there was a time in my life when all my girlfriends were engaged. seriously. everyone but me and mathlete. which is pretty impressive, because we are friendly people. then everyone got married, we graduated college, and decided to leave home on our own adventure and escape all those crazies.
i didn’t know it could happen, but i think we are back in that season. thankfully, i have a different mindset (mostly because i was the first engagement in the group, so i can’t be cranky like i was in my youth). now, i am swelled with excitement, like a kid in december. as i reflect on my time as a fiancée with fond memories of minimal stress, lots of support, and coming in under budget, i want to share some lessons i learned from my experience as well as the weddings of 20 something brides i know.
- divide and conquer: there are like 101 things to do for a wedding (which is crazy because it is just 1 day), but once you’re a bride, those 101 things become ridiculously important and you want to sprint through all the tasks. don’t. divide and conquer them. say you have a 9 month engagement. take all the jobs and give yourself 10-15 to do per month. only focus on those items in their respective month and once you complete them, don’t go back. you can’t go from august to the previous april in real life, don’t let yourself do it in the planning.
- talk to your honey and let him help: he may suck at planning. he may love it. try to gauge how much he wants to be involved in the process and then follow through with it. ace just wanted to help me make decisions, but he didn’t want to be involved in the research or ideas collection process. so when i found a couple of color schemes i liked (i tried to narrow everything down to 3 because he likes 3s), i showed him the options and he got to pick the final one. it was great! i always got what i wanted and he got to help. this approach made me feel like all the pressure wasn’t only on my shoulders, which is what a honey is there for.
- identify what is most important about the day and plan your wedding (and the budget) around it: we wanted it to be representative of us and feel like a fun family party. so we put most of the money towards things that would make that feeling more likely. insert wicked awesome band (charleston’s the vistas), great food (creative catering), and a grand but intimate venue (georgia state railroad museum). oh. and an open bar. that helped make it more fun too.
- know what you want: an indecisive bride is so hard to work with. either know what you want and make it happen or commit to not knowing what you want and let someone else make the choice. stop wavering. start committing.
- pick your top 5: choose the top 5 (or for some brides this may look closer to 10) things that are important for you to pick based on your personal taste or childhood dreams. most of the time this is in the dress and the details. pick those fist clenchers (the things you can’t let go of) and let your team help with the rest. for example, i didn’t care about what the food was, as long as it was good. the menu wasn’t in my top 5, so i delegated the decision. we had barbecue and it was amazing. seriously.
those are my big tips, but i think there should be room for an honorable mention section…
- pinterest is awesome. men are visual. its harder to spend 15 minutes describing how the altar will look than to pin (or tear out from a magazine) a couple of pictures that can do most of the work for you.
- manage your budget. especially if your folks are paying. i think most weddings end out going over based on unexpected expenses alone (tips, last-minute purchases, etc). keep this in mind and be proactive to stay reasonable.
- take a few minutes alone with your parents (or whoever ushers you) before you walk down the aisle. it’s special to them.
- make a shot list for your photographer. ask and you will receive.
- give your cell phone to a friend on your wedding day. you don’t need to know what is going on behind the scenes, but a responsible friend or family member should.
- know something will go “not according to the plan” and decide beforehand that it will be ok. this is just one day and the main point is not to have a perfect wedding that impresses folks. the point is to get married and start your forever. as long as that happens, its perfect.
- do it yourself. if you can cut costs by asking a friend to do the centerpieces or play the music, go for it. it adds sentimentality and saves you at the bank. you can also “pass off” things to your honey. letting him take on tasks builds trust and compromise. these are pretty significant skills for a successful marriage so you might as well get started.
- do a receiving line at the reception! gives you a guarantee to say hi to everyone without forgoing your time on the dance floor.
- don’t ask too much of your bridesmaids. they will already buy whatever you want them to and throw your glorious showers. if you can save money by letting them wear their own black shoes or do their own hair and make up, let them. weddings are expensive. be nice to their wallets and take their financial impact into consideration.
- try to avoid an outgoing flight before 9 am the next morning. we boarded at 6 am and it was terrible.
i hope this helps. well, in the least i hope it exposes some things you may or may not want to do and gets you thinking about strategies to ease your stress! If you’re reading and have already been married, post some commentary on your best tips below!