Saving You From the Worst Wedding Ever

My wedding was a disaster from the start. It was rushed and ill-planned to spare us a trip back to Europe for another visa. Not only did I not get what I would call a real wedding, I believe it also set the tone for the marriage. 

We got married on Valentine's Day, in a torrential rainstorm, at night, on the beach, during Red Tide, with one flashlight and one gas lantern. There wasn't a dry eye in that shoddy little cabana, mainly due to the burning sea air. I cried, not because I was marrying someone I loved, but because it was all so awful. My friends and family were amazing to have been there and to have weathered the worst wedding I've ever been to...my own.

So, if I could have a do-over, I'd handle things much differently. Here are five ways I hope will save you from having the worst wedding ever.

1. Mother Nature always wins. She just does. So making sure I had a flexible back-up plan would have been key. When you choose the date of your wedding, head over to Weather.com to check out the stats on potential weather challenges. Then think about options. Umbrellas? Tents? Rain slickers? Gloves? Goggles? Scuba gear?

2. Wear a Wedding Dress. Mine was a red bridesmaid's dress that I wore again that summer to my sister's wedding. Yes, it was red. I'm sure there are plenty of brides out there who want to wear red. I didn't, but also didn't have time to buy anything just for me for the day. I regret that. I wish I had worn a dress that really showed off my personality and style. Please wear a dress that is YOU; a dress that fits you and suits your style and is something you feel delicious in. BHLDN is Anthropologie's wedding shop and they take the cake in my opinion.

3. Decorate Your Venue. Having a wedding in a beach cabana is nice, but not doing anything to make it festive is taboo. Looking back, we could have placed candles in hurricane glass all around and it would've warmed up the night and provided much needed light. Think about how the decor can amplify the natural beauty of your venue. Maybe a simple garland of flowers would work to personalize the space, or just a few potted plants. You can fit plants and greenery into any budget. Use the surrounding landscape as your storehouse. Choose branches, blossoms, and vines from the location to bring the outdoors inside. Strings of white lights work well for lighting. Make sure they're good for indoor and outdoor use. 

4. Gifts for Guests. Your friends and family have traveled to see you and celebrate with you. Show them you're grateful by putting a little gift basket in their hotel room. Fill a basket with local foods and treats, a map, something uniquely you to share with them and thank them for coming to your wedding. I wish I'd done this. My friends traveled from all over and I wish I'd had something sweet waiting for them when they got to town.

5. Photos. I had a couple of people take a few snaps of the day but nothing that really was frame-worthy. We should have had a photographer there. I might have made the day better for myself and for others just by having it styled for photos. (Although I don't know what a photographer could do with wet hair and windswept guests.) Style Me Pretty is a great inspiration for wedding photos.

It's true what they say, that the day goes by so quickly that at the end of it you struggle to remember the details. Planning makes it so much better. I think, too, that preparation makes the day less stressful for everyone, which is a perfect way to enter a marriage...having fun and not sweating the small stuff.