10 Things No One Tells You about Your Wedding Day

Nell (left) and Kelsey (right) Gelhaus Photo by Samantha Fronek Photography

Nell (left) and Kelsey Gelhaus
Photo by Samantha Fronek Photography

In the weeks and days leading up to our wedding, well-meaning family and friends took every opportunity to dole out advice on everything we should expect on the Big Day.

“Save extra money for random day-of expenses!”

“Everything that can go wrong, will, and you’ll love it anyway!”

“Delegate someone to speak to the caterer/bartenders/DJ so they aren’t bugging you during the reception!”

“It goes by in a blur! Make sure you live in the moment!”

We took their words to heart and heeded their counsel as best we could. Everything they said was true, and yes, even though things were forgotten or didn’t go as planned, my bride and I mutually agreed the day was still truly the best of our lives thus far. There were, however, certain things that no one told us. And though our wedding was perfect for us as it was, perhaps sharing these tidbits ahead of time will make someone else’s wedding perfect for them. So here you have them:

  1. Your wedding party will seize any and every opportunity to drown your nerves in alcohol.

Beginning the moment you wake. Though I attempted to pace myself throughout the day, the hour prior to the wedding all bets were off. One by one, the “Nellsmen” stole me away to the bar across the street from our venue and bought a round. Then the bartender recognized the occasion and bought me a shot. Back at the venue, someone pulled out a hidden beer. Suffice it to say, I was definitely buzzed on life and love and lemon drops.

  1. You won’t have to lift a finger.

Control freak? Better get over it. Being the type of person that usually survives social functions by busying myself with prep, I was left to watch helplessly as the venue was decorated around me. Every attempt to assist was met with an “Oh let me get that!” or a “You just relax!” and a “Why don’t you sit down for awhile?” Which left me with nothing to do but sit anxiously and hope the booze did its job.

  1. Your parents kick it into high gear.

I watched my usually quiet and reserved mother work the greeting line like a seasoned pro as guests arrived, and my eyes widened in amazement. All sets of parents cheerfully met and welcomed every guest in our post-ceremony receiving line, and it hit me then that all the people we held most dear to us were meeting each other for the first time. It wasn’t lost on me how lucky we were (and are) to have the support we do, and to be able to say with pride, “These are my parents.”

  1. People will constantly be staring at you.

I became keenly aware of the number of eyes on me the moment I ushered our folks down the aisle. And then ever more aware of an unseen spotlight pointed directly at me as the wedding party began their march, and I stood waiting, more nervous than I’ve ever been in my life. Eyes, eyes, everywhere. Some beaming, some crying, all fixed right on me. I silently thanked my wedding party for those shots and attempted to stop fidgeting. No fading into the background or hiding in the corner on your wedding day, my fellow introverts.

  1. The ceremony is the best part.

Seriously. It’s surreal, almost. Perhaps because that moment, the one that I’d dreamed of for so long seemed so very out of reach and unattainable for the longest time, and with marriage just recently being legalized in our beloved state; the actual moment of saying our vows was otherworldly. Your bride will outdo herself, looking more stunning than you knew was humanly possible. And you will make promises and feel an outpouring of love from all those you love the most. The ceremony is a treasure.

  1. At some point, someone will hand you a microphone.

The Day After, my bride said to me, “How could you not know you would have to say something?” Apparently, I’m the only one in the world that didn’t realize I would have to address a captive audience toward the end of dinner. I barely made it out of my speech alive. Words flowing smoothly from my fingertips into a Word document does not make for words flowing smoothly from my mouth. Mortifyingly, mid-speech, I pointed out the elephant in the room, thanking our parents for stepping up and supporting their gay children, and then could not seem to stop talking. My mind blanks when I try to recall what I actually said, but at some point the microphone was mercifully removed from my hand.

  1. You won’t see your spouse all night.

Well, you might see her, but she’ll be on the other side of the room. And as you make your way over to her, you’ll be stopped and hugged for the thousandth time, and by the time you reach her, she’ll be back where you started. And repeat.

  1. There will be sex, and you won’t be having it.

Of course you won’t—you’re exhausted! Instead, a couple guests sneak off to, ahem, do “some reading” in the third floor restricted section of your National Historic Landmark library venue, and get caught by the ancient security guard with a flashlight. You become aware of this when said security guard threatens to kick them out and call off the reception. Thankfully he has a change of heart, and your guests, red-faced, can return to the dance floor.

  1. You’ll talk to everyone, but feel like you didn’t talk to anyone.

All your favorite people in one place! It’s impossible to have all the conversations you want, especially with those friends and family that have traveled far to attend, or the professors and mentors you rarely see. You make a mental note to plan visits.

10. You will be starving.

After four straight months on a diet, who wouldn’t be starving? And that’s only part of the problem. The food you spent all your money on? Hope you don’t expect to actually eat any of it. Because between every bite, there’s a speech, or guests singing songs with the word “LOVE,” and how can you eat anything with everyone staring at you? Arriving back to our hotel room after a glorious evening, there was only one thing on our minds as a newlywed couple alone in our bridal suite. Pizza. Commence a fight over who would go to the lobby to pick it up; apparently it wasn’t being delivered to our room. “You’re going to make me put back on that dress?!” screeched my newly beloved. I’d fallen asleep by the time she returned but woke up as she angrily turned off the lights and crawled into bed, still arguing. I noisily chomped away in a corner in the dark, barely able to keep my eyes open, muttering, “THIS is a great way to start a marriage!”

In truth, the day was a great way to start a marriage. After months of planning (years for my bride, I’m sure) there wasn’t a single thing I’d change, save for perhaps pre-planning for that post-wedding famine. The only bit of advice I’ll share, my betrothed friends, if you forget all else: Don’t make her put back on the dress.

2 Responses to 10 Things No One Tells You about Your Wedding Day

  1. Don says:

    Nice story. Way to out your ‘wedding readers.’

  2. Jim Boulger says:

    Dear Nell
    Well written. Lovely, funny and so, so true. At least it was for us almost 50 years ago. Bless you both!
    Jim B

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