This past October, I was the hostess of the biggest party I will ever throw. I was the Mother of the Bride, and it was fun and stress free! Here’s my advice and wedding tips from the mother of the bride to another.
During the planning months before the wedding, friends asked me if I was stressing out, expressing concern about how busy and tired I must be. But, except for a few moments, the planning and final event was enjoyable.
Our wedding was successful. Our goal was a to have a joyful day and a happily married couple. Liz was beautiful. Brian was handsome. The fall color provided the perfect backdrop. The ceremony was sentimental, officiated by my father, the bride’s grandfather, who married my husband Chris and me 33 years earlier. The guests had fun. Things sparkled and love was in the air. Families blended.
One month later, as I pay the last bills, look at the pictures, and reflect, I’m sharing a few tips that helped make my day more fun than stressful.
Tip #1: Know how much work you want to take on.
One of your first decisions, choosing a wedding venue, will determine so many things about your big day, among them the atmosphere of the wedding. Along with budget, a few dates and size, have an idea of how much work you are willing to take on. Do you want an all-inclusive venue, just a location or something in-between?
All inclusive packages are much easier, but can also limit your creativity. We wanted something unique, so we selected the Swim Club at Big Canoe, a building that is often overlooked. It offered no catering and no coordinator but gave us full control. Looking beyond the dust at the Swim Club, we envisioned twinkling lights and guests flowing through the glass doors onto the wide porches overlooking the lake and fall trees. It would be work, but I was realistic about our timeline and what would be involved. Know your work style. Having the freedom to create was what made this fun for me.
Tip #2: Know when to let go of ideas
As a calligrapher, my original plan was to hand letter the invitation. As the deadline for printing approached, I decided the stress involved in creating the invitation was just too much, so I ordered them online and personalized those. While it wasn’t exactly what I wanted, it worked. I was the only one who knew they were not my first choice. If an idea ends up stressful, let it go.
Tip #3: Use online resources to organize your planning.
Organizing a group in different states is much easier if you do it online.
The guest list was probably the hardest job of the planning. The number of guests was determined by our venue and budget. It was important that extended family from both sides be included so as a group, we created lists and categorized possible guests using Podio.com. Podio organized, counted and sorted the lists until we hit our number of guests. It also stored addresses, to-do lists and reminders. The best part of it is that it’s easy to use.
A wedding website is a great tool. The Knot and Wedding Wire offer free websites, but Liz designs websites as a profession, so she created a custom design (www.realsouthernweddings.com). Along with the wedding details, the site included information on accommodations, things to do in the area, a gift registry, and an RSVP feature. We kept our guests updated with blog posts and sent a newsletter the week before the wedding with last minute information on the weather and our hashtags. It is nice to be able to easily communicate with your guests.
I did not send an RSVP card with return stamped envelope. Our invitation included an RSVP information card with the website for online RSVP. As guests replied, the website kept a tally of names and numbers for us. We had a fantastic response.
The bridal registry ZOLA.com was linked on the website. ZOLA is a one-stop registry that allows guests to purchase a gift, contribute funds to a larger gift, or help with the honeymoon funds. The site provides a thank you note organizer and easy online exchange.
Guests will be taking photos, and you will want to see them. Choose one hashtag for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Before you announce it on your website and/or in the newsletter that you send the week before the wedding, check the hashtag by doing a search. You don’t want to wade through other people’s photos to find yours.
Along with a hashtag, we collected our photos on Wedpics.com and asked our guests to use the app to upload their pictures. We collected hundreds of photos on this easy-to-use site.
Tip #4: Create a mantra and say it often.
Throughout the entire process, our mantra was, “We don’t expect to have a perfect wedding. This should be fun. Relax and enjoy.”
Yes, things went wrong, but we just chanted our mantra and embraced them.
Tip #5: Get the pedicure.
There will be wedding day details to take of, but be sure you schedule time for yourself to get ready before the wedding starts. I picked a time to be pampered, and at the moment I sat down in the hairstylist’s chair, I became the wedding hostess and not the worker.
From that point on, if something wasn’t finished and someone else couldn’t do it, it wasn’t happening.
(My one mistake was not breaking in my shoes. The pictures tell the story. Take the time to get that pedicure!)
This wedding was about a marriage and bringing together two families for our first of many celebrations. Everything else was icing on the cake, and our cake icing was sweet! I’m letting go of my title “Mother of the Bride,” and I’m ready to take on my new title “Mother in Law.” I’m looking forward to the fun days with our new extended family.
Photos by Jayne Bleisch