Four Genius Tips for How to Have the Most Amazing Wedding Week

Real Weddings
Guest Blogger Ilana Stern Wedding Week Dinner With Friends

Photo: Courtesy of Ilana Stern

What do real brides have to say about the wedding planning experience? Well, it's not all indulgent cake tastings and happy tears at the bridal boutique. Over the next few months, guest blogger and Weddington Way founder and CEO Ilana Stern will share the ins and outs of planning a California wedding, running a business, picking the perfect wedding planner, and customizing your dream dress.

After a little more than a year of planning, I couldn't believe when my wedding week finally arrived. Although my fiancé (now husband!) Jeff and I told ourselves we would have all of the logistics squared away two weeks before the ceremony, we did run into a couple of last minute snafus. Luckily, they didn't stop us from enjoying each other and the other things that mattered. After all, how could I not be happy when all of my favorite people in the world were coming to celebrate with me?

Guest Blogger Ilana Stern with Fiance Jeff

Photo: Courtesy of Ilana Stern

In the days leading up to our big day, it was important for me to press pause and spend quality time with the people who matter most in my life. A week before the ceremony, Jeff and I had a special date night at a restaurant we'd been dying to try in San Francisco. We focused on each other and really tried to appreciate the company, conversation, and cuisine. After dinner, we went to our favorite bar for fun cocktails. The next day the quality time continued as we headed to our final dance class. It was a great way to spend the day together while doing something related to the wedding, but that was active and fun instead of a chore. Plus, it was a necessary boost of confidence since we were both nervous about dancing in front of our wedding guests.

Guest Blogger Ilana Stern's Makeup Trial with Mom and Grandma

Photo: Courtesy of Ilana Stern

My wedding week continued with pre-wedding makeup trials at Blushington, a fun local beauty bar, with my mom and grandmother. The next day I spent some time with the other important man in my life: my dad! We had a lovely lunch at the Ivy by the Shore and followed by a long walk on the beach in Santa Monica—we basically did what we used to do when I was little, which was a priceless experience.

Guest Blogger Ilana Stern Wedding Week Lunch with Dad

Photo: Courtesy of Ilana Stern

Also on the agenda? An intimate Thursday night dinner with eight of our friends who had traveled to the wedding from distant locations. At first, I was worried that a Thursday night event would wear me out before the rehearsal dinner and our Saturday wedding, but this dinner ended up being one of my favorite moments of the week! It was amazing to have quiet time with my old friends, some of whom I had not seen in a long time.

The last week before your wedding will undoubtedly be full of emotions, last-minute to dos and lots of excitement. I'd like to share some lessons learned from those last few days before the big day:

  • Turn last-minute tasks into an event. If you're getting your nails done, get your best friends or female family members to come with you! These sorts of things are more fun when done with someone else and a great way to get through your errands while getting quality time with your friends and family, so invite the important people along for the ride.
  • Create a checklist of major errands. If you don't want to be stressed out by the logistics, assign a trusted family or bridal party member to take care of these tasks. This way you can relax and focus on having a good time.
  • Make time for loved ones. It was really important for me to spend time with the people who matter one on one. From your fiancé to your parents to your siblings, find time in that last week to do something special with them.
  • Press pause. Take a deep breath. Your wedding is here! Instead of rushing into everything, I recommend slowing down to be in the moment (yes, it's hard in the midst of a whirlwind but so worth it!). I'll never forget my future husband's laughter when I stepped on his toes (once again) at our final dance lesson, the smile on my grandmother's face as she looked in the mirror and saw her makeup done, the clink of wine glasses as my dad and I made a toast—moments like these should be cherished forever, so take note of them.

—Ilana Stern

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