I couldn't wait to start planning our wedding. I was convinced I would be in my element. I'd just walked away from a job in events. I'd recently helped one of my closest friends pull off her big day without a hitch (which included acting as planner, guest, stylist and makeup artist all at once). I was so sure that planning my own nuptials was going to be like breathing air to me; breezy, carefree and always under my tight control.
I was wrong. The planning process was by no means a nightmare, but it confronted parts of me that had gotten used to being undisturbed.
With a personality like mine, there is a very thin line between being in control, and having control issues. The latter tends to lead to bouts of heart-sinking anxiety, and very fast learned lessons in letting go. To soften the unexpected blow for other anxiety-prone control freaks out there that are about to say 'I do', I thought I'd share what I learned from the whole experience.
1. Ditch The Bridal Magazines
I was excited to purchase my first stack of wedding magazines. I made myself comfortable in bed on drizzly evening and spread them out around me. I was eager to dive in and be struck by inspiration. Hours later, my eyes were stinging and that sense of excitment had given way to a sense of overwhelming panic. How could I possibly combine all of the ideas I'd seen and loved and still keep things cohesive AND under budget!? Was a boho-rustic-nautical backyard black tie wedding with a full orchestra and doves with tiny jam jars around their necks a terrible idea!?
Bridal magazines may feature 'real weddings', but those weddings are hand picked by editors for a reason; they're aspirational, but not necessarily realistic for the average bride. Sure, that couple claimed they threw their pintrest-worthy vintage boho backyard wedding for a mere 10 grand... but unless you also work part time as a stylist, or have an uncle who is a fifth generation artisan that can hand carve each of your guests favours; chances are; your 10k wedding wont be like the one you saw in a magazine, and that is totally ok!
I say don't read 'em. I threw out my stack out midway and never looked back. Create your own style, and worry about your own budget without getting sucked into the out-of-reach wedding goals that permeate the alluring glossy pages of a magazine.
2. Remember The Bigger Picture
This was a trap I didn't foresee myself falling into. I didn't think I'd be the 'type' of bride who got so caught up in insignificant details, that she lost sight of the bigger picture. I wondered how someone could possibly find themselves miserable in the midst of making plans to marry the love of their life.
Yet a few months in, there I was; popping a vein over a missing email from a vendor, completely hating every minute of the process. It was a real wake up call.
Luckily, I'm super sentimental and its very easy to bring myself back to reality in this regard. When I felt myself being carried away with things that didn't matter, I'd switch focus to the more sentimental tasks like writing my vows, my speech or my wedding-morning letter to him.
It not only helped me tick things off my list, it grounded me. All of a sudden, not being able to have gold charger plates really wasn't the massive disaster I thought it was. If he showed up, and I showed up - that was really all we needed! Anything else that worked out along the way was simply a bonus.
Remember the "reason for the season". Know that how things look on the wedding day will pale in significance to the strength and importance of your relationship. This is an amazing time in your life, don't let it sour over a throw away detail.
3. Accept Help
During the planning stage, you'll hear "let me know If there is anything I can do to help". A lot. Some people are just being polite and probably have no real intention of helping you should you call on them, but a lot are making a legitimate offer.
For the love of god, take them up on it.
I am loathe to accept help from anyone, on anything. It comes with territory of, well, being me. My friends were constantly offering to help where they could. I thanked them, and then promptly ignored their offers. I didn't want to impose my super specific requirements and high expectations on anyone well meaning but unsuspecting. However, when things reached critical mass a month before the big day, I realised there was no way on gods green earth I would get through my to-do list without the help of my loved ones, so I called an emergency busy bee and had a great response.
Make it fun! To keep the type A at bay, prepare a list of things that others can help you with, then go to town with delegation. An afternoon spent in the company of family & friends crafting bonbierres or double checking timelines is an excellent bonding exercise. No one woman can pull off a 100 guest wedding all by herself, and the sooner you realise that, the easier you'll make things for yourself.
4. No One Cares as Much About Your Wedding as You.
I saved this one for last, but it packed the biggest emotional punch for me throughout the past 9 months. You need to face a truth that sounds a lot harsher than it is: no one gives as much of a shit about your wedding as you do. This is the 'biggest day of your life', and while we're conditioned by super cheesy bridal rom-coms to expect that everyone in our lives will uphold the same gut-busting levels of excitment and priority we're experiencing, this usually isn't the case.
At some point, someone will let you down. You may simply not be their first priority. It might be a bad time in their own lives. They may fuck up or go M.I.A and really disappoint you. It hurts; but you have two choices; dwell, or move on and enjoy your moments with those who so wish to, or are able to share them with you.
The best advice I have on this one, is to trust your gut. If you expectations are reasonable and they're not being met, that sucks, and can be hard to let go of. You deserve to be surrounded by people who make an effort to share your happiness. In this case, stand your ground and let people know you're disappointed or hurt. However if the expectation you place on someone else was too high to begin with, try not to use your wedding as the ultimate friendship litmus test. There is a lot of value in taking a deep breath and letting things go throughout the wedding planning process.
Other than that?
Bring flats for the reception
Have a large basket to carry your bridesmaids bags and shoes during photos
Go out of your way to thank out-of-town guests for attending on the day
....... and know that you don't get a do-over, so you may as well let go and enjoy the ride!