Photo Credit: Jayd Gardina Photography
No one thought I'd be a calm bride. Not me, with my bulging three-ring wedding-planning binder and my dress shop's number on speed dial. But I didn't want to play stage director on my big day; I wanted to be the leading gal. My mantra: "I will not freak out on my wedding day."
I'm proud to say that I managed to keep my cool and have fun. Yes, even when I arrived at church and my brother, one of the groomsmen, was nowhere to be found. (OK, that was nerve-wracking, but I didn't panic. Honest!) In spite of all my planning, the limo had left the hotel without him, and he was stranded without a ride. He eventually got to the church and the ceremony started late, but it wasn't a total catastrophe.
It's not easy to change from perfectionist party planner to a kick-back-and-enjoy-yourself bride, but it's definitely worth it. Here, 10 steps to wedding-day chill.
1. Be organized from the get-go
You will be more at ease on the big day if you've nailed down the details well before then. As soon as you've started planning, set up a filing system to keep your contracts, receipts and notes together. A few weeks before the wedding, give your vendors any special instructions, as well as directions to the ceremony and/or reception sites. Then check in with them (many pros will call you) a few days before your affair to go over exactly what is expected. It was during a telephone run-through with the bandleader two days before my wedding that I learned he thought that my husband and mother-in-law wanted their special mother/son dance to be "YMCA"! Learn time-saving secrets for busy brides ►
2. Hire the best you can find
Spend time early on sussing out the finest wedding pros around. Check their references and view samples of their work. If possible, see your band or DJ at another event and taste the food and cake to be served at your reception. Choose vendors whose work — and personalities — you're comfortable with. Then, on the day of your wedding, you'll be more likely to relax, knowing you're in capable hands. Here's what to ask when meeting with prospective vendors ►
3. Keep your perspective
Chances are, there'll be some snags along the way — the napkins are the wrong color, your bouquet is smaller than you expected — but nothing should overshadow the joy of the day. "I've been a bridesmaid 14 times and an event planner for 13 years. I've seen many people lose it over insignificant details," says Mary K. Talbot, of Barrington, Rhode Island. "At my own wedding, I reminded myself that things were bound to go wrong — but probably only I would notice. Instead of worrying, I focused on visiting with family and friends." Here are 15 wedding details you don't need to worry about ►
4. Hire a consultant for the wedding day
In the 1991 movie Father of the Bride, the bride had planner extraordinaire "Franck" on hand to troubleshoot: He dutifully thawed the flowers when Mother Nature delivered a California snowstorm. Having your own "Franck" for the day can be a lifesaver. He or she can run interference with the vendors and solve any crises, often without your knowing anything's gone amuck. "With so many business details wrapped up in an emotional day, it's nice to have someone to assure things go smoothly," says Polly Flint, co-owner of St. Augustine Weddings and Special Events in St. Augustine, Florida. She'll keep things on schedule and put out potentially disastrous "fires" while you dance the night away. What to know about day-of wedding coordinators ►
5. Recruit someone you trust to help out
I asked my recently married cousin, Susan, to take charge of distributing boutonnières and corsages on my wedding day. She also supervised my young cousins, who passed out rose petals for the post-ceremony toss. These may seem like small, even inconsequential assists, but added up they take a hefty burden off your shoulders. Just be sure to choose people who will get the job done and give them explicit instructions to avoid confusion. Wedding roles beyond the bridal party ►