Kyle and me on our wedding day in 2007, in Sacramento, California.

Kyle and me on our wedding day in 2007, in Sacramento, California.

In honor of both "wedding season" and my own wedding anniversary month, I’m looking back on the day I became Mrs. Ford...  My bestie encouraged me to write about how to host a stylish wedding, but the truth is, the nine year gap has left me out of my league in the wedding department.

We have been married for nine years- not long enough for our wedding photos to look dated, but long enough to be reminded that we were babies in comparison.  It is important to note that while nine years is certainly a noteworthy amount of time, Kyle and I are high school sweethearts and this is actually year sixteen together.

For our wedding, my parents provided us with a modestly generous budget, but I did all of the planning myself- in our own style.  We had a full fourteen months from proposal to our first kiss as husband and wife, but all of the planning was done months in advance (which I'd high recommend for your sanity's sake).

To this day, nine years later, when we run into friends who were guests, they say that ours was one of the most fun weddings they’ve attended.  While, if we had it to do over again, there may be slight changes to reflect who we are now, it was so very us.

If I were to go back in time to nine years ago, these would be my THREE RULES for planning a wedding.  Time may have passed, but I’d argue that they are all still in fashion.

1)     Be true to you.  The second you get engaged, everyone will undoubtedly have an opinion- about everything.  Lucky for me, none of my friends were even close to getting married immediately post-college, so I was spared in that regard.  But even with the most opinionated social circle, it's important to keep in mind that this is your day to celebrate the unique, special, and personal relationship that you have with your beloved.  While friends may have the best intentions, they can do it their way on their day.

Just because everyone does it, or it’s tradition, doesn’t mean you have to do it.  By all intents and purposes, our wedding was more traditional than not, but that didn’t mean we had to follow tradition to a tee.  I knew from the beginning that I was not interested in the garter toss (or wearing a garter, for that matter) or the bouquet toss.  I didn’t have a bachelorette party, because I didn’t like the idea of it.  We took photos before the ceremony (yes, he saw me pre-oath!), and our DJ doubled as our Officiant.  

I didn't have something old, new, borrowed, or blue, but I did have everything I wanted: a commitment to my true love and best friend, and an incredibly fun celebration with friends and family.  So often, these events are focused on the guests, not the bride and groom, but when it's all over, it's the bride and groom who will hold the memories of the day most dear, so make it about you!

2)     Focus on the things that are most important; the rest are just details.  I’d never given much thought to my wedding before I began planning, but I found that we very quickly knew what was and was not important to us.  What we cared about: the music, an open bar, and the dress (slightly higher on my priority list than his).  What we didn’t really care about: spending money on exotic flowers, a sit-down dinner, traditions we didn't understand, and a formal photo album (we were ahead of the digital curve).

Even before Kyle and I made cocktails and spirits our business, we knew that an open bar was essential to set the tone we desired for our big day (which is probably the number one reason people are still talking about all the fun they had!).  A formal, sit-down dinner seemed too fussy for us; we wanted a cocktail party vibe. There was plenty of fabulous food, but it was served buffet style, with guests nibbling while gathering around high tables.  A live band was crucial (70s/80s/90s cover- so fun!), and lucky for us, our DJ- also our Officiant- knew a guy.       

One of the traditions we ignored was not seeing each other on the day of the wedding.  First, we lived together, so that was slightly unavoidable, but the real reason we broke with tradition was to take photos prior to the ceremony.  Now, if you favor tradition, ignore the remainder of this paragraph, but, if not, I would highly recommend this method!  As soon as the wedding party was finished dressing, Kyle and I had a reveal (which our photographer was able to capture), and we spent an hour taking photos pre-ceremony.  This ensured that everyone looked fresh despite the Summer heat, but the real benefit was that we were able to enjoy our reception immediately following the ceremony, as opposed to anxiously taking photos while our family and friends were having fun (and enjoying the open bar) without us.

3)     Relax, enjoy, and remember to eat something!  Recently, I attended the wedding of a male work acquaintance, whose bride-to-be was positively fixated on everything going perfectly.  Well, guess what?  Nothing is going to go perfectly.  It made me sad to watch her freak out over the details when the day was perfect; she was celebrating her perfect love story.

There will be tons of people who all want to hug, kiss, and congratulate you.  The event will go by in a heartbeat, and before you know it, the day you spent months planning will be just a memory.  Take time to enjoy the moments, and most importantly, to eat!  Even with a plate in front of you, there will most likely be too much excitement to dine on those delectable dishes you've painstakingly selected, so ask the caterer to prepare a to-go box for you each, complete with slices of cake (which you won't eat at the reception either).  I had amazing memories of the wedding and reception, but a favorite memory is eating Chinese food in our hotel suite with some of our best friends in my pjs after the party.

The important thing to remember is that the wedding is one day, but if you do it right, the marriage is forever.  Who cares if the napkins are the wrong shade of cerulean if the look of love in your eyes is just right?

As I type, we are returning from a trip to California, where we attended the glamorous nuptials of two dear friends.  Their wedding was a truly unique reflection of the love they share.  While years will pass, and we'll forget what we ate and drank (if I'm lucky I'll forget how much we drank), but we will remember the look of love in their eyes, and what an honor it was to share in their moment.  They wrote their own rules, and that's so very stylish.  

What are your tips for a fashionable wedding?