Hello again my lovelies and here we are in December! I can’t quite believe it but the Christmas tree that’s twinkling at me from the corner of the living room is all the festive proof I need! Anyway, I’m super happy to be back today with the next in our ‘Wedding Advice from Wedding Experts’ mini-series. Last week, we covered the build up to the big day and today, our fantastic sponsors and Little Book for Brides members are sharing their ideas and experiences again, this time focusing on the morning of the wedding and the ceremony itself.
So, grab a cuppa (and possibly a notebook!) and just soak up all of this wonderful advice…
After all of the planning, all of the effort and all of the months spent waiting for this day, when the morning of your wedding arrives, you certainly want to enjoy it. All of our talented experts agree that now’s the time to stop planning and be totally present in the moment to make the most of it. That said, there might be a few things that you can do just before the big day to make it that bit smoother:
“I know that it’s tradition for the bride and groom to not sleep in the same bed the night before their wedding but personally, I think it’s much more important that you both get a good night’s sleep and feel refreshed before your wedding day,” says makeup artist and hair stylist Catherine Bailey. “This is much more likely to happen if you sleep at your own home or your parents’ home rather than staying in an unfamiliar hotel where you’ve got a strange bed and even noisy people next door. It’s a real problem to be avoided if you don’t want to feel like a zombie on your wedding day!”
“Ask someone special to stay with you the night before if you like,” says hair accessories designer Sandra from Sophie & Luna. “It makes it much easier to wake up and to be able to share your wedding excitement with someone.”
You might also think that by this moment, you’re done with lists but there’s one list you really need for the morning of the wedding and that’s a running order and schedule, especially for hair and makeup: “Make a preparation checklist for the morning of the wedding in advance so that you don’t ever find yourself running short on time,” says Svetlana from destination wedding planners My Italy & My Wedding.
“Entrust this to your maid of honour or a bridesmaid who’ll be getting ready with you and give them your phone too. They can take any calls for you and check the list so that you don’t have to worry about it at all.” Another thing that all of our experts agree on is the absolute need to EAT and drink (sensibly of course!) whilst you’re getting ready: “Wake yourself up with a pint of water,” says makeup artist Kylie McMichael. “This kicks of ultimate hydration and team it with a good old cup of tea. Dunking a plain biscuit will help settle your stomach and prepare you for breakfast later. Make sure there’s some lemonade and ready salted crisps on hand in case you’ve got a dicky tummy.”
“On the morning of my wedding, I arranged for a chef to come to my house and prepare a breakfast feast for all my girlies,” says wedding stylist Hannah from All Things Borrowed. “They cooked, cleaned my kitchen (bonus!) and took everything away with them when they finished. It was brilliant! I wanted something special as I was getting ready at home and it just took all the stress away.”
“When, if not on your wedding morning, can you legitimately drink champagne for breakfast?” asks destination wedding expert Sonia from The Wedding Bliss Thailand. “But you must eat too. Use your wedding morning to put together an indulgent feast with delicious fruits, patisseries, champagne and mimosas. A beautiful room and a gorgeous breakfast can also be the perfect backdrop for your getting ready photo session!”
We’ll return to the subject of getting ready photos in a moment but, if you’re still not sure that you can even contemplate eating breakfast on the morning of your wedding, I’ll just leave these words from Sian from bridal boutique Tilly Trotter’s Brides here…
“Eat breakfast. I didn’t. My bridesmaids didn’t. We were drunk by 11am.”
Enough said there I think! Right, let’s move on to the rather thrilling prospect of getting ready and you’ll be happy to know that here, there are a few things that you really don’t need to worry about…
“If your hair stylist tells you not to wash your hair on the day of the wedding – listen to them!” cautions bridal hair accessory designer Debbie Carlisle. “This is often the case if you’re having an up-do because freshly washed hair might not stay in play – as I find out to my cost when I ignored my stylist’s advice! It just felt so wrong to me not to have freshly washed hair on this most important of days so I went ahead and washed and conditioned only to have my neatly coiffed up-do fall down by the time we got to our first dance!”
So, with the time you save on washing your hair, perhaps there’s something else you might like to consider doing: “One tip I would give is make sure that you get some fresh air in the morning, even if it’s a quick five minutes outside for a few moments of me time,” says wedding stationery designer Lianne from LoveLi. “The process of getting ready for the big day, with hair stylists and makeup artists coming and going can be quite full on and, before you know it, you’ll be being bundled into a car without having seen daylight!”
Wise words indeed.
Now, let’s get on with getting ready shall we? Firstly, let’s get the atmosphere right: “Have a playlist of calming and uplifting music prepared in advance to soothe your nerves and calm the atmosphere in the room,” says Catherine Bailey. “If you’d like to create a spa-like atmosphere, then some scented candles dotted about work brilliantly.”
“Surround yourself with people who love and adore you,” advises Lorna from stationers EYI Love. “They’ll take care of you and keep you completely calm. Focus on what’s important and don’t let any little niggly aspects steal any of your attention and joy.”
“Sit back, relax and be pampered by your makeup artist!” says Maxine Wilson, who is herself a fab makeup artist. “This is such a special time for you to spend with your family and bridesmaids so enjoy it!”
“Plan your getting ready outfit in advance, something loose and comfortable and preferably something that doesn’t go on or off over your head as you don’t want to mess up your hair and makeup,” suggests Sian from Tilly Trotter’s Brides. “A silk scarf is also a great addition if you’re putting your gown on over your head as you can wrap it around your head to present messing up your beautifully coiffed hair and the silk is soft enough not to smudge your makeup.”
Whilst you’re enjoying this never-to-be-repeated experience, don’t forget to share the joy with your bridesmaids:
“The morning of the wedding is such a special time and it’s often the time when brides and grooms may gift their maids and men something special as a thank you for playing a part in the big day,” says stationer Harriet from De Winton Paper Co. “For a really special, lovely touch, personalised calligraphy tags adorning these presents or even a personal piece of watercolour art will make everything that bit more memorable.”
Once you’ve been pampered, once the atmosphere is right and once everyone is so happy, the great moment arrives – it’s time to put on THE DRESS! Of course, this is something not to rush… “Leave yourself plenty of time, about 45 minutes, to get into your dress,” suggests Lindsay from bridal and honeymoon boutique Dress In Love Weddings.
“You don’t want to get hot and flustered because you feel you’re running out of time. Don’t even get your dress out until all makeup and liquids have been put away. Few things could be worse than spilling a drink just before you’re due to leave for your ceremony. Remember, even water will stain a silk gown so don’t even spray perfume once you’re in your dress.”
“It’s a good idea for someone to have a little emergency kit with them on the morning of the wedding,” says vintage gown expert Helena from Heavenly Vintage Brides. “Just a few hair pins, maybe a mini hairspray for example and a needle and thread in case of any issues are always good to have to hand.”
The amazing moment of getting dressed and ready for your wedding is definitely one to be captured by your photographer: “The biggest things to think about for the morning prep are – where are you getting ready and how many people will be there?” says wedding photographer Fiona Kelly.
“If you’re getting ready in a hotel with five bridesmaids and hair and makeup artists, it doesn’t take long for the room to get very busy, very cluttered and become a bit of an assault course. Trying to capture amazing photos in this sort of space is going to be tricky. If you’re going to go to a hotel, make sure you check out the rooms. You want the biggest room you can get, preferably with large windows and lots of natural light.”
Photographer Ross Hurley agrees: “The better the light, the better the pictures. Now, when I say light, I don’t mean the amp in the room or the main room lights, I mean natural light coming in through the windows. Try and keep curtains open and discuss with your makeup/hair vendor where you’ll sit to prepare for your big day. Try and leave room in front of you if you can so your wedding photographer has room to manoeuvre and capture those beautiful images. You will thank me later!”
When you’re all ready and the photographs are being taken, it’s the bridal bouquet that is the perfect finishing touch that needs to be appreciated: “Take a moment to, quite literally, smell the roses,” says florist Breige of Flowers by Breige. “These beautiful scents will be evocative of your wedding day for years to come and they’ll take you back to the very moment. The scent alone will calm any nerves and make you feel happy.”
“Before you leave for your ceremony, take a moment to look in the mirror with your bouquet and make sure that you feel comfortable and at ease,” continues Breige. “Relax your shoulders and let your forearms sit gently above your hips, holding your bouquet with both hands. This will not only make you feel more confident but the flowers will look much more natural as you carry them.”
And with that, it’s time for your wedding ceremony… “If you’re feeling nervous, lighten the mood with a happy little dance before the doors open!” says wedding florist Sian from The Flower Lounge. “It may sound silly but it will loosen you up so that you’re not too tense walking down the aisle and you’ll enter the room with a genuine smile on your face.”
“Just keep your head up and smile as you walk down the aisle,” says Sam from Sass & Grace Bridal Boutique. “You’ll look happy and confident plus your dress has been fitted to the right length when you’re holding your head up so there’s no need at all to look down!”
Instead, of looking at your feet, there’s most definitely a certain someone that you really need to be looking at: “Ignore everyone in the room and focus on that person you’ve chosen to spend the rest of your life with,” says Araminta from Jacaranda Catering. “Don’t forget that they’re just as nervous as you are but you’re in this together. Enjoy it and enjoy being the centre of attention.”
“It’s finally here so just enjoy it,” says stylist Hannah from All Things Borrowed. “Be warned, the moment the music starts for you to walk down the aisle, you’re going to cry! But who cares? Get a right good look at the person waiting for you at the end of the aisle, it’s a memory that will stay with you forever.”
With those words in our minds (and tears, quite probably, in our eyes), now’s the right time to consider that all important music: “Don’t be afraid to pick a song to be played that’s special to you guys, even if nobody else might know it,” advises Kate from Music by Kate & Dave. “At those points, it’s about being in that one moment with the love of your life and music is so powerful that your lovely guests will embrace the atmosphere no matter what.” Kate continues: “When walking up the aisle, if you don’t fancy a long wait when you reach the top, arrange with your musicians prior to the performance to cut down your aisle song to a shorter length but still making sure that the parts you really want are heard. If you want to enjoy the full song they’re playing as you enter, perhaps time your bridesmaids and your entrance to a little later in the song or just stand with your partner when you reach the top of the aisle and appreciate the music.”
Sonia from The Wedding Bliss Thailand agrees: “There are so many beautiful songs in the world that can be used for your walk in, but what can be better than making your way down the aisle to meet the love of your life to the song that is deeply meaningful to both of you? Maybe it’s the song that was on the radio when you first kissed, or maybe it’s the soundtrack from the movie you saw on your first date. We’ve had couples walking down the aisle to a variety of songs, including the Game of Thrones theme, and it was beautiful, simply because it was personal to them!”
As we’re discussing walking up the aisle, perhaps now’s the right moment to think about those mini-maids and pageboys too: “If young children are walking up the aisle, make sure to sit one parent of each child on an aisle seat, near the front, so that the children can see them and just walk towards them,” suggests Sarah from Little Bevan, designers of the loveliest flowergirl and pageboy outfits. “Or, if you have a long and complicated walk through cloisters or corridors, have a parent or two walk a bit behind the bridal procession to ‘shepherd’ any wild little ones!”
“Always make sure you look at your man when your saying your vows, not at the celebrant or minister who is telling you what to say,” says filmmaker Julie from Mintyslippers Media Ltd. “Visually, it’s a nicer moment if that can happen, although nerves sometimes play a part, especially if you’re emotional and are worried about having a few tears. I say to all my brides, if you feel like you’re going to cry, push your tongue to the roof of your mouth really hard, and distract yourself that way, or just let the tears come – what ever happens, enjoy that moment.”
“Look into the eyes of your partner,” agreed Lorna from EYI Love. “Focus all your attention on them and let any nerves might have just disappear.” Once you’ve said your vows, there’s the small matter of THAT kiss to consider as well… “It sounds silly but do consider with your partner what sort of first kiss you’re going to have!” says makeup artist Maxine Wilson.
“If he’s planning a big smooch, consider a softer look on your lips or seal your colour if you go brighter. Having said that, if he really decides to go for it, as my husband did, you may still need to have a tissue to hand!”
There’s no doubting that fact that the arrival of the bride and the ceremony itself are THE major moments of the day and there’s definitely a mounting sense of sadness among wedding suppliers that so many guests are only experiencing these life-defining moments through the screen on a smartphone or tablet rather than being totally in the moment: “The stars of the day are always the couple,” says Diane from Blessings From Italy. “While it’s tempting to view them through the screen of an iPad or phone, the atmosphere will so much better if everyone is truly present. We’re mindful of the attraction of using social media device but would encourage couples to join the trend towards having an Unplugged ceremony. The benefits are enormous and your celebrants, photographers and videographers will be extremely grateful, as will you, especially when your wedding images aren’t ruined by enthusiastic guests leaping into the aisle to snap the bride and obscure her partner’s view!”
So, what exactly is an ‘unplugged’ ceremony? I’ll let Emma from ELS Photography explain all: “I learned about unplugged ceremonies the hard way from my own wedding in 2012. It never occurred to me to ask our guests not to take pictures, I mean, why would it? Until I looked back on our images and saw a couple were ruined by phones and cameras. There’s a beautiful shot of my Mum walking me down the aisle and the photographer is shooting from my husband’s perspective watching me walk towards him and then in the background there’s a guest, stepping in the aisle, arm stretched out with a camera!”
“I advise all my couples to go ‘unplugged’,” continues Emma. “From my perspective, it’s fantastic as I have the freedom to do my job and you’ll have nothing but happy face looking at you, not a camera or phone. Unplugged also means that your guests are actually present at your wedding because ‘lens living’ can take away just ‘being’ in the moment. Truly being in the moment, feeling the emotion and energy and actually taking it all in is something that can’t be replicated through any device.”
Well, that seems like a pretty convinced argument to have an unplugged ceremony to me. Because, actually, when it comes down to it, that moment, the ceremony, the vows, the emotions are what all the months and years of planning have really been about. You’ve not been planning this wedding as a day-long showcase for your DIY abilities or anything else. It’s a day solely to celebrate your love.
“Have the ceremony and day that you both want,” says Lianne from LoveLi. “Wedding planning can feel like you have loads of people to keep happy and please but don’t back down on things that you as a couple believe and want as part of your day. So what if Auntie Maureen doesn’t agree – this is your day and you’re able to make the rules.”
I couldn’t agree more. However, if there’s one piece of advice that will make your morning, and in fact your day, perfect, it’s this from Karolina of Hearts on Fire Photography: “Take it easy and enjoy yourself. That’s my only tip throughout the day. Try not to worry about anything any more. Even if something goes a little bit off the plan, just let it go. Don’t let the day disappear in worry. Make the most of every moment.”
And with that, I’ll leave you to enjoy this moment until next week when I’ll be back with advice for your drinks reception and dinner from our wonderful Little Book for Brides wedding experts.