Ben and I sat on a bench at the new Citrus Park Mall in Tampa. Well, it was new then. It was February of 2005 and I was on winter break from teaching in China. We were soaking up every moment together before half a world separated us again.
We have an easy way with each other. We were good friends before things became romantic. Distance had a way of forcing a lot of communication in our lives.
His tone changes, I look into his eyes. He holds my hand asking what type of ring I might want – you know, should a proposal happen. I immediately felt giddy (and a little nervous). We soon began discussing theoretical wedding dates, asking how long I would need to plan a wedding.
While unconventional to discuss wedding ideas prior to a proposal, our relationship wasn’t really typical. We lived half a world apart and this was our last time seeing each other for the next four months. We were young and in love, the months seemed like years.
A proposal did come, during his first visit to see me when I returned home. That’s a story for another day, but it involves a beach, a guitar, Beach Boy song, and lots of mushy gushy squeals of delight.
I dreamed big over pages of Martha Stewart wedding magazines. I cut out pages of inspiration for my ever-growing notebook.
My color palette was a sea green with lots of white. I’ve always loved simple beauty. I opted to go for short bridesmaid dresses, they were the latest thing in 2006. I liked that they didn’t feel too stuffy.
I brought in coastal elements with chocolate seashells as favors and topping our white three-tiered wedding cake.
Probably my favorite reception décor piece came from a department store. We were friends with the owner of the Bealls department store in our town. He graciously lent us their tall white palm trees for the head table.
Would I do things differently now? Absolutely. Now that I am past the trivial and immediate regrets, here are my bigger picture regrets.
Things I Would Do Differently Now
If I could do it over again, I would have been married on the beach somewhere. I love the beach, and who cares about crazy logistics. I should have just done it.
Wedding Planning Team
I should have hired a wedding planner to help me with all of the logistics. Leading up to the wedding, I did everything. My bridal party and family were scattered all over and weren’t able to help.
The two days before, and during, the wedding I used a lot of friends and family for projects. While there were fun moments, I wish I would have been spending more quality time with everyone visiting me. They will never be in one place, all together, again.
We had 300 guests on our wedding day, far too many. I wish now that we had been surrounded by our very closest friends and family. Of course, this is totally personal preference. I was trying to please too many people in the planning process. We should have limited our guest list and put some of that budget towards other areas.
While I feel good about my vision skills, having someone to help me execute that vision would have been super helpful. A stylist would have been a huge asset for my wedding day. That kind of expertise would have been worth every penny.
Dun, dun, dun. Here it is. I wish I’d looked for timeless photography. You guys, I have selective color pictures in my album! Ahhh. I wish I had found someone I loved and flown them to my wedding and paid them well.
I have about three images that I absolutely love from that day. They are black and white images of Ben and me and I am so grateful for those few treasures.
The biggest regrets are not investing in high quality professionals who could have made life easier (for everyone) and more beautiful.
I was the kind of person who took great pride in coming in under budget, well under budget. I wish I had used the difference to invest in a few key places. A budget is very important, I’m a big believer in wise financial living. But, a wedding planner can help you navigate that budget, maximizing your dollars.
There you go, my top regrets for my wedding day. Nothing earth shattering, because, really, the most important thing happened. I married the love of my life.
We still have that easy way with each other. He is my happily ever after.