Seven years ago, when I got married, I was, you know, writing about my wedding planning live on the Internet. And that meant having a million ideas about what I should make sure I did on our wedding day. I wanted to hang out with friends who’d flown in from all over for the party. Internet commenters insisted that I should really focus on my new husband. Our rabbi thought we should keep an eye to the religious experience. Some of our parents thought our priority should be making time for relatives.
So at the end of the day, I boiled it down to this: just try to stay in the moment. How hard could that be, right?
It all seemed easy (breathe in, breathe out) until I was standing there waiting to walk down the aisle. And suddenly I couldn’t get inside my body to save my life. I was freaked out, I was somewhere way outside the moment, and I had to start walking. So walk I did, and right then I realized that there are moments, and there are moments. And your wedding day throws everything at you. And the whole thing is not going to feel like a yoga class.
But, nine years into writing about weddings, I still think that trying to stay in the moment is one of the best things you can do on your wedding day (and something no wedding magazine is going to cover). So with that in mind, here are our best tips for trying to enjoy the day you put all that damn effort into planning.
1. Begin your day with a little relaxation: Start your day out just for you. If you’re getting married in the evening, take some time to read a few chapters of a book, take a long, relaxing bath, or just do your morning rituals. If you’re getting married in the morning, pick people you love to surround you as you get ready (including your partner, if you want). And also: YES, you can get laid first. I mean, that relaxes you, right?
2. Put the phone away: This goes for tablets, iPods, whatever—anything electronic that might distract you. No, you don’t need to be the one in charge of phone calls. No, you don’t need to check Facebook that day. In fact, just give your phone to someone else so you’re not even tempted.
3. Make sure you eat: Load up on the good stuff—nuts, fruit, veggies. Actually make sure you put food and water into your body at regular intervals, especially if you’re getting married in the summer.
4. Realize that weddings happen the way they happen: You can’t control the weather, your uncle stepping on your dress, your flower girl vomiting her way down the aisle, your ring bearer bursting into tears, the wedding schedule being delayed by thirty minutes, your cousin getting lost on her way to the ceremony, or much of anything else that could go wrong on your wedding day—and there are always things that can go wrong. Release any expectations that you can.
5. Make sure someone you trust is in charge: You don’t have to have a maid of honor or best person, but it’s worth having a wing person who has your back, whether or not he or she is standing at the altar with you. This is the person who is the designated point for phone calls, the person who can make a final décor call, the person who keeps tabs on all the little details of the wedding, the person who makes sure everything is lined up so you can focus on the more meaningful moments that are happening around you.
6. Wear something you can move in: There are tons of clothing options in the wide world of weddings, and plenty of them won’t restrict your movement, dig into your skin, or stop you from being able to pull in a deep breath of oxygen. Consider wearing wedding attire that doesn’t restrict your movement so you can keep your head space free of thoughts like, “Holy cow, I can’t breathe.”
7. Lock eyes with those who ground you: It may not be feasible to make eye contact with every single person as you walk down the aisle (if that’s your thing), but if you can pull it off, make sure to toss a glance at someone who can ground you like no one else as you make your way. If that person is your partner, hone in. (Hugs work too.)
8. Steal away for a few minutes totally alone with your partner: The Jewish tradition known as the “yichud” is what this is all about—after the ceremony, the two of you go off, totally by yourselves (no photographer, no one) just to bask in the fact that you’re #MarriedAF.
9. Remember that you can shape the moment: It’s not wrong to say “Fuck this: I’m going to hang out with people before the ceremony,” or to insist that your brand-new partner pay attention to you. In other words, don’t let your wedding day happen around you.
10. Take care of your emotional well-being: Sure, you want to say hi to everyone, but you also want to sit down and have a snack, breathe, and just giggle together in a corner. Don’t forget to do that.
11. Don’t stop the feelings: If ever there’s a day to just feel every single feeling possible, it’s your wedding day. And remember, all of those feelings might not be love, bliss, and joy. I had moments on my wedding day where I felt out of sorts, on top of the world, and totally emotionally raw… sometimes all in the same five minutes. It can be a roller coaster, so ride it.
12. If you’re dancing, go all out: If dancing it out is your release, do it. Have that dance party, and love every second of it. Literally dance like nobody is watching (or like everyone is).
13. Assign emotional bodyguards. Are some of your family members problematic? Yeah, join the club. Call them bridesmaids, call them whatever you want, but assign people to be your emotional bodyguards. If people come at you with problems, from “The DJ is late” to “Your Aunt appears to have fallen off the wagon,” empower these folks to cut these people off at the pass and give you six hours of peace. (And if you have a particularly difficult person showing up at your wedding, feel free to assign one person to be on “Keep them away from me” duty.)
14. Just step back and observe. Every hour or so, try to take a minute to stop, look around, and take it all in. I did this, and it resulted in me announcing sort of loudly in the middle of lunch, “This wedding is super fun. Oh my god. This is my wedding. My wedding is happening right now.” Surreal, but amazing.
15. Realize it’s okay if you’re not in the moment: You can’t be totally present every single second of every day—and on a day as momentous as your wedding day, that goes double. There will be moments when you’re overwhelmed, or emotionally tuned out… and you know what? That’s probably exactly what you need.
Were you able to live in the moment on your wedding day? Why or why not? What helped—and what didn’t?