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Wedding Graduate: Happy-Zen Lauren

Today’s wedding graduate is Lauren! Lauren, who got married the same weekend we did (remember?), Lauren who has been super honest walking this path along side me and sharing the parts that SUCKED, Lauren who loves being married as much as I do, Lauren who didn’t even screw around and sent me her wedding graduate post before I had time to ask (thank you!!). Her advice is so wise – like the inviting everyone you love bit. The only thing we disagree on is the being tired after the wedding (we were not, oddly), but different perspectives is what makes Team Practical work, no? And now, with love, I give you Lauren and her best advice...

1. Do what feels right to you, and hold your ground…
We had no formal wedding party– Jeff’s oldest and best friend was our best man, and I had a bevy of non-bridesmaids who hung out with me that morning.My brother gave the maid of honor toast, and he walked my mom and my grandmother down the aisle as my wedding party. We had an ice cream sundae bar and a giant pile of snickerdoodle cookies (baked by three of my non-bridesmaids) instead of a cake. There were no favors. My mom and I made hundreds of paper flowers to decorate the ceremony and reception sites. I didn’t wear a veil, even though this made my mom cry when I told her. I got my dress for $250 at the Filene’s Basement Running of the Brides sale. We spent months crafting our ceremony and vows, but hired an MIT grad student to DJ without ever meeting him. I created a playlist for the chapel to play while everyone was waiting for the wedding to start. We recessed out of the chapel to “Signed, Sealed Delivered” by Stevie Wonder.I wore a flower in my hair that two of my friends picked from a garden outside the hotel. Oh, and um, our reception was in a bar. And it was fabulous. All these things made my wedding thrifty, creative, and sane (for me!)2. …but be open to surprises, and the fact that your mind might change.
There were two things that were absolutes for Jeff when it came to our wedding: we were going to leave the reception early, before everyone else, and we were not going to have a brunch the next day. To Jeff, that was OUR time to be married, and be with only each other. But then, the wedding day came, and not only were we having lots of fun at our reception, but there was barely enough time to talk to everyone who was there as it was– there was no way we could leave early and give up precious time with family and friends who had travelled great distances to be with us. We never discussed this, it just happened. And walking back to the hotel at 11pm on a Sunday night through the empty streets of Boston with the last few guests at the wedding was wonderful. And then, after going to sleep at 2am, we both found ourselves WIDE awake at 7am, and Jeff rolled over and said “Hey, isn’t everyone meeting for breakfast?” You guessed it- we ran down the street and spent two hours at a Panera where about 50 people from our families showed up out of the blue. And that was one of my favorite parts of the wedding weekend. So, make decisions and hold your ground, but be open to following your heart if, in the moment, you find yourself craving something totally different.3. Do not underestimate how tired you will be after your wedding.
Between wanting to see everyone who was in town and an out of control excitement level, I barely slept on the days leading up to the wedding. And even if I had slept, the emotional exhaustion that happens after every single person you love is in the same place for a whole weekend is something I can’t describe. I’ve never been so tired in my whole life. We didn’t go very far away for our honeymoon, and only spent four days, but our schedule involved three meals and three naps a day, in addition to 9 hours of sleep every night. I know everyone says “take a honeymoon, take a honeymoon,” but the whole time that we were gone, my husband and I really just wanted to be in our own home, napping on the couch with our cat. I would never, ever, have considered going home for a week instead of going away for a honeymoon, but in retrospect, going home was our favorite part (and that’s when our marriage became real.) So I really encourage you to self-evaluate here– my husband and I love to travel, don’t get me wrong, but post-wedding all we wanted was comfort and sleep. Some people get that in hotels, but me? I just wanted my own bed. Don’t be afraid to tell everyone in your life that you’ll be gone for a week, and then sneak back to your home and enjoy every second of the reality of your new life.4. Stick to a budget (if you have a budget) for as long as possible.
Why? Because when it comes down to the weeks leading up to your wedding, you might want to employ a sanity-saving solution I call “throwing money at the problem.” I had planned on doing my own flowers for a year leading up to the wedding, and then, three weeks before, I couldn’t fathom the thought of spending part of my Saturday in my hotel room cutting flowers when I could be hanging out with my friends and family. So I went to Whole Foods and ordered my wedding flowers. I had a hair trial at a salon convenient to the hotel, and it was awful, so, two weeks before the wedding (note: don’t wait this long to do your hair trial!) I booked my regular hairdresser, and paid for a trial and day of with her (far more expensive than the convenient place). If I had giving in to spending temptations earlier, I might not have felt comfortable exceeding my mental budget for things like flowers and hair when it really mattered- two weeks before the wedding when I didn’t have time to stress over it. Although, if someone had told me my #6 (below), I might not have worried about hair and flowers at all!5. Don’t be afraid to invite everyone that you love.
There are people who tell you that a wedding bigger than 25, or 50, or 60, or 80, isn’t intimate, or as much fun, or is too overwhelming. I think this is crap. There was no way that we were going to let an opportunity for our large families to be in one place go by, so we invited everyone, and 105 adults and 16 kids came. And were there a lot of people to spend time with? Of course. Do I wish I’d had more time to spend with each and every person who was at my wedding? Absolutely. But what mattered was that they were there. In the months leading up to my wedding, I imagined myself crying through the whole day. I tested out countless waterproof mascara in anticipation of this. But then, over the weekend, as more and more of my friends and family started to arrive, I just felt myself bubbling over with joy. And then, I was standing behind the doors to walk myself down the aisle, and they opened, and there was this collective intake of breath, one or two people clapped, and the love that rushed out of that room completely blew me away. And I laughed my way down the aisle– there was no other way to express what had just hit me. I don’t know if I would have felt the same way if I’d limited my guest list to what someone else thought was a good size for a wedding.6. I promise you, on your wedding day, you won’t notice.
The day before my wedding, I went to get my nails done. As I was sitting in the salon, it occurred to me that there was nothing that could possibly matter less than if there was nail polish on my nails the next day. Now, getting my nails done was a great time because I went with one of my non-bridesmaids who was in town from Arizona and it was the only one-on-one time I had with her, but the point is that we could have gotten coffee and nobody on earth, including me, would have noticed my nails. The same goes for virtually every aspect of your wedding. Don’t want to do favors? (I didn’t!) Nobody will care. Worried that the flowers you ordered two weeks before the wedding showed up and are kind of crappy? It just doesn’t matter. I was supposed to get my makeup done at an Origins store, for free. Yes, they do this for anyone, if they remember. The people at my Origins store did NOT remember, however, so all my non-bridesmaids pooled their makeup supplies and one of them did my makeup, and we had way more fun. Jeff and I had planned to each dance with our moms- we had picked out songs and everything- and then all of a sudden it was 9pm and the DJ hadn’t played one slow song all night, because the dance floor was packed with people who wanted to boogie! So we nixed the mom songs (our moms were on the dance floor and never noticed). I had planned for a year to make a seating chart, and then a week before the wedding, the venue (being a bar/restaurant that doesn’t normally do weddings) said that they didn’t know what the table configuration would be like until that day, so there was no way we could assign seats. This caused me no end of stress (what would people DO? Where would they SIT? What if someone was LEFT OUT?) but on the day of the wedding, guess what? Everyone found a seat, ate from the buffet when they were hungry, danced when they wanted to dance, and met new people (or not!) It is hard to let things go in the weeks and months leading up, but I assure you, that if it doesn’t matter, you won’t notice. I don’t think my husband and I broke eye contact for our entire ceremony- he was the only thing I could see, and I couldn’t stop smiling. My nails, my bouquet, and the music certainly could not matter compared to that.

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