...here's my two cents.
1. Stand up straight ALL DAY. No, seriously - all day. I think I did a pretty good job throughout my wedding day, but there are some pictures I've seen (mostly taken by friends) where I am slumping over. I normally slump over. My posture isn't excellent. This doesn't bother me on a normal day, but when I'm wearing a beautiful dress with beautiful hair and make-up, I wish I had stood up straight more.
[not the most attractive picture of me, but it illustrates my point]
Also, here's a thing - standing up straight helps get rid of back fat. SCORE. Which, when you're wearing a tight dress (and most dresses will be so they will fit correctly), almost every girl inevitably has.
2. Really, really, REALLY love your dress. I did love my dress. It's beautiful. HOWEVER, I will always wonder what my wedding day would have been like if I had worn a shorter, tea-length dress. I wouldn't have been as hot. I would have been able to move more. My poor bridesmaids wouldn't have had to spend 20 minutes in the reception bathroom trying to figure out the bustle.
3. I wish I had looked at our guests when I walked down the aisle. I was so nervous beforehand, grinning like a fool and just looking at Pete, at the altar, made me feel oodles better. However, I'm pretty sure that looking at the beaming faces of our guests would have made me feel good, too. (Also, looking at the picture below - the wedding coordinator told me to hold the flowers between my hips. This is slimming but I was a bit distracted)
4. Smile! I have no problem smiling. And obviously a wedding is a super happy occasion! Remember that you're marrying the love of your life and that everyone that has come to see you share this day with each other LOVE YOU.
5. Remember that everyone there LOVES YOU. (I know, I sort of said that above.) My friend Lindsay gave me this piece of advice when I told her I was so nervous about walking down the aisle. The people that are there love you. They want the best for you. They are there to support you. If you trip or pass out or poop your pants, they won't hate you.
Also, it helped me to think about who, in our group of lovely guests, is a doctor or a nurse. So if I DID pass out, they would know what to do. Maybe that sounds morbid, but hey, it helped.
6. Take arguments or disagreements with family members with a grain of salt. My mom and I fought over things relating to the wedding A LOT. She didn't like the idea of a short wedding dress. We had some spats over where we are going to have the reception. Everything was like an argument - I was afraid to suggest things, for fear that mom would reject it right away. Like blue shoes and a snack at the end of the reception and fake flowers and and and. HOWEVER - the things that I wanted, for the most part, didn't work out for various reasons. And as it turned out (and how it ALWAYS HAS, for the most part), my mom was right. I DID deserve real flowers on my wedding day. Everyone loved the wedding dress and I did feel like a princess in it. The fact that we had our reception in the city, in a modern/awesome location, worked out a lot better than in a barn with Christmas lights strung up.
Another problem with my mom, and maybe even my parents and sister and other family members, was that they really just wanted a traditional wedding, complete with garter toss (shudder) and a send-off limo and all that jazz. Which, hey, if that is what you want, AWESOME. I'm glad you know what you want. But I didn't, and having them breathing down my neck was not the best experience. So. Take a bubble bath, watch some 30 Rock, do something to unwind during those stressful wedding planning meetings/
7. Garter toss. I shuddered in the paragraph above. I just don't get it. I think it's weird and awkward to watch as a guest (who wants to see a man stuck his hand, or worse, his HEAD) up his new wife's dress and come out with a piece of stretchy elastic in his teeth? I DON'T.) and I'm pretty sure I would be permanently red if I did that as a bride. So, be ready for all 120/200/300/whatever people to possibly see your under-roos, because that is definitely a possibility.
8. If in doubt, ask your bridesmaids/maid of honor. When I wasn't sure about something, they were my go-to girls. I didn't always like the answers that they gave me, but they were always on my side. They teared up when they saw me in my dress the first time (even though my hair looked like poop and I had horrible acne that day), they stuck my head in the freezer when I felt like I was going to pass out on the wedding day, they picked up my gown during pictures and danced the night away at the reception. Seriously, some of the best girlfriends I have. UTILIZE THEM.
Also - along with moms and daughters butting heads about wedding-related things, my mom bought a white shift dress to wear. At my wedding. And at my friend bridal shower, my sister (who was also a bridesmaid) and I talked about it and there, she heard all 16 of my closest friends saying how crazy it was for mom to have a white dress to wear. So, she said something to mom (I had tried to, but didn't want to see like a bridezilla). And mom returned the dress and got a pink one instead.
9. Crying is charming. It's okay to let a few tears drop during your day - and that goes for the groom, too. Although surprisingly, I didn't really cry at all. Must have been the Xanax.
10. Take a Xanax if you have to. I did. It was awesome.
11. Make sure you get PLENTY of sleep the night before. I know that there are people in town, people you never get to see, and all of your friends are hanging out somewhere. But seriously, you need your rest. Take some NyQuil if you can't sleep (again, I did). HOWEVER, if you do take NyQuil you need to get as much sleep as the bottle says. Because I didn't, and then I looked like crap when I went to get my hair and make-up done. That, along with having taken a Xanax, I have no idea how I managed to stay awake.
12. Saltine crackers are your friend if you're nervous. So is ginger ale. So is champagne. Pick your poison and make sure you have plenty of each to keep your nerves down.
[Marcy, Emme (my sister), and me - with saltine in hand and ginger ale close by]
13. Maybe this is only because I was married on a day in July that was 95 degrees and 95% humidity, but bring deodorant. I'm pretty sure most women get sweaty on their wedding day regardless of season, and you'll be hugging and kissing people and dancing and running around. BRING deodorant.
14. Try to do a first look if you can. I'm a pretty superstitious person (I try to not leave the house on Friday the 13th) but I think it was fate when Pete and I found out that our entire wedding party would have to wait in the church basement before we could all head upstairs for the ceremony. So, we decided (with the help of our faithful photographer, Ryan) to do a "First Look" - when the bride and groom see each other before the ceremony.
I'm not very good at keeping secrets that are happy secrets. I buy someone a present, and I want to give it to them right away. So it's pretty amazing that over the period of nine months, Pete never HEARD about my dress or SAW it. So seeing the look on his face, close-up, when he first saw me all made-up and in the dress, was just amazing. It also took the pressure off of walking up the aisle and kind of being able to see Pete, but kind of not being able to see him.
15. Finally, for the love of GOD - play Lady GaGa at your reception. Insanity ensued on our dance floor. I had no idea it would happen.
[Ryan, Marcy, and Shannon - Lady GaGa-ing it up]
all photos by Ryan Gladstone Photography