Thursday, March 9, 2017

7 Tips for Happier & More Intentional Wedding Planning (10 Months Experience!)

I remember being younger and thinking, there will be a time in my life when the people my age - myself included - will be getting married and having kids. I can't believe that time is here! Both my brother and Matt's sister are engaged (wooooo!), and it's gotten me thinking about weddings.

Like I said in a previous post I wrote about wedding planning, I really enjoyed most of the wedding planning process. It suited me, I'm someone who loves planning things like that. I really felt in my element and thoroughly enjoyed myself - most of the time. Wedding planning definitely had its challenges as well. With pressures from different directions, worries about hurting feelings or people feeling excluded, as well as worries about asking too much or too little of people (essentially, pleasing people), it definitely was challenging at times and there were a few sets of tears shed.

Reflecting on my wedding planning journey, I thought I'd write a post about the things I learned throughout the process (or, mostly, in retrospect). Here are my "tips," straight from the "expert" (hahaha). 10 months of experience!

I thought it would be a fun way to format a few things I learned in the wedding planning process :)

1. You can't please everyone, so don't bother trying

This is coming to you from the people pleaser of the year. Sometimes I wonder if it's an oldest child thing, or if it's just who I am. I always want to please everyone, but not only is that approach to wedding planning stressful, it's impossible. People are going to have conflicting opinions and interests, so you can't please everyone. Also, why would you want to? Do you really want a wedding that is a conglomeration of the desires and opinions of everyone around you? Or a wedding that is a celebration of your love, the beginning of the journey of a lifetime with your one and only, and a unique reflection of the two of you? Of course it's great to bounce ideas off the people close to you, to ask for advice and inspiration when you need it, and to take others feelings into account. It isn't their wedding, though. Also, nobody knows your whole story so they never have a right to judge. They don't know your budget, who and what you are taking into account, or your reasons behind the decisions you make. So there is my little rant on that one. I think the best people to ask for advice are the people who simply want to help you figure out what is best for you and your future spouse on your special day. Everyone around me was so kind through the whole process and I still worried about pleasing people, so I am saying all this as something to strive for, not something I was great at. It is more difficult to implement than it is to write it down on a blog post, but worth the effort. Worry about the opinions of your future spouse, you, and God. That's enough :)

Saying our vows

2. Question the traditions and expectations

I had a fairly large and fairly traditional wedding, and that's because that is what I wanted. I know people who have who've had very unique, small, intimate weddings, and I hope that is because they wanted a unique, small, intimate wedding. I think it is so great that we can question the traditions, expectations, and the things most people are doing, and decide whether we want to include those things in our wedding or not!

3. If you choose to have arranged table seating, don't worry about what every guest will think about where you seated them

I know this is very specific but in my memories of wedding planning, this is the stressful part that stands out to me, funnily enough! Okay, so of course you should put a little thought into it (if you choose to have arranged seating), but I don't think this should be really stressed over. It's something that has to be done fairly close to the wedding day when your brain (and emotions) are going a little crazy, as you have to wait until you get all of the rsvps in before you can arrange the table seating. If I did one thing differently while planning my wedding, I would not worry so much about table seating. People can move after they've finished eating if they want to. Another option is allowing people to seat themselves, but there is some controversy over whether this is preferable for the guests. Do as you wish, but don't worry much about it, like I did.

4. Spend money on the things that are important to you, and don't spend much on the things that aren't

This one's pretty self-explanatory. I didn't care about satin seat covers but really cared that we had a great photographer. Any business in the wedding industry is going to try to convince you that you need everything and the most costly version of everything. It makes sense, they want your money. Sometimes pressure doesn't come from an actual business, though. Sometimes it comes from people we know or the picture we have in our heads of the right way to do weddings. I think that some of these "musts" originate from tradition, but I think a lot of them come from or are perpetrated by the wedding industry.  It was important to me to only spend on the things I thought necessary or important - but I mean, if you have no budget, by all means, spend on everything and anything.

One side note - when I say it was important to me to only spend money on things that I thought would bring value to the wedding day, I can't honestly say that I didn't give in to pressures to spend on things I didn't care about. It is so hard as a bride, seeing how everyone else is doing it, wondering what people will think or comment on, to go against the grain and do it your way. So yes it was important to me, but did I always stick to that and not give into pressures? No way. Just an ideal to strive for!

One more side note on this topic. Now that I am thinking about it more, I actually did so many things that I didn't think were necessary or important. Maybe not as much by spending my money, but also spending my time. This is why I so respect people who are strong enough to do things their way even if it could potentially induce a negative comment by some great-aunt (not picking on great-aunts here, just hypothetical hahaha).

5. Enjoy yourself

I think wedding planning can be fun. There is obviously some grunt work, like comparing halls or forking out money (haha), but a lot of it can be fun. Especially if you choose to focus on what's important to you and your spouse and forget the things that aren't important to you.

6. Accept help, and ask for it!

I think that accepting help greatly adds to the enjoyment level of wedding planning. If you have people offering to help (I would hope every bride does), I think it's great to delegate tasks! I enjoy crafty things, so I made centerpieces with my sister while watching TV shows. I don't like shopping alcohol sales, so I delegated that to my wonderful brother (thanks Joe! Joking, he will never read this). Also, I think that your loved ones genuinely want to help you, and sometimes don't know where exactly to offer help because wedding planning can be a delicate matter. So I think asking people to do specific tasks for you is a really great way of making the whole planning process less overwhelming. I tried to give people a few specific things they could do to help me with that I thought suited their strengths, specifically with my bridesmaids. I tried to have a few options so they could pick which one they would feel most comfortable doing. We are all very straight-up (a nicer term for blunt) with each other in my family, so for instance with my sister Monica who was my maid of honor, I told her a number of things that I thought she would be good at that I would really appreciate her doing. I asked her which ones she wanted to do, and she told me honestly which ones she would be more than happy to do and which ones she didn't think she'd be best at, or just weren't really her thing. I really appreciated her honesty. It's great to have people in your bridal party that you have that level of comfort and honesty with :)

7. See the positives in the learning experience

You can develop some useful life skills while planning a wedding! I think everyone learns some things about themselves throughout the process. You'll probably learn a bit about your future spouse as well, and how you work as a couple. For instance, I was really made aware of the fact that Matt and I are very different in the way that I am someone who really likes to have things done now (or yesterday), and he is someone who likes to leave things till later and works much better under pressure than I do. We had to compromise in this area :). I enjoyed learning what things were important to Matt in regards to the wedding, and which things he was very chill about (which was most things). I learned about myself, my friends and family, about planning, organizing, and delegating, about Matt and about our relationship. Those lessons have stayed with me after the wedding and I'm glad for them!

So there is my little take on wedding planning. I think this post highlighted the struggles that come with planning a wedding more so than the fun it can be, so I do want to end with the fact that so much of it can be awesome. We really do have a lot of freedom in planning our wedding in our day and age, and it is so neat how every couples personal touch plays out in each individual wedding. It was all actually a super positive experience for me! The bridal showers and bachelorette camping weekend were so much fun. I got so much closer with all my bridesmaids. I felt insanely loved. Matt and I did so much together. The wedding day was the best, I was over the moon with joy and it was such a celebration! I loved having a big wedding and a big bridal party, I loved that we received the sacrament of marriage and that I now will be married to my love for the rest of our lives, and that out of our love came beautiful Rose!

Photos by tiGraphy.

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