Ten things I’d change about my wedding now that I’m an etiquette instructor


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Lee and I have been married for TEN years today! What a wonderful decade we’ve enjoyed together growing our family, our faith, and our businesses.

Ten years ago I was twenty-three years old, living with my BFF, working full-time on the farm with my dad, and adding pins to my wedding Pinterest board like it was my job. Since getting married in October 2013 I’ve moved two hours away, given birth to four children, helped my husband start his own farm, started my etiquette business, and hosted cotillions in nearly ten different cities across eastern North Carolina and southeastern Virginia.

Our tastes and preferences can change as we age and I’m no different. This seems especially true for me now that I’m so heavily involved in the events and etiquette industry. I host and attend more formal events so I naturally have more preferences than I did back then.

I’ve never been very trendy and always enjoyed timeless, traditional styles but it is still very interesting to see just how much my preferences have changed in the last ten years.

So in honor of my tenth anniversary today, here are the ten things I would have done differently at my wedding now that I’m an etiquette instructor:

1. Use real china

At the time we opted for nice clear plastic plates, cups, and cutlery. It just didn’t matter to me that much. However, after hosting more than a dozen etiquette dinners over the last seven years I have grown to truly appreciate a beautiful table setting.

2. Place the bride’s initial first in the couple’s monogram

Oops. This was simply me not knowing any better and not doing my research. Traditionally, the lady’s initial comes first.

3. Incorporate hand calligraphy

This was another detail that didn’t matter much to me then, but I really appreciate now. When I get a hand-calligraphed envelope in the mail, my etiquette instructor heart jumps a little.

4. Film the toasts at the rehearsal dinner

After teaching my students how to toast and practicing toasting myself, I realize how special toasts are. SO many of our friends and family gave WONDERFUL toasts the night before at our rehearsal dinner, but we only had a videographer for the night of the wedding. I really wish I could rewatch those toasts from the night before.

5. Have a designated emcee

We are blessed to have a lot of friends and family so we had a lot of guests at our wedding. I wish I had done a better job of communicating to our guests where things were located in the tent and the order of events at the reception. I feel like some guests, especially our older family members, missed some things simply because there was so much going on.

6. Have a choreographed first dance

Or at least do a little more than sway back and forth. Now that I’ve been teaching ballroom dance at cotillion for the last seven years I have a MUCH better understanding of “real” dances and know that it’s not as intimidating as I once thought.

7. Make sure supplies are in place

We had a really special exit with a sky lantern release over the pasture where we were married. When I got back from our honeymoon I found another unopened box of lanterns that I forgot to set out! It was still incredibly memorable, but I would have loved to have seen all of those in the sky at one time.

But the good news is I still have some stored away for us to release on our anniversaries!

8. Skip save the dates for short engagements

We were only engaged for six months so by the time I got our guest list together and save the dates mailed out to everyone we were sending invitations just a couple months later.

9. Have enough seating for everyone at the ceremony

I intentionally planned for limited seating at our ceremony, but it didn’t quite go as planned. We were in the middle of a pasture so logistically, it was going to be difficult to find enough level ground for chairs or pews. Instead, I opted for just a few rows of seating for our close family and guests who needed to sit. I envisioned the rest of our friends and family standing and surrounding us around the altar. However, looking back in the pictures, I think it looks a little disordered and I can imagine it was hard for our guests to see.

10. Have a “Kids Only” dance

Family and children have always been important to us and we had a lot of children in attendance at our wedding. I wish Lee and I had invited all of them out on the dance floor for a special dance with us- especially now that half of my career is literally teaching children to dance! A dear friend did this at her wedding a few years ago and it was THE most precious thing.

BONUS: Wear your corsage on the correct side- the left!

So this wasn’t from my wedding, but at my first baby shower I accidentally wore my corsage on the right side. Again, I just didn’t know any better and probably didn’t even know there was a “correct” side. Was it that big of a deal? Of course not. But traditionally, corsages (and boutonnieres) go on the left.

No regrets!

And to be clear, this is in no way a list of regrets. We had THE most amazing wedding and I still think back fondly on our special day. It fit 23-year-old Sydney’s preferences perfectly. This list was simply a fun way for me to reimagine what my wedding would be like at this point in my life.

My main objective going into that beautiful fall day was for it to be a wonderful launch into an even more wonderful marriage. It 100% delivered on that purpose and my thoughts on that will never change. <3

Planner | Gather Together
Photographer | Whitebox Photo
Videographer | Heartstone Films
Rentals | Party Reflections
Lighting | Get Lit Event Lighting



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