Wedding Recap, Part III: Surprises
I know these Wedding posts are coming out at a snail's pace but they're quite a bit of work to assemble so thank you guys for being patient!
I've wanted to assemble a list of things that I found surprising (whether very or mildly) about our wedding. You know, a list of would've-been-nice-to-knows, of details major and minor. Of course every wedding is different and what happened (or didn't happen!) at my wedding may not apply to the next bride's, but these were the things the things that surprised me...
Here are the surprises that I noticed in the moment...
The Neverending Photo Session
Logically, I realized photos would be a major part of the day but it's hard to properly prepare yourself for just how many photos we're talking here. I remember when I was my sister's maid of honor that photos were a sort of omnipresent obligation, but nothing compared to this. Once my photographer and her assistant arrived, photos were being snapped, but that was more of a passive (aka candid photo) time. We walked from our hotel to Battery Park (where our venue was) and this, too, was a more candid session. We mostly just laughed and chatted and occasionally our photographers would ask us to look their way. But at the park is where things got REAL. It was pretty much every single arrangement of bridal party members and family you can imagine, and it was crazy how the photographers could even keep track of it all. And then, when it was over (for the moment), it was the videographer's time with us, which was about another half hour. There was a point where Andy and I just couldn't stop laughing about how exhausted we were, like it was past the point of grumpiness, where you're just getting giggly. We were sweating profusely and my eyelashes kept getting caught in my veil. There was NOTHING glamorous about it, and it was INTENSE.
Maybe this is the norm (if so, please tell me in the comments!), but I was blown away by how many guests attended and left the wedding without ever saying a single word to us. Andy and I realized later that some guests greeted me and not Andy (and vice versa; usually these people were our own friends, but even this was surprising to me.) I've heard since that we both seemed occupied at the wedding, but I feel like the bride and groom are always occupied...? When I've gone to weddings, even when I've had to wait in a makeshift queue on the dance floor to talk to the couple, I've done it. I went to a wedding in June where I'd never even met the bride but still made a point of introducing myself to her. Andy and I could be to blame since we opted not to do a receiving line (they've always seemed time-consuming and a bit awkward to me). But yes, a substantial number of guests (or ghosts!) appeared and disappeared for the evening without ever saying one word to us!
It's incredible how the way friends treat your relationship and your marriage is really a reflection of your friendship. As Andy always says, "You can tell your true friends by how they behave not when things are bad, but when things are good." It's one thing to commiserate with and support friends through a hard time, but it's another beast altogether to be a friend when things are going really well for them. When Andy and I first started dating and were sublimely happy, it was fascinating to see which friends actually had a hard time with this, and who was genuinely happy for us, versus those who tried (or pretended) to be.
In some ways having a wedding amplifies all that. Some friends touched base throughout the planning process, not to guilt me for not having time for them (because I really was insanely busy and thus quite antisocial), but to ask if there was anything they could do. Muranda actually ran physical errands for me, with or without me! On the day before, Kelly sent us a gorgeous white bouquet of flowers wishing us good luck. My sister and her boyfriend painstakingly packaged 100+ black and white cookies. If you read Part II of these posts, you know Alexa gave me a private yoga session in my hotel suite. The day before, John called every Alexis Bittar and Bloomingdale's in the city to try to hunt down a specific pair of earrings (to no avail, but still so appreciated). The morning of, Caila sent a card with hand-calligraphed quotes of Andy's about me that she'd found on his Instagram, as well as the gift of an adorable blue (something blue!) panda cosmetic bag. As we got our hair and makeup done, Rita swung by the hotel with a bottle of champagne and a smile. At the ceremony, Kate sang a song (she had arranged for voice and string quartet!) from the first musical Andy and I ever saw together. Other friends kept checking in on me throughout the evening, getting me snacks or drinks when I couldn't make it to the bar, fixing my garment straps (Andi thankfully brought garment tape!) and stray hairs, and even holding up my dress while I went pee. :D All these gestures were so thoughtful and made me feel supported at a time when I was pretty stressed out. Happy, but stressed out!
Conversely, it seemed some people may have come more for a party than a wedding. A few chatted amongst themselves through things like Kate's song, the ceremony itself, the speeches at the reception. Perhaps I'm hyper sensitive to this because I perform for a living... I truly CANNOT STAND when people talk at the opera. (Like, why even go?!) I just genuinely believe there is nothing that needs to be said in that moment that can't be said later. To speak audibly during these moments during such a personal, once-in-a-lifetime affair is the biggest sign of disrespect, and above all shows a lack of care for us as people and a couple. This was a huge surprise for me and was major food for thought, friendship-wise.
This one extends to before and after the wedding. First of all, a couple of invitees did inquire whether or not they could bring their current boyfriend or girlfriend, and while the very rare exception was made, for the most part we really stuck with our Plus-One rule. Meanwhile, one friend (to whom we'd addressed the invite solo), sent back the RSVP as "Attending" but with a plus-one written down. An awkward conversation ensued where we had to explain our rule. Assuming a plus-one was a go when the invite didn't include one was pretty surprising to me, especially when clarifying it would've taken one text message. After the wedding, Andy informed me that another one of the guests (from his side, hence why I didn't notice the evening of) brought a plus-one without RSVP'ing them. Thank God for catering managers and wedding planners, because an extra seat and place setting (all of which were rentals—that's why you order extras, I guess?) had to be whipped up and I never even knew about it until after the wedding. I was pretty shocked by this one. Married ladies: Did this ever happen to any of you? I understand asking about a plus-one, but to just bring one without asking? This person clearly believed in the "Ask for forgiveness, not permission" adage.
AFTER THE FACT
These are the things that surprised me post-wedding day...
Making An Impression
I was touched at how many guests made a point of telling us that it was one of the most beautiful weddings they'd been to, or my favorite, that they loved our vows. (I know I'm biased but I happen to think our vows were fantastic.😌 ) People remembered specifics about the day—the vows, the sunset during the ceremony, how great the dance music was, the Chilean sea bass, the speeches, the cake. The feedback was not at all generic and felt really honest, thus the positivity was really nice to hear after having put in so much time, money, and energy. I suppose I underestimated how much of an impression your wedding could have on others... this was a really nice, unexpected post-wedding feel-good factor.
Missing In Action
For me personally, this might have been the most shocking thing about the whole day. Post-wedding, Andy informed me that one guest completely missed the ceremony. This person—an actual friend and not an acquaintance—was stuck at work and arrived at the post-ceremony cocktail hour. This made me really sad. Another guest attended the ceremony but left at cocktail hour! Apparently he hadn't realized there was dinner after cocktail hour. I had assumed everyone would just know there was dinner and dancing, but I then realized that on our invites there was no actual "Dinner and dancing to follow". So, future brides, a word of caution: If you're having dinner and dancing to follow the ceremony, specify it on your invites! I was angry with myself for not realizing this. Lesson (that I'll never need again) learned.
Easily one of the coolest things about having a wedding was having so many of the people you love and who have meant something to you over the years all together in one place. Yes, the "celebrating you" part is certainly nice, but it was just really cool to have childhood friends, high school friends, friends I'd met waiting tables in college, friends I'd sung operas with, friends I'd been on The Bachelor with, all in one room together, all at the same time. There's something fantastical and almost surreal about it. There was one particular friend I'd met while taking German classes in Berlin in 2009, who I remained friends with over the years (she lives in London), whose wedding I went to in Evian, France a few years ago. She came with her husband (all the way from London!! They win all the prizes) and it was just the neatest thing to see photos of her hanging out with a high school friend of mine. Like, when else would that ever happen??
I have to say, bringing together all the people from the different stages of your lives (thus far) was easily one of the most special things about our day. I of course knew everyone would be coming together, but I was definitely surprised by how gosh darn cool it was.
That's it for Part III of my Wedding Recaps! Let me know your thoughts in the comments—I always love discussing with you guys. :)