Wedding Lessons I Learned… From My Own Wedding

In case you don’t know, I got married a couple weeks ago. And now that I have some distance from the event, I can share some of my hard-earned wisdom.

1. Learn to pick your battles. Realize that every time you point out something that doesn’t look the way you expected or doesn’t play out how you anticipated—even if it’s something tiny, and you’re just pointing out your surprise—people will try to fix it for you. Be aware of this, and keep your mouth shut, or you may end up with people running around trying to fix something you just don’t care about.

2. If you’re getting married outdoors during an unusually hot summer, get a full updo. I had my heart set on a half-up, half-down look, and it turned out just beautifully… six hours before the ceremony. By the time we’d finished the pre-ceremony photos, the curls were coming out and I found myself standing in front of the bar mirror with a curling iron, making the futile effort to fix my limp hair, while the bartenders were setting up cases of wine all around me. And by the time the reception rolled around, there was sweat dripping from the ends of my hair. I repeat: get an updo.

3. Roll with the punches. We had a brief music mishap right before the ceremony, and I had terrifying visions of having to throw a hissy fit, refusing to walk down the aisle, until the right song was playing for me. I was too hot and dazed to worry, really, and the music got sorted out: everything turned out okay. Sometimes you just have to let things go and know that they’ll work out all right in the end. And if something goes wrong, only you will know that it did. (Unless it’s obvious: see #5.)

4. Expect everything to be a blur. As the bride (or the groom, or whatever), you planned out every detail of this wedding… and on the day everything finally comes together, you’ll probably be too nervous/excited/busy/hungover from the previous night’s festivities to actually observe the beautiful day you planned. I wasn’t hungover (I swear!), but I was ridiculously nervous about the whole thing coming off without a hitch and so busy getting beautiful and having my photo taken, that, at the end of the night, I said, “I feel like I didn’t even get to attend my own wedding!” Apparently this is normal.

5. Laugh. This one is definitely the most important, and I’ll give you very specific reasons why. My husband and I did our cake cutting without a hitch: he neatly sliced us a huge piece of cake, and we opted to feed it to each other nicely. After that, a cater-waiter appeared like magic to take care of the rest of the serving. Delighted, we scampered back to the head table to enjoy our delicious dessert.

Now, just so you know going into this story, the cake was one of my very favorite parts of the wedding. It was iced to look like a birch tree with green leaves, each layer was a different flavor (the top, which we sliced, being my favorite: white chocolate raspberry sour cream cake), and cake toppers handmade to look like little owls.


Adorable, right?

We were enjoying our cake, chatting and laughing, and feeling glad we weren’t in the giant cake-scrum, when there was a squealing noise and a crash. We all looked up, puzzled, and could only see people milling around. I briefly remember seeing one of my girlfriends staring at me in horror, and then she appeared at my side like she’d Apparated.

“It’s okay,” she said. “The owls are okay, and you got your piece of cake.”

“What…?” I said eloquently, still confused.

At that moment, the crowd parted, silence fell, and everyone turned to look at me. I could see the wreckage of our cake on the floor. I covered my mouth with a hand, and a million thoughts ran through my head: I’ll always be the bride whose cake got destroyed; no one is going to get any dessert; we paid an unholy amount for a cake that’s now on the floor; AAAHH EVERYONE IS STARING AT ME, I HAVE TO DO SOMETHING!

I had a sudden moment of clarity. I could cry, I realized, and a part of me really wanted to, and there would be a lot of drama and catering minions running to Kroger for more cake. Or I could laugh, and the whole thing could get blown off.

I opted to laugh. The tension eased palpably. It turns out that only the top, most delicious layer was destroyed, and we still had plenty of cake. The owls survived. People started telling stories of the cake that tried to run away. And instead of being the bride who cried, I’m the bride who laughed.

So there you have it. Above all else, laugh.