Blissful Indian wedding planning….Ahh… such a soothing tone to it… <screech> Let’s face it, everything isn’t always “blissful” while you’re planning an Indian wedding. Every bride has some level of stress during wedding planning and that level of stress manifests itself in different ways.
Chances are, it might even carry over to your wedding day – You don’t want your guests to see the stress on your face, and you don’t want it to come through in the photos or videos of your wedding weekend. If you’ve managed your own expectations beforehand, you can eliminate any potential freakout moment before and during your wedding weekend. Here’s how:
1) Plan for minor incidents ahead of time. Some of these ideas seem obvious or might even seem unnecessary, but if done, could save you blood, sweat and tears. Seriously!
- Weekend emergency kit: Although you could always have someone run to a drugstore while you’re getting ready, you’re better off prepping yourself ahead of time so you don’t have to rely on someone and add extra delays to your wedding prep. Pack an emergency kit that includes everything you would take on vacation, plus more. Bobby pins, deodorant, back up make up colors, earring backs, etc to save yourself from the hassle of waiting for someone to locate an extra earring back.
- Pack each event’s outfit in its own bag or suitcase: For unforeseen reasons, parts of outfits or jewelry could get lost in transit to your event venues (or wherever you’re getting ready). By packing separately, you ensure that you have each event’s jewelry, clothes and accessories all gathered individually. This helps particularly when you have people helping you get ready. This way, there is no confusion about which jewelry to wear and there is less room for something to get lost or misplaced. Use zip lock bags to place all jewelry cases and pouches together and label each pouch or bag using masking tape for a label.
- Backup jewelry: The bride’s jewelry pieces are often the most unique part of a bride’s outfit. Buy backup sets of jewelry for each event and keep them available for each event. You never know when a piece might fall off from your jewelry (especially when faux jewelry pieces are usually coming from India).
TIP: Pack (and label) each set as “back up jewelry” and include them in each event’s bag that you pack [this will make things clear for whoever is helping you get ready]. Oh yeah, pack different bags for each event. That way there’s no confusion about what you’re wearing when, and your stuff is less prone to get lost or mixed up with other stuff.
Try on all of your clothes and accessories TOGETHER: Try on all of your outfits with shoes, jewelry, chuni’s, and what not all at the same time – together, like you would for your actual event. After getting ready in your outfit, walk around, sit down, stand up, walk around the hypothetical fire on the mandap, and then do it again. How does it feel? There might be one really annoying piece of embroidery that sticks out on the inside part of an outfit that itches like crazy. Or, your shoes might not feel right when you walk more than 5 steps in them. This is the time to make sure all those little things are fixed.
TIP: Have the person who will be helping you get ready actually get you ready. Time how long it takes and use that as a baseline in your timeline.
- Try on your mangal sutra (wedding necklace) BEFORE the wedding: Have your fiancée practice putting on your manual sutra (while you have your wedding outfit on). If your fiancee is anything like mine was, he probably hasn’t put a necklace on anyone before. It might actually take a try or two to get it right. At the wedding ceremony, add lights, a little nervousness, sweaty hands, and all eyes on the bride and groom. You’ll save the groom a few minutes of stress during the wedding ceremony when everyone is [anxiously] waiting for him to put on the necklace.
2) Delegate tasks to anyone but YOU. I can’t emphasize this enough. People find it hard to let go of planning during their wedding weekend but in order to enjoy it, remember it, and savor the moments, you have to delegate. You want to truly be a guest at your own wedding. When you’re creating your timelines and checklists, delegate even the most menial tasks. For example, if you’re taking photos after the wedding, write down a task that tells your sister/bridesmaid/maid of honor to bring your makeup bag to the photo location.
Or, if a box needs to be moved from the mandap after the wedding ceremony from point A to point B, delegate a specific person to move that box. Not everyone has a wedding coordinator to run the whole show. Some venues offer their coordinators but they usually don’t cover minor tasks that aren’t related to venue arrangements.
3) Have a ‘point person’ or two on each side (one on the bride side and one on the groom side) who isn’t a coordinator. If you’re Indian, you know that even if your family and friends have all of the information for the events, they’ll still ask questions about where the events are, when they start, and how they should get there.
I’ve seen an uncle ask a bride’s brother what time an event is while holding the agenda in his hands. Duh! It’s important to make your guests feel like they have all of the information they need. So have a point person to address any and all questions that might come up. Tell them the in’s and out’s to each wedding event timeline line item and have them solve and issues that might come up.
4) Take a few minutes to ENJOY your hard work. You spend so much time, so much effort, stress and tears putting your wedding together, so step back and take a moment (or two or three) to enjoy it. Granted you don’t want to miss the party, you need to say hi to all of your guests, and want to make the best of the wedding, you should still make time to RELAX and ENJOY (even if it’s for 10 minutes).
At my wedding reception, I was actually overwhelmed at how much better the wedding venue looked than what I imagined it would look like. I was so utterly impressed and I truly loved everything about it. Even I was able to take a step back to enjoy the look of the venue (and that’s a lot for me). The hard work paid off.
TIP: Try to sneak into your venue before guests arrive or right when the vendors have finished setting up).
Brides often spend too much time picking out what’s wrong or what minor details the vendors forgot about. Some of those minor mistakes will be inevitable, so let them go, and pat yourself (and your groom) on the back and ENJOY the hard work you’ve accomplished!
5) Something will go off schedule, or something unplanned will happen. The key is to come to terms with this before the wedding, so it doesn’t catch you off guard during the weekend. Here’s a great example from our wedding welcome night. We had established a list of performances ahead of time (and the DJ was aware of the schedule). We had a great surprise from the groom’s side of the family where a big group of cousins who live across the globe managed to coordinate and set up a dance together. That was amazing and it really was a great surprise!
There was another family friend who decided to ask a close relative if she could dance. She was asked a month prior if she wanted to dance, and she said “no.” But now, she just so happened to have a song on her phone and wanted to “surprise” the bride and groom with a dance. Really?! That surprise was not the kind of surprise I enjoyed because the dance lasted over five minutes and we had already maxed out the number of performances for the night (based on guest attention span).
So, we, the bride and groom, managed to fake smile through/ “enjoy” the performance, gave her a hug, and moved onto the rest of the welcome night. It was annoying, but it didn’t let us ruin the fun of the night. I still don’t like the fact that she did that, but we managed to let it go for our own sake.
6) You can’t control uncontrollable factors. I’m sure your mom or dad (or mother-in-law) has already mentioned this to you, but you can’t control what’s out of your control. Even with backup plans, sh*t happens. At that point, the only thing you can control is your reaction to the situation. As a great example, my good friend had her destination wedding in St. Thomas. The wedding reception was at the hotel we stayed at, and it started off as perfect as can be.
Then, at the end of the cocktail hour, the electricity went out. There was no AC and nobody knew what to do. The bar was still serving drinks and the DJ happened to have backup power so we had drinks and we had music. The reception started in the dark, and the bride and groom danced their first dance in the dark (while guests turned on the lights on their cell phones). The venue staff managed to prep dinner meals and eventually served it.
My friend (however annoyed she was) did not let this setback get to her – she was smiling and as happy as could be. She didn’t let anything get in the way of her and the groom enjoying the rest of their reception with their friends and family. And more importantly, that set the tone for the guests to have fun too! So…in conclusion, don’t sweat it. Seriously, don’t sweat it. You don’t want to look back and think that you were so annoyed about the electricity being out.
You want to think about how you danced the night away despite the electricity being out! It’s like what “they” say about college. You don’t remember all of the studying and the tests you studied for, but what you remember are the friends you made the experiences you had with them. It’s so true, it really is!
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