Today is my second wedding anniversary. This means I have now been married two whole years, and I still haven't a) had my dress cleaned, b) written reviews for the nice ladies who did my hair and makeup, and c) put together a wedding album with all our photographs (although, to be fair, I have made wedding books for both of my grandmothers and my in-laws, plus I've framed a bunch of wedding stuff, blown up a few wedding pictures on canvas, and made a wedding video. Eh, I guess we'll call it even.)
Another thing I've been meaning to do for the last two years is to write a post about all the things no-one tells you will happen on your wedding day. And seeing as today is now the second anniversary of mine, it seems like a pretty fitting time to do it.
But first let's just look at a gratuitous wedding photo.
Okay, now we can get started. Here are all the things that no-one tells you will hapen on your wedding day. Feel free to add your own.
1. Things will go wrong.
Things will go wrong on your wedding day. You cannot control this. You cannot change this. Trust me, even if you have made seven separate Google spreadsheets (guilty) and planned for every possible outcome (guilty) and obsessed over every tiny detail (guilty), things are still going to go wrong. Do you know how many things went wrong on my wedding day? A whole bunch, up to and including:
a) the organist playing six verses of the hymn when we were only singing four, thus making for a very awkward two verses during which we all stood there in church and tried not to laugh while she played on and on and on and on
b) Sean being given the wrong cravatte at the rental store and not noticing and putting it on anyway (he was supposed to be wearing stripes and he was wearing something chequered!)
c) the rental bus parking right in my parents' driveway so that it showed up, not particularly attractively, in the back of all the pictures where Sean and I make our entrance as a couple for the first time
d) the battery on the Flip video camera not being charged enough so that it ran out mid-reception
e) my dad and I only managing to dance together for 45 seconds to "Turn, Turn, Turn" by the Byrds before it turned, unexpectedly, into "Rock Around The Clock" because I'd downloaded the former in advance without checking that the whole song had loaded
f) the ribbon of Sean's boutonniere coming untied towards the end of the night so that it looks like one of those weird skinny Vegas ties in any picture taken after 10pm
and g) the microphones conking out a minute into my dad's speech so that he, and everyone after him, had to deliver their speech sans microphone (which was actually totally fine—and actually a whole lot more personal—given that we were a fairly small group in a fairly quiet place, but still, it was unexpected.)
Whew. That sounds like a lot of stuff, right? It definitely looks like a lot of stuff when it's written out like that. And yet, guess what, none of it mattered. At all. None of it ruined anything. None of it even felt like it ruined anything. My wedding was still absolutely perfect. Well, to me, anyway. Probably not so much to the organist. I think she's still kind of mad about being interrupted.
(I'm sorry, I had to throw another one in there. It's called reminiscing.)
2. Not only will things go wrong, but things will go wrong and people will totally notice.
One of the things people love to tell you in the weeks leading up to your wedding, when you are a stressed-out mess obsessing over the color of the platters upon which you will serve your hors d'oeuvres, is that you're the only one who's going to notice if things go wrong. Trust me, this isn't true. People are totally going to notice if your organist plays six verses of the hymn instead of the four you were supposed to sing, or if your father-daughter dance is interrupted after 45 seconds by a totally new song (I swear, I think people thought for a few seconds that it was intentional and we were about to launch into some kind of choreographed routine.)
But guess what? That stuff is funny as hell. It makes for some hilarious stories. It turns your wedding from every other bland wedding in the universe into one where something memorable happened. There's no script at a wedding; you can't plan for every single eventuality, and when the unexpected stuff happens—providing nobody, you know, stands anyone else up at the altar or dies or anything—that's when your wedding day becomes an actual, real, jam-packed-to-the-gills-with-life wedding day and not some scene from a Disney movie. (Listen, even Prince William had a real-life moment on his wedding day, as the entire world held its breath while he struggled to get the ring onto Kate's finger. Didn't that kind of make you love him—and the whole Royal Wedding—just a little bit more?)
Finally—and this really cannot be underestimated—there is really an incredible amount of goodwill at any wedding. People are so happy, and they're so happy for you. They'll forgive anything! They'll find anything funny! If you can't laugh at an unexpected situation when you're amongst all your closest family and friends, all of whom love you unconditionally and have flown many miles to be with you, then you've got an even bigger problem.
This was somewhere around verse five and a half. Note how I am trying to plead her with my eyes to stop, while the vicar attempts to stifle his giggles and my maid of honor, Anna, is just like "okay, on a scale of one to ten, how much are you freaking out right now?"
3. There will be one picture from your wedding day that you will look at and wonder where you could have possibly procured that crack you were obviously smoking.
We loved our photographers, Erin and Court, more than anything in the world. They were absolutely wonderful from start to finish, and the images they took of our wedding captured it exactly the way we wanted it to be captured. I am totally going to hire them for my next weddi—wait, what?
But here is the thing. Your wedding is real life. And real life means people make weird faces. While 99.9% of the pictures of you on your wedding day will look like this:
There is going to be one where you look like this:
You will have no idea why, or what was going on, but you have to imagine that it was awesome.
(PS: Good photographers, like Erin and Court, will weed out all the less-than-perfect pictures before even letting you see the disc. They just threw this one in there for us because it was hilarious. And also still a mystery. Did someone fall in the pool? Invite Sean's ex-girlfriend? I honestly cannot remember what happened to prompt us make these terribly attractive faces.)
4. You will never be this skinny again in your life.
Seriously, this is probably it. Milk it. Take a lot of pictures.
5. The day after your wedding is horrible
This is something that I was not expecting at all, and I feel like it's something nobody tells you, and maybe it's just because I'm a) a volcanic combination of terribly nostalgic and awfully sensitive, b) the idiot who decided it would be super romantic to leave for our honeymoon the day after our wedding and yet hadn't packed—or even thought about packing—at all, but, if you're anything like me, the day after your wedding will be chock-full of a panoply of emotions that you won't know how to process and you will be fighting tears every few hours.
You will be so incredibly tired and exhausted. You will be relieved that everything is over and everything went well and you will never in your life need to visit another Michael's craft store, and you will—this goes without saying, of course—be beyond excited to be married, but you will also be.....kind of down. At least, I was kind of down. But then I was the kind of child who was in tears by 8pm on Christmas Day because it was all over and I'd been looking forward to it for so long.
Other emotions you may be feeling very keenly—on top of the debiliitating exhaustion, let's remember, because maybe you stayed up until 3am with your new husband reliving every detail of the night—include stress ("have to pack! haven't packed! have to pack! taking an international flight in seven hours!"), regret ("all these people flew from all across the world to see me and what if I didn't spend enough time with them?"), guilt ("all these people flew from all across the world to see me and what if I didn't spend enough time with them?"), more guilt ("did I thank my parents enough? Do they know how grateful I am?"), and just plain old sadness ("it's over! It's all over! I don't want it to be over!")
I can clearly picture saying goodbye to my whole family in the driveway of my parents' house, the evening after my wedding, with Sean waiting patiently in the car so we could drive the two hours to LAX and catch our flight to Sydney. I was crying, my mother was crying, my sister was crying, and the whole thing just felt so heavy and momentous. And then my brother Tom looked at me, incredulous, and said "I don't know why you're crying. We all have to go back to work. You're going on vacation for two weeks!"
And then I felt a whole lot better.
6. It goes so quickly, you'll barely remember it.
Okay, this isn't one of those things no-one tells you. This is one of those things everyone tells you. But no matter how many times people tell you this before your wedding—and I have done my part and told it to everyone I know who got married after I did—there is simply no way to prepare for the speed with which your wedding will pass. It's like the entire day is on fast forward. You simply cannot process everything. It races by so fast and then it's over, and over time you only have a small handful of very clear moments you can call upon when necessary, and the rest comes from photos and video and other people's memories.
My very clear moment—my clearest moment—is the two minutes or so I spent walking up the aisle with my dad, when the doors to the church opened and I saw everyone I knew and loved in those pews and they were all smiling, smiling, smiling, and I thought I was probably the happiest I had ever been in my life.
Because this is the part nobody tells you about: it will be impossible to contain your happiness. You will be smiling like a complete idiot for the entire day, and you won't be able to turn it off. I remember thinking I was going to get in trouble for smiling so much in the church—like the vicar was going to think I wasn't taking it seriously or something—because I just couldn't stop. And even now, two years later, I only have to think of standing at the front of that church, with all those people looking at me with hope and love and excitement, all that good energy flowing forward towards me, and I still smile. And I guess, If I'm lucky, I always will.