15 Tips That Will Help You Live in the Moment on Your Wedding Day

Ideas for when you want to remember it all

by Meg Keene, CEO & Editor-In-Chief

bride and groom together on stairs

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?

Meg Keene

Meg is the Founder and EIC of APW. She has written two best selling wedding books: A Practical Wedding and A Practical Wedding Planner. Meg has her BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She lives in Oakland, CA with her husband and two children. For more than you ever wanted to know about Meg, you can visit MegKeene.com.

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  • kate

    these are all really good – the only one i would add is be prepared to let go of *anything*. it sounds sort of cynical, but consider that either of your families or closest friends (and not just the flaky ones that are always a source of drama) could disappoint you in a really major, unexpected way and think about what you might do and how you can deal if it happens.

    we had some significant and utterly unexpected family drama the night before our wedding and it blindsided us both and left me feeling totally shutdown most of the big day. i hadn’t even considered that we’d have any drama to that scale, so i just ended up exhausted and frustrated with myself that i couldn’t let go and wasn’t more present and it took me months after to let go of the regret. it sounds awful, but if i’d considered that my family could surprise us like that, i probably would have dealt a little better, so i wish i’d spent some time thinking through the real worst case scenarios, as far-fetched as they seemed at the time.

    also, GET SLEEP! it’s hard with lots to do and so much excitement, but plan to have any and all aids you might need to help yourself get a really good night’s sleep before and ensure your schedule allows it – everything will be sooo much bigger and badder if you’re also exhausted. :)

    • sofar

      I’m so sorry that happened. You’d think people would put on their grown-up pants and set drama aside for a wedding, of all things. But no, so many people must think to themselves, “Great, an emotionally charged event with free alcohol. I must make my grievances known!”

      My wedding is in a couple weeks, and the stupid family drama is also ramping up in anticipation, accelerating as the date creeps closer. An aunt has just announced she will “no longer be attending,” because she wants to get revenge on my mom for … something. I am still hoping everyone burns themselves out in the coming weeks and the wedding day passes without incident. My cousin also died tragically two months ago, so that was the point where I threw my hands up and said, “Nothing matters. What happens, happens. I will be grateful for all my loved ones who *can* be there.”

      • kate

        aw thank you. i’m sorry for what’s happened/happening to you too – it’s not easy, but it sounds like you’re already being forced to confront the worst case scenarios, so you’ll be well-prepared at least. i think that’s actually a good thing despite everything that sucks about how it’s going for you right now. sincere best wishes to you for a lovely, joyous day!
        and, you know what, i can say that nearly a year later, it’s all ok, so if all hell does break loose and your wedding day isn’t a day that you’re feeling present and joyous the whole time, you’re still going to be #marriedAF and THAT will be awesome. :)

    • Michela

      I’m so sorry this happened to you. What a difficult experience.xo

  • Violet

    These tips are great! Regarding #2, okay, so maybe this is a broader issue, but leaving the phone at home is mainly going to work as a centering technique for people who have already acclimated to sometimes not having their phone on them. My partner and I take turns leaving our phone at home when we go out for meals or for walks or such (if there’s a true emergency, whoever needs to get in touch with us would call our partner, so it’s not a big deal). But if your wedding day is the first time since your ole flip phone you’ve ever NOT been digitally connected, you might end up being so fixated on the weird sensation of being phone-less that it takes you out of the moment. So, if you want to try this one, maybe practice a bit first? And then, you know, integrate into your lifestyle on a broader scale as it works for you?

    • Lisa

      Another good solution is to pass it off to someone you’ll be able to regularly check in with on the day. One of my MOHs carried a small purse with her throughout the day, and I stashed my phone and lipstick in there. I honestly never needed my phone (I was waaaaay too busy), but it made me feel better knowing that it was nearby and someone could answer it if need be.

      • Violet

        Oooo, nice idea!

      • Michela

        This is what I did and it worked like a dream. I gave my phone to a bridesmaid who is super tech savvy because I knew I’d want photos to walk through on our honeymoon but also knew I wouldn’t be able to do that myself. She was in charge of my Snapchat all day, and I still look through the 2-minute long video from time to time. It was the perfect solution- my phone was available if I needed it, but someone else was in charge of capturing candid moments I knew I’d want to look at later. It was also perfect because she solved several dilemmas I didn’t even know about till later (texts to me from the day of coordinator, questions from relatives about directions, etc.)

      • kate

        yep, same – easy access if i felt like i needed it or wanted some pix on my own phone, but no stress from checking in or getting unwanted texts/calls. this is really the best of both worlds solution IMHO!

    • sofar

      I am a very connected person usually (phone goes everywhere), so that’s a good point. I am pretty sure I’m leaving it at home or asking my sister to lock it in her car the day of. A friend of mine told me to leave it home because, “People WILL text with dumb questions like ‘Where’s the venue?’ and ‘Hey, how’s the day going so far?’ and ruin your day by texting you, ‘Hey sorryyyyy, but I can’t make it after all!’ and you will be so emotional that you are tempted to text back, ‘F*ck you do you realize how much I paid the caterer for your plate??!'”

      • Violet

        Honestly, they really will, and possibly MORE so if you’re a connected person in general. Because, as we say, people don’t change just because it’s your wedding. So if in “regular life” they know you usually respond right away, they think the same applies for your wedding, too. In your sister’s car sounds like an excellent back up option, kind of like Lisa’s friend’s purse idea.

      • Lisa

        This is essentially what I did. My sister was able to take the very few calls the phone got (mostly people arriving/venue questions) and screen the texts to make sure there wasn’t anything serious going on. The only information she passed on to me were the well-wishes from friends and family who couldn’t make it, which just increased the good feelings!

    • Elizabeth

      That’s a good point, and it makes sense. I know I personally have some anxiety around abandoning my phone…that I’m frankly not interested in acclimating past. Comes from having been out of contact in a true emergency, so while I could give the phone to someone who could screen things, knowing it were somewhere and I could be getting messages would make me more anxious.

      • Violet

        I know advice through APW always comes through a nice lens of “Know thyself, know thy people,” so that readers can apply as best suits their situation. I just didn’t realize how distracting being without my phone was for me until one day I left it at home accidentally. Least productive work day of my life. (This was before acclimatization, obviously.) So I wanted to throw it out there in case anyone hadn’t experienced that (or God forbid, what happened to you) directly and didn’t realize it might bother them.

        • Elizabeth

          Yeah. It’s a matter of the fact that leaving your phone behind is something I’ve heard a LOT and I’m still a ways out so I probably would have second-guessed it before now, but it becomes one of those things I get so used to hearing that it can be pretty easy to not actually think it through.

    • Eenie

      Just to play devil’s advocate…I had my phone with me the entire day. I’m not addicted to it, and apparently my friends and family knew not to text or call me the day of (seriously, zero texts. My late to pictures brother texted my mom and not me). It was not a distraction, and I actually used it to call 911 when a guest had a seizure. I was also able to stay in contact with them through texts throughout the rest of the reception which was really nice. But I didn’t have it on me, it was on silent in my bag and I checked it very infrequently. I honestly would have checked it more if I didn’t also wear a watch!

    • Yes, I liked my phone with me because. No one called me. I got one or two texts but they mostly in the morning and from people who weren’t able to make it (all of them nice “hope your wedding is amazing so sorry we couldn’t make it, love you” messages that didn’t expect a response). But also then I could call my almost-husband on the way to the wedding if I wanted to. (It was turned off and away during the ceremony, because it always is during church anyway). I would have been stressed out not having my phone because I wanted to make sure I had it after the wedding and that I was able to use it to get to the place after the ceremony. Also was very useful because we definitely neglected to plan any sort of transportation for the next few days after the wedding so we needed those phones to do things like get my family to let us borrow a car so we could eat food. Or get to the hotel after our wedding.

  • Danielle

    I had a great, unplanned moment with #14 during my wedding: While my now-husband was reading his vows, a train passed nearby (the wedding was held outside, near-ish to freight train tracks). One of the guests called out, “We can’t hear you!” We looked around, not sure what to do. One of the musicians offered to play something in the meantime. But our rabbi said, “No. Let’s take this moment to really be in the present. Feel how special this moment is,” or something to that effect.

    And I did take that moment to look around, look at my now-husband, and just breathe. It’s something that would have been hard to do without someone basically forcing me to, and I’m so grateful for it now. It’s one of my favorite parts of our wedding, and something we just couldn’t have planned <3

    • Violet

      Chills.This is wonderful.

      • Danielle

        Thank you, Violet. I really hope everyone gets one moment like this during their wedding, or any special important occasion.

  • Michela

    All of these suggestions are amazing. As I read through them, I realize I followed most of them, so hurray for that!

    I would add “be true to you” to this list. I’m a naturally anxious person and try as I might to be in the moment and chill on my wedding day, it just isn’t in my nature to be chill. I spent most of the morning (including a 60-minute massage) frustrated with myself for feeling so anxious. I wish I had given myself permission to be true to myself on that day, rather than frustrated with myself for not being calm. And you know what I finally realized? It was ok for me to feel anxious, even if other brides write about feeling elated or joyous or zen. In some ways, it was almost comforting to know that on my wedding day I felt just like myself, even if myself is not the super yogic, love-dappled bride we see in magazines. I wouldn’t wanted to have married my guy feeling anything but myself, so give yourself permission to be true to you.


    • Danielle

      This summarizes my goal-state of mind about anxiety in general. Trying to *not* be anxious makes me frustrated. Ironically, embracing anxiety as part of my imperfect self brings me one step closer to that zen!

      (I do all the anxiety-management things you’re supposed to do, like therapy, exercise, etc. But at the end of the day, I’m still pretty anxious. Embracing it, more than fighting it, helps.)

      • Michela

        Yes!! And all anxiety management things we do (therapy, exercise, healthy eating, down time/alone time) are often inconveniently rare in the lead-up to a wedding, which exacerbated the issue further.

    • kate

      yes! this is a great one – we talk a lot here about how expecting others to change their behavior/quirks/normal way of being just because it’s your wedding is a recipe for disaster, but it’s so easy to forget that applies to you too.

      • Michela

        Beautifully said. We can be so accommodating of others and yet so unforgiving of ourselves.xo

    • sofar

      THANK YOU. I am a Type A, anxious person and a planner. I used to work as an event planner. So it’s annoying when people say, “Just be caaalllm don’t worry about the details. It will be OK! Breathe!”

      I actually find it kind of rewarding to see my plans unfolding and getting confirmation that tasks are being completed, just as I planned and delegated. The other day, somebody said, “Just enjoy your wedding day! Let everyone else take care of the details. Stop trying to take care of everything.” And I found that kind of condescending, as if, as a “bride,” I wouldn’t WANT to handle logistical stuff.

      • Michela

        Girl- SAME. It’s been said here before, but I’ll say it again- things will only be fine if someone plans for them to be fine. Do you and ignore the rest. Congrats!!xo

        • idkmybffjill

          “things will only be fine if someone plans for them to be fine” PREACH.

    • SuperDaintyKate

      This is so true, and such good advice. I really wish I had have realized this before my wedding day.

    • I was thinking the same thing as I read the list, I did pretty good. I started the day with a run with my dad, which was how I started a lot of my days growing up. And things just went well from there, including the beautiful blizzard.

      Now I need to figure out a list of things to help me be in the moment on a daily basis.

  • MC

    Someone told me before my wedding to look at my husband as much as possible during the ceremony and it was great advice – it definitely helped me stay present & it made the words our officiant was saying that much more powerful because I was staring into the eyes of the person I was getting married to literally in that exact moment. We did have community vows where everyone stood up, and when I looked out at everyone I was FLOORED to see so many people there – so I would have been very distracted if I had been looking at them the whole ceremony!

    Also, I was the MOH at my bff’s wedding and she gave me her cell phone basically all day so I could answer questions if anyone had them but she didn’t have to look at them. It worked pretty well!

  • macrain

    I danced so hard I felt like I had been hit by a bus the next day.
    We also had a few moments to ourselves after the ceremony, it warms my heart to think about that.
    I have a visual snapshot of taking in all of my friends and family as my mom walked me down the aisle. You’ll be surprised how much you’ll save and keep in your mind from that day.

    • Dess

      This is how I want to feel afterwards! I’m honoring my logistics-loving self by digging deep into the planning now so that I can feel confident letting go then. And hell yes I want to dance hard enough to be wrecked the next day. Thanks for the reinforcing this for me!

  • Eenie

    Get sleep, stay hydrated, and eat food. I got very little sleep in the week leading up to the wedding, and I was just really tired for a lot of the day. I was very well hydrated and fed, which helped since I set a personal all time record for steps that night. If you like to dance, be ready for your legs to kill the next morning!

  • Sarah P.

    I’m definitely going to be sharing this with all my couples from now on- advice that’s easy to put into action! I often give advice that’s similar to #13- I’ll tell my couples, if anyone asks you a question on your wedding day, say “I don’t know”, and refer them to someone else.

  • snf100

    The best thing I ever did was put my phone in airplane mode and then read a book through the kindle app on the way to the ceremony. Even though I was in a big party bus with my family and bridesmaids I needed to just be me, and reading is how I have coped with every situation in life ever. I brought a book to prom ala Rory Gilmore, I read when I am happy I read when I am sad I read when I need to feel like me. Everyone was great about it, my parents thought it was hysterical, and I felt amazing walking into the church. Other wonderful things include, the doors to the church closing after my MOH walked down the aisle and it was just my dad and I and he turned to me told me he loved me and that I wouldn’t trip. Eating my meal, my husband and I made it a major priority to sit at our head table and eat dinner together like we would on any other night, except we were in our fanciest clothes surrounded by everyone we love and care about. I was able to pretend it was just us for 15 min.

  • JLily

    My wedding is in 40 days and starting to get reaaaaal. I may need to print this out and tape it to my mirror. Also, I’m working on the layout for our even space. Anyone do a “sweetheart” table and have any thoughts on it? I was thinking it might be a good way for my *new husband* and I to get some of that time with just each other.

    • Ashlah

      We did a sweetheart table, and loved it. That said, people did not leave us alone. People just took turns coming up to talk to us, so it wasn’t really a way for us to get any alone time.

      • JLily

        Ha ok I figured that might happen. I thought mayyybe just while we are eating? But maybe that is wishful thinking. I might build in a few minutes of time right after the ceremony, too.

        • emmers

          I found photos after the ceremony to be a nice bit of semi-alone time. We took group photos before, so post-ceremony stuff was basically just me and my husband and the photographers. A nice pause!

        • Jess

          Our venue planner guy is going to squirrel us away during the cocktail hour after photos to bring us appetizers and let us be.

    • emmers

      We didn’t have a planned place, and ended up sitting with a bunch of random folks (i.e. they weren’t in the wedding party or family or anything), since we did open seating. It was actually a moment for us to talk and catch our breath, since the rest of the time we were both busy working the room. And people probably came up to us less than they would have if we were obviously set apart at a sweetheart table, since we were blending in with the larger group. We didn’t get forever to eat and talk, but it was a nice breather!

    • Maggie Dragon

      We’re planning on a sweetheart table because I’ve found it also is nicer for the wedding party rather than a traditional head table where the various attendants will maybe be separated from their SOs.

  • Carolyn S

    We did our photos right after our ceremony, and it was just the two of us and our photographers for about an hour and we had the best time. We are’t photo people (our wedding photos are pretty much the only pictures of us that exist) but our photographers were often standing a bit far away and we were out in a field surrounded by mountains and had just gotten married and it was so wonderful. Right before the ceremony was hard – my mom was an anxious mess and I wasted a lot of time trying to keep her calm, and had to work really hard to keep myself in the moment, but as soon as I got to the front, the rest of the day was pretty in the moment.

    • Jess

      Your comment reaffirms my decision to not try to manage anybody else’s emotions that day. I have a lot of issues taking on how other people feel and trying to calm everyone else, so consciously allowing myself to ignore their stuff is going to be my approach.

      • emmers

        My mom is anxious too. She started unloading her anxiety on me, so I pulled my MOH aside and asked her to keep my mom busy by talking to her. It really helps to have others to step in and keep folks away from you if needed!

        • Jess

          Yup, my MOH is already on mom detail!

  • SuperDaintyKate

    I admit to having a really hard time staying in the moment that day. It was tough. The only thing that always brought me back, though, were the children. I remember wandering into the room where people were eating, feeling a bit blindsided and wondering what exactly I had done, when something tugged at my skirt from down below. Seeing my pal’s 6-year old daughter smiling up at me, scooping her up in my arms for a hug and a kiss, brought me right back. So did chilling with a five-year old and helping her grab a flower from my bouquet, and dancing with my ten-year old brother-in-law. The kids have no expectations, no drama, and a whole lot of purehearted joy to share with you. They were the best part of my wedding and brought me back every time I found them.

    • Laura

      This! I still cherish the moment when my cousin came up to me with her shy 3-year-old standing behind her and peering at me. My cousin said, “She’s been talking all afternoon about how she got to see a real life princess today!” Then she got a big hug from this real-life princess and I thought she would faint from happiness.

  • This is all very good advice. I’m not get married until next year but I already know this will be extremely helpful for me.

    A follow-up related question: Can someone write guidelines for how not to cry at your wedding? Having just been in my cousin’s wedding and barely kept it together there, I cannot imagine how I’m going to avoid completely sobbing at my own wedding, especially when I have to read my vows. So then I’ll just be focused on not crying the whole ceremony instead of being present. Anyone have tips on this?

    • Jess

      I’ve never minded when the people getting married cry. I have a friend whose smile is pretty much contagious, just honestly happy guy. At his wedding, he just cried the happiest tears from the moment he saw his wife to when they walked down the aisle together… and it was beautiful and everyone cried with him.

      So I guess, maybe just don’t worry about crying, invest in some good waterproof make-up, and let it out?

    • Ashlah

      I cry at weddings, and teared up when I practiced reading my vows, and then my husband and I were totally dry-eyed at the wedding, so who knows! Not much help, sorry. I guess 1) Know that you can’t possibly predict what you’re emotions will be like day-of and you might not cry anyway; 2) Embrace whatever happens, whether that’s dry eyes or complete happy sobs waterworks; and 3) Maybe practice reading your vows over and over and over to desensitize yourself to them?

      • Danielle

        I am also a crier, and for some reason, I did not cry at my wedding at all! I was so happy, and really in the moment, and maybe overwhelmed by it all. I felt grateful and amazed by how many people showed up for us… The tears just never came :)

        • Alanna Cartier

          I’m hoping this will be the case. I’m a crier too, big time. I’m worried I may just sob through the whole day.

          • Danielle

            Good luck! Bring tissues, or have someone else bring them and stand near you.

    • Sara P

      I’m totally a crier, and I was really hoping I’d be able to get through our ceremony without crying…. Nope :). I started crying headed down the aisle, and was weepy the whole ceremony. It was totally fine, very me, and (fwiw) everybody thought it was adorable.

    • Laura

      I mean, there’s crying…and then there’s full-on ugly sobbing not able to choke words out. If you’re worried about the former, fear not — everyone will be touched by your emotion and it will be a great memory of how damn joyful you were to get married.

      If you’re worried about the latter, I highly recommend reading your vows (or at least a portion of them) to one another during the rehearsal. Or at the very least, practice standing up there with your partner, making eye contact while other people are watching you have an emotional moment. For us, the rehearsal got the nervous giggles and awkwardness out of the way so that we could have an authentic day-of vows moment. My now-husband sobbed his way back down the aisle following the rehearsal, because it became really real for him at that time. And then we were both fine (still tearful, but not in an overwhelming way) on the day of.

    • weddinggrad16

      That’s exactly what I was worried about on my wedding day. Sobbing through my vows. However, I held it together and didn’t sob like a maniac. I shed tears throughout the ceremony, but nothing that was out of control.

      One thing that helped for my vows was that my husband and I both read over an early draft of each other’s vows (before they were finalized a day or two before) and also because we wanted the vows to follow a bit of a similar structure (a few personal sentences about each other, then a few “I promise” statements). Doing them sort of together without knowing all of the vows helped us feel more comfortable on the wedding day and DEFINITELY did not take away from the vows in the ceremony, which were my favorite part.

      Also, definitely get waterproof/long wear make up (mascara, liner, foundation, + urban decay all nighter spray) and have a few tissues hidden in your bouquet. You’ll be fine. Emotions are meant to be felt, especially on this day. Have fun up there :)

    • Rose

      I found that very little during our ceremony made me cry–all of the readings, the hymns, my own vows, all made me cry the first (several) times I read them, but by the time we’d made the ceremony (which I did more of than my partner), and abridged the readings, etc, they were familiar enough that they were still moving, but didn’t hit me quite as hard emotionally. The only thing that did make me cry was my wife’s vows, which I hadn’t heard before. So, if you don’t want to cry much, my advice would be to be pretty familiar with all the emotional parts of the ceremony first.

    • Keri

      I think that a function of a lot of the pre-wedding stuff (showers, parties, rehearsal dinner, etc) is to get some of those raw emotions out! I would say if you are worried about being too emotional day of, TURN IT UP for the rehearsal dinner. Throw a bunch of speeches and toasts and music and special moments and wine at your rehearsal/dinner, and let yourself cry it out then. Personally, I find the only cure for not-crying-when-you-wana is to have already cried about it, and recently. Best of luck!

    • Michela

      Not sure if this helps, but consider the possibility that you cry at other people’s weddings in part because you’re hearing the readings, music, vows, etc. all for the first time. At your own wedding, you likely picked all the readings, music, vows, etc. before and can anticipate exactly what will be said and sung. I often get overwhelmed at other people’s weddings hearing what they’ve chosen for their ceremonies for the first time, in large part because it speaks volumes about the couple and helps set the tone for the day. If this is true for you, you won’t be (as) overwhelmed because you’ve heard all this stuff before when you picked it!

      And, FWIW, I’m a big crier at other people’s weddings but didn’t cry at all at my own (got teary-eyed during the vows, but that was it). Having a first look helped me move through my emotions in private with my husband so that by the time I was walking down the aisle, I was just ready to marry him and party! YMMV, of course, and first looks are totally a personal choice, but thought it might be worth considering.

      If all else fails and you ugly cry, who cares!? You’re getting married! It’s emotional! Let yourself feel it. Oh, and wear fake eyelashes if you can- they’re a lifesaver ; )

      Best of luck, and congrats!xo

    • jspe

      I was not worried about ugly crying and then found the day of to be terrifying/overwhelming/whoa. I definitely nearly ugly cried, to the point I just looked at my now wife and made her read her vows first. Also I think I ended up holding her hand or something to calm myself down. Again – not things I planned to do, but I just DGAF at that moment about what we were supposed to do. Just remembering that it’s your days and your rules. There was some line on a reality TV show about “It’s my Day, it’s my way, if you don’t like it, there’s the door!” said in a strong new jersey accent. My wife and I said it a bunch (with the accent) leading up to the wedding when we felt nervous about doing what we needed to to take care of ourselves, and having that as our mantra as a joke with friends helped me feel comfortable taking care of myself mid-ceremony. (Usually I’m the extrovert performer, so I didn’t anticipate this at ALL.) also Xanax.

      • jspe

        just to be clear, the “It’s my Day it’s my way” is not intended to be used to be hurtful to other people or dismissive of people’s genuine concerns.

  • Jess

    I am having a hard time feeling connected to my wedding. Like, we are making decisions and things are getting planned, there will be food and music and people. I’m just failing to be excited about this whole process and the whole wedding itself. I’m just going along with whatever people want to do.

    I’m mostly nervous what these feelings will translate to on the day of my wedding. I don’t want to be like, “Yeah, we got married, it was fine.” I guess making room for those feelings is part of being in the moment.

    • SuperDaintyKate

      The nice thing about that day is that others will be excited for you, which is contagious. I was at a friend’s wedding a few weeks ago, and she was feeling very meh about the whole thing. Once people started hugging her and grinning and crying, it set her off, too. Don’t worry– you don’t have to create all that energy by yourself.

      • Jess

        That’s true, too. Hopefully I get some of that magic going. I’ve already asked some of my close friends to be a bit over-excited for me, since I’m struggling. It helps to talk to them and have them just be extra-enthusiastic about flowers, or table numbers, or whatever.

    • Michela

      If it’s any consolation, I was in the exact place you were about 6 months ago. I’m an anxious, introverted, Type A planner, which meant I was great at hammering down details and crafting extensive timelines, but I wasn’t feeling all that excited about the day itself. I worried, just as you are, that I would feel similarly “meh” on my wedding day. Then I realized the reason I wasn’t super excited about my wedding is because I’m just not generally excited about big parties! I’m the girl who would rather be in sweats on the couch with a bottle of champagne on New Year’s. I had an anxiety attack the day before my best friend’s wedding, thinking about everything that would be required of me. I was feeling meh about my own wedding because I feel meh about parties in general- weddings have never been an exception.

      Despite feeling exactly as you are, I did not feel meh on my actual wedding day. I felt many things- anxious, overwhelmed, floored by all those who loved us, hyped to marry my partner, and generally just warm and fuzzy. I did not feel the zen some brides talk about, but I also didn’t feel meh about it. I felt like me!

      And, at the end of the day, if all else fails- it’s ONE DAY. I’m not sure if my wedding was the best day of my life, but then again I’m the girl who sits on the couch in sweats with a bottle of champagne on the biggest party night of the year. The idea that you must feel intensely excited on your wedding day because it’s “the best day of your life” is bullshit if intensely excited is not your normal state of being during big parties. Give yourself permission to be you.xo

      • Jess

        This is so true. I am not super into big parties. I like them and all, but they aren’t what gets me excited and jazzed up.

        Thank you!

    • Sarah E

      That’s. . .kind of how I feel about my wedding. Everyone who attended loved it and had a blast. I thought it was pretty good, but I’m not sure I really felt in the moment during it. What helped was the other stuff around it: breakfast with my besties that morning, a road trip with my husband the next day, reading people’s cards in our hotel room by ourselves.

      • Jess

        Thank you! This is actually really helpful to know that 1) other people have felt like this and it was fine and 2) there are surrounding events that will also be great.

    • jspe

      YMMV, but my introverted not into big parties wife was the happiest I’ve ever seen her on our wedding day. She’d given herself space to just feel “meh”, which also helped – her expectations were “do what I need to do to make it through a big loud party” but then she was with all of her people and with me in this pretty great day. Just another “what you think you will feel and what you actually will feel may differ.”

      But also, my lovely, introverted, less into planning wife would definitely check out at certain parts of the process when she was feeling meh or shut down. Obviously don’t force yourself to make decisions/be excited about things you don’t care about (aka napkin colors/sizes textures? just, give me a cheap napkin that works…). But I found that checking back in with my wife in those moments to bring her back to “what _do_ you want?” and when she’d say “eh, I don’t care”, and I would present options like “300 person black tie with salmon and steak!””no, a bowling alley!”” a barn with no air conditioning in july!” she realized she did have a vision of what the day looked like…meaning, she knew what would make her comfortable and happy and so we planned towards that. Were we emotionally invested in the plates? not even a little bit. But she did work, on her own and with me, to be comfortable and happy about the choices we made, and I think that made a huge difference in her comfort day of.

    • Katherine Louise

      I’m getting married Aug, 13th and on Jul 1st my fiance and I attended a friend’s wedding. This was the perfect way to feel excited for our day as I was also feeling unattached emotionally. Once i saw how happy a couple is on their wedding day and how special the day can feel with so many people there to celebrate two people’s love it acted as a wake up call. It reminded both of us of why people get married and having weddings. It made us both really excited and I have started to feel way more emotionally attached to this day. Now, you can’t plan to go to a wedding unless you’ve been invited…but maybe crash a wedding! or speak to a recent couple on how they felt day of to hopefully ‘remind’ you why you’re doing all of this stuff.

      • Jess

        I kind of wish we were going to another wedding this year! All my friends have either been married or are a far way from being married.

        I may just scroll through the APW Real Weddings and Wordless Weddings and look at how happy everyone is!

  • Keri

    How about remembering to take mental pictures?

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  • guest

    I felt very in the moment all day at my wedding – well in the moment with the guests, I didn’t even notice when the photographer and planners left. But looking back, I don’t remember a lot of the wedding. I am not sure if I had a touch too much to drink, was very sleep deprived, or if it was just too much overload. I had to be reminded of stuff that happened. It sort of bums me out that I can’t mentally revisit parts of the night. I do really remember meeting everyone for breakfast the next morning and the welcome dinner the night before.

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  • brakell-basicinvite

    These tips are great! Especially the tip that says to remember to feel what you are feeling! It’s okay to be emotional and ride the rollercoaster ride!