Our Wedding: Getting Ready with my Bridesmaids

Okay, funny story: I started blogging at Sara Laughed on February 5th, 2012. I was getting ready to leave for the Netherlands to explore the world and ‘find my roots’ during my gap year, but I hated packing — so, to procrastinate, I started a blog. (It was 2012. We all started a blog that year.)

The next day, after landing in the Netherlands for my big adventure, I wrote this:

“The world is so much more vast and beautiful than [I] ever gave it credit for. And it’s all before me, waiting to be seen, explored, and experienced. That’s terrifying, and it’s wonderful.”

That day, I met Ken.

It’s surreal to read those words now, knowing how my life changed that day. I felt like it was the first day of an adventure that would encompass the rest of my life. And I was; I just didn’t know that adventure was Ken.

And I can say that now with full confidence BECAUSE WE’RE MARRIED, Y’ALL!

We got married at a castle in the Netherlands; this photo shows us hugging in the woods outside the castle at sunset.

This photo, and all photographs of the wedding and in this post, was taken by Shannon May Brown.

Six weeks ago, we tied the knot! And clichés be damned — it was the happiest day of my life. Originally, I wanted to write one post about the civil ceremony, and another about the wedding day. But when I got back the photos and started writing, I realized I had way too much to share!

Instead, I’ll be splitting it up into multiple posts. This one is the first, about getting ready on the morning of the wedding with my bridesmaids. You can see the upcoming posts, or look back at previous posts, below!

Wedding Posts in this Series

Other Wedding Posts

Alright, so, are you ready? Let’s jump back in time to my wedding day.

The morning of the wedding

There’s no feeling in the world quite like waking up on your wedding day.

I’ll admit that I’d thought about this day dozens of times. I remember buying wedding magazines with my best friend in high school, and making cut-and-paste collages of imaginary weddings (“Okay, and if I got married in California in the fall, this is what it would look like.”). And for years, I’d scroll past Pinterest photos that showed a bride and her bridesmaids the morning of the wedding, and I’d briefly imagine myself in their shoes. But, in the end, it was nothing like I’d expected.

The week of the wedding, my bridesmaids and I were staying together in a historic inn in the heart of old Leiden. I was sharing a suite with Maya, my best friend since I was 13. On the wedding day, our alarms were set for eight, but I woke up early. While she was still half asleep, I got up to open the curtains and check the weather — rainy that morning, though the forecast was sunny by 3:00, when the wedding started.

Our suite was a gorgeous second-floor room at a historic inn.

This was Maya’s and my suite, a second-floor room at the gorgeous, historic Steenhof Suites in Leiden. The building is from the 1400s, and that little niche you see in the wall was originally used for private devotion.

“I’m getting married today!” I yelled over at her.

“I know,” she said groggily, sitting up in bed. “How are you feeling?”

“Great,” I said. “Excited. I can’t wait.” I’d felt incredibly nervous at the civil ceremony the day before. But it was almost as though, having had a legally-binding dry run, I’d worked through all my nerves and could just focus on the excitement now.

Maya started getting dressed to go get coffee for me across the street; at eight o’clock, my other bridesmaids began streaming in with fruit and croissants for us to eat as we got ready. I could barely eat, but did my best to shove down some mango and a roll.

Getting Ready

Two robes hanging in my suite

Shannon and I hung robes in each room for the bridesmaids to find when they checked in!

My bridesmaids gift to everyone had been matching cotton robes, which my wedding photographer and close friend Shannon had helped me lay out in each room before the bridesmaids came. On the morning of the wedding, my friends all came in wearing their robes already, and we ate and chatted until the makeup artists arrived. With so many people fawning over me, I felt a bit like a celebrity (or the leader of a very floral girl gang).

One of the bridesmaids robes, with a nametag that I hand-lettered

I hand-lettered name tags for each robe, and wrote a little note on the back of each to thank my friends for coming so far to be a part of this week.

The makeup artists and wedding coordinators came shortly after, and we started getting ready. While they did our hair and makeup, my friends played music and Shannon took some time to photograph our ‘wedding details’ — the rings, invitations, wedding jewelry, and more (you’ll see this tomorrow!).

One of my bridesmaids looking out the window with some tea.

One of my bridesmaids looking out the window with some tea.

Another bridesmaid getting her makeup done.

Another bridesmaid getting her makeup done.

Months before the wedding, when I’d asked my friends to be bridesmaids, I’d told them all to get different dresses in a similar color palette. There were a few practical reasons for this: my friends have all different sizes, skin tones, and personal standards of modesty, so the same dress would look different on all them, anyway. They were also living in different countries when they were shopping for dresses (the US, Spain, and Morocco, with me in the Netherlands), so we couldn’t go shopping together. But I also wanted each friend to feel her best and be able to show her unique style. The coordinators knew this, so they had the great idea of doing everyone’s hair differently as well, to compliment their dresses and styles. To keep it tied together, the styles all included some flowers that matched my flower comb and bouquet.

One bridesmaid's hairstyle, a braided bun with white flowers behind her ear.

One bridesmaid’s hairstyle, a braided bun with white flowers behind her ear. You saw this same friend as a getuigen in my civil ceremony post!

I hadn’t spoken to Ken yet that morning, but we’d agreed to call each other a few hours before the wedding to check in. When I called him, he told me he thought he might be sick, because he felt nauseous and his hands were shaky when he was trying to shave. I told him it was probably nerves, but that we’d packed some anti-nausea medicine in the ‘wedding emergency kit’ just in case. (Spoiler: he was just nervous.)

Me on the phone with Ken on the morning of the wedding

Me on the phone with Ken, with bridesmaid Taylor looking on.

Dress Time

By the time we were ready to get into our dresses, the sun had come out already. The bridesmaids went into their rooms to put their dresses on, so Shannon thought it would be fun to do a last-minute ‘bridesmaids reveal’ — a moment where my best friends got to see me in my wedding get-up all at once, rather than helping me get into it. So, when the moment arrived for me to be buttoned into 6 layers of chiffon, it was just the coordinator, Shannon, my mom, and me.

My mom zipping me into my dress

My mom zipping me into my dress. This zipper goes underneath a row of buttons!

I put on my earrings, and the coordinator slipped my veil and flower comb into my hair.

Me putting on my earrings

My hair!

Once the last details were in place, Shannon let the bridesmaids in. Seeing them in their dresses (and for them, seeing me), was such a happy and emotional moment, and the first of several times that day that it hit me that I was getting married today. It hit me how incredibly lucky I was to have them here, from all across the world, to be a part of this. And, of course, I cried.

Seeing my bridesmaids as they came into the room!

Standing with two bridesmaids.

One bridesmaids laughing with me.

We planned to take a cute group photo of us all raising a glass together. But we were running a little late (those buttons take time, y’all), and our taxis to the venue were already outside. So instead, we wiped our tears, went downstairs, and got into the cabs to take us to the venue. I got into a car with just my mom and Shannon. I was about to see Ken for the first time on our wedding day.

If you’re enjoying following along, keep an eye out for tomorrow’s post, about the details we chose for our wedding, from invitations to ring inscriptions to vow books. And check back on Wednesday for the next part of the day: the first look!

Sara Laughed

Author: Sara Laughed

I'm Sara, a writer, programmer, and American in the Netherlands. This blog is about my life, discoveries, and mistakes. Follow along, and thank you for stopping by!

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