For good or ill, brides have a preconceived notion that all of the planning for their big day will result in memories that last a lifetime. For that reason and many others, brides and grooms find themselves stressing about everything from choosing the perfect venue to designing and organizing the bouquets to ensuring appropriate reception table seating arrangements in an attempt to assemble a perfect event that is representative of all the hopes and dreams a young couple has when they start their life together.
But is it all worth it? Do you, as a bride, find yourself wondering what you will actually remember long after the trendy sorority dresses your bridesmaids wore have been hung up or donated?
We talked to several couples who have been somewhere between 20 and 60 years and asked them what they remember most about the wedding planning process and the wedding day. Their answers might surprise you.
Special Kindnesses. One bride who has been married over 50 years said that what she remembered most about her wedding was the wedding breakfast her aunt hosted for her. Back in the 60s, it was much more common to have morning weddings followed by festivities throughout the day and ending with a traditional wedding reception in the evening.
The bride stated that after the church ceremony, the entire wedding party and parents of the bride and groom were treated to a lavish breakfast. Because the aunt lived out of town, the breakfast was in someone else’s home, but the aunt transported all of her linens, fine china, and silver flatware to ensure a beautiful breakfast table for the bride and groom and their bridal party. “It was such an amazing gift,” said this bride, “to know that someone cared that much about me and my happiness to go to all that trouble.”
The First Look. Before it was fashionable to capture the first look photos on film prior to the ceremony, brides and grooms saw their beloved for the very first time at the ceremony. While there are pros and cons to doing a first look photo session even now, brides-to-be probably should know that most of the couples we spoke to indicated that the heart-stopping second when they first saw their love standing at the front or back of the church was a moment they will never forget. The feelings of love, excitement, and anticipation encapsulated in that first glance is a once-in-a-lifetime moment that apparently stands the test of time.
Testy Family Members. Brides and grooms both indicated that, somewhere in the wedding planning process, difficult family members rise to the surface. From a bride married 24 years who stated that her mother-in-law refused to attend the wedding if the girls wore black to a sister-in-law threatening to divorce the bride’s brother during the wedding planning process, dealing with test family members seems to be a shared experience. A bride married 30 years stated that one of her husband’s family member took advantage of the open bar and fell into their cake, leaving nothing but crumbs to cut. Apparently, dealing with unpleasant family members can throw a major wrench in weddings, and brides and grooms don’t forget.
Things that Went Wrong. Another bride, married 35 years, shared that the memories that stand out were the things that went wrong at the reception. While she had asked for seating for 350 people, she was assured by the venue that, based on their experience and mathematical formulas for wedding attendance, she would never have as many guests as she anticipated. Because the venue turned out to be wrong, tables had to be set up last minute, and her husband’s entire entourage of softball-playing buddies and high school friends had to sit at fold-out tables sans table decorations.The bride laughed about it, adding, “It’s funny now, but I sure wasn’t happy that day.”
Unexpected Moments. While many brides and grooms believe they will remember things that seem important at the time of wedding planning, like song choices, ceremonial readings, floral designs, the wedding cake, or even the first dance as a married couple, most brides and grooms remember poignant moments that were unexpected rather than planned. One bride, married 31 years, stated that, on the day of her wedding, her grandmother (who was too ill to attend the wedding) presented her with a special handkerchief from her own wedding to carry while walking down the aisle and told her to keep it always as a remembrance of her.
Another bride shared that she and her husband of almost 60 years stole away the day of her high school graduation between the graduation practice and the actual commencement ceremony, and were married, just the two of them, in the judge’s chambers of the courthouse. When asked what she wore, she stated, “I married him in a purple dress that had little daisies on it. And I remember thinking how lovely it was to be standing next to this handsome man, dreaming of a life together and babies to come in a dress my sister made for me for my graduation that became my wedding gown and the start of adulthood for me.”
Brides and grooms currently planning their weddings may want to consider the fact that some of the stress you’re feeling can be alleviated. Knowing that things won’t always go as planned and that moments that are significant will be remembered might help couples prioritize their time in the wedding planning process.
If you’ve been married for more than 20 years, what stands out in your memory about your wedding? Feel free to comment here.