An Almost Married Bride's Tips to Stress Free Wedding Planning
I felt it was right to put this post in the Healthy Mind section of Cage Free Living because boy do you need that! Matt and I have been wedding planning for 10 months now and we are luckily 30 days away from the BIG DAY today! At this point, it is pretty much smooth sailing to the arbor but I want to share with guys some of the lessons I have learned over the last 10 months and answer some questions. First tip I have is this, take time for yourself, upon the world finding out you are engaged the questions will flood in, the opinions will come unsolicited, and your brain will start to turn into a cluster of thoughts. My tip, sit down with your fiance and take time before the noise of the world ramps up and write down what you want. Write down your priorities. Obviously the #1 most important part from here on out is the fact that you are getting to marry your best friend and that should always settle your mind. BUT like all Brides/Grooms you are bound to have a vision as to what you dreamed this day would look like. I tried really hard to slow down and do this, and in hindsight I could've taken a little more time. Your family is bound to be just as excited as you are and their excitement can sometimes over cloud your mind. So take a deep breath. Give yourself a good month or 2 after being engaged to wait before starting the wedding planning process. Remember your family is in shock too so everyone could take a few weeks to soak it in. I think this really helps. Calm minds make much better decisions! So take time to process that and write it down. A little inspiration to get you started, here was my list.
- Dad walks me down the aisle
-Father daughter dance
-Mom there when I get ready
-Relatives I haven't seen in a while will hopefully come. (My thought here, life is short and I want to hug the people I haven't in a long time.)
That was it. For Matt and I we opted for no cake, we didn't want to spend a lot of money and we wanted to keep it as small as we possibly could. So our first number was 80. Unfortunately/Fortunately we have a lot of people in our lives that really want to be there so that number grew to 100 and then to about 120. We tried to say no, but it was just too awesome of a feeling to encounter so many people that truly wanted to be there for us. So we swayed a little on that. I have no catered flowers, that's a grocery store trip I'll take the day before (which I am really looking forward too!) We didn't care about decor too much just knew we wanted it to feel like us. Lastly, I called in a friend and old teacher to cater some simple tacos. Our original budget was $6,000 and we made that work completely, but then spent a little more on a rainy day contingency plan just in case and on increasing the number of guests. We are having the wedding at a family friends ranch for free so that really afforded us the ability to plan it exactly how we wanted with no time/date/food or other venue restrictions.
That brings me to my next tip. After you have written down what you want and you and your partner are on the same page. Decide on a budget goal.
A budget is really important. Dot your i's and cross your t's all within your budget and you won't have any last minute worrying when you have to pay all the bills at the end.
Wedding party or no wedding party? Having no wedding party can save money and it was a thought we both had. Here are the pros and cons to both.
No wedding party means less money and less expectations on friends. Less flowers to buy less communication and details to feather out throughout the whole process. Con, your friends may mean the world to you and you may have dreamed about them being up there with you. I recently asked a friend what the experience was like being a bridesmaid of mine and she said, "it was an honor and an extremely good feeling, a testament to our friendship and it has been a great experience." I opted for 6 bridesmaids and have had a lot of fun with it. It can be really hard to pick if you have a lot of friends, although one con I will say is that feelings can get hurt. I know 3 other girls who would've loved to be asked, one in which I was a bridesmaid for and love. That was hard, you never want to hurt people but my partner and I decided on 6 and I stuck to it by choosing 1 friend from each stage of my life. Family (Aunt), Childhood, Elementary, High School, College and my Study Abroad Experience. That made my choices a lot easier.
Next tip, it's ok not to know. Everyone will tell you over and over that it your special day and you should do whatever you want. Sometimes you don't know what you want and that's ok. When I found I didn't know and everyone was throwing their ideas and opinions my way I'd get stressed about all the choices. Take a moment, decide if its something you care about, if not, then give that responsibility away, if you do then take all the time you need and choose. Not knowing what you want is ok. Sometimes I had no idea what I wanted and I realized then I probably didn't need to know it. What kind of flowers for example, uh...sunflowers/I don't know, whatever looks pretty that day! Easy enough. What kind of shoes...oh geez, I don't know lets go shop. What kind cake plates and napkins....I didn't know/care....so I let someone else decide and surprise me! Not knowing is okay!
Next tip, BOUNDARIES tell your friends and family up front that you are excited about the experience and have particular things you want but that you will not tolerate any drama. This is supposed to be a fun experience for you and the #1 stereotype we all know about is the crazy mom or grandma/relative/family friend. We love them, we are so happy to have them, but they can be dramatic and add so much unnecessary stress. Set boundaries right away. Draw that line in the sand in whatever way you need to. My line was drawn a little late and it was about drama surrounding guest list, family concerns, and who was invited etc. I drew this line a couple days ago and it is actually what inspired me to write this. This is your day and you don't have to listen to anyone but yourself. If you are recovering people pleaser like me, this can be difficult. Acknowledge the people around you and their comments and concerns but let them roll right off of you and keep planning and dreaming up the day you want. Family can be the #1 reason Brides and Grooms stress or feel any anxiety about their wedding and I want to help you ward that off from the beginning. A lot of times it is inevitable so my second tip in this area is to find a friend that can be a sounding board or strong pillar for communication to help keep you set on your goals and surrounded with support.
My last tip is this. Remember that the moment you said Yes and both you and your partner embarked on the engaged chapter of life you became "married" in your hearts. A wedding is just a big party that we throw to celebrate love but the marriage has already started. You and your soon to be legal spouse are just signing a paper, proclaiming your love in front of your family, and under whatever deity or religion you subscribe too. So know that at the end of the day this is just 1 day. 1, 6ish hour event that wont make you any more married than the next married person. So enjoy the family time, enjoy picking out fun details, leave the stuff you don't care about to someone else if you can and soak it all in. You're in love, you're loved and there is no greater feeling.
Best of luck in all of your plans. Stick to your guns and do what you want and if you don't know what that is, then just do what feels good.
soon to be married,