I got married last Sunday. It was wonderful, and so much fun. I don't think I stopped smiling all night. I think I learned a few things, though.
1. Weddings are not that serious, or important. They really aren't. The important parts are the years that follow the wedding. The wedding is just a big party for all the people who love you, and want you to be happy. That's not serious, that's a source of joy.
2. Always remember that the people you're paying to assist you are the experts. Treat them accordingly, and they will do incredible things. My dress-maker turned my ill-fitting dress (don't ask) into a masterpiece. The lady we spoke to about our cake arranged for two gluten-free cupcakes to be made for my mother and best friend, and had them decorated to match the main cake. The jeweler we bought the wedding rings from polished my engagement ring, the ITGeek's engagement watch and his grandmother's seventy year old necklace by hand, and when I asked her how much she wanted for it, she replied, 'Nothing. It's our wedding gift to you'. This one seems obvious to me, but judging from things we were told by quite a few of the people we dealt with, it's depressingly uncommon behaviour.
3. A wet weather plan is your best friend.
3a. If you hire umbrellas as part of your wet weather plan, it will not rain. It might be cold as hell, but it won't rain.
4. Have something warm to wear. I wore a full-length blue velvet cloak which I renamed 'the elegant Snuggie', made me look like someone from Lord of the Rings, and fulfilled my inner-child's desire to be a princess (actually, she wanted a sword, because that's her idea of a princess, but we settled on the cloak).
5. Tradition is nice, being yourself is nicer. Your guests know you're a tragic geek, they're not going to sneer if your recessional music is from Final Fantasy VII, they're going to laugh and nod. Likewise, your father is not going to worry if the groom is wearing Star Trek cuff-links, he's going to try to abscond with them (Yep, the Geeking is inherited).
6. Ideally, your bridal party should consist of a) somebody to look after the bride, b) somebody to look after the groom and c) somebody to lighten the mood. They should also, ideally, get along brilliantly and when not keeping the bride and groom sane, will be joining forces to merrily take the piss out of them.
7. Give your guests boxes of LEGO to play with at the reception. I was stunned at how successful this was. If they don't know the other people at the table very well, they will within a few minutes. If they all know each other, you'll end up with the most creative and bizarre war in human history (or Lego men in the soup. But I'm told that was a genuine accident. Making Lego spoons and eating with them wasn't, though). They'll also be way too busy to get drunk, which wasn't my intention, but made the reception venue very, very happy.
7a. Also, stick a box of breath mints, band-aids, headache tablets, deodorant, safety pins, and anything else people might need in a minor emergency in the bathrooms. They probably won't use it, but they'll appreciate it.
8. Dance, especially with the slightly drunk/excitable cousins who drag people onto the dance floor. But if your dress has a train, sit out 'Zorba the Greek' and don't even attempt the fancy version of the Nutbush. Even the excitable ones will understand.
8a. On second thoughts, avoid dresses with trains. Yes, they look awesome, and yes, I survived. But only just. Oh, and if your dress has a bodice you're tied into, somewhere around the main course, you're probably going to discover that the current combination of ties, food and your internal organs is not a great one, and something will have to give. At that point, grab your bridesmaid and loosen the fucking ties before your spleen explodes.
9. An awesome photographer is a gift from God. An awesome photographer with an assistant willing to contort into bizarre poses to get you a good shot is a gift from Godotopus.
10. Throwing a teddy bear with a couple of flowers around its neck instead of the traditional bouquet means that everyone (not just the unmarried women) can be involved, and when you hurl the poor thing straight into an overhead beam, it'll bounce back surprisingly well.
All these are just ideas for a good wedding day. But if you want a guaranteed perfect wedding day, the trick is to marry someone who makes you light up, and whom you, somehow, light up in return. You'll spend the entire night in a bubble of happiness. You won't even notice if something goes wrong because you've managed to find the most right thing you could ever experience, possibly more right than you deserve. That's a perfect wedding, right there.