It's funny how your wedding day is considered one of the "happiest days of your life," yet contrary depictions like "stressful," "overbearing," and "bossy" are often associated with being a bride. These common stereotypes are very rarely accurate, and most brides are able to confirm—with confidence—that the wedding was one of the most memorable, loving, and indeed happiest experiences of their lives.
Of course, planning and coordinating for (sometimes upward of) hundreds of guests, many of which are family members—and we all know the politics involved with that—is not always seamless. With this responsibility, there are obvious moments of frustration, and any bride can admit that she has a few regrets when reflecting on the planning process or even the big day. As a onetime bride, I can honestly say it's most important to be realistic when it comes to expectations. You've heard it before, but believe me when I say there will be things that go wrong (even if you thought your plan was foolproof), but the way you approach your role and handle these small slip-ups will make all the difference for not only you but also your guests, groom, partner, and anyone else involved.
With that, I am happy to share (from experience) the keys to embracing and enjoying the experience of being a bride. From handling the planning to keeping certain day-of mantras in mind, here's everything you need to know to have the best wedding day—as the bride.
Even if you think you'll be able to manage every aspect and detail of your wedding, it's not something you should try to tackle alone. Taking on all the responsibility is isolating and can put you on the fast track to inevitable burnout. First things first, going at it solo takes a lot of the fun out of the planning process, which should present many opportunities for your friends and family to show their support. This is not to be confused with opening the door to unwanted judgment or opinions, but rather tapping your inner circle's strengths or talents in order to help you make your vision a reality. For example, one of my aunts happens to have amazing calligraphy skills, and she was more than happy to lend a hand (literally) to create the most beautiful handwritten seating chart, which was one of my favorite details from my wedding. The overall message here: Don't be afraid to open the door to help when you need it. Anyone who is close to you and cares for you will be thrilled to invest what they can to be a special part of your big day.
Planning a wedding is only as stressful as you make it. If you've responsibly considered your timeline and formulated a plan of action as far as what needs to be accomplished ahead of time, you'll be able to relax and enjoy your hard work when the day arrives. Don't leave things for the last minute, as they will often be much more difficult (and most of the time more expensive) to secure with short notice. The beauty of a wedding is that you'll most likely be able to give yourself plenty of time to plan, so use it wisely and know that everything will come together if you've given thoughtful consideration to the planning process. There are several wedding planning apps and planners specifically designed to help brides stay on track, so take advantage of these resources to make the planning process easier and more organized.
You'll only be a bride once (or at least that's the plan), so you'll only get to experience everything surrounding your own wedding once. That being said, there's a first time for everything, and it's a learning experience, so if you keep a positive perspective, you'll be able to enjoy every aspect of being a bride. Treat every inch of the experience as a special one, from picking a dress (it's 1000 times more fun than playing dress-up as a kid) to creating a guest list (with the excitement of knowing who will be there to celebrate with you). When you take a step back, it's all meant to be fun and enjoyable for you. Even if a less-than-ideal situation arises or something you had envisioned cannot come to fruition, remember that it's all part of the experience. If you're happy, your memories of the wedding will be the same.
As much as it's crucial to delegate and ask for help when you need it, it's just as important as a bride to know that your bridesmaids are not there to be bossed around. Rather, they are there to stand by your side as a best friend, a sister, or a way of signifying that they are an important person in your life. You should be grateful to have their support, but do not expect them to bend over backward for you because you're the bride. Respect your friends and understand that they want to be as helpful and supportive as possible. It's much more fun to enjoy their company and make special memories with those closest to you, who are partaking in a special way, than to be bothered by what they did or didn't do.
So someone forgot to set out the cake, or maybe your dance floor completely broke (the latter is a true story!)—don't wait until you're looking back on the wedding to realize that these seemingly big details are extremely small in the scheme of things. As a bride, you have to keep the big picture in your head at all times. When is the next time you'll be able to have all the people you love and care about in the same room? And for a happy and celebratory occasion, at that. Chances are you've never dwelled on the things that have gone wrong at a wedding you've attended as a guest. Remember this if and when something doesn't work out the way it was planned for your own big day. The reason you're getting married and throwing a huge party is rooted in love and happiness, and your day will reflect that if you do.
One way to really enjoy and appreciate every part of the planning process and the actual day is by keeping a gratitude tab open in your head. Practicing gratitude, rather than nitpicking about every detail, is the key to a positive experience. If you are grateful for each aspect, big and small, surrounding your wedding, you'll be able to truly take pleasure in every effort that has gone into making your wedding a celebration. It will also help you keep things in perspective, since there will always be more to be happy about on your big day for the bride.
You're not a party planner, and it's not your job to be one at your wedding. You are the bride because you've chosen to dedicate yourself to someone you love, usually surrounded by those you both love most. You can't let yourself get caught up in worries over seating arrangements or the perfect photo op, because those are all extraneous details when it comes to the wedding. If you can always return the real root of the celebration, which is your love and happiness, you will be able to see past anything else and really, truly enjoy the occasion for what it means.
As the bride, you set the tone for the entire day (not to mention the whole planning experience). If you're upset and worried about every little thing, everyone else will be too. Even if things have gone very obviously wrong, a smile or a lighthearted joke will make it much easier (and more fun!) to overcome for everyone. Your guests are there to celebrate your happiness, and they want you to be genuinely happy. It's simple: If you're happy, everyone else will be, no matter the circumstances.
Since you're equipped with everything you need to know about being a bride, treat yourself to some of our favorite wedding staples:
We've shared our perspective, but what are your tips for enjoying your wedding day as a bride?