Best Decisions I Made for My Wedding Day

I never thought that I would ever...EVER be blogging about the DO's and DON'T's of a wedding day, but since I have just gone through the - dare I say it - agonizing process of planning a wedding, I wanted to pass along a few golden nuggets of information. 

And no, I am not going to tell you the big "to do's" that are already located inside your handy dandy wedding planners or in all the wedding publications already. These are very random things that you could miss, but I really believe could make your wedding that much closer to perfection. 

#1: Toms Wedges 

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As a girl who can't go one night out without hating her heels, I knew that I was doomed in this department on my wedding day. And as a photographer, there is always a point in the day where the bride looks at me and my second shooter and proclaims that her feet are killing her and she can't walk to the gorgeous spot where we want to photograph. And we feel for her, we really really do. 

Take it from me. Don't be a hero. We will photograph your amazing shoes and you can wear them for a good portion of the day, but the feeling of pure joy as I slipped on my Tom Wedges was unmatched. I danced on my wedding day until 3 am. 3 AM! My feet were so happy. I opted for Tom's wedges because the height matched my dress hem, and I also still felt pretty and formal instead of being on flats. You don't want your dress dragging along the floor when your tailor spent all that time getting your dress to touch the ground perfectly! Do what works for you, but I say ditch the heels.

#2 Number your RSVP cards  

This one was insanely helpful! So you made your excel spreadsheet with all the guests you are inviting, with all of their names and addresses and number of people in each family...right? So much fun. Well each person you are inviting has a corresponding number all the way to the left of your excel document. I am suggesting that you assign this number to each RSVP card before sending them off in the mail!

My mom, mom-in-law, and sister-in-law all sat around with glasses of wine assembling the invitations, and in this process I had the laptop with the guest list. Katelyn (my sister-in-law) would call out the guest's name and I would yell out the number they were assigned. She would then write that number on the back of the RSVP card in tiny handwriting with a pencil. 

As painful as this was at the time, with my great assembly team's help, we completed this in an hour or two. This extra step paid off when about 3 parties RSVP'd YES without writing their names in the blank space provided! Checking the number on the back of the card saved us a lot of stress of trying to figure out who was coming to the wedding! I hope this helps save you from this stress too :) 

(The photo is a pic of my actual RSVP's which I designed through smock paper at YES! I do in Hoboken, New Jersey)

#3: Kissing DIY Project with my Bridesmaids 

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The morning of my wedding, my bridesmaids, mom, aunt, grandmother, and many other special women in my life were all gathered at my parents house in the kitchen. There was brunch, mimosas, blowdryers, makeup and music playing. The mood was so happy and it was such a wonderful moment in my life. For this reason it's one of my favorite parts of the day to photograph. Anyway, a few months before Style Me Pretty had posted this DIY project that I loved. And then it clicked. How great would it be to have all the women I love do this with me the morning of my wedding? We all sat around in our PJ's and hair rollers and my friends from childhood, high school, college, and the women I look up to... we all kissed this same paper with the lipstick shades we were wearing that day. (All were Stila lip glosses that I gifted to them) If that's not art I don't know what is. It's currently hanging over my desk and I look at it every day and think about all my friends and family who live all over the country...no wait, all over the world! Cali, Florida, Spain and everywhere in between. So to you I say, prepare something like this in advance since you rarely get all of your loved ones together like this. I am so happy that I did. (White 16x20 Frames wer purchased from Target)

#4: Recruit Talented Friends

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You know that friend you have that has insanely good handwriting? Or your cousin who loves to play with water colors? Maybe your childhood next door neighbor bakes cupcakes like a pro? Maybe not. But if you rack your brain, someone on your guest list is amazing at something. Use your resources! Of course, you should hire a professional to do things like photograph your wedding or tailor your wedding dress, but for the little things...it's the thought that counts. Don't be afraid to ask! For instance, I am extremely close with my old coworker Elizabeth from a photo studio I worked at in NYC. She is insanely good with any sort of paint brush in her hand, and she is just such a deeply talented artist. On a lunch date, we went to a paper goods store and I bought her plain fold cards and just gave her the direction that i wanted water color and it was near the water. 

On my wedding day, I walked up to the farm tables and at each place setting there was a handmade with love place card for everyone in our wedding party. We chose to do all nicknames for our close friends... here in this photo says "Cakie" which has been a name I've called my friend Casie since the 6th grade. It's hard to explain how touched I felt to have Elizabeth contribute to our wedding day, and it adds another level of thoughtfulness and love to your wedding day. And that table runner you see? Hand sewn by my grandmother. So with that, I urge you to recruit the talent in your lives...and I promise that you're wedding day will be one of a kind. (Photo by Jen Huang)

#5: No Receiving Line instead opted for a Grand Church Exit.

A receiving line. Also known as 45 minutes of you kissing and shaking hands with a zillion people. It holds up the photography, people getting to the venue, and it's a lot of work! Sorry, that's what Brian and I felt anyway. We decided to get tucked away to let our guests filter outside. We then had all the bridesmaids pass around little packets of Lavender that said "Toss Me!" 

Coming out of the church to everyone cheering and throwing the lavender was the unexpected highlight of our wedding day. It was so overlooked in the planning process, and now its my favorite moment of the day. Seriously, a week or two before the wedding I asked my mom..."Wait, so what happens when we exit the church? Do we just walk out?" I had no idea what to do. So my advice here is to actually think about this moment in your day and organize it properly. These are my favorite photos of the day because we look so, so happy. Also, thanks mom for writing "Toss Me!" about 200 times. You are seriously the best ever.

(Photo by Jen Huang)

#6: Hashtag your wedding

I would first urge you to be a little more organized about this than we were... perhaps make some signs so that people know what the hashtag is. We used word of mouth and facebook to spread the word about our hashtag. Get the word out via social media before the weekend even begins. Every time you post something about the wedding, put the hashtag there. Because we got the word out early, it was fun seeing our friends instagram about arriving to the hotel and getting their welcome bags, or road tripping up for the wedding. It's so awesome to revisit the hashtag every once and a while and see all those moments captured...it's like a social media wedding album! Ours was #jessandbriansayido

#7: Regimented Beauty

This might seem obvious, but you need to take a few days off from work and schedule a beauty week before your big day! As a girl, there are certain beauty things that have to happen in a particular order. For instance, if you are getting airbrush tanning, that has to happen the day before your rehearsal dinner so you don't look like an oompa loompa and because you need to wait 6 hours to shower. And waxing has to happen before that and your mani pedi needs to happen after airbrush tanning...you get the picture! Plan out your week and schedule all these appointments in the right order way in advance. Ask the professionals when the best time to do things before your big day and ALWAYS get a trial done on things like spray tanning ahead of time. Don't expect to walk into a nail salon with 4 of your bridesmaids without booking appointments! This will avoid any and all disasters! While you are at it, schedule a massage to start the week off right!

#8: You are Not 'Cookie Cutter' and Neither is Your Wedding!

I think the last piece of advice I would give is that sometimes family members and vendors will tell you that this is not how it's done. There are so many opinions and rules when it comes to every little facet of wedding planning, I couldn't begin to start listing moments it happened to me. I would just say that if you want something, and you know it is best for you and your significant other, I would hold strong. Don't let your cake vendor tell you that having three wedding cakes is not what is normally done. Don't let your band tell you that the song you and your husband-to-be want is ridiculously long and it won't work. Listen to your venue coordinator tell you that having corn hole and other lawn games outside of cocktail hour is complicated. So what? It's awesome. You have a vision, and stick to it. Just calmly listen, take a breath, and say that you understand that it's not normally how they do it, but is there a way we can try anyway? 9 times out of 10 it is possible but it's just not in their comfort zone. Hold strong and be polite! It's you're day and they can't take that away from you. 

(Cake photo by Melissa Kruse Photography)