Notes from a Bride Guru

By Ashley Robinson

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I got married this spring to my groomzilla.

As we are getting our photos back from the fabulous John Decker, my groom and I get the fun of really, truthfully reminiscing on the success of the evening … and my Frustrated Perfectionist inside me starts rearing her ugly head. (God, I hate my Frustrated Perfectionist side. Not only is she cruel, she intentionally has no fun.)

So, I would like to impart a few bits of wisdom to those who ever plan to get married, ever. And maybe this way my Frustrated Perfectionist self will shut the hell up.

Say Cheese

I am by no means photogenic. It is just one of those sad realizations I have had to deal with my whole life. I just can’t believe that I am not as pretty as I KNOW I am … and pictures just don’t do this Mona Lisa smile of mine justice. So, if you know this about yourself, don’t let your face go on a full range of emotions at your wedding.

Ok, before my faithful readers start screaming at me that it was my wedding and I deserved to not be inhibited the most important night of my life, blah blah blah, you didn’t see some (or most) of these pictures. Thank God John cut out some of the least flattering photos of me … but my mom’s friends who decided to make photo montages of me to share on the World Wide Web? Uhhh, no thanks. Permanent damage to ego.

While dancing and listening to toasts, I cringed, cried and my third chin decided to make a double appearance.

I can’t tell if I am about to snore, snort or vomit in my mouth. Clearly they were taken between words or expressions (I would like to think), but seriously, future brides, JUST SMILE THE WHOLE TIME. YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT CAMERA IS ON YOU.

Powder Your Nose

Another thing I wish I had done, but in truth had absolutely no presence of mind or time to do: a little touch-up with the old make-up. After three hours of sweating, talking, running (yes, running), drinking, dancing, crying and socializing, my face could have used a refresher for the final stretch. My advice to you is to ask a bridesmaid to carry some face powder for you to use at the head table and then suggest you do a touch-up because you aren’t going to have time to … do anything else.

Make Your Bridesmaid Wear Ugly Dresses

I was a really nice bride. I let my bridesmaids pick out their classy (yet cost-effective) dresses from an assortment on J. Crew and in different colors. I didn’t dictate what shoes they wore, or what jewelry they wore. I had them have pretty up-dos and make-up done. And they all looked really beautiful.

… Maybe a little too beautiful … There definitely is something to be said about puke green taffeta and side ponytails. I could have liked a little less competition.

Serve Drinks Before The Ceremony

Ok, my mom hated this (“No Drinking Before A Religious Ceremony” – she forgot we are Anglican), but my guests loved it. Our venue set out sparkling wine for guests to partake as they waited for the big show to start. And people enjoyed the ability to socialize and relax just a bit … although that would explain why one of my guests ended up passed out in the gas station across the street … oh well. I would consider that a success!

Don’t Let Your Groom Go To The Beach The Day Before The Wedding

My handsome groom was especially glowing the night of our wedding. And I mean that in the sunburnt way, in case you didn’t get that from the sub header. If you know me, I have the lightest foundation shade on the rack … so pictures of us together at some points look like Fire and Ice finally made the horrific decision to go out in a big way.

Always Play Neil Diamond and Journey

My groom and I had a somewhat heated debate about music. He wanted to play “good” music (think: Oingo Boingo and Radiohead) and I wanted to play music that I knew would get people on their feet (think: “Brick House” and “Love Shack,” or “Old People Music”). In the end, I won (surprise, surprise). The music was fast, fun and something for everyone (except my cousin who was upset we weren’t playing house music … right).

However, the climax of the dance party was when the first few strands of “Sweet Caroline” started on the amps, people of all ages – my mom’s sorority sisters, family members, my sorority sisters, co-workers – were fist pumping and jumping. And when “Don’t Stop Believing” came on, then we were really done for. (Although, please try to keep your face in a somewhat restrained expression for photos and don’t sing along; see above.)

Don’t Play Sir Mix-A-Lot

One of my friends, knowing how much I love the classic “I Like Big Butts,” requested the DJ play it. Talk about a buzz kill. The older people were offended, no one could dance to it, and it felt horribly inappropriate to sing about anacondas wanting none unless you’ve got buns hon’ in a virginal white gown.

Are We Talking About Practice?

Practice your first dance in a floor-length gown at home. Waltzing is not the same in leggings and bare feet as it is in new shoes and flowing chiffon around your ankles. And when you trip on the dance floor, everyone is watching. (Or in our case, my mother declaring to someone VERY LOUDLY during a quiet moment of the song that you DON’T KNOW HOW TO DANCE. Thanks, Mom. Oh, and then don’t make a horrified face. That, too, was photographed to extreme proportions.)

Get A Photo Booth

John set up – literally –  a camera on a tripod with a remote and we went crazy taking photos. Jumping photos, strike a pose photos, and kissy photos galore. In the end I had over 250 photos that I would never show in public. But luckily for my guests, a copy of a photo booth photo will be included in their thank you notes as a token to remember the night, or refresh their memory in case there were spots missing.

Have Fun

I would say my biggest regret about the whole evening is that it didn’t last longer. I could have danced the night away (but the County of San Luis Obispo had other plans and my feet are still recovering a month later).

And my favorite part of the whole night was actually the ceremony. When my groom and I set out to plan the “Best Party of the Century,” I never once thought the highlight of the evening would be the brief 30-minute ceremony. But it truly was. The giving away, the exchanging of vows, the readings … the kiss at the end, the whole thing was so monumental, pivotal and incredibly special (even with a flock of seagulls battling it out overhead).

After going to a friends’ wedding a month later, surprisingly, my favorite part, still, was their ceremony. It was no longer about the food and the wine; it was about the start of a new path. And I was honored to be there.

Want more on weddings or being engaged? Check out Ashley’s other articles:

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  1. Laura Braden says

    I heart your article so much. And the photo booth was HILARIOUS. Thanks for not letting those pics see the light of day via Facebook, etc.

  2. Chantel Elder says

    LOVE this article! As a photographer I think that the photo booth is a must and I am going to consider drink before the ceremony now! I have been to a million weddings and I have to say you offered some new advice for me this September! Thanks!

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