Tips on how to survive the wedding season

by Ellen Mccarthy

The Washington Post

It’s upon us, once again. You can hear it in the sound of the harp strings, the camera clicks, the echo of Corinthians — “Love is patient, love is kind.” You can hear it in the muffled screams of frenzied bridesmaids who are this close to giving their beloved “friend” a black eye for her big day.

Wedding season. It rolls in each year like a taffeta-wrapped bouquet of stress, resentment and anxiety. And love, too. Let’s not forget the love.

So as the tuxes are donned and the glasses are raised, we’d like to give you a gift of our own. Consider this your wedding survival guide, meant to get you through the next few months with your bank account, friendships and sanity intact.

Dear bride and groom: We know you are frantically checking off your to-do lists, making sure no detail is overlooked. The linens must be perfect, and the flower girls’ hairstyles must match. And in the end, of course, none of that will matter. What will matter is whether you are happy. If you are, your joy will pervade every other aspect of the day.

To get some perspective on the issue, we asked couples previously featured in The Washington Post’s wedding stories what they would do differently if they had a do-over on their wedding day.

Here’s what they said:

A picture is worth 1,000 words:

Looking back, Jennifer and John Meeks, who were married in December 2011, wish they had been more specific with their photographer. Jennifer says she would have given more detailed instructions on shots that were important to capture: “For example, traditional portrait sizes of me, bridal party, families, etc.” And while their wedding had to end at 11 p.m. because of noise restrictions, she wishes it could have gone on longer. “Try to add on an hour to your reception if you can,” she says. “You will be happy you did.”

Don’t forget to eat!

When Monique and Chris Samuels tied the knot in March 2012, they left their reception hungry.

“Everyone began coming up for pictures and to chat, so we never were able to finish our meal,” she says.

After the wedding, they drove around at 4 a.m. looking for a bite to eat. Monique suggests having the caterer “make a doggie bag for the bride and groom so they can eat after the festivities.”

Plan on a planner

Annie Lumerman and Marc Grinberg, who also married in March 2012, wish they would have hired an event planner, at least for the final weeks leading up to the wedding.

“Things would have felt less stressed as we got closer to the wedding had there been someone to help us manage all the details,” she says. “We did a lot of worrying before we walked down the aisle, and it wasn’t about whether or not we should get married. We were worried about the timeline, organizing the bridal party, transportation to and from the rehearsal dinner.”

Take time to breathe

Carmela Clendening, who married John Fernandez last May, suggests couples plan time between the ceremony and reception to just be together and enjoy the moment.

“You are finally married, and the party is about to get started,” she says. “John and I worked hard to make our wedding vision become a reality — we didn’t want to miss any details — so we squeezed 30 minutes for our own photographs to see how everything came together, and they turned out to be the photos that we loved the most.”

Leave the phones at home

Deborah Ayala Srabstein and Ari Houser married in Baltimore, Maryland, in April 2012. The couple wish they had asked guests to keep their cell phones tucked out of sight for the day.

“We had two great photographers there, but many of our guests also were taking lots of pictures on their phones, and in retrospect, we would have preferred for the phones to be put away,” Deborah says. “One cousin was clearly texting through the toasts and was in our direct line of sight — it was distracting.”

Additionally, the couple wish they had been more specific in their contract with their transportation company. They were promised an “ecofriendly hybrid vehicle,” but guests were instead transported in “what looked like a kidnapper van from the 1980s.”

What did you say?

Ralph Brabham and Drew Porterfield have few regrets about their October 2011 wedding in Washington. But they do wish they had got a microphone for the outdoor ceremony.

“I think some of the guests in the back had a tough time hearing us when we were giving our vows,” Ralph says.

Don’t forget the honeymoon!

Nancy and Scott Knight were married in January 2012, and Nancy wishes they’d gone away right after the wedding.

“Remember that work can wait,” she says. “I should have taken a honeymoon, but I convinced myself that it was a bad time and I needed to get back to work immediately. Trust me, no job is that important.” Besides, you’ve probably never needed a vacation more than after the stress of planning — and surviving — your wedding day.