I’m a sucker for engagement stories and weddings. Truly. A few days ago I had the occasion to congratulate a recently betrothed couple – I think I scared them with my enthusiasm since we really don’t know each other that well. When I hear that someone got engaged I just get all jubilated and whatnot. The previously mentioned couple, after I calmed down a bit, asked if I had any advice for them as newly engaged people. Turns out, I do.
Planning a wedding? 9 things you must know
As you get into wedding planning and all the other things, people will tell you it’s stressful and the process is draining blah, blah, blah. It really doesn’t have to be! My husband and I look back at our wedding, planning and all, as a memorable, awesome time. Here are a few tips to keep planning low stress and navigate all the familial and financial madness that comes with getting hitched! Planning a wedding? 9 things you must know
Understand What You’re Getting Into –
My mother warned me early on: weddings and funerals bring out high emotions in families. This is the truth. You are joining your families, you are embarking on a day that your parents and/or loved ones have also dreamed about for you for years. Weddings turn into drama sometimes because that’s not taken into account. Have grace for your moms/dads/guardians – this is a big event for them, too. It’s a balance, as we’ll get into, but make sure you are doing your best to keep them in the loop – not to mention they want the best for you. Take their advice into account (as much as your pride may not want to) and make sure they feel, at least, heard. Don’t just not listen to nobody. I said what I said.
Establish What’s Important –
What are important traditions (family or cultural) or desires you’ve had for your wedding that you feel like you must have? There’s a lot that goes into weddings, it’s helpful to know up front the priorities. For us, for instance, I wanted to make sure we included jumping the broom in our ceremony. We also both love to dance, so we made sure the playlist for the DJ (and the “do not play under any circumstances list” which I highly recommend having) were on point.
We also took the extra step of asking our parents if there were any cultural/familial things they felt that it was imperative to have – giving them the understanding up front that it was important to us they feel included, but also that we would have the final say.
Advocate For Each other:
Keeping the above two things in mind, managing expectations will be an important and necessary task. We were blessed because our families were pretty amenable to most things. In the event that they were not, Andrew would advocate for our vision with his family and I with mine. This is not always easy but it is necessary. You are marrying each other, now is a great time to start behaving like a unit in the face of familial difficulty.
At the outset we tried to communicate the things we wanted and, when something was important to a parent that wasn’t necessarily that crucial to us, we agreed to it. We wanted our families to feel involved so we tried to make sure there was space in the planning to do so while still keeping our original vision at the forefront. But, at the same time…
Stick to your Proverbial Guns –
One of the more unpopular decisions we made was to have a dry wedding. There was no alcohol at our reception. Neither of us drink and we didn’t care to deal with any intoxicated people at my event that I was paying for. We just wanted some sober fun (which we had – our reception was the greatest, legitimately). We got a little bit of pushback from some family – nothing too serious, but in the end we knew how we wanted our night to feel.
If you have something that’s truly important to you, people will get on board. And, if they don’t, it’s your wedding, not theirs sooooo….I wouldn’t waste time justifying the decision.
Creativity Instead of Conflict
There are a lot of details to consider in wedding planning and that part can get stressful – especially because the wedding industry is a big racket designed to get all of your coins. One of the best things we did for ourselves was to treat road blocks in planning as opportunities to be creative instead of opposition that caused conflict.
Don’t have the money to order exactly what you want? OK, how can you two get creative to make/find/do something similar? We couldn’t afford decor for behind our head table so we brainstormed something and I made it. We couldn’t afford chair covers, so we ordered a butt ton of tulle from Amazon and made some chair bows work. It’s extra work, but it feels so awesome when you execute a vision together.
Expect something weird to happen
I didn’t bridezilla at all, mostly. The night before the wedding – our rehearsal – I’d gotten a hotel room for the night that was right down the street from the venue so I had extra time to relax, get ready, and the like. I arrived by myself with all of my belongings only for the woman at the desk to tell me they couldn’t give me the room because they didn’t take my card…the one I reserved the room on. At that moment any frustration I had for the day came out. I don’t think I was too bad (I don’t think) but she definitely received an earful. I had to call my dad for his credit card with a promise to pay him back and then do my makeup & hair and get dressed in the public bathroom in the hotel’s lobby. I looked like some sort of fancy hobo. That was a good time.
Not to mention on wedding day, as I stood in the hallway with my dad, about to walk down the aisle, our ring bearer came rushing towards me – in the opposite direction of the wedding. I was confused. Hadn’t the ceremony started? Was something wrong? As his aunt followed close behind, she filled me in on the sitch: it was at the exact moment he was supposed to walk down that he decided he needed to use the bathroom, so off he went. I had no ring bearer. Which wasn’t a big deal – i did find it quite hilarious, however.
Listen, something weird is going to happen. Or something inconvenient. Just expect it and take it in stride. It’s a day and a process with many moving pieces. Take note of it. Make it a game. Who can collect all of the, “this is something we’ll laugh about later”s? You may as well – it’s much better than stressing about it.
Keep a Spreadsheet
My husband did this for us because he likes spreadsheets and is an organized human. It would have been quite unfortunate if I was in charge of that.
Track the following:
Items you need
Items you want
Cost of each item and, where you found it (with links/phone numbers)
What you’ve already purchased as you go.
Any other info you find helpful.
Talk about this list often with each other and be clear about where the money is coming from. Do NOT go into debt ya’ll. Don’t do it. I promise it’s not worth it on the other side of things. I HATE talking about money – but I’m grateful that things were spelled out from the beginning. It also helps the process from getting messy or confusing since you know what’s coming in or going out.
Keep your Wedding Party Intimate
This may be unpopular if you have a lot of friends. As an introvert – this was maybe a bit easier for me than some. Here’s the thing, I’ve talked to many brides who look back at their pictures and can point to the bridesmaids they don’t really keep in touch with anymore. Make sure those around you that day are those who will be around for the long-haul. It doesn’t matter if that number is small – you’ll regret it more if you have 10 women in the picture and 8 years later you only talk to 3 of them.
The Wedding Is(n’t) Everything
My wedding was everything. I still say it was the best wedding I’ve ever been to – and i mean it. We didn’t have money to get everything we wanted, we did a lot ourselves, there were ups & downs. But in the end, we made sure the genuine things – the people that were important to us and the way the day felt – was what we wanted.
You will not remember exactly what you ate. You won’t remember everyone who was/wasn’t there. You won’t remember that the color of this or the height of that was off by a little or what didn’t arrive from Amazon on time. Planning a wedding? 9 things you must know
You will remember how you felt and how the room felt. You will remember the love you encountered through the process. Take time to remember every little thing people do for you out of love and take time to do what you can to love them in return. Have the most fun! The. Most. No one can take that from you unless you let them.
The thing we remember most and are the most grateful for to this day is the way our community of friends and family surrounded us. They pitched in when I knew they had other things to do, they loved, they were generous – this was, by far, the best and most enduring part of that day.
And, even then, that’s only the beginning. Focus on the wedding, yes, but focus more on the marriage. Don’t sacrifice relationships or peace for one day. Planning a wedding? 9 things you must know
What other tips would you give if you’ve walked down the aisle already? What questions do you have if you’re in the midst of wedding planning? Lay em on us!