WEDDING SEASON 101: TALES & TIPS FROM THE AISLE TO THE DANCE FLOOR
When I came up with the concept for this post, my thought process was pretty simple: It’s June, it’s wedding season, and everyone loves a good party story. After attending 5 weddings last year (at age 28, that wasn’t actually that many), I accrued a fair amount of strong opinions, tidbits of shareable advice and of course, hilarious misadventures. Like, sometimes a zipper breaks and you have to be stitched into your bridesmaid dress with a hotel sewing kit 30 minutes before the ceremony by a fellow bridesmaid who happens to be a medical resident. Or, in the right pair of heels, you can dance all night and not go barefoot. And fight social media all you want, but a hashtag is for the big day is actually awesome.
Still, my scope of experience is limited. Hence, I reached out to just shy of 50 friends for their best wedding stories and lessons learned. I received replies from an awesomely diverse sampling of people — some married for 8 years, some single for 29 years, some a bridesmaid many times over, and some professional dance floor and after-party dominators. As I began sifting through the emails, I found that even amongst the fair few quippy and witty stories of weddings-gone-wild, every reply had an element of heart. Not that I should be surprised to find that the people in my life are caring, warm and somewhat sentimental individuals — but to hear sweet and endearing wedding-related words from even the most cynical of my friends was pretty wonderful.
And so: The format of this post is slightly (if not way) longer than my usual content — you’ve officially been warned. I edited replies slightly for minor grammar and formatting fixes and a few for length. Some are short and hilarious, some are longer and pretty damn sweet. All of them speak to the most important elements of a wedding — love and fun — and how to best achieve them.
“Last year at a wedding in Lake Tahoe I was a bridesmaid but not feeling well post-ceremony so I barely ate but, naturally, continued to drink. When the time came to catch the bouquet, my roommate and co-bridesmaid and I decided to make quite the spectacle of this age old tradition that normally feels so cheesy. We ran to the front of the female pack and subsequently “fought” one another to get the bouquet. Arm-throwing, pushing and jumping was all involved and in the end made for the most amazing series of photos when the photographer sent the bride and groom their images. It also was a highlight of conversation at the morning after brunch and ensured an old tradition was made more memorable. And for the record, I won. Best advice though? Eat dinner. And dessert (cake).” // Meghan D. “It was such a treat to walk into the ceremony of my friend Laura’s wedding and be handed a Moscow Mule. It was the couple’s favorite drink from their favorite bar (where they had their first date, often frequented, and where they got engaged). It was so fitting and FUN to be able to sip a cocktail while they said their vows. It set the tone for a super fun wedding.” // Kiley S.
“I love weddings. There’s really not much else to say. And what’s not to love? Dressin’ dapper. Cuttin’ rug. Bein’ with friends that you’ve been apart from for far too long. And of course good food and an open bar (unless the wedding throwers are Mormon or stingy). But it’s really all about the happy couple. It’s an honor to be a part of their biggest day, and there is a sense of pride that comes with the special connection you had with them that resulted in being invited in the first place. Weddings are often a lot of time and resources to attend. But being in the presence of their joy and glow make the effort of the previous/impending red eye all worth it. Now that I am preparing for my own wedding, I’m beyond excited for the moment I get to officially commit myself to the woman I love, and almost as much, to play a part in helping those closest to me do a little dance, make a little love, and get down tonight.” // Andrew E.
“I got married in March. Having been to a whole bunch of weddings (both fun and just okay ones), my goal was simple: a well-dressed wedding that felt intimate, despite the 200+ guest list and was a party that felt like it was ours, not some outta the box nuptial deal. So my tidbits of advice: First, wear whatever you want. Brides might wear white, but you love yellow. So do it. Feeling comfortable, confident and down-right beautiful on your wedding day is up to you. If you feel great, you’ll look like a knockout. Confidence is contagious. Second, make sure those “must-have” details are those dazzling bits that matter most to you. Not those cocktail napkins that you feel “eh” about. And when it comes to being a guest at a wedding, the real truth is no one notices what you are wearing unless it’s 1) more white than the wedding gown or 2) awfully scandalous. Opt for comfortable dancing shoes and a dress that flutters a bit when you spin.” // Laura P. “Nantucket weddings are always beautiful — especially when the servers are all male models. My friend’s Nantucket nuptials were held in her backyard, which was a truly stunning setting, despite the fact that I was the only single friend in attendance. Which, let’s face it, can be exhausting when you’re hanging out with a “get married young” crowd. The laundry list of annoying condolences from said “get married young” friends — such as “Don’t worry, you’ll get married soon”, and “Someday I hope you are just happy as me” — was the worst. Hello, unnecessary comments from the peanut gallery. Luckily at this wedding the peanut gallery comments took a hysterical turn. Soon enough bets were placed about which male model I should “after-party” with, and where. The wedding lasted until around 11 p.m., at which point the whole “get married young” crowd promptly forgot fun, and headed home. I however, followed up on the bets and found my after-party fun at a male model house party.” // Anonymous
“Always try on your bridesmaids dress after you’ve had it tailored. Once, the bride insisted on ordering all of us the ‘next size up’ than what we wrote down because she was sure we were lying. Mine arrived and was draping off of me. I had it tailored, and then when I put it on a week later right before the wedding…. It wouldn’t zip! And in the attempt to zip it, the zipper broke. I wore a $300 dress (She swore we’d wear it again!) in front of nearly 500 people that was held together along the side by large safety pins. It may have been my classiest moment. On a different note, my favorite moment at our wedding was when our pastor asked us to turn around and look at everyone in the church. The moment can fly by so fast, that you forget to really experience it with everyone who has travelled far and wide to be there for your big day. Getting to see all of our favorite people in one place basically opened the floodgates of tears!” // Amy A. “Every guy (and probably girl) knows that dancing + summer weather + wedding attire = uncomfortable dance floor sweating. It is relatively accepted but no one really wants to be THAT GUY with sweat coming through multiple layers of clothing — and it’s only 9 p.m. Therefore I use what I call my secret weapon: A lightweight sweat-wicking Under Armour t-shirt and likely compression shorts to keep the sweats away. No one will ever know how prepared you are given the form fitting nature that is perfectly hidden under your multiple layers.” // Joey K.
“The most striking part of planning a wedding for me was realizing that the emotions of all major players are heightened, and people get weird before their loved ones enter into a marriage. It could be stress, lack of sleep, fear of change, fear of loss…I don’t know… But there were some unexplainable behaviors and situations before my wedding. I believe I was told by someone wise that this is “a thing”, but I don’t think I fully understood until I was in the throws of it. My family is relatively normal and easy going, but I must have cried almost every day throughout the engagement and had some truly bizarre altercations. There was at least one heated and emotional argument with my mom about whether a passionfruit martini is an appropriate cocktail for an Idaho wedding and an even more heated argument with my soon-to-be in-laws — on the wedding day — about whether or not to tent the ceremony. (It would have ruined the view!) My words of advice regarding this phenomenon are: First, just go with it. You can’t control the craziness of others, and even when you know that you’re being the crazy one, this will all be forgotten as soon as you walk down the aisle. Second, the other side to all these emotions is that the engagement period can be a beautifully cathartic time. A marriage highlights the wonderful and not so wonderful things about your family, and it brought to the surface and forced me to process some things that I hadn’t quite gotten around to yet. I think that giving in to those emotions leading up to the wedding helped me to fully enjoy and be present for the actual event.” // Alex R. “Dance your ass off, and then go midnight skinny dipping in Lake Washington with your closest high-school friends!” // Jerry K. “If you happen to be in New Orleans for someone’s nuptials, there is something called the Second Line. This is where a brass band leads the bride and groom — who typically carry white and black umbrellas — around the reception venue as they are leaving. All the guest then follow, as the “Second Line”, waving white dinner napkins in the air to the rhythm of the music. It’s kind of like a conga line, but nawlins style. Another New Orlean’s tradition is the Ribbon Pull. Wedding cakes in the New Orleans area come with an extra set of decorations: Silver charms attached to ribbons are baked into the bottom layer of cake. During the “ribbon pull,” all the single ladies gather around to choose a string — and their fate. Each charm represents a particular destiny. Popular charms include a ring (next to marry), a heart (symbol of new love), and a four-leaf clover (good luck is on its way).” // Jessica S.
“Your job as a wedding party member is to troubleshoot. THIS IS NOT YOUR MOMENT FOR ATTENTION. Caterer forgot mixers? Get in a cab and go buy them. Too hot in the venue? Yell at the wedding planner to go to Home Depot and deal with it with industrial fans. Keep problems and stress away from the couple. Utilize your other bridal party team to help you, don’t go to the bride. My best friend Lacy had her venue cancel on her 18 hours before the wedding (due to weather). We found out while tipsy at the bridesmaids luncheon. Everyone sprang into action, called every venue they could think of, and we re-booked the entire thing in a matter of hours. It was stressful as can be but we smiled through it and reassured the bride every step of the way (read: we cried in the bathroom and closets and hotel rooms and then smiled to her face). Also, always leave your bridesmaids dress on the bathroom floor of your hotel the next morning. Make sure it is dirty, shredded, sweat stained and wholly unusable. No matter what the bride thinks, you won’t ever wear it again, so make sure the one time you do is memorable!” // Alex D. “One time I took an antibiotic and wasn’t supposed to be in the sun, so I went in the sun all day and I threw up on my host’s white bath towel. Somehow I made it to the wedding. What I learned: Always replace what you’ve soiled with a Pottery Barn towel. It sends the right message of: I’m sorry, it wasn’t my fault, I hope you like this new towel so much that you forgive and forget.” // Hailey T.
“Let me preface my story by saying that I was 22 when I got married and 21 during most of the year that we planned our wedding… And I was dead-set on wearing two dresses as a bride (one for the aisle and a party dress for dancing, naturally) it was a bit of a blow when it came time to change into Dress 2 for the reception and the zipper split at the center and tore open the entire 12+ inches, edge to edge. Every single woman in the room — the entire bridal party and subsequent hair/beauty army — all held their breath while waiting for my reaction. I remember feeling surprised by the realization that, “I’m already Vespa-ing away from this shindig with my best friend,” and it felt like not one single shred of my confidence about that day could be shaken. But here’s the best part: Right as I was prepping to sashay into our reception in my original gown, an “I GOT IT!” rang out from the other side of the room. One of my best bridesmaids had taken the dress apart at the seam, fixed the busted zipper, and stitched it right back into place without skipping a beat. It honestly felt like the Universe’s way of saying that these celebrations are often SO much bigger than our own dreams or devices, and that continuing to let go of the seemingly important details is something that would serve me well throughout the nearly eight years of marriage that have followed!” // Jessie A. (I must note that she + her hubs have a new podcast about marriage!) “Brides, get used to the fact that you will hurt feelings. Decisions that you make, even if unintentional, will offend someone. Think wedding party, guest list, whether to include children, advice that you decide not to take, the fact that you told Aunt Mildred that she cannot sing a solo while you walk down the aisle… Decisions, while obvious to you, will hurt feelings. My advice is to try and talk directly to the person you’ve offended to flush out the source of the problem which I think will make your wedding day so much less stressful (there is enough to worry over without having to think about being tripped walking down the aisle!). Also — confide in a trustworthy girlfriend or two because sometimes all you really need to get past a frustration is a good vent sesh.” // Kelly K. “I attended one of my friend’s weddings in Memphis, TN. During the middle of the reception while everyone was dancing, a guy gets on the band’s microphone and makes a very sweet toast to the bride and groom. After he was done, everyone starts talking and dancing again. The bride and groom look at each other and were like, “Who was that?” Later we find out that a reality TV show had been filming the reception. MTV’s, The Buried Life was a show that followed four guys around that had a list of 100 things to do before you die — and one of them was make a toast at a random person’s wedding!” // Sammi G.
“The first wedding that I attended after college was for one of my best guy friends. He casually mentioned that our college group of friends could say a little something at the wedding — but nothing too much. Somewhere between the 6th drink and getting our appetizer salad, we decided it would be a good idea to sing them a song. We picked out the first “love song” that came to mind and then divided and conquered — someone rallied the troops while the others went to the business center to print out the lyrics, and another coordinated our song with the DJ. Long story short, we passed out the lyrics to everyone and had the DJ direct the attention to our table so we could lead this song for the bride and groom. The song we chose was Mariah Carey’s “Always Be My Baby.” Turns out that title is deceiving and none of us really knew the lyrics beyond the chorus. Fun fact: It’s not actually a love song (which we realized when we got to the verse “And I ain’t gonna cry boy, and I won’t beg you to stay…”). Needless to say, the bride was not thrilled. So I guess my tip there would be: Don’t casually mention to a group of tipsy friends that they can say something at the wedding. Terrible idea. Also, remember that the food display during Persian wedding ceremony is NOT a spread of appetizers for you to eat.” // Ali D.
Originally published at www.shutupilovethatshirtonyou.com on June 1, 2015.