)
Now of course on our day, out of all days, the weather was not in our favor. It was cold, cloudy, windy (as you already know from my veil + bouquet incident), and it was supposed to rain at some point. While the day before was perfect and sunny, minus the cold temperature. It's October in the Midwest though. You have no idea what the weather is going to be like. It could be 80 degrees and sunny or it could be snowing. So it could have been worse. Anyways, we headed down to Harriet Island Park and took some photos of my bridesmaids and I. I had texted them a few days beforehand and told them, "Bring a cute umbrella if you have one (or a black one will do) and bring a cute jacket. It's supposed to be chilly and it's supposed to rain at some point so we will make the best out of it." So glad I texted them because although it started to sprinkle a bit (more and more as time went on), the pictures turned out amazing and so darn cute! I am obsessed! Best photo shot I have ever thought of to date. Always have to have a backup plan, and be creative with it ;)
We only got one group photo with us, the groomsmen, and the bridesmaids (and the umbrellas of course) before we all made the decision that we should probably leave and head back to Landmark Center to finish them up. The rain was about to downpour, and it did! Right when we arrived at Landmark it was raining cats and dogs. By that time, some of the girls hair-do's were falling flat because they had it down (Hint: you can stress as much as you want to them, but have them keep that in mind when planning their hair). The guys were going to chill on the bus while we ran up for twenty minutes and touched up.
During that twenty minutes, my staff came up and said that there were no napkins so we didn't have any for dinner. What?!?!? Amongst falling behind on the photos due to the rain, now the napkins! It took me a long time to process this because I totally wasn't expecting to put my wedding planner pants back on until after we got back from our honeymoon. We couldn't order last minute from the decor company who did our chair covers and pipe and drape, so the next best thing - get nice, thick napkins from Costco or Sam's Club! One of my staff members said she knew what I was talking about so she got on the bus with the groomsmen and left to go to Sam's Club to buy them. Of course that was a huge dilemma on top of everything else, so I didn't think about having all the groomsmen get off the bus to finish taking the photos. It was around 3pm and guests would start arriving around 4:30pm. In addition to, due to my staff having to deal with the flower issue and having to redo the centerpieces they thought that all the photos were taken. However, we still had to finish up bridal party photos AND family photos. I'm telling you, you can't think on your own the day of.
While we waited, we started family photos. Thank goodness Landmark is a great photo opp of a venue because no matter where you take photos/video, the background is always pretty. With my mom not being mobile, we had to just stay in the bridal suite and take photos with all the family. Once we got done, we did the bridesmaid photos. After those were done, we were able to sit down for a few minutes finally and relax.
The groomsmen and my staff member finally got back around 4:15pm. There was no time to do more bridal party photos and they all didn't come back up to the bridal suite so most of our groomsmen were missing. At that moment, I didn't even think about more bridal party photos anyways, but now after the fact I think about it all the time. Those photos I'll never get back just because of one little dilemma that was urgent and had to be taken care of right then and there. I'm not the only one that had a photo opp mishap - I had coffee with one of my business friends and she said that her daughter didn't make it into any of the family photos because one of her friends was holding her. So when she mentioned that after I told her my story, we both laughed and said. "Oh well!"
Now is the part where I really wished that the flowers weren't such a big issue that day, in addition to everything else a planner has to do that day. I would have had someone to make sure we got all the shots instead of me TRYING to remember everything on top of being a bride.
It was time for the ceremony!! We got down to the first floor and people were still piling in. I was standing behind all of our bridal party and I started to hyperventilate and cry again; "Shoot! I can't cry right now! There is no one to freshen up my makeup!!" I had to pull myself together and I literally told myself, "Melissa, shut up! Put your game face on!" PS - this helps. The party started to walk out and then it was my dad and I's turn. Of course he starts to choke up and I told him, stop it! The curtains opened and off we were! We were mid-way down the aisle and I look over at my dad who is trying to hold it together and I said, "Dad, we're doing it! We got this!" I looked up and saw my husband to be looking at me and I could see that he was tearing up watching me walk towards him down the aisle. He was finally crying!! I couldn't bear to see him cry because then I would start to cry so I kind of stared down at the aisle to be honest. It's the only way I was going to get through it. Haha! Side note: I saw one of my friends Snapchat's of me walking down the aisle, my dad and I were booking it! Now I know how models feel when I am doing a runway rehearsal with them and tell them to slow down. The adrenaline takes over for some people. One funny thing was that my husband didn't come get me from my dad and made me walk up to the stage by myself. He was crying and was filled with that "blurriness" so he completely blanked out. He knew he screwed up though because when I was turning around to face the crowd I told him, "You forgot about me!" I believe our videographer got that on tape because he had a mic on him...?
Can I please mention that although I put on our wedding site, and it's just something you look up, that there was going to be the Wild home opener that night (the arena is a few blocks away from our venue), the Zombie Pub Crawl in Minneapolis, then of course they decided to shut down a highway which happened a few days before our wedding, they also decided to bring 7th Street which is a main road in St. Paul down to one lane, AND it was raining. EVERYONE WAS LATE! We literally had a little over 50 people out of 170 there at our ceremony. No exaggeration. In all of my event planning years, I have NEVER seen such a thing. It just had to be my day, right? Oh well, I was up on the stage with my hubby getting married to him and that's all that mattered. In that moment I honestly didn't even notice it because I was listening to our Officiant.
PS - in case you were wondering, the ceremony music was done correctly. I had it in the production schedule to go over everything play by play with the sound guy at 4pm when he arrived. Whew!
After the ceremony, it was time for cocktail hour. The bridal party was going to come back to our hotel room where we would have our caterers apps waiting for us (Hint: best idea ever if you don't have a planner to suggest that). Us as the bride and groom overlooked the cocktail hour part in our hotel room and didn't communicate because I was dealing with all the dilemmas that were happening back at the venue. Plus, it wasn't my staff's responsibility to "plan" that side of things. Long story short, the bridesmaids brought their cups over to the bridal suite at the venue while the guys left them in the hotel room. That ensured that they would have cups to drink out of in the room. Totally didn't think about that! Whoops! Well, the girls and I just drank out of the bottles and drank mostly beer anyways. Problem solved.
Grand march time! The sound guy played the bridal party entrance song and the bridal party took off and entered at the wrong moment even though we shouted at them to wait! Haha! Adrenaline takes over FOR EVERYONE, be prepared!
Then it was our turn. We were going to have a live sax player follow us out to the song GDFR by Flo Rida. That was the plan all along and we communicated that several times all throughout the last month. The sax player came back and said, "Well I can't play behind you, I have to be on stage!" So he went back and afterwards we were so confused and didn't know what was happening, we just had to go with it. There's nothing we could have done. If we walked out at our cue, no idea! We were beyond confused.
After we said our thank you's, it was time for dinner....so I thought. The catering staff came to dismiss the head table since they are the ones to eat first, but I was the only one there! Where did everyone go??? Long story short, it put dinner behind thirty minutes and there was nothing we could do. The staff and some of my bridal party members that I spoke with were trying to round everyone up. I'm telling you, even six people on each side is a large group. This is what happens: they are in a conversation when you come up to them to tell them to gather somewhere. They then try to wrap up the conversation instead of just walking away. This is when they get stuck! Some of my couples I worked with don't realize that, but that's what really happens behind the scenes.
Can I also mention that as a bride, you can't eat? Not because your dress is too tight, but because your nerves are going crazy! If you can eat on your wedding day (or the rehearsal night for that matter) I'm jealous!
Everything was flowing along and then my husband and I got separated. He went to go talk to guests and I did the same. You try to have a conversation with everyone, but it's literally impossible. I came to the conclusion now that I was on the bride side of things for once, you basically have to choose if partying and enjoying the event is important or talking to everyone is important. Now if you have a smaller wedding, that's different. So for those readers that were at our wedding and we didn't get to chat with you, we didn't mean to skip you. We know who you are and we did acknowledge that you were there. We promise! Please don't be offended. We really did try to get to everyone before we had to do our first dance, get into the photo booth with people and do our dessert photo...and actually get dessert!
So let's talk about this first dance a little bit, shall we? We were intro'd and I had been dreading that first dance forever! I am not a good slow dancer. I overthink it. I mean, what do you talk about with the other person during a four minute song?! Haha! Well we seemed to chat during the dance about what it was, don't even remember. But before the dance could even start, the wrong song was played! We quickly changed it and went on with it. There was no use in getting mad about it; we still got the song to play and we still got to have our first dance.
Then it was my dad's turn (the other day I actually found out that when my MOH went to go get him, he was freaking out and was so nervous). He walked over and danced with me which was the first time we ever danced together. It was his duty to pick a song which he picked I Loved Her First. We were dancing and you could tell he was so nervous. Then when I thought he wouldn't stop crying, it was suddenly filled with laughter. He said to me, "That video is all up in my face all the time. So embarrassing. Gosh, how long is this song?" I said, "I don't know dad, you're the one that picked it!" Oh how I wish the video's mic picked that up, it was awesome!!
Then the rest is history! Everyone danced the night away! Everyone loved the music, the food, we don't stop hearing about it. We went to a bar afterwards where some of our guests were, then we came back to the hotel and passed out.
I do have to say, do you know how amazing it was to take off a tight dress? I literally felt like I did a big ab workout the next day because you're basically sucking everything in all night if you have a tight bodice dress like mine. My back was even sore! My arms were sore too because I had to carry that thing so much. Ugh, the pain! But worth it ;) On another note, my MOH's who were trained on the lace up back weren't there to get me OUT of it! The husband was! It took him forever to figure it out! Haha! Prep your significant other ahead of time because by the end of the night, you literally just want to take that big honkin dress off and pass out.
What are some other things you should prepare for when it comes to your big day?
..and no, not all of this happened to us
-People RSVP'd to our wedding, but didn't show up
-People RSVP'd a few days beforehand. I had to get in touch with the vendor who was making our programs, the venue so they could update the layout then had to get in touch with the caterer so they knew the right number of place settings they needed for each table. Then of course had to let my staff know. THEN they didn't even show up...
-Not to mention, they will RSVP with a +1 in which I didn't invite "Their name + 1", it was only addressed to them. Take this in mind if you are a guest, or at least ask the couple if it's okay if you bring someone
-Some guests may bring a +1 and not even RSVP them
-Some guests will RSVP someone, but that +1 doesn't come
-If people who are invited to your wedding and RSVP that they can't make it, people do not send gifts anymore. Times have changed and it's not about the gifts. It's about you and your significant other getting married so don't get offended or upset
-People who come to your wedding sometimes don't get you a gift and it's okay. You all party together and have a great time anyways. Again, it's NOT about the gift
-Overall, if you are planning a honeymoon and you asked the wedding gift to be money, 1) plan that your honeymoon WON'T all be covered by the guests due to the above, and 2) some people will still get you a physical gift which actually is amazing once you get home because you realize you really did need it AND want it ;)
-But as a guest, take in mind all of the above when it comes to RSVP's. If you RSVP and don't show up, the couple pays $30 to sometimes $70+ for your meal and they don't get that back. Also take in mind that table arrangements are a horrendous task so if you don't show up, sometimes it can be frustrating because they could have had it differently. And if you bring someone that you didn't RSVP, well, just don't do that. What will you do if you get to the table and there is nowhere for that person to sit? They're going to feel stupid and they won't have a meal if it's plated
-Always have an Emergency Kit! It should contain everything from safety pins, Tide-to-go pens, tampons, Advil, you name it! For my clients, this is our "I Do" Emergency Bag". You have probably seen it, or used it ;)
-Your hair will probably fall down here and there if it's an up-do. If it's down and curled, it probably won't have the same hold as it did earlier (see my first photos to the dance photos for an example)
-Have a backup plan for everything, especially for outdoor photos and ceremony
-Have a photo shot list to have the photographer and videographer work off of
-Don't forget about water and food for the bridal party throughout the day. It's a long one
-If you don't have a planner or a consultant to make your production schedule, plan more than enough time for everything
-Lastly, if you don't have a wedding planner like us, make sure to find someone that can be just as cool, calm and collective as a planner would be....and someone who can keep things to themselves. No bride needs to know what's going on.
So to wrap things up, just remember that things WILL go wrong the day of your wedding (or event) no matter how much you plan. Plan for the worst. For all of you readers that have a wedding planner, or if you are one of my brides (or client of another event type), things will still go wrong, you just won't know about it ;) Lastly, just remember there is always a positive in a negative, stay calm, there is always a solution to any problem and every bad thing that happens just makes your story even better. Now go have the best day of your life like I did!
How about some teaser photos, huh?
Photo credit: Airos Design Photography