I'll let you in on a little secret-I didn't want a wedding. I know, I'm the anti-bride, I get it. But seriously, I had no desire to have a wedding. If it had been solely up to me, I would have hired an amazing photographer, called up my closest family and friends, driven up to the mountains, and I would have had a tiny elopement-style ceremony atop Max Patch. But it was important to Michael to have a wedding. His first wedding was a teenage whim outside the juvenile detention center. Not exactly the dream ha! So, I gave in, and we're having a wedding. Eight months we've been planning and throughout that time I've learned a lot.
I was pretty uninformed going into my planning. The do-er in me wanted to jump in, take control, and just make my decisions as I went. I didn't leave myself too open to advice from others about the process. Looking back, I wish I'd been more open to receive it.
I wasn't though, which has brought me my own challenges and lessons learned. After eight months, here's a few things I wish I would have known prior to planning our wedding:
That Time Will Go Faster Than You Think
I guess this lesson pretty much applies to life in general. Being the 'Chill Bride' is all fine and dandy, but you can't be so lackadaisical that you put things off. My entire thought process while wedding planning has been incredibly relaxed. The two most important things to me were finding a beautiful venue, and most importantly an amazing photographer to capture our moments. After that I was like, "No rush, it will all come together." Yeah, it totally will all come together- but at the cost of being a little stressed out. I didn't even buy a dress until three months to-the-date of my wedding, and left way too many decisions until the last minute. We started planning at about the ten-month mark, and while ten months sounds like plenty of time looking ahead- it will go so fast! Next thing you know you'll be like me right now, figuring things out last minute at the two-and-a-half-month mark!
To Think Before You Book
When I say, "think before you book," I don't mean that you should extra consider whether or not you want to get married, or whether 'x' vendor is the right fit for you (although those are definitely thoughts you should consider beforehand.) Really, think about the date of your wedding and what's going on at that time. Michael and I weren't really partial on a particular date, we just knew that we wanted something in the fall. If we booked something for the following fall, we'd have plenty of time to plan our wedding, no problem. But Michael would also be transitioning out of the military a month and a half before that. At the time, it seemed like no big deal. We'd manage just fine right? And who wants a two-year long engagement? Well, fast forward to now and we're right in the middle of our big life transition and the most involved portion of our wedding planning. We're changing careers, possibly moving, and stretching pennies. Not our smartest move (you were right, mom.) Think about what life events could be surrounding your date and plan accordingly. It can get crazy and the less stress, the better.
That It's NOT Just About You
As vain as it sounds, it took a while for it to sink in that my wedding day was absolutely not just about Michael and me. At first, I found myself frustrated at decisions that felt beyond my control. It was my day, right? Well yeah. But it's also our son's day, our parent's day, our grandparent's day... our whole family's day. It's a day they've been waiting their whole lives for, just like us. So much of wedding planning is about pleasing other people, and while that may seem frustrating sometimes, (trust me, I know) this day is bigger than just you. Sure, it's a celebration OF you, but it’s certainly not all about you. The sooner you realize this, the more relief you'll feel (and the less resentment you'll have for others.)
...But That It Is Ultimately Up to You
If might not be solely about you, but you do get the final say in most decisions. Choose your battles wisely, but if it comes down to it and you feel strongly about something, stand by your choice. It is your wedding, and the day is meant to reflect who you are as a couple. No one is going to blame you for speaking out about what you want at your wedding.
That It's Expensive... No... Like REALLY Expensive
Some of my friends have joked to me that I'm like the 'anti-bride' and when it comes to the financial aspect of weddings, that might be completely true. I'll come right out and say it: I think it's completely asinine to spend this kind of money on one day. I knew coming into things that weddings were expensive, but holy cow I had no idea. We're projected to hit nearly $12,000 total for our big day, and that's considered modest in the wedding world! The thought of it still triggers my frustration. Luckily, we've worked hard to keep things as frugal as possible while also trying to be accommodating of our guests and realistic. We decided ahead of time what our big splurge items would be, and the rest we're budgeting hard and DIYing. There's many small costs that completely slipped my mind when planning my budget, like postage, flatware, and guest books. Be prepared for high tickets, deposits, and expenses that you didn't anticipate on. Save your dollars and have a "just-in-case" fund. You know, just in case. As far as expenses go, don't be afraid to negotiate and to use as many connections as you can. You won't be disappointed to have a little extra savings to shove towards your honeymoon!
That Traditional Isn't the Only Way
I'm still struggling with this a lot. There's this fear of remorse I get at times while planning. I worry a lot about regretting my non-traditional choices later on, and also worry about how others might feel about them. Like, will my parents be disappointed if I don't cover my tattoos on my wedding day? Will my Catholic family be offended by my agnostic officiant? When really, who cares? It's 2017, and there isn't just one way to have a wedding anymore. I'm learning to sit back and be accepting of who I am as a person. If my wedding is supposed to be a reflection of my personality- I'm doing everything right. I'll have to get back to you after the wedding, but I'm almost certain nobody loses sleep ten years after their wedding because they chose to wear a crop top wedding gown. Don't be afraid to go all out and be as fun as you want. It's your day.
That Reading Your Vendors is Key
This was a huge thing I learned along the way. Reading your vendors seeming competency and professionalism early on can save you A LOT of time when vendor shopping. For a long time, I waited far too long for responses from vendors, gave them the benefit of the doubt when they'd cancel appointments last minute, and remained way to relaxed about lack of portfolios or references. Yeah, I know, 'Chill Bride.' But then, after several months of being fed up with the lack of response, professionalism, and accountability from vendors- I started reading people. Now if representatives don't immediately put off an acceptable level of professionalism, a seeming passion about what they do, and most importantly; act as if being a part of my wedding team is important to them- boy bye.
I think roles are something that have become a little misconstrued throughout the years in the wedding industry. The greatest thing about planning your wedding is that YOU are the consumer. Your role is to shop and decide who YOU want to represent you on your day. A vendor's responsibility (besides the service they provide) is to market to individuals (like you) and PROVE why they are a good choice for your wedding. Guess what? If a vendor takes three weeks to respond to my email, all they've proved is that:
A. My business isn't important to them.
B. They don't consider my time valuable, or
C. They have poor time management, business management, and customer service skills
Either way, they don't get my business. I mean really, if someone doesn't have their ish together before your wedding, how can you trust them to handle the biggest day of your life?! That's my motto now.
To Be Happy
Let’s face it, wedding planning is stressful, overwhelming, and sometimes feels like a chore. I feel like this is especially true for me because a big wedding was never on my agenda. It's easy to get lost in all the stress, and forget about what the day really means to you. I recently had to take a step back and be my own hype-man. This day will be one I remember for the rest of my life. It will serve as one of the best days of my lifetime, and that's something to be excited about! So, take an initiative to be happy and enjoy the little moments while planning your wedding. Laugh about your slobber soaked wedding envelopes, and all the crazy "great ideas" you get from others for your day. Be with your partner and be happy. It can make tedious plans, seem a whole lot less tedious.
For the first time along this wild planning ride, I'm really starting to enjoy the process. I'm excited for what our future holds, and I'm grateful for all the 'planning wisdom' I've gained along the way. I'm glad I could pass it off on someone!
Have advice of your own? I'd love to hear all the lessons you've learned/are learning in the comments section below!