Wedding Season Wisdom: From the Bride
About seven years ago – as in, when I was in my early twenties – I was at the airport with my best friend Brienne. We were doing we normally do pre-flight: Spending inappropriate amounts of money on snacks and magazines in the airport’s Hudson News. While I don’t remember exactly what I purchased (probably a puzzling mix of highbrow / lowbrow –The New Yorker, US Weekly, Godiva chocolates, Cheetos), I do remember what Brienne bought: a Brides magazine.
Mind you, neither of us was engaged. Neither of us even had a serious boyfriend to speak of. So what the heck was she doing buying a bridal magazine, I wondered? She smiled innocently, “I just like to look at it to help me imagine my wedding.”
Hmmm. Now, if she weren’t so damn genuine and sweet I would have laughed cynically (she is a better person than me). Instead I just shrugged it off. But I felt a little shaken. I realized that I had never thought about my wedding before – ever. I didn’t imagine it as a little girl and it certainly wasn’t something I was thinking about now. Why hadn’t I thought of it before? Why was I drawing an utter blank about anything I wanted for my wedding day? What was wrong with me?
Well, I’m now soon-to-be bride and I’ve realized this – absolutely nothing was wrong with me. And nothing is wrong with Brienne, either. Weddings, I’ve come to understand, are incredibly personal; no one can dictate how you should be envisioning your wedding – it is truly unique to you. Bearing this in mind, I’ve learned a lot –and a lot about myself – in this whole process. And while I don’t believe in prescriptive guides to planning a wedding, I do believe that there are universal lessons learned that bear mentioning. Ahead, I’m sharing some of them.
When it comes to weddings, one size does not fit all.
As I noted earlier, weddings are incredibly personal events. For some, a wedding means an intimate elopement with the person he or she loves. For others, it’s a five-day affair with 500 people in attendance. The big takeaway here is that there is no “right’ or “wrong” way to have a wedding. As such, you needn’t feel pressure to fit into what you believe to be a stock formula. To the extent you can, I highly recommend letting your gut guide you on what is you want and don’t want for your wedding. Anyone who loves you will love that the wedding feels like you. At least I tell myself that.
Everyone has opinions about your wedding – listen to them all, heed the ones that matter.
I think many brides are shocked at how quickly their event becomes everyone’s event. I have personally received a lot of unsolicited advice and commentary about my wedding, most of which I have graciously discarded. Mind you, some of this chatter is well intentioned (it’s crazy how much people want to feel helpful in the process), but that doesn’t make it less irritating. Listen, smile and nod, and then move on – because, at the end of the day, you should only feel obligated to heed the opinions of those you really value. (And, hopefully, you’ve asked those people to share them!) Also – don’t worry about potentially insulting said people by not doing it “their way.” As the clichéd Dr. Suess quote goes, “Those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”
Pre-wedding self-care is huge.
There is so much emphasis placed on the physical appearance aspect of “wedding prep” – i.e., working out, dieting, getting facials – that the emotional and mental part gets left behind. (Exhibit A: The rail-thin bride that is totally on edge, ravenous, and ready to lose her cool at any moment.) I’ve found that while I obviously want to look good for my wedding, I also want to feel good. And feeling my best means making a concentrated effort to care of myself through relaxing activities like reading, listening to Podcasts (I love Embedded right now), taking long walks with friends and family, and cooking. It also means saying “no” to a social engagements if I’m feeling overwhelmed, scheduling in time to relax, and unapologetically unplugging when I feel like I need to. Mind you, this is stuff I should always be doing, but there’s something about having an excuse that makes it feel more justified.
Treat your body (and therefore, your skin) really nicely.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention “wedding skincare,” particularly because we get a surprisingly amount of questions on this topic. Leading up to your wedding, I highly recommend doing the following things:
– Drink a ton of water. Hydrated skin looks better, period. It’ll also help you with digestion and energy. As for the amount, I’ve read that you should be consuming half of your weight in ounces. (A big cup of water is about 8 ounces.)
– Eat clean. Diet lays the foundation for the way your skin looks; you can apply all the magic creams and serums you want, but if you’re eating poorly, that’ll show. So eat like your skin depends on it – avoiding sugar, caffeine, dairy, alcohol, and processed foods and chowing on lots of leafy greens, colorful veggies, healthy fats, lean proteins, and fermented foods. Also, start taking a daily probiotic for good gut health (which, weirdly enough, can influence the appearance of your skin).
– Sleep, sleep, and sleep. If I could give only one piece of pre-wedding beauty / wellness advice it would be this: Get tons of sleep. Like, be very indulgent with it. I found that nine hours a night is when I felt and looked my best. My skin looked better, plus I felt calmer and more energized. Find the right number for you and aim to get it five out of seven nights.
– Exercise. I recommend a good sweaty workout three to five times per week. The endorphins will help you better cope with stress (which can cause skin issues like breakouts), you will increase blood circulation (helping to oxygenate and nourish skin cells), and all that sweat will flush out toxins (and annoying family members’ unsolicited advice).
– Don’t make huge changes! So many women feel like they need embark on an immense overhaul of their beauty routine to look their best for their wedding. DON’T. Huge changes in your skincare routine mean you’ll be introducing your skin to new products and ingredients, some of them potentially irritating. Pre-wedding, just maintain whatever is working for you. Also, if you have a facialist that you trust and love, see her about a week and a half beforehand. Oh, and can you share her number with me?
Have perspective and have fun.
This has the potential to be the best day of your life. So, why worry about whether or not your bar napkins are monogrammed or not? How much of an impact will that have on your wedding? With that noted, I have found that stepping back from the planning minutiae and thinking about the big picture of the event to be the most helpful strategy ever. This is an occasion that marks the day I become family members with the person I love most in the world. It’s day that I’m surrounded by people I love and care for. It’s a day that is earmarked just to celebrate and party in the name of love. That, in the end, is all that matters. Nothing else.
Header image from Father of the Bride via Closer Weekly; Photo of me & my husband-to-be being idiots