Wedding planning for me was (overall) very fun. I enjoyed having the freedom to plan the biggest party of our life and invite all our closest friends and family to celebrate it with us. That's really all a wedding is: one giant party that allows others to stand with you and say that life is beautiful and so is the joining of the lives of two of God's creations. My wedding itself, I am sure, is ingrained in my memory as one of the sweetest and most joyful moments of my life.
However, there are times, I must admit, that wedding planning felt more like a horrible, terrible, looming storm cloud that couldn't be pushed back for all the science in the world. Of course, I don't mean that an impending marriage felt like that; only that in the moment, I sometimes would have rather done anything than spend hours picking the right bouquet I would carry around for one hour, tops. You spend a year (or almost two, like me) dreaming up every minor detail that may or may not even be noticed by guests, for a solitary night that passes like the blinking of an eye.
Sound exhausting? It is. But it is also worth it, if you keep the right intentions in mind. I've made a list of a few things I learned along the wedding-planning path in hopes that it may spare a bride somewhere some lingering doubts, hard conversations, jealous pinterest binges, or sleepless nights.
1. Finding ways to save money is definitely worth it, but so is splurging on select things that really, truly matter.
Weddings can really, truly, cost a fortune if you aren't careful. So, by all means, scour the blogs and wedding websites for tips on how to save money that will be much more valuable to you in the beginning of your married life. Use a dinner playlist instead of hiring a string quartet. Have a talented bridesmaid do your hair instead of getting the wedding spa package. Forget the favors. Just don't compromise on the few things that will really matter. Those drop-dead-gorgeous dahlias that are out of season will die in a week and aren't worth the extra dough, while a nice dinner out with your bridesmaids before the big day will calm your nerves and build memories that will last a lifetime. People matter; things don't.
Oh, and that person who told you to forget the whole thing, save money, and elope and spend the cash you saved on a house? Don't listen to them either. There is nothing in the world that can replace the beautiful moments of your dearest friends coming together on one day to celebrate one of the most important things you may ever do.
2. Planning is only as stressful as you make it.
Yes, there are big decisions to be made, and yes, you are the one that has to make them. You write the checks and you handle the execution. This is a lot of pressure. However, it is your attitude that will determine how much of a bridezilla you will be, both in private, and in public. Take a walk. Put down the laptop for the night and watch a good movie. Go out to dinner with your fiance and don't talk about wedding plans. The planning will be there tomorrow and you will be better prepared to deal with it then.
On the other hand, don't stretch out decisions that just need to be made. Have you spent the last three weeks choosing between two different invitations? Just pick one. You'll feel relieved and I'm sure they are both beautiful.
3. Ask a few trusted people for advice, but handle most of the decisions yourself.
Look into your options. Family and close friends are good people to ask for those hard questions about budgets and what exactly should happen at your wedding, but ultimately, only you know your wants and dreams. Other people may just end up telling you what they think you want to hear, which in the end helps no one. Too many opinions will leave you feeling overwhelmed, so just stick to a few trusted confidants.
4. A dream wedding is what you make it to be.
Don't be fooled by the wedding shows and magazines. A dream wedding doesn't need a horse-drawn carriage. It doesn't need a cocktail hour with elaborate appetizers and entertainment for the guests. It doesn't need a $5,000 dress or a wedding planner or personalized calligraphy escort cards. It doesn't even need to be expensive. A dream wedding is when you take your own unique love story and share it with others that you care about and that care about you. It is when you take the expectations and throw them out the window because, ultimately, this day is about celebrating you, your soon-to-be husband, and the wonder of love. No one else can tell that story but you.
By all means, spend the money you want to on your wedding and make it the best you can. Dream big and make it beautiful. Just remember that people and showing love are more important than things and expectations. Your wedding will be beautiful if you make it about your love story and nothing else. So good luck and get planning!
Picture by Melissa Copeland Photography