You’ve gone through your season of courtship. You exclaimed “yes”---which was followed by many decisions throughout your engagement. And now all that’s left is to walk down the aisle!
As you turn the corner to the days leading up to your nuptials, you might find yourself feeling a new level of anticipation or anxiety. Not just over the details or last-minute to-dos, but over how you might be able to grab a hold of the memories about to be made. After all the time and energy that has led up to this day: you don’t want it to end.
Many couples share that the one regret they have isn’t over the over wishing they did “more”: more bobby pins to keep a veil in place, more comfortable shoes, or more food. Although these details are important, it becomes about wishing they did “less”: less stressing over the small stuff (which might not feel small at the time) and less rushing just to get to the next thing.
How to Prepare to be Intentional on the Big Day
Here are our best tips for how to stay present on your wedding day during the planning experience---before you even get to “I do!”
As you navigate your final decisions leading up to the big day, think about how you will feel when it all comes together. This will help you begin to envision the “why” without getting too stuck into the “what.”
Have a discussion with your inner circle to see if they can help you stay in the moment. We love this tip from Junebugweddings: “Set expectations with family, friends and your vendor team. When you visualize your day, try to think about your family, friends and vendor team. How can they contribute to your day in a positive way? Do they know your needs — both practically and emotionally? What’s the vibe you’re going for? It’s important to communicate these things to your crew so everyone is aware of how you want your day to flow and what could potentially cause you stress.”
Have your officiant carve out a moment during the ceremony for you to be intentional. At the beginning of the welcome, they can ask that you and your significant other take a moment to look back at your guests and breathe deep so that you can take it all in. You will see smiling faces of people who support you and feel more connected to the experience. (This is also where a sand, candle, or other unity ceremony can come in handy, too.) This is one of the best tips for how to stay present on your wedding day.
Build in a few minutes into the timeline to be alone with your spouse. One natural way for this to occur could be immediately after you walk down the aisle (at the ceremony exit). Leave the aisle together and then go to the pre-determined place where you will take your photos. As you travel there, this will allow you to have some structured time together so that you won’t be chaotically trying to sneak away just to be together.
Work with your planner or day-of-coordinator on the best way to greet your guests. One of the most chaotic parts will be trying to find ways to welcome those in attendance. They got on the invite list because they’re an important part of your life, so you might feel pressure to say hello. There are a few ways that you can do this. After the ceremony, ask the officiant to get your guests to stay seated. Walk down the aisle as newlyweds but stop at the last row. One row at a time, you and your spouse can help to usher your guests out of the space with a quick hello to each of them. The benefit of keeping the guests in place is that people will leave as couples or families, versus individuals, since they’re naturally already seated together.
Focus on being present beginning at the rehearsal dinner. Even though the rehearsal dinner is usually when the wedding festivities officially kick off, it’s often underestimated in importance. One of the best parts is that you will be surrounded by the people closest to you: wedding party, parents, and others who play an important role in the ceremony. After practicing the order of events, we recommend having a time of sharing. Whether it’s a round of toasts (by people who won’t ‘get the mic’ on the big day), or a special time of prayer or reflection, this is a great opportunity to practice staying present.
Set aside a few minutes before you go to sleep on the night before your wedding to focus on gratitude. Think about how you and your significant other met, and the road which you have traveled together. Look through some photos and recall some of your favorite memories. By getting centered now, you can think back to this feeling if things happen outside of your control on the big day. (Newsflash: they will; but it will all be fine!) By focusing on why you’re choosing to make a lifelong commitment then your priorities will more naturally fall into place.
How to Live in the Moment During Your Wedding
Once the time has come, here are a few more ways for how to stay present on your wedding day.
Keep a reminder in the getting ready room that helps you stay connected to why you are there. This could be a meaningful family heirloom that reminds you remember of the decades long love story of your grandparents, or a framed photo of your significant other.
Take mental snapshots of the special moments. Squeezing the hand of your dad as he walks you down the aisle. Laughing with your bridesmaid after she (almost) falls into the pond while taking a selfie. Catching your spouse winking at you. Trying to get your fur baby to stay still. Doing the conga line with your grandma. Sit in these moments for an extra second and lean into the ways that they make you feel.
Have some time alone in the reception space, either a “sneak peek” or a “private last dance.” Depending on the way that your wedding day will flow, there are two ways that you can have a private moment together in your reception space. If your guests are in a cocktail hour space which is located separately from your ceremony space, grab a few moments together enjoying the room planned for the ceremony. Since it’s empty, you will be able to take in the décor. If your guests are already in the space, or you’re still taking formal photos, then consider a private last dance. Once you’re ready for your exit, have your planner usher your guests outside. Both of you stay in the room with your photographer and videographer. Replay the song of your first dance, or another one that is meaningful to the two of you.
Don’t spend too much time taking photos with guests. Save it for the people who matter most. Have your DJ ask each reception table to get in place to pose for a photo. They should hold the pose while the DJ puts on a fast-paced song. You and your spouse will run to every table, quickly pose, and then move to the next. Your guests will be in on the fun, have some laughs with one another, and it will bring the energy up in the room. You will then feel like you’ve gotten a baseline moment of connection out of the way, plus a photo, just in case you don’t have time to see them again that night.
Take your time when you're leaving during your magnificent reception exit. Since most exits are set up in a fast-paced setting for the newlyweds to leave the event space, it’s often rushed through. For example, planning a sparkler exit? Don’t just run through a tunnel of light. First, light your own sparklers to wave around in the air and enjoy with guests! Then stop before the car for an extra kiss (a dip will make the best photos) or to wave to your loved ones for an extra moment. As you drive away, glance behind you and take a mental photograph of the last moment of your wedding!
We hope these tips on how to stay present on your wedding day were useful for you. Catch up on more wedding planning tips in our recent articles here.
[Photoshoot in the spotlight: Sharon and David in Dallas, Texas.]
The Joy Team