Our Zoom Wedding Planning Happy Hour was a fun event that covered navigating the planning process (Part 1) and maximizing the joy on your wedding day. Our lovely panelists: Guestie founder Jessica Lamarre, therapist Landis Bejar, photographer Rachel L’Antigua and wedding planner Susan Moran provided lots of helpful tips and insight. You can read the first half of the Happy Hour transcript that covers how to have fun during the planning process and work in magic memories to your big day here. The second half of our event focused on the wedding day and ways to make it special and joyous. You can find the transcript for the second half of the event below. Let’s pick up where we left off from Part 1.
P.S. If you’d like an abbreviated, to-the-point breakdown of points, just head to our recap blog here.
Jackie: Landis, I’m going to start with a question for you. What advice do you have on letting go on that big day, not wearing too many hats, stopping with the planning and just being in the moment on the big day?
Landis: This has become one of my go-to interventions as we get towards the wedding day. And now I do it with all of my clients. A big thing that we do is, as we’re approaching the wedding day, we pick a day and time where you are choosing when you’re going to make that shift, and it’s going to be a really conscious shift. So you’re gonna make that shift from the director or the stage manager to the star of the show. And the star of the show can’t be worried about the lighting cues and the props being in the right place and the curtains being called at the right time.
The focus is on you and you have to enjoy it, you have to be present, you have to know where you’re supposed to be and be with the people who love you. We’re here to celebrate you and most importantly, share these moments with your new spouse. I like to really kind of look at the calendar of events and say “When is that time?” I feel like the most common time is like late afternoon on the day of the first event. So if that’s a rehearsal dinner, if that’s a welcome party, I am going to consciously make that shift to take off my planner hat and put on my bride or groom hat.
And with that comes faith in all of the people that you’ve assembled around you to make this day happen. Those people are both professionals and personal right? So you have the professionals that are there to execute the most fabulous event ever. And then you have the personal people, the people that you have been intentional about who you want around you, whether it’s getting ready with you during the day whether it’s praying, whether it’s taking a makeup touch-up break during the event.
All of those people you have been very conscious about this whole planning process. And they’re going to show up on that day. And you know they are. You’ve taken inventory of the people who don’t historically show up for you in your life, and you’re not giving them a lot of space. So then when you make that shift, it’s a very natural shift, because you’ve been very intentional, and then you’re very conscious in that moment to make that change. And then you can really just be present and embody what it means to you to be a bride or groom and show up in the way that you want to without worrying about the details, right?
And then the follow up to all of that is plan, plan, plan, plan, plan, and then after that moment, anything that doesn’t go according to plan, number one, you probably won’t notice. Or number two, even if it doesn’t go well and is something that you will definitely notice like, the weather was horrible at your wedding, it will become part of the story of your wedding, right? It will become something that is integrated into the wonderfulness and the wonderment that is this special day. And for better, for worse, right? And that’s what this day is about. But it doesn’t have to be exactly perfect, and it can still be perfect for you.
Jackie: Oh, that’s great. Jessica, as a recent bride, how did you have fun on your wedding? And what advice do you have for other couples on letting loose and kind of making those moments of magic happen?
Jessica: What my advice would be, two things, speaking for my own wedding experience. The wedding was going to fly by and we really wanted to spend as much of the time as possible, especially at the reception, with our people, with our friends, with our bridal party. So to do that, at dinner, we chose to sit at a table amongst our closest pals and bridal party, instead of sitting at a table that’s just the two of us. So that was a decision that at least worked well for us in our case.
And then the second thing was we really wanted a full dance floor and to have great music throughout the evening. I can’t say that, we could guarantee that. But one way that we were able to help do that is by not only kind of building our playlists of what we wanted to hear, which I definitely think everyone should do, but also ask your guests what songs get them on the dance floor. And doing that with our guests actually is what inspired the song request feature on Guestie that allows guests to submit their favorites and syncs into a playlist automatically. That way everyone has a chance to hear something that’ll get them out dancing and really just makes for, in our case, an absolute blast and a great time.
Jackie: Susan, question for you. What’s your advice on creating sort of the time and space to allow fun to bloom? Do you tend to see couples over-scheduling their wedding day with too many activities and not giving themselves enough time to just enjoy the moments?
Susan: There is that tendency, because we’re there and we want to cram as much into this day as we possibly can. But the way that I work with my couples, we work together on a timeline. And we make that timeline reflective of what they want. Confession, I pad timelines, because having to rush and thinking that you’re going to be in any way back to the wall and not not have the time to do what you want to do, that’s unacceptable. So we have ample time.
One of the things I do with all of my couples, actually two things. Number one, the couples do not have the timeline. The vendor team has it. The whole vendor team works from the same timeline. So we’re one unit and we’re smooth as can be. Wedding party, parents, bride and groom. Nope, they don’t have that timeline. I’m there. And so I will get you through this and you don’t need to worry about the tick tock of all this. We’re not going to have that. Just chill and be in the moment and really see what’s around you.
I tell them all, and the parents as well. Pick a time during the reception to stand back. Literally take a physical step back and look at the panorama around you. It will never happen again. So look at that, capture that moment to be in your own heart. It tears me up, because I’ve seen some of the most awesome moments when that has happened.
The other thing I do, and I’ve done this ever since I started between the photographs being complete after the ceremony and their introductions to the reception, there’s a little window of time, when we’re starting to move people from the cocktail hour into the reception space, I bring the bride and groom into the reception space by themselves. There’s no one else there. No one is seeing what they’ve created over all these months, they get to see it for the first time. There’s a beverage of their choice and appetizers at their place, whether it’s at a table with everyone else, or a sweetheart table or a head table. And I call that a quiet moment. And whether it’s five minutes or 20 minutes, we build that into the schedule, because it helps them slow down and look at each other and go, ‘Whoa, doggies. We did this!’
‘We’re married, let’s celebrate the living daylights,’ because that’s what it’s about in that point in time. It’s just a freedom to be abandoned to celebrate.
Jackie: Oh, that’s so touching, I love that. Rachel, I’m curious, do you have any memories of special moments like that, that either a couple or maybe the families have created that really stood out to you?
Rachel: Absolutely. So I would say kind of going off of what Susan was just saying some of the most special moments I’ve seen are when the bride and groom are able to have a moment to themselves in the reception space. And they’re able to look around everything they’ve created. And just really take it in, walk around and just have that time to themselves. Maybe it’s five minutes, something like that. But just to be able to breathe it all in and see all of their hard work that’s paid off. I think that super special.
Two of my clients who are really near and dear to my heart, Danny and Mike, they did that and then their family came out as well. So they got to have some private moments with their family just talking and hugging. And it was just it was so beautiful. Some other ones that I’ve seen that are really special are when clients take time to just have those certain family moments. Whether that’s before the ceremony ever happens to certain moments with their parents or their grandparents or their siblings, things like that are really, really special and memorable, where they’re able to just slow down, press pause and just breathe in and take in all pf the love that they’re receiving that day.
Jackie: Oh, that’s great. You have to share some of those moments. I think we have a lot of footage that we need to see after this.
Rachel: Oh, yeah, I have so many. Because I get to be there too. So it’s great. I get to capture it. And then I’m over there crying but also trying to click my camera.
Jackie: I can imagine. Landis, quick question for you. What are the best strategies for calming those wedding day jitters and that nervousness that that we all get at the beginning of a celebration of this magnitude?
Landis: This may be controversial, but the first thing is they’re okay. Just acknowledging that they’re okay. It’s a big moment. It’s a special day. After a lot of planning, you’re at a moment in your relationship where you’ve put in a lot of hard work, a lot of love, a lot of investment, and you’re making a big ol’ life transition.
And so yes, it’s the culmination of a lot of planning and a lot of hard work in the last, 12 to 24 months or, three years for some for COVID couples. You have you have layers of things right here, right? It’s like a big moment in your relationship. It’s a big moment in this planning process, it’s the culmination of a lot of that. And then you’re on the precipice of a new of new roles and new transition and a lifetime together.
That’s a reason to get a little jittery. So that’s my first thing, you don’t have to read into the jitters too much. They’re there because, they care and they’re with you, and they’re with you for this big moment. You’ve heard that there’s bad stress and good stress. There’s bad jitters and good jitters. And these are good jitters and we can just call them good jitters.
Now, having said that, if you are feeling really jittery and need to go make a speech or something like that and need sort of a concrete tool to reduce stress and get your body to relax and regulate, so that you can do whatever it is you need to do. My go-to tools are almost always some version of deep breathing.
So a really common one that I share with folks is a simple box breath. It involves a visualization of a box. And so you’re just going to take a deep inhale into your diaphragm and look at the first side, go up over four seconds, inhale, 1, 2, 3, 4. You’re going to pause at the top, hold your breath for four seconds, then you’re going to exhale down for four seconds. And then pause for four seconds before you start again. And just do that a couple of times.
Deep breathing is the body’s physiological way of communicating to the brain. We’re okay. We’re not in the jungle, caveman style about to get attacked by a bear. We are good. We can regulate, be calm, and not have to be in fight. flight or freeze. You got this. So that’s kind of your physiological representation of that. And you can do it anywhere. Hardly anybody would know you’re doing it. You can just visualize it in your brain.
That’s such concrete. Good advice. And it’s unbelievable how much just breathing makes a difference. It’s so simple. It doesn’t seem like it would work. And it actually does.
It’s the cure all I did a little box breathing before this panel. It works for everything.
Jackie: Jessica, what’s one element of your wedding that you are grateful that you included?
Jessica: To the point someone else made about slowing it down and finding moments when you can slow it down, I would say that, despite all that, it still goes by really quickly. So for us, one thing we’re really glad we included is our professional photography and also having a video made. In our original wedding plan with all of our vendor list having video was not on it. I was like, ‘Oh, we don’t need that.’ And then at the last minute leading up to our wedding, we realized it would be a great thing to have to look back on.
And back to what I was saying around how fast the day goes by, I am so so glad we included a video. We watch it on our anniversary and it’s so fun to see those clips from the ceremony and from people speeches and just see the different people in our lives that were able to be there.
So it’s definitely something really special to look back on. And there are a few clips in it from moments that we didn’t see ourselves because we’re one place and something else is happening somewhere else. So that was fun to see that we wouldn’t have otherwise seen. But I know that another thing that’s more and more common these days, too is couples wanting social media content to actually share during the wedding weekend or shortly thereafter, in addition to their professional photography and video.
Jessica: Rachel having you here, this is something I definitely wanted to get your thoughts on around, say a couple’s wanting social media content for their posts over the weekend. And basically, they want content that they’ll have ahead of when the professional photos are ready, which come a few weeks later. So hoping to get your thoughts on how they can go about doing that.
Rachel: Absolutely. Okay, so I think it’s the most fun idea ever. I do love social media. So that’s probably why, but I actually played that role at my best friend’s wedding in October. So I wasn’t her professional photographer. I was a guest at the day, but she wanted me to be there like from the time that her and the bridesmaids were getting ready and the whole evening. And so she asked me to take a lot of behind the scenes content and so I just took videos. I took phone shots, like all that kind of thing. And then I was able to make a reel for her which are obviously really super fun. popular on Instagram, Tik Tok, nowadays.
So I was able to make one of those for her that she was able to share, basically the next day after her wedding ended. And she was super excited to have that. I think it’s a great role that you could have somebody play in your wedding that makes them feel important, even if they’re not necessarily like a bridesmaid or groomsman or something like that. So you don’t necessarily have to hire somebody to do it.
It could just be somebody that’s close with you that’s able to capture those moments. And she did give her photographer and videographer a heads up that I would be doing that. And they were totally cool with it. So it was just super fun that she was able to have that content right away and able to post all over her social media, because she’s a really big social media gal. And she loved it. I loved it. It was so much fun. So I think it’s the coolest idea ever.
Jackie: What I lucky bestie to have Rachel as their social shooter, right? Probably some amazing Instagram photos. Susan, do you have anything to add to maybe an element that that couples should should make sure they incorporate that’s super fun and special?
Susan: So we were talking about the jitters a little earlier? I find that you can kind of tell if that’s going to be a component is to get a closer dynamic between the couple. That’s when we’ll write letters, have the groom write a letter to the bride and the bride write a letter to the groom. And have those moments when they can have some reassurance without, if they’re going to be traditional and not see each other. Or, and I know Rachel, you’ve done this where they hold hands around a corner, but don’t see each other, that little touch.
Like Winnie the Pooh and Piglet says “Pooh,” and Pooh says “Yes, Piglet?” and Piglet says, “Oh, nothing I just wanted to be sure of you.” That’s, that’s the kind of thing I find that they want, that kind of encouragement. And from the very get go. I tell them, “This is not a perfect day. This day is perfect for you. But we’re gonna have a bunch of little ducks and you want them all to walk in a line and wall in a line and quack in unison and one ducks gonna go rogue. And that’s going to happen.” And I will tell them, “something’s gonna go wrong on your wedding day according to plan.”
Expect it. It’s usually going to be the best story of the whole bunch. But we’ll handle it. What’s important is the two of you are making a covenant with each other. And you’re going to legitimize that and then you’re going to celebrate the living daylights out of it with everyone you love and everyone who loves you. So keep it in perspective. There’s no right or wrong. Absolutely no right or wrong. There’s no, to my knowledge, there’s no wedding guru, that’s going to shake their finger, “Well, you didn’t do this!” No, those days are gone. So I think just making it what you want it to be celebrating that, but realizing, at the end of the day, it’s being with each other. It’s getting married, and it’s celebrating it with family and friends.
That’s great. This has been such good advice, everyone. Awesome answers. We want to take a moment now to answer some questions that were submitted by our audience. The first question we have involves guestlists. And we got a lot of questions about guest list because it’s a hot topic right now. So, “how do I gracefully trim my guest list?” Susan, what’s your advice for that?
So I call that your entrance exam to wedding planning, when you get your guest list going. If it’s getting unwieldy, then you can have an agreement with each other, that if either of the two of you are unable to identify someone by sight, like grandmother’s sewing club, or dad’s business associates, something of that nature, they have no business being there at your day. If they’re not some personal feeling of yours, trim that guest list to where it’s people that you want to see.
People that you didn’t communicate with, when we were all reaching out to people for the first time in five years. when COVID happen. People that were part of your life way before and you’ve not talked to him in 15 years. Think about it once or twice and again, so be realistic. Sometimes however, you can’t get out of it. And sometimes you have to have those lists with people on there that may or may not resonate with you. Realize that across the board, this is the truism, you’re going to have 25 to 30% attrition from your full guest list anyway. So that gives you some wiggle room in some impunity to satisfy some of those ‘have to” type of things and you’re still not going to be over your numbers.
Jackie: Landis, do you have anything to add that?
Landis: I really like that rule of thumb, Susan, I think that, I don’t have a one size fits all rule of thumb. I think for each and every couple that I work with, there is a different approach. And it depends, it’s very kind of case by case. I think that with most of the decisions, a big thing that I come back to is values, like I mentioned before, and looking at your shared values as a couple and and what it would mean to have this person versus not have this person.
What kinds of potential consequences are there for not having this person versus the type of consequences that are. And that can be that can be like kind of a nice way to come back to and decision making. Because I think it applies to whether this is a question based on, I sent out an initial guest list now COVID has happened and I need to gracefully uninvite some people. And so you can kind of come back to is the consequence that it will be unhealthy and unsafe to have this many people, okay, we can figure out a way to find language that makes sense. And people understand everybody’s been going through this together.
As compared to something that’s not really COVID-related and just like we’re sitting down to develop our guest list, and it’s way beyond what our venue will hold. Then we kind of just look at what will it mean to have this person? What will it mean to not have this person. What will it mean to, what will it mean to my family? And then kind of weighing the potential cost, benefits, sacrifices, things against your priority list, which we all have a priority list of, and you have to move things around throughout this process. I do have kind of a way of conceptualizing a lot of the decisions and just to validate the guest list maybe the hardest kind of set of decisions and the hardest set of conversations that you have.
Jackie: We have a lot of questions coming in on the chat, which is great. Thank you, everyone, for being so interactive and sending questions. We’re going to try to get to a couple. Question from Alexandra: “How to make sure that family members who cannot be present still feel a part of the day. Any thoughts Susan?
Susan: If you’ve got say a grandparent that can’t be there because of health concerns and that type of thing ask to borrow something of theirs, to have with you on that day. That way they’ll be there. And that will be a special special place. Have a part of that person there with you.
Jackie: Question from Annie. “What do people prioritize that looking back does not matter? Example, signature drinks?” And I think that’s a great question. Susan, have any ideas on this?
Susan: It’s different for everybody. At the end of the day, if you met and the first drink you shared together was a jalapeno Margarita., well, maybe that’s significant. But if you’re doing something just because you think you got to do it, then you should eliminate that and put something in there that’s meaningful.
Jackie: Let’s do one more question. This is Lauren. I am having a themed wedding and want to create an aesthetic. Is it too much to ask guests to wear a certain theme? We have a Halloween weekend wedding? Oh, that sounds like fun. Can I come to that? I will dress up. But how much is too much to ask of guests, and what’s the line to draw there, Rachel?
Rachel: As a photographer, I love it when somebody includes directions for their guests. And I think it’s your day. So you’re able to kind of say that, like I’ve had clients that wanted an all white wedding, and they asked their guests to wear all white, or on the vice versa, clients that wanted all of their guests to be wearing black, and then them and their bridal party, like the bridesmaids were in white dresses, as well as the bride. And it just made a really beautiful aesthetic for their wedding day. All of the guests actually seem like they really enjoyed themselves, and they had fun with it. And they were super excited to do that, because it was something different than what they usually do for weddings.
Jackie: Susan, what do you think about making special requests to wedding guests?
Susan: The whole purpose of your wedding, it’s to include them, and it’s to have them invest of themselves into it. I would consider if you’re asking them to do something that’s going to necessitate them buying something, to be careful about that. Because you don’t want them to have to incur yet another expense to go out and get a expensive costume or something. But to have some inclusivity I think that’s fun. Themed weddings are fun.
There’s a nice question that we don’t cover too often. “What are some nice ways to thank your vendors?” Is there a tradition of giving gifts or what what kind of acknowledgement feels best for you guys? Rachel?
I’ve been given really sweet, thoughtful gifts, all of these different things. But something that I would say I love the most is just a handwritten note. I think it’s so special. And it’s something that obviously my brides and grooms did before the wedding day. But it was just so special to get that note. It’s just a special thing. When I receive something like that it justs makes me feel extra connected to my clients.
Jackie: Susan, anything to add?
Susan: I’ll expand on that. A lovely acknowledgement of a tangible nature is phenomenal. If you were in my kitchen right now, the kitchen, the refrigerator door is covered in Christmas cards. The very first wedding I ever did, we got a Christmas card this year. That kind of making you feel like you were valued, that. intangible.
From Veronica C.: What do you think about including a wedding planner or wedding coordinator at the end of the planning stage and/or for the wedding day only?
Landis: Wedding planners may have a more nuanced perspective, but my advice is that this is ABSOLUTELY a worthwhile cost. I think depending on your needs and expectations, budget will determine what scope you hire for, but definitely hire a planner of SOME kind, or it will be very hard to make your own transition we talked about from “planner” to bride when the weekend finally comes.
Susan: As a Wedding Planner…the insight I can share with you is that my function for each couple widely varies…the involvement they want me to have is a very personal decision. That said…my goal is 2-fold – to absolutely kick all stress right to the curb and to then have sooo much fun working together towards the “Best Day Ever!” In your case…my heartfelt advice to you is this: imagine your Wedding Day and the days and weeks leading up to it and define how you want to feel and what your “Wish List” would include to make everything reflect your vision as closely as possible. Whether it’s help bringing all the details together…or…making sure your Vendor Team has all they need…or…ensuring everything runs like clockwork – find someone who can deliver to you the Scope of Service that best fits your needs while making certain that you are the happiest bride on the planet!
Isaiah S.: How do you navigate having a mother who is hung up on tradition and “the way things have always been done”?
Landis: This is a tough one. The biggest thing here is that you want to first communicate respect to your family. You can do that through words and also actions of incorporating as many of those traditions that you and your partner are genuinely happy to incorporate. With these two first steps, you are creating a loving and respectful context to politely set boundaries around those things that are not traditions you want to include. From there, you can have (again) respectful conversations where you provide the rationale about why you do not wish to include them (maybe they aren’t things that you observe as a couple; maybe you need to make space for your fiance’s family’s wishes too and need to make some compromises). Finally, in addition to including some of those traditions that you are willing to, also make sure your mother feels involved in other ways. Make sure to ask her opinion on things that you’re willing to hear her out on or task her with something you would like to have her special touch involved with. All of these things together make those conversations a little easier to navigate.
Susan: This scenario is far more common than you can imagine! I completely concur with Landis and also suggest that, from the onset of the Planning Journey, that you take the time to assure your mom that she’s been heard…ask her some “adverbial questions”…why is this important to her?…where did this particular tradition begin?…what ways could this become a part of and compliment the vision of you and your partner?…and so on. Be true to yours and your partner’s feelings while showing her that you value her point of view. Also…you may want to ask her input on how the traditional pieces she’s envisioning might be adapted in creative and meaningful ways to better reflect your vision. Finally…keep your communication open and ongoing…most especially when it becomes challenging…being clear about how you need her participation. Being needed is a powerful and positive feeling and it may be a platform from which to smooth feathers & aleve tension.
Isaiah S.: What are some great ideas you’ve seen of the bride and groom incorporating hospitality and intentionality?
Susan: The most subtle is the semantics you use…kind of like your “Signature Voice” for all of your guest communication…from Save-the-Dates to website content to invitation suite to guest welcome letter. Also, building the “Flow” of your “Big Day” into a timeline that allows for you both to enjoy socializing with and greeting your guests. One unexpected way to greet your guests is to actually dismiss them all by rows from your ceremony, greeting them as they file out on their way to cocktail hour! As well, it’s all about the menu you pick, fun and interactive food stations, either during cocktail hour, dinner time or late nite bites…will be fun and a way to draw guests together! Finally, making Guestie a part of your approach for the best possible guest experience is a fantastic idea!
Amy L.: My fiancée is excited about having a large group of groomsmen (many of whom he was a groomsman for at their weddings). I’m not as enthusiastic about making a larger group because after sisters and a best childhood friend, this means opening myself up to an extended group who will likely take offense if I don’t include one over another. Many of them are also getting married and choosing their bridesmaids in the next couple of years so I unfortunately feel pressure to include people who I frankly don’t want by my side. Do you recommend not caring and making it about yourself, or airing on the more generous side and including people to avoid bad feelings
Jessica: Great question Amy! Speaking from my own experience, I was in a similar situation. Ultimately go with your gut. My now husband had a large groomsmen party while I had just a few bridesmaids that were my closest friends. I was worried there would be a mismatch but it actually worked out so well. We had such a blast getting ready together and it was really fun to share the special day with my closest friends. And we love how our photos turned out with our bridal party!
Landis: I agree! I think that having an even number of groomsmen/bridesmaids is a very easy thing to navigate. I would say stick to the people (aka your Support Squad) that you really want to have by your side. If you have uneven numbers, you can do something sweet/unconventional (I actually did this at my own wedding) where you might have one bridesmaid walk with two groomsmen on each arm. Or visa versa. Some people walk down alone. Or even two guys walk next to each other. It keeps it kind of interesting not to have the classic 1 guy, 1 girl together for each set.
Susan: I also agree that going with your gut is the best direction to take! Appeasement is simply something to avoid as a criteria for choosing your Bridal Party if at all possible. We all have pods of friends that intersect, making Guest Lists in general really tough…much less the targeted selection of your Bridesmaids/Attendants. Having an equal number of special people on your side and on your fiance’s side is a completely personal choice and unnecessary if it simply is a challenge to make happen. Outdated Etiquette Rules” no longer carry the day…rather…practicality and your own feelings are your best guidelines!
Jackie: Oh, that’s awesome. Well, this has been such great advice. I think I’m not the only one to say this hour went by way too fast. It feels like it was five minutes. But this was so helpful. And I hope everyone here got some really useful advice out of it. One more thing before we go. We all have our glasses. So cheers to all of our couples that are planning their weddings. And for everyone that joined us. You can find links to Guestie and all of our panelists in the chat window. Jessica, thank you so much for having me.
Jessica: Oh, you’re very welcome. Thank you for being our fabulous moderator and getting so many questions in tonight. And thank you to our panelists for everything you shared. And like Jackie was saying, cheers. Congratulations to everyone engaged who joined us. And thank you all for attending. We hope you found this useful. Let us know over social or in the comments, what you thought of it. And if there’s any topics that you’re particularly interested in for us to focus on in the future. Thank you all for attending. Cheers everyone and have a great night.
Love from the audience!
Thank you ladies! Learned so much
Thank you so much!
YES PLZ DO ANOTHER
Thank you very much! Was wonderful!