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10 things I learned after saying "I do"

"Being a bride is tough." -my husband

He said this about a month before our wedding and man he was right!

This is me in all my bridal glory ; )

I shoot weddings (as you probably already know : ) but I also was bride myself this past August.

I have happily wiped away many upset bride's tears, hugged them, redirected guests out of photos when they weren't exactly welcomed, gently spoken to the mother of the bride and calmed her, also calmed the bride, fixed bouquets, stopped the flower girl from coloring all over her WHITE dress with a bright pink crayon, (good color choice by the way) and so much more behind the scenes that you as a bride may NEVER even know happened (and I won't tell).

I manage things when a crisis happens, because let's face it NO one wants a panicked bride.

Someone needs to be the voice of reason and offer a port in the storm.

That's me.

No, I am not a wedding planner, I am a photographer.

I wouldn't have it any other way!

However, when the tables were turned and I was the bride, it was harder than I thought. Planning a wedding is difficult under normal circumstances, but at that time Dan had started a new job, we moved, I was shooting weddings that summer, and planning our own.

Life was CRAZY!! REALLY crazy.

So crazy in fact that I began to Google things like, "Why am I not excited about my wedding?"

It actually pre-popped in the search so I knew I wasn't alone.

I was of course excited, but reality hit and it hit HARD.

So I want to share my story, and when I say I understand the stress and pressure you are under...

I UNDERSTAND the stress and pressure you are under ; )

Here are the things I have learned. Take them as words of wisdom from someone who works with brides and experiences weddings ALL the time, but also survived her own.

1- There is NO such thing as perfection.

A wise friend told me just a few weeks shy of our wedding that something WILL go wrong on your day even if it's something small, but it won't matter. You get to marry the love of your life.

For us, our wedding cake melted and literally fell apart.


I remember turning to Dan and saying, "Where is our cake? That one looks....different."

He then smiles and says, "Well...I didn't want to tell you (followed by a VERY long pause) but it kind of just melted and fell over and we had to replace it." Thank you to our best man, Will (Dan's brother for running out and getting a new one).

OH and if that wasn't enough earlier in the day my maid of honor's dress became snagged as she attempted to zip it up. The zipper wouldn't budge!!!

Aren't these dresses amazing though?

My mom tried soap...everything, it was totally stuck.

She is the best, but it was beyond her help at that point. MANY thanks to our videographer Jay, (the man is a GENIUS) for saving the day. We were about 20 minutes late to the first look after that minor fiasco. At least Dan knew I was coming ; ) thanks to the power of text messages!

2- Your dress WILL get dirty, snagged, and people will step on it...a lot.

I should have charged money for our guests to step on my dress, ha!

Everyone wanted in on the action. I also snagged it when we took bridge shots but I told our photographer and videographer to just get the pictures. When I first saw that bridge I knew we had to do it.

Yes your dress is beautiful and it's yours, but really, who cares if it gets a little messy underneath right? I don't plan to marry Dan again in that dress so I wore it well into the early hour of the morning with snags and spills! No one noticed ; )

Plus you can get it cleaned and like magic all the stains will disappear! It sounds weird, but I kind of liked them because they told the story of our day. The wet salty spray from the ocean during our first look all the way to the coffee I somehow spilled on the bottom of the dress around 1am trying to stay awake with our guests.

3- Do not check the weather two weeks before or even the week of.

I mean it because yeah, I did that...a lot.

My mom warned me not to.

Why are moms so wise?!

So I checked and checked and checked the weather some more, ugh it was ADDICTIVE (but in a very bad way)!!!

It kept saying rain and although as a photographer I prep for bad weather and I knew we would be fine, it was just another added stressor. It eventually changed two days before as New England weather always does.

My dad has this great saying, "If you don't like the weather in New England, wait 5 minutes." So just make sure to check it 2-3 days before and prep. If it's going to rain make a backup plan with your ceremony location/venue and your photographer. Grab some clear umbrellas and cute rain boots. I have both for my brides just in case.

4- Your vendors should feel like your friends.

This was key for us.

I found Nicholas Woods in a SEA of photographers, just like my brides have found me. Although everyone kept saying, "How will YOU pick a photographer?!!" They knew it would be difficult. I joked if I could have shot my own wedding I would have as I am the ultimate control freak in terms of knowing exactly how I want things captured.

I shared a few ideas with Nick, but let him just go and bring his own creative vision to our day. It's important to LISTEN to your photographer....I mean it ; ) and he did a great job!

If you do listen you will get GREAT shots!! On this old bridge there were a million bugs swarming but Nick kept me calm just as I have with my brides.

Guess what?

It was worth it.

Nick, Dan and I felt more like close friends from the engagement session to the final wedding day. This is something I strive for as well. I want my clients to feel happy that they worked with me and that they can come to me with anything after their wedding day.

I also have to give a HUGE shout out to Jay Nandez who shot our wedding video, the man is a genius...just saying! I highly recommend him and loved working with him. We hope to shoot together one day soon. Having a wedding video is amazing and I am always surprised more people don't

5- Consider doing a first look.

My husband changed his mind and it ended up being such a great moment!

I shoot first looks a lot, but being able to experience one myself was incredible. Our videographer Jay asked if we wanted to do one and when I suggested it to Dan he said he really wanted to see me when I first walked down the aisle.

He is VERY traditional so I respected that, but one night while trying on my wedding shoes to see how tall I would be I told him, "Don't look!!" He smiled and kept his eyes closed and that was the moment we decided to do a first look.

I love this man so much!!

Your groom's face will be priceless and as I have seen as a photographer, it is STILL an emotional moment when you walk down that aisle even after he has seen you.

It's a win, win and really helps takes those nerves away. I couldn't have been happier.

We also did one with my dad, it was amazing!

I loved seeing how happy and excited he was to see me (even before Dan) because after all he was the first man I loved.

6- Things rarely run on time.

So don't freak out, it literally can't happen without you!

I always plan out my bride's day months in advance with them. Just know that not everything will run perfectly down to the minute.

I planned things perfectly too, but sometimes life happens. You may be running late with your hair/makeup or one of your bridesmaids cars could break down. Things happen, but guess what? The wedding canNOT happen without you ; ) so don't stress and just enjoy your day.

7- It will FLY by.

Faster than you could ever imagine.

POOF months and months of planning in an instant. Yes what everyone says is true! Your day will go by faster than a blink of an eye.

All you are thinking in the morning is I can't wait to marry my fiancee. Then after you're married you think you have the whole night. Then before you know it dances are over, cake is eaten and your packing all of the wedding decorations up.

It's THAT fast so enjoy every single moment. Laugh, smile, and DANCE!

8- Guests will come up to you...A LOT.

It's a party and you are the hosts.

I had to literally go in the photo booth to eat my dessert (after the first one melted) and hide out because everyone kept coming to say goodbye or hello which was lovely, but I was exhausted and really, REALLY wanted to eat my dessert, haha.

Just be prepared to have to greet all of your guests...a few times because they love you ; )

9- Rent a photo booth!!!

Seriously, DO IT! It's a blast!

That's my dad with my aunt and uncles <3

It was the best part of our wedding and it was very inexpensive. Dan and I both agreed it was fantastic. We used these guys and loved how prompt their email returns were and how amazing our attendant Jackie was.

I also was able to custom design our photo strip for free.

The guests had a ball and we had even more fun looking at the book they put together for us of all the images and the messages people wrote. I treasure that book!

We loved our experience. I couldn't have imagined our wedding without it!!

10- It's YOUR day!

I tell my clients this a lot, but it's true.

If something isn't quite right don't be afraid to speak up. Music too loud? Tell your Dj or band! Want an extra scoop of ice cream? Go for it! Want to do some photographs with your now husband near a cool tree you noticed at your venue? Mention it!

You have worked hard planning this celebration of your love, so make it the best day EVER.

Happy planning!

<3 Ashley (fellow bride)

Other vendors not mentioned:

-My dress (Chelsea by Rebecca Ingram) and Dan's suit came from the Trinket Shoppe a wonderful family owned store. They have GREAT prices too!

-Our cake courtesy of Wegman's ; )

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