What no-one told me about how to avoid wedding day amnesia

Guest post by JulieGolick
We'll never forget Julie's adorable dragon cake toppers! Photo by Sarah Goblot of Black Ink Photography
We'll never forget Julie's adorable dragon cake toppers! Photo by Sarah Goblot of Black Ink Photography

Wedding-day amnesia. It happens. Everything seemed so sharp on the wedding day as you swirled about in a sea of high emotions. And then, not so long afterwards, you realize that the whole thing is a giant blur in your head.

I’ve read articles here about how to prevent this from happening. They tell you to do things like slow down, remember to breathe, and spend some quiet time with your new spouse. That is all definitely important. But there’s something else that’s even more important if you want to preserve your wedding-day memories for months and years to come, and it’s something I only accidentally stumbled upon.

Write it down, as quickly as you can. Within 24 hours if possible.

Here’s the thing: memories fade. It happens in daily life, which is why you probably remember pretty clearly the conversation you had with your colleague this morning, but the one you had last week is fuzzy or already forgotten. You probably don’t notice it happening as much because if your days are anything like mine, most of them aren’t that special. You don’t necessarily care if you remember most of them in vivid-sharp detail.

Your wedding day, though, that’s different. That’s a day that you really want to remember. (Unless it was awful, in which case you have my deepest sympathies and I’ll treat you to a drink if you’re ever in Montreal.) You’ll solidify some of your memories in your conversations with friends and family members about how everything went. If your family is like mine, you’ll be having a lot of these conversations in the weeks after the wedding. Other memories you’ll regain when you see the pictures or videos from the wedding. After all, that’s one of the reasons we have photographers and videographers in the first place — to preserve those wedding-day memories for us.

But some events are never captured on film, and our thoughts tend to stay locked in our own heads. What about the little details? Things like the first thing you said to each other in private after you were married. Or the incomparably weird sensation of your false eyelashes sticking to your veil as you walked down the aisle. Or the joy you felt watching your mom play with your flower girl. Those are the little details that fade, and they fade quickly.

So write it down

If you want to remember it all, the absolute best thing you can do is to write down as many of your thoughts as you can, as quickly as you can. You don’t need to write everything out in full sentences with perfect grammar. Bullet-point notes are perfectly fine, as are doodles, mind-maps, scribbles, or anything else that will jog your memory later when you get a chance to write things out properly.

Unless you’re having a brunch or afternoon wedding, writing out your thoughts on the wedding day probably isn’t an option, but try to do it within 24 hours. It will be hard. You will still be sleep-deprived, torn in a thousand directions by gatherings of family and friends and last-minute obligations you didn’t realize you had. You may be on your way to your honeymoon. You will not want to write. Do it anyway.

My first chance came at 10:30pm the day after my wedding, after several days of far too little sleep. All I wanted to do was snuggle into my pillow. Instead, I spent two and a half hours writing. It’s the best decision I made around wedding time. My wedding was on a Sunday night. By Monday night, when I wrote down all my notes, I could already feel the details starting to slip from my mind. On Wednesday afternoon, when I started writing up my “wedding retrospective” on the flight to the honeymoon, I was already heavily reliant on those notes. Now, a month after the wedding, I use those posts to remind me of all the details I would otherwise have completely forgotten.

I’ll have them forever as treasured keepsakes, along with my photographer’s pictures and my cousin’s video footage. Years from now, I’ll be able to look back on all those little details and remember, “Oh, right! My brother was wearing his ‘stupid stupid rat creatures‘ pin and it totally cracked both of us up!”

So that’s my advice to brides who haven’t yet worn the white dress, or colored dress, or suit, or sari, or whatever. If you want to avoid “wedding amnesia,” write everything out while it’s still fresh in your mind. Believe me, your future self will thank you.

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Comments on What no-one told me about how to avoid wedding day amnesia

  1. Thank you for this! I am so worried about not remembering or savoring the whole day. I know what I’ll be doing on the plane to the honeymoon now….

    • Good luck! Honeymoon flights are definitely a great time to write out wedding memories.

  2. This has inspired me to keep a diary in general. Also- Rat creatures!!! I need ro go re-read Bone now.

    • “This has inspired me to keep a diary in general.”

      This year I started keeping a daily log. Before bed I write down 3-10 things I can remember about the day — something that made me laugh, something bugging me at work, who I saw, what I read, where I went, something I ate. No rhyme or reason. Just two minutes of something in a cheap dayplanner I found. It’s nice to be able to flip through it and piece a day back together by these little snapshots. Sometimes I forget to write it down until two or three days later and it’s amazing how much has already faded!

  3. I did this for my engagement! The next day, I used my webcam to capture my memory of the whole event, including all the little details, and hopefully capture some of the happiness I was feeling then 🙂
    Will definitely do this for my wedding too.

  4. I wish I could forget my wedding day, and most of my engagement….it sounds overdramatic to say I have wedding PTSD, but I had regular nightmares about the wedding for 15 months after it happened (still have them occasionally, four years later). And I have to be really, really careful about attending other people’s weddings and looking at wedding pictures or it’ll bring back all the anxiety. All the endless planning trying to make everyone happy, no one being satisfied, crunching numbers trying to save every penny we could, family members who weren’t speaking to each other and made the wedding all about their drama, setting up and cleaning up the day of and listening to my choices be criticized….thank goodness I got a decent spouse out of that mess.

    • Ugh, I’m so sorry to hear that! No one should have to feel that way about their wedding day! I’m glad the man was a great catch, at least! lol

  5. I think it’s interesting to want to remember a single day in so much detail. I get that some people want to, & meanwhile when I consider it for myself after reading posts about wedding day amnesia, it definitely goes into what feels like pressure for this day to be more important than all others, etc. that has been discussed on here a bunch before. I have a dreadful memory, so I do want to remember it- but just as much as I want to remember other things. Not overwhelmingly more so. It’s the WIC that makes me feel as though I should.

    Again, not to discount other folks’ feelings or experiences- Just interesting all the different ways pressure shows up when talking about a day with so much cultural expectations around it.

  6. What a wonderful idea. I’ve been a journal keeper, however it’s always been during times of depression and anxiety. My journals are filled with problems and angst. I almost never write about the good stuff. I think this is the best idea. It’s time to start journals filled with happiness and good times.

  7. This is a good idea and I definitely have/had this. I remember lots of things, but then other bits I have to be reminded of. Even though I’m 5 years out I might try this.

  8. If you think that writing may be too exhausting, you could always do voice recordings on your phone, whether as the day progresses or the day after. Seems more efficient to me.

    • Definitely a great idea! I’m personally a more visual person, and writing has always come easier to me than speaking when it comes to putting my thoughts down in some semblance of order. But if voice recorders work for you, then absolutely do that! The important thing is to get your thoughts out of your head and somewhere more permanent as quickly as possible, not the specific format they take.

  9. Good plan!
    I find the same happens with childbirth too, you’re on such a high of adrenaline and emotional slowly but surely it starts to fade and you forget things.
    I find that it’s important, you need write it down so you’ll always remember 🙂

  10. I have a poor short term memory as it is so after reading so much about the wedding day amnesia phenomenon, I was careful to try to take steps to avoid having it happen. Though I’d never really sought out “solutions” for it, my main plan was to try to slow down, really look at things, really look at people, listen, breathe, sit, take a mental photograph. I did all of these things and it had really helped (at least so far, three weeks post-wedding, lol).

    Also, even though I knew the Tribe was shutting down and barely anyone would read it, I wrote a series of something like 8 journal entries about all of it, partly because I did want to share it with others but mostly so that *I* would have it… I have my story of our wedding day, forever. 🙂

    • Yup! That’s why I wrote up my 10-part retrospective too! In the end, it’s something I’ll have forever that I can look back on and remember all the details of the day.

  11. Great idea! A while back I did a little project, where every day for a month I wrote down one thing I was grateful for – something that happened that day, or something about life in general. Every now and again I stumble across it and am so encouraged and uplifted by immersing myself in blessings/gratitude. I’m definitely going to do this for my wedding day! I really like the voice recording idea too, in addition to the notes. I’d like to have it on record when hubby and I reminisce about the day so I get his memories too 🙂

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