Your wedding day should be one of the happiest days of your life. However, there is no doubt that in this modern day and age, the pressure to impress is in many cases so great that for some, it can be too much, that a day that should be amazing, is one that is not.
So how do you go about making sure that your day is as good for you as it is for all your guests?
Here are three steps for your wedding day that can make a difference.
To ensure that your day is how you wish it to be, this is vital. It starts with how much time you have and what you would like to, and what you need to, achieve within that given time.
Some people are able to wing it and those people invariably make it up as they go along. Their events tend to be a little random, but they are the type of people where doing things exactly doesn’t matter to them. Their friends also generally know who they are and either expect it or accept it for what the day turns out to be. So no problem for those types of people.
However, more often than not, especially in this day and age where being organised and having something to show everyone seems to becoming the norm’, it means that you need a really well thought out plan as to when things are to happen and how you are going to keep your guests amused in any downtime.
This last point is the biggest red herring there is when it comes to weddings. Very often the bride and bridegroom try over hard to make sure that their guests are being stimulated all the time. In fact more often than not those guests are happy chilling out, chatting to people they often haven’t seen for ages and just generally relaxing. If you want to do anything at a reception or at an in between time, then having either a musical artist (jazz is wonderful for creating a light and relaxed mood) playing in the background, or having a magician walk amongst your guests amazing them, or using either a caricaturist, or even better, a silhouette artist like Charles Burns (www.roving-artist.com) then these are subtle unobtrusive and allow engagement and relaxation at the same time.
Now let’s return to that all important plan. This actually needs real work, but trust me if you want and organized wedding, the work you put in here will definitely pay dividends on the day.
The things you need to consider start from when you get up in the morning until there is nothing left to do but dance.
First you begin with the time the ceremony begins and back track from there to work out how you get to that point. You must be realistic and if necessary over allow a bit of time to work out when you need to start doing things. It is better to be relaxed, than rushed off your feet and arriving flustered and bothered before the ceremony even gets underway.
Then the schedule kicks in properly for you and all your guests and depending on your culture will include any number of little ceremonies, what I call “take-off” and “landing” points, that will eventually lead you to the point in the evening when it all comes to a close and you head off into your new life with your husband.
The things you will need may include are any of the following:
- Arrival of the bride
- Length of ceremony
- Time required for any group photos and what shots you wish taking*
- Time required for couple shots
- Length of time of reception
- The starting time for the “wedding breakfast”
- How many courses are you having and how long will that take
- Speeches (if at all) – how many and how long are you putting aside for them
- Are any extra guest arriving later – if so what time
- What time do you wish to cut the cake, throw your bouquet and do a first dance
- Are there any other acts that you wish to entertain – if so at what point and for how long
(* see separate blog post about group photos and how best to go about these at https://www.toastmasterjameshasler.co.uk/2017/04/28/wedding-photography/ )
It all sounds complicated, but actually, when you lay it out it makes such a difference. There will also be a pre-arrival schedule which will include hair and make-up and general getting ready.
This can be one of the biggest causes of stress on the day and not for the reason you might initially think of.
“Will he like it?” “Do I like it” “Oh my goodness I must not get it dirty at all costs!” – Trust me when I say these pale in to insignificance when the most important thing you need to think of when choosing a wedding dress is ………. “What am I going to have to do in this dress?”
In my experience of over 150 weddings I have seen bride after bride struggle to do anything on their wedding day because they can’t “handle” their dress. It is one thing wishing to look like a fairy tale princess with a great big flowing dress that billows out to the sides at the bottom, but you need to think about what you wish to achieve on the day.
Questions you might want to ask yourself are:
- Am I just going to walk in a straight line in this and just use it for photos
- Am I going to dance in this – in which case, am I on my own or am I dancing with someone?
- What is my venue like (inside or outside, are doorways narrow?)
These are the three most important questions because they involve practicality.
If you are lucky enough to have two outfits, as many are these days, then by all means go for the beautiful long, flowing dresses with a big train to walk up the aisle in. These look amazing, but you need bridesmaids to keep them laid out correctly. However, please, please, please make sure you can walk elegantly in it. I have seen several brides in the most beautiful dresses which are too long at the front and they look like a comedy sketch kicking the front out to make sure that they do not trip over it! Just remember you will not be able to dance easily in this dress and if it cannot be lifted no-one can dance with you either and you or your new husband/wife will be tripping over it.
If you are only going for the one dress, then go for elegance but with practicality. For exactly the same reasons above, but also if you are going outside quite a bit as part of your day you don’t want a dress that can drag in the dirt. The best trick I have seen is a dress which combines both by having a detachable train which gave the elegance for the aisle but then allowed the bride full flexibility and adaptability for when the party really started. She also didn’t need three bridesmaids to hold her dress over her head when she went of a pee! (Another consideration required for more flowing dresses!)
So regardless of pattern or design, go for elegance and practicality. You will be so much more “less stressed” about it on the day. (And so will your husband/wife who will not be afraid of treading on it!)
Being Able to Let Go
Now we come to the most important bit. You have planned the day and bought your practical dress, but unless you do this it will all be for nothing. You may well be a total control freak or you may just not want to let go of the “baby” that you have created, but if you want to really enjoy your day then you have to let it go.
How do you do this?
If you are lucky enough to have a wedding coordinator/planner then great. Most big venues have one of these and they generally work to guide everybody, including you, through the day. However, they normally have one slight issue. They are great on a one to one basis and are creative and nurturing. However, invariably they are not so good at communicating to crowds of people and they concentrate mainly on you and the venue. Do not be put off by this though, because invariably they have a team behind them to back them up.
But what do you do if you don’t have one of these or you want to give them extra help to make sure they can concentrate on the detail?
The other person who can help de-stress you on your wedding day is a Toastmaster or Professional Master (or Mistress as there are some excellent ones of these out there) of Ceremonies. The advantage to having one of these is that their role is to be your eyes and ears on the day. They also are solely concentrating on you and your guests. This leaves venue and catering staff to concentrate on their roles without having to worry about you, your family and friends. The toastmaster becomes the central linchpin that everything goes through, and with the added benefit they make a few very clear announcements too, allowing you and your guests to relax in the knowledge that when the time comes they will be told what to do.
However, most importantly for you, you now have the perfect deflection point for unnecessary questions normally asked by Mums and bridesmaids. These can be very stress inducing and are like, “when are we doing this?” or “what’s going to happen then?” or “how should we be doing this?” Your answer to all of these questions and more will be …… “I don’t know, go and see The Man in the Red Coat”.
You should not have to think, you should just go with the flow and if we need you then we will come and get you. So relax and enjoy the day for all its glory without having to worry about how, when or why. The only thing you have to do is “let go of the baby” and trust all the experience that we have to make everything that you want to happen, happen.
One final point on a good toastmaster is that they are also the keeper of the schedule. It is their job to make it happen. Food and Music are invariably the most expensive things at a wedding (other than the venue itself) so it is important that you get your money’s worth out of them. By keeping things to time, the toastmaster makes sure that food is timed right but most importantly you start the dancing on time. If you are paying for three hours dancing that is what you want. Not an hour and a half!
So if you think that a toastmaster may be just what you need then please read the associated blog post about engaging one, as it is important that you get it right. https://www.toastmasterjameshasler.co.uk/2017/04/06/how-to-find-the-best-wedding-toastmaster/
Your wedding day is such a big deal. It should be memorable for all the right reasons. So Planning, Dress Practicality and Being Able to Let Go are the best things you can do to achieve this.
I wish you every success on your hunt for the right suppliers and a great life ahead.
James Hasler is a professional toastmaster, master of ceremonies and event facilitator, a Fellow of the Guild of International Professional Toastmasters. He is experienced in running all kinds of events from conferences, awards ceremonies, fundraisers, and weddings of all cultures that take place in the UK. He has worked with and for people from all walks of life, from the most humble to celebrities and even members of the Royal Family.