I Planned A Wedding Once
If you’ve ever been through the wedding planning process, then you know a few key things to be true.
- You gain a lot of new, completely useless knowledge and skills.
- You want to tell ANYONE about said knowledge you have now acquired because the information literally has nowhere to exit your body.
- You now understand and sympathize with every friend, family member, and occasional stranger who left completely unsolicited wedding planning advice in your Facebook comments or to your actual face in real life when they cornered you in the break room, at a party, or grocery store check-out line.
It’s been ten months since my wedding, and I’ll be honest, I’ve barely thought about it since. I wasn’t one of those girls who devoted their lives to the planning process and I didn’t cut all my hair off immediately after in a panic that no one would ever pay attention to me ever again. I didn’t have the identity creep many brides experience.
It was all a blur of intense emotions that have since passed, but the photos are lovely.
Still, information is kind of like matter; it cannot be created or destroyed. It just sort of moves through and out of us.
I have a lot of information, learnings, and thoughts on wedding planning and I simply don’t have anywhere to put these facts and opinions because I don’t plan on getting married again. Please consider sympathizing and understanding why I’ve taken the time to proverbially get this out of my system.
Debate Even Having A Wedding At All
Really though, this is important. Wrestle with the thought of having a wedding. It’s a shit ton of money, time, and frustrating, tearful, emotionally revealing conversations. Are you prepared for this? Is it worth it to you? I was in therapy while planning my wedding, which duh, and I spent many sessions grappling with the investment. My therapist pointed out that weddings were important for families because it was the only time, aside from funerals, which as you know can be a real drag, where the whole family comes together. She explained that culturally, it’s important for families to formally usher in a new generation. When people say weddings aren’t really about YOU, this is what they actually mean. After thinking about it, I bought this rationale. I also decided it was more likely for me to regret NOT having a wedding than having one, so here we are thousands of dollars and priceless memories later.
Take Time Before You Plan
After we got engaged, I said I didn’t want to entertain planning for at least three months. Like, I didn’t want to think about anything related to wedding bells for a whole summer. Despite people wanting to talk to me about dresses, decor, and florals the whole time, I stuck to my guns and didn’t concern myself with booking anything until my moritorum had ended. It was a great decision because it gave me time to enjoy just being engaged and let it all marinate in the back of my mind so I never felt rushed.
Set A Budget, For Real
Ok, this seems obvious but please don’t judge me. If you’re paying for your wedding yourself, this will be easier because you probably have a finite amount of money to spend, and you’re more than aware of every dollar placed on a credit card. While we took care of our fair share, we were so incredibly lucky to have the bulk of our wedding subsidized by our families. When the financing is coming from a few different (very helpful, important) sources, it can be easy to let things can spiral with everything else you have going on like budgeting the rest of your life. Planning can get overwhelming, on top of your very existence. We set a general budget range and ended up falling into it, but higher than anticipated. In retrospect, we could have saved a decent chunk of change by being much more disciplined in tracking where the money was going toward the end when we were crazed and throwing dollar bills at problems, or even being more ruthless with the guest list, but honestly, it’s just money. It’s like the information, it’s fluid. Bottom line advice, make one person act as treasurer to make sure someone’s protecting the budget and making sure things stay in line, and if you don’t…make you sure you really enjoy your damn fancy party.
Anticipate Guest List Drama
If one person is treasurer, then the other partner needs to assume the role of secretary. The guest list will, hands down, be the hardest part of wedding planning, and quite possibly, your entire marriage. Tears will be shed. Relationships will be compromised. Plus-ones will become currency. You will instantly be amazed at how many people are in your immediate family because you never bothered to count (or give them a price tag). The guest list is the most complicated because it’s the only thing on which your parents will have an opinion that you absolutely need to take into consideration. Like my therapist pointed out, weddings are one of the few occasions when families have a reason to congregate so it becomes very contentious. The real problem is that it’s two families trying to do this for the same event with one venue capacity limit. Cousins you met once (if ever) suddenly become VIPs and it’s hard to juggle priorities when they’re people with feelings. Oh and then there are your friends, and the people they’re casually (maybe?) dating. You start having to make up real dumbshit rules like, significant others who are not married, engaged or at least living together cannot come because you have to figure out SOME way to not invite hundreds of people. But, it’s 2018, I think (I HOPE) people understand how much weddings cost and know that it’s not possible to invite everyone.
Do The Big Stuff First
Honestly, all you need to book way in advance is your venue, caterer, florals, music, photographer, and planner. The rest will all fall into place, and a lot of the details can’t even be done until the last few months or weeks. Just make some Pinterest boards and hire professionals.
Remember You Don’t Know How to Plan A Wedding
This leads me to, perhaps, my most critical piece of advice. No matter how crafty you think you are, and how many DIY blogs you’ve read, remember that you do not know how to plan a wedding. Likely, you have never done this before, and hopefully, you won’t need to again until you maybe have kids, and by then getting hitched on Mars might be an option and your dumb millennial skills will be obsolete. Anyway, you don’t know what you are doing. Period. This is why the best investment you will make during this whole process is in professionals who do know what they’re doing. Hire a planner. They don’t have to do everything, but there is really no need for you to spend time teaching yourself how to order rentals and do layout configurations. There is a professional who can do it in his or her sleep, and they have contacts at the ready. Find someone who gets your vision, and figure out how involved it makes sense for them to be in your planning process.
Know You Aren’t Doing Your Wedding Party Any Favors
Don’t get me wrong, you’re still a hero by letting your bridesmaids choose their own dresses and groomsmen reuse a suit they already own, but it doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. Even though your friends want to wear something they love, they are still hyperconscious about what YOU want –– because they are your best friends. This is why you’ve chosen these chill ass people to stand beside you during your big day. You still need to provide some rules and color schemes otherwise it’s actually pretty stressful for them to be shooting fish in a barrel trying to make you happy. Even the chillest brides need to have an opinion.
Learn To Replace Therapy With Etsy
I wish I had a timesheet of all the hours I spent on Etsy while I was wedding planning because I clocked A LOT of nights lit up with the glow of homemade items emanating off my computer screen. For the most part, I was pretty relaxed during wedding planning. I booked all the big-ticket items, put the look and feel in the hands of my talented visual wizard of a future husband, and trusted my hired crew of professionals. BUT, I still spiraled, and when I did…it was on Etsy searching for literally, the dumbest shit. I’m talking bridesmaid robes (to be worn for mere hours), ring boxes, guest books, and other minutiae that made no difference to the bottom line of how I felt on my wedding day. It’s easier to focus on the small “problems,” and that’s what I did…pretty exclusively on Etsy. But, honestly, the robes turned out great.
Don’t Plan A Wedding During The 2016 Election
I know this won’t happen again because it’s currently impossible to time travel fortunately/unfortunately, but I really don’t recommend trying to plan a wedding while the state of democracy begins to crumble, or honestly at the very least, BE A HAPPY HUMAN. The political and social state of our country made wedding planning a real bummer. It was hard to focus on trying to pick appetizers when many of our human rights were in peril. It was pretty difficult to feel bridal in 2016/2017.
0/10 would not recommend, but if things are still scary when you’re wedding planning, just try to compartmentalize and don’t feel guilty for freaking out over whether or not to wear a veil. It’s still a valid concern.
Realize Everyone Can Go Fuck Themselves
I’m not a people pleaser. That was one of the first things I told my wedding planner. It can sometimes complicate things in my personal life, but when it comes to stuff like planning a wedding, it’s an incredibly helpful character trait. However before I explain my assholery, I will say one caveat. Everyone but your parents (ESPECIALLY if they are helping pay for your very special day) can go fuck themselves. It’s important to take your parents’ wishes into consideration, and honestly, they probably won’t have that many. Or maybe I just lucked out with chill parents. BUT, everyone else doesn’t matter. It really is your day. Whatever you want goes. We made some non-traditional choices like I walked down the aisle to a song called Giving Up, decided to do heavy appetizers instead of a full plated dinner (because apps are the best part of any wedding), and didn’t allow kids. Some people loved it, others were probably hungry. I had a cousin not come to my wedding because we decided to have an adults-only night, and that’s just the way it was. Don’t worry about other people’s needs and wants; they’re coming to celebrate you. And if that’s not cool with them, then someone wins the wedding lottery and gets to bring their non-live-in significant other.
At least consider it! We did many times. Mostly, we toyed with doing a secret courthouse wedding for no reason other than we were kind of enamored with the idea. We didn’t end up doing it, but someone should.
Write Your Own Vows
I woke up on the morning of my wedding at 6:00 am with one thought, “OMG THE VOWS.” I fully understand why people choose not to write their own vows. It’s scary as shit. It was the single thing I was most nervous about leading up to the wedding and on the actual day. I’m a writer. I worked on my vows for a month to make sure they were heartfelt but still funny, deeply intimate but also inclusive and included things I’ve never said to my husband. I was still terrified. It’s horrible no matter how comfortable you are with public speaking. That all said…I still recommend you do it. It doesn’t need to be long, but finding personal words to say to your spouse in front of your friends and family is the whole reason everyone showed up. Our vows were obnoxiously long; my husband very earnestly threw out a “tight 10 each” when planning the ceremony with our rabbi. But still, people said it was their favorite part. And honestly, it was probably mine too!
Understand You Really Won’t Eat
I thought this was a stupid thing people told me leading up to the wedding. Pfft, OKAY. I’m not like other brides. I’m a cool bride. I’m a bride who will make time to eat the food I so tediously selected. Honestly, I thought it would be easy because we did apps all night; there was literally food everywhere. I was very, very wrong. What I didn’t take into account was that I literally could NOT eat. Completely overcome with emotion, I had a ball in the pit of my stomach the entire night and could not stomach anything. Sigh. I hope everyone enjoyed the mini-desserts!
Plan Two Honeymoons
You need two honeymoons; they’re both important. The first honeymoon is to be taken directly after the wedding. It should be a short trip and only last a few days. Book a fancy hotel with an awesome pool and spa and don’t leave. You need a few days to chill the hell out. We went and stayed at the Ojai Valley Inn for the better part of a week because I somehow finagled a crazy rate I haven’t seen since, so it’s likely we’ll never get to go stay again. Then you go on a second honeymoon about six months later. This second honeymoon should be challenging. I’m talking testing the limits of your love with long-haul flights, braving crapshoot Airbnb conditions, and generally not eating and sleeping well. Go have a real experience as a married couple where you can’t break up at the end. We went to Europe for two weeks and didn’t kill each other. I’m happy to report we are stronger than ever.
You Don’t Need To Write A Book/Screenplay About Your Experience
I’ve seen a lot of women not know where to put all this newfound wedding planning knowledge, and let’s be honest, trauma, so they believe they need to write a book or screenplay to house their very specific and unique story and maybe work through said trauma. It’s not necessary. The world already has My Best Friend’s Wedding, Bride Wars, 27 Dresses, Bridesmaids, Sweet Home Alabama, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Made of Honor and the holy grail, Father of the Bride. You don’t need to do it.
Just write a long-winded blog post not many people will read or care about and move on until it’s time to get invested in mommy blogs.