Yes, yes, I know, there’s a lot of wedding advice on the internet. From favors to registries to dress and decor, the internet is chock full of ideas for making your wedding day incredible.
But the best piece of advice I received had nothing to do with my dress or the ceremony. It wasn’t about the prettiest invitations or the perfect Pinterest-worthy shots for our photographer to capture.
It was this.
The day of our wedding, one of my best girlfriends told me to focus on remembering the day. To take in the experience, the way that it feels as you live it.
It sounds really silly, but six years after our wedding, sometimes it’s hard to separate my actual memories from the photographs. The photographs are mementos that I look through every few months: I could tell you every shot, from the one above (my favorite) to me walking down the aisle with my dad, to the wide-angle scene of our brightly lit tent against the night sky. The photographs are easy to recall anytime I want; they are permanent.
My memories, though. Those I worked to capture.
Everyone always says that your wedding day goes by in a blur, but I worked hard to slow down that blur. To focus on the moment I was in, instead of getting wrapped up in the excitement of trying to experience everything at once.
Do you know what my favorite memory of our wedding is?
For our first dance, Chad and I picked a slow, romantic song. We planned to dance by ourselves to that song, and then invite everyone up for the next (faster) song, to get the party going.
But somehow there was a miscommunication between us and the band, and midway through our slow song, the band invited all our guests to join us on the dance floor in the middle of our first song. That special moment that was supposed to be just ours? Suddenly we were packed onto a dance floor with well-wishing guests, following the band’s instructions.
And then, in between the first dance and the next song, while the band took a short break, apparently, someone told them that they’d made a mistake.
So they decided to fix it.
By starting the second song (a fast, rock song) and telling our guests not to come onto the dance floor, because Chad and I wanted to dance by ourselves.
Yes, seriously. In front of a hundred and fifty of our closest friends and family, our band told everyone to stay off the dance floor so Chad and I could dance to a rock song. By ourselves.
I can’t even type this story without feeling a little mortified. Chad and I are not dancers — sure, we have fun in big groups and we goof around in the privacy of our own home, but having a hundred and fifty people watch us bop around is the stuff that nightmares are made of.
But what choice did we have? We were already standing in the middle of the dance floor. As the music started, we frantically gestured for everyone to come join us. The guests were (rightly) confused and stayed firmly in their seats.
After what felt like an eternity (while I, in my wedding dress, tried to bust out some dance moves), a table of my college friends joined us on the dance floor. Once they did, the rest of the party followed, and the moment was over. It turned into a memory, right then and there.
And you want to hear something crazy? That was the biggest snafu of our wedding: it was both mortifying and completely, unpredictably random. And it is one of my favorite memories from the whole day. I can’t tell the story now without cracking up — when one of us is in a bad mood, Chad or I can bring up our first dance and we both fall apart laughing.
It was mortifying.
It was amazing.
It was one of the moments in this life that I’ll never, ever forget.
So, good or bad, my wedding day advice is to remember the experience itself. To focus on the experience, instead of whether everything is perfect.
Because, who knows? The imperfections just may become your favorite memories of all.