How to FULLY enjoy your wedding day (or any other milestone)

Published August 26, 2022 by Sheila Anne Murray

My husband and I eloped at sunrise in the summer of 2021 in Silverthorne, Colorado. It was just us, our photographer, and her husband (and our dog, Buckwheat, of course!). From the adventurous setting, to the pancakes that followed the ceremony, it felt exactly right for us. That said, we always dreamed of the day that we would ring in the celebration of our love with our friends and family. That day finally came in August of 2022! 

Everything about the wedding celebration weekend was magic, it really was! In reflecting back on what made things so special, I realized that there are a specific few things that I am grateful I / we did so that we could fully enjoy our wedding celebration day. Many of these ideas were borrowed from friends, so I’m excited to continue passing the love along! I’m sure these tips can be transferred to virtually any milestone event in your life. Do you have your own tips? Send me a message and I’ll add it to this list!

Don’t be shy about what you want

One thing I know to be true is that people cannot read minds and that communicating honestly will always create the best outcome for all! Stating your wants starts early in the planning process (Will we do a formal ceremony? Elope? Mix of the two?) but it’s necessary in less obvious ways too. Do you want your spouse to notice how you did your hair, the fancy lingerie you bought, or an inside joke you put in the vows? Tell them. Do you want all your college friends to be on the dance floor for this one special song? Tell them. Do you want your photographer to catch a specific moment while you’re getting ready? Tell them. There’s a theme here 🙃

For example, I have fun memories from childhood of my dad’s side of the family singing “Paradise By The Dashboard Light” at most family events. I realized that if I didn’t request the song and specifically tell my relatives that I wanted them on the dance floor, it might go forgotten amidst everything else. So I told them it was going to play and they needed to be ready and the result was oh so fun!

What are you secretly hoping for or excited about that you could voice? What is important to you about the day that not everyone may know?

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Involve your talented friends in your special day

This was one of my favorite things we did! We have so many talented friends and it was a dream of mine to feature as many as we could. One of the weekend nights we enjoyed wine from our amazing friends over at Outward, one friend was our DJ for the reception, a group of my friends took on the role of florists, one friend made us table names (shaped like suitcases, with different city names from places my husband and I traveled together), two of our friends played live music, one baked our wedding cake, and the list goes on! 

Not only does this delegate work on your big day but it makes everything feel more special. Everywhere I looked on the wedding celebration day, there was evidence of love and support from our friends and family. I am so grateful for their help! Even if it feels uncomfortable to ask, I think you’ll be surprised how many people are excited about the opportunity of supporting you on your wedding day.

Which friends or family members have a skill that could be perfect for your big day? Examples - music, art, decoration, baking, printing, framing, someone who is good at coordinating groups for photos/dancing, seamstress…

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Spend some time alone 

Whether you’re hosting a wedding day or a full weekend extravaganza, I promise that you will have a lot going on. There will be so many people to see, things to do, emotions to feel, and hugs to give. You will need time alone. Be honest with others about time you need alone, whether it’s just 5 minutes or 1 hour. You might even let a friend know you are turning your phone on Do Not Disturb and will be hiding away in the hotel room to restore.

Even as an extrovert I hit a point that I needed time alone. I simply went to my room, laid down on the bed, and played a 10 minute meditation. I reminded myself that I would not miss anything and that I was helping my future self have an even better time because I took a pause to ground.

What can you do by yourself on your wedding day that would feel special and grounding?

Take a pause during the reception to fully appreciate all that is going on 

This was a tip from a friend and I’m so glad we did it! When there was about an hour left in the reception, my husband and I ducked out of the tent and walked far enough away so we could observe the full scene — Our friends sitting in Adirondack chairs under the full moon, our friends and family joyfully chatting and eating cake, and those singing and grooving on the dance floor. It was magic. My heart was bursting with gratitude to witness all of these people that had paused their busy lives and traveled to northern New Hampshire to celebrate us.

I highly encourage you to take a moment, just the two of you, to be together and witness all the love around you. My husband and I were already married but I imagine that this would have another layer of importance as newlyweds, since time alone together is hard to find.

If this idea resonates with you, make sure to tell your partner so that one of you remembers! 

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Go easy on the alcohol consumption

This, of course, assumes that you are drinking at all. It’s no secret that your wedding day goes by fast, so I knew I wanted to be 100% present for all of it. While liquid courage may lubricate the ability to say vows or get down on the dance floor, it can equally obscure memory. I’m not here to kill anyone’s vibe or encourage complete sobriety but being able to remember all the amazing details of your wedding day will last a lifetime. Honestly I’m not sure if any bride or groom has much time to drink between “hellos,” wedding activity moments, and dancing, but it’s still important to note! We shared a few glasses of champagne but it wasn’t the focal point of the evening.

What is your plan for the evening in terms of hydrating and enjoying wine, beer or your signature drink? Is there anything that you’d really like to sip?

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Hide your phone away and be present with the people you’re with 

While preparing things under the tent during the morning of our wedding celebration, my friend asked me what she could do to make things even easier for me (great question, by the way for anyone supporting a friend on his/her day!) and I told her I couldn’t keep answering calls or texts. I was totally overwhelmed and didn’t feel like I could be fully present. We decided my sister would be the keeper of my phone and I didn’t see it again until the next day! I had no concept of time, no way to be digitally distracted, and it felt so good to just be with the people who had traveled so far to be celebrating with us. I didn’t worry about capturing moments or communicating logistics and instead trusted everything would work out exceptionally.

What would you like your relationship with your phone to be on your big day?

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My final thought for you: Set an intention for how you want to feel on your big day. That way, no matter what comes your way, you can anchor back into your intention. Mine was “be where your feet are,” as a reminder to be 100% present with each person and moment, and to feel back into my feet if I felt overwhelmed at any time.

I’m looking forward to hearing what tips you are going to try out on your wedding day or another special milestone! If you have your own tips please send me a message so I can add your wisdom to this list!

Sheila Anne