What do real brides have to say about the wedding planning experience? In the weeks leading up to her wedding, guest blogger Anna Maltby gave us the inside scoop on planning an interfaith wedding ceremony, nailing your engagement photo shoot, and more. With the big, beautiful day behind her, Anna gives us a sneak peek of her gorgeous wedding photos and a few of her favorite moments.
People always say your wedding day goes by so quickly, it's over before you know it. That makes sense—after all, you're on an emotional high all day, and time definitely flies when you're having the best day of your life. But to me, that just seemed sad. I put so much time and thought and excitement into the planning that it sounded like a waste to have the day itself feel like a blip.
Luckily, a wise someone told me just before the wedding that the thing to do is, throughout the day, take a few opportunities to step back and look around at what's going on. Marvel at the beauty of the setting, the gratitude you feel toward the people who came, and the looks of sheer joy on everyone's faces. Most importantly, be mindful of how utterly amazing it all is.
I took that someone's advice and, while I can't say that time stood still, at the end of the night, I wasn't left feeling like it was over too soon, and I have really clear, really happy memories of the entire day. Here are a few:
Morning with the girls
I've raved about my bridesmaids before, but guys, they took awesome to a whole new level the day of the wedding. They ran out to get coffee, breakfast sandwiches and green juice (hey, they insisted I be demanding!) for me first thing in the morning, and we all hung out while my lovely friend Janette, who just so happens to work for Clinique, did all of our makeup. My friend Maude, who was doing a reading for my ceremony, came, too. It was like a slightly-emotionally-heightened version of a fun girls' weekend away—we ate, relaxed, laughed and glammed up, and they totally put me at ease. That quality time together before things got crazy really set the tone for a sweet, happy, lovely day.
Winging it (a little bit)
Like most brides, I'd planned almost every detail of the day down to a T, so I was amused and surprised when I put on my dress and jewelry and started to rethink things. (I started off in a white dress for photos, changed to a sari for the ceremony, and back to the dress for the reception.) I'd originally planned to wear my Indian bangles with the white dress, but when the moment came they just didn't look quite right. It was an easy fix—I just took them off!—and in a way, I think that reassured me that while not everything was going to go perfectly as planned, it was all going to turn out beautifully.
Back story: My husband, Akshay, is the Platform Lead at Foursquare, and in our three-and-a-half years of dating, I stubbornly refused to use the app he loves so much. But about six months before the wedding, I cooked up a plan to surprise him on the wedding day. My bridesmaid Eran helped me sign up for a Foursquare account during the van ride to the venue, and I friended Akshay just as we were pulling up. It was so fun to see that he'd accepted my friend request and "liked" my checkin at the Bronx Zoo. I just wish I'd wiped the dust off my iPhone screen before my photographer snapped a screen shot!
Encountering the natives
During our "first look" photos, who should appear but one of the Bronx Zoo's famous peacocks! It was too perfect. The peacock was our color palette inspiration and the motif for our invitations and programs, so we were pretty pumped to have the chance to lure one of them into a photograph.
We had such a blast taking photos with our families and bridal party. In fact, Akshay was so happy and excited that his smile started looking a little too intense. Our photographer, Dustin, kept asking him to take a long, deep breath and relax so he'd look a bit more natural. It started to be a bit of a joke—this photo captured Akshay and my dad and brother cracking up at Ak's cousins making fun of his over-the-top smile.
The costume change
It takes a village to successfully get me into a sari (like driving stick shift, just because I know how doesn't mean I can actually do it on my own), and I loved having my sister-in-law, mother-in-law, and husband's family friend get me all wrapped up. I basically just stood there and did as I was told, and the results were pretty stunning, if I do say so myself.
Photo: Courtesy of Anna Maltby
This photo makes me laugh a little—it was taken just exactly at the moment where I had the closest thing to a panic attack I've had in years (I may be half-smiling but you can see it in my eyes!). One minute I was calmly talking to my dad, and the next minute I had to sit down, take Advil, drink water, and try to force my heart to stop beating out of my chest and my head to stop splitting open with panicky pain. From what I've heard, this moment happens to almost every bride, and for me it wasn't that I was nervous or had cold feet; I think it was simply my body forcing me to recognize that this moment was BIG, and I needed to PAY ATTENTION. What finally made me feel better: I told my bridesmaids to stop trying to make me okay and start making me laugh, and one of them immediately started doing the side-gallop dance from "Gangnam Style." She side-galloped all the way out the door! (And side note, she's a professional dancer, so she did it uber-gracefully, too.) I'll never forget how hard I laughed or how much better I felt.
Walking down the aisle
Ok, every bride says this, but it's so true: Standing at the end of that aisle, looking out at almost every single person in the world that you love, is one of the most overwhelming and incredible moments of your life. I think I was crying before we even made it halfway down.
Our pre-kiss kiss
There were some incredibly special moments throughout our ceremony (I'll spare you from going through all of them), but one of my favorites was right after Akshay read his vows to me. I was so moved and filled with love that I couldn't resist kissing him, even though it wasn't officially time for The Kiss just yet. (Don't worry, I leaned over and asked the pastor for permission, and she gave me the green light.) This photo doesn't show that actual kiss, but I do love the mischievous look on my face!
Our first dance
We decided to go slightly non-traditional and get our dance on to one of our favorite MJ songs, "Rock With You." We'd talked a few times before the wedding about doing a run-through, but as we walked through the doors to the reception hall and the music started, we looked at each other and thought, "Oh crap. We never practiced!" But we winged it, and if I do say so myself, it was pretty awesome. And so much fun.
Visiting with the guests
I'm sorry to say that we didn't quite make it around to every single table to say hello (hey, there were 18 of them!), but it was so much fun to catch up with family and friends, especially those I don't get to see all that often, like my grandmother and great aunt. Everyone looked gorgeous and was so clearly filled with joy for us.
Our awesome dance party
If we didn't know it before, we know it now: Our family and friends can seriously shake a leg. I mean, when the DJ played "Shout," a few people were literally lying on the floor by the quietest part of the "A little bit softer now" portion. I love this shot of my bridesmaid Lenora Jane and me groovin'—it just perfectly captures the fun and silliness and love of the day.
I'm stopping myself there—and that doesn't even include our surprise limo ride back to Manhattan or our amazing karaoke session in Korea Town! The day definitely went faster than I would have liked, but I'm so glad that I was still able to savor every moment.