What Actually Happens on the Day of my Wedding?
You’ve spent months, possibly years getting to this point. The venue is prepped, the cake is baked, all those decisions are finally done and dusted - so what happens now? What actually happens when you wake up on the morning of your wedding day? It’s crazy that so many people get caught up in the planning of it all they forget to think about that moment that they get up and they’re about to get married! To get you thinking and preparing for this life changing moment I’m giving you the lowdown on what actually happens on a wedding day:
There will be chaos and emotions in equal measure!
Yep, it’s true. Just be prepared for it. This day is huge. No matter how unfussed you think you are you will get emotional and it’s a melting pot of good and bad feelings. Nerves, anxiety, terror, joy, anticipation, stress, excitement, overwhelm, and so much more. Have a coping strategy in place - go for a walk, have a cup of tea, rely on a friend or family member to confide in. Do whatever works for you. It doesn’t matter if it’s crazy - when I got married I got so nervous I went mad making fruit toast for everyone. I think I toasted 3 loaves of fruity bread because I was paranoid about people getting hungry before the ceremony and it kept me busy! It doesn’t matter how insane you feel, if doing it calms you down, for goodness sake do it!
Leave plenty of time to get ready
Everyone needs more time than you’d think to get ready on a wedding day. Allowing more time to prepare prevents last minute stress and allows for fiddly bits (buttons, ribbons and flowers don’t always play ball). It also means that if anyone has a total disaster, like something doesn’t fit/has gone missing/spillages then there’s still time to sort it out. Allow yourself and everyone else some extra time just in case.
Setting up the venue(s)
You may have had a chance to do the majority of this the day before, nevertheless there will be decorations that have to be put up on the day. Fresh flowers are a great example of this, they’ll be delivered on the morning of your wedding day by your florist. It always helps to have someone nominated to take charge of the set up on the day, whether that’s a friend, relative or on the day coordinator (like me!), to make sure you and your partner aren’t running around on your special day. Delegation is essential to remove the stress from you; it’s why more and more people are hiring someone to manage the day for them so they can relax and concentrate on getting ready.
Talking to the officiant
Depending on the type of ceremony you’re having you may need to talk to the officiant before the ceremony. You’ll know if you do well before the day and if so it only takes 10 minutes or so. It might mean you need to arrive a little before the ceremony time, which you should aim to do anyway!
Travel to the ceremony
If you’re not getting ready at your ceremony venue then you’ll need to get there! You should estimate the journey time in advance, ideally travelling the route you plan to take. Then add on a generous buffer just in case something goes wrong. If you’re travelling in a vintage car, by horse drawn carriage or anything that isn’t a modern car you’ll need to allow significantly more time as these are generally less reliable and may not be as quick as a modern car. Traffic can also be a factor so make sure there’s plenty of time allowed for everyone to get to the venue, including you and your partner!
You’ll know the format of the ceremony beforehand because you’ll have discussed it with your officiant. One partner must walk in first, traditionally this is the groom, and waits for their partner to enter. That doesn’t mean they can’t have a grand entrance too! Traditionally the bride will then enter - it’s generally accepted that in America bridesmaids go first and in the UK bridesmaids go after the bride however I think it should be whichever you feel is best. Whatever type of ceremony you’re having it’s guaranteed to be beautiful, emotional and the starting point to a wonderful day
Following your ceremony you’ll have a drinks reception to toast your new marriage! This is an opportunity to mingle with your guests and start celebrating! Your photographer will have been taking photos in the run up to and during the ceremony, but this is their opportunity to get a mixture of posed and natural shots of you and your guests.
More photo opportunities
Depending on the structure of your day (e.g. are you at one venue or two?) there may be an opportunity for your photographer to get you and your new spouse on your own for some more intimate couple shots. These tend to me more natural and are your chance to put your stamp on things. You can be silly, serious, romantic, or whatever you want really!
Top tip: have some food before going off to do your couple photographs. You might not have eaten much before the ceremony due to nerves and it will be a little while before you start the wedding breakfast so grab a snack or some canapes to prevent anyone getting hangry!
Transport (where applicable)
If you’re having your ceremony and reception in different venues then at some point you’ll have to move all of your guests from one venue to another. This can happen straight after the ceremony, after some photos at the first venue or after your drinks reception. As before, remember to allow plenty of time and make sure everyone knows where they’re going! You and your partner will want to be the last to arrive at the reception venue (so you can make a grand entrance) so take your time to enjoy the moment.
Top tip: if you are moving between venues this is a perfect opportunity to grab a quiet moment with your new husband or wife! You’ll spend most of the day celebrating with friends and family so it’s lovely to take a breather and just be with your partner.
So called because it is the first meal of your new marriage, this follows the drinks reception and can take many guises. Whether you’re opting for a sit down meal, buffet, bowl food or food trucks this is when you and your guests get to chat, celebrate and most importantly eat enough food to soak up the drinks from earlier! It’s also usually when the speeches are made, and it all kicks off with you being introduced as a couple and making a grand entrance.
You’re all fed and you’ve had a good giggle at the best man’s speech, so what happens next? Well this is where you can be creative and have a bit of fun. The evening reception can include whatever you want although traditionally this features music, the first dance, lots of dancing, more drinks, more food, cutting the cake, and creating some great memories. Everyone is more relaxed and it’s time to party. Photobooths, guest books, karaoke, fireworks, dad dancing and fast food are more common features towards the end of the wedding. The evening is for you to party the way you want to - put your style into it and it’s sure to be a night to remember.
Top tip: have a quiet zone for those that want an occasional break from the music. Everyone needs a moment of calm at some point in the day!
End of the Wedding
That’s it, you’ve danced the night away and you’re ready to head off, whether that’s to a honeymoon, local accommodation or home. More couples are now staying to the end of their reception when traditionally they’d head off part way through the evening. If you are staying to the end just make sure that your guests know where they’re going and have a way to get home. Leave a few cards for a local taxi firm on the bar during the evening just in case anyone’s forgotten to make arrangements!
That’s it! With your wedding day complete you can look forward to a long and happy life together with your new spouse. No two weddings are the same so don’t worry if you’re not having all of the elements I’ve talked about here, these are just the most common ones. Whenever you’re getting married I wish you all the luck in the world and I hope that this has helped to demystify the wedding day experience.
Need some help planning? Looking for some additional support? I’m here to help you! My support is flexible, focusing on what you need for your celebration. Contact me for a chat about your celebration, there’s no obligation to book!