Wedding planning is pain. Anyone who tells you differently is selling something.
(Let’s nerd out about this movie in the comments. My fiancé proposed after screening it at our local budget theater that we love.)
I’m kidding. Mostly. After all, this should be an enjoyable process. You’re getting ready to make a huge commitment to someone you love. When you’re in the engagement-glow period—you make plans and everything seems rosy and bright. And then things start to go haywire—one partner withdraws, your families get involved (and so do their opinions), money becomes a reality and stressor like never before. What’s a bridechilla to do?
It’s easy for people to say you should do exactly what you want to do. Not enough people say it of course (thanks Aleisha!), but it’s an easy response. And most (hopefully all) of the people in your life want you to be happy. But it can be hard to know what you want. It can be really hard to make compromises and stick to a budget.
How do you know which compromises, which decisions, are the right ones? The simple answer is, you don't.
You can’t evaluate and accurately predict every possible outcome of every decision. But you also don’t want to end up a big ball of confused, emotional stress.
I have ways to help you come out of the stressed-as-hell and into the annoyingly-happy-and-gushing phase.
The first is courtesy of Meg from A Practical Wedding and that is to keep your priorities straight. Remember all those lovely ideas you had at the beginning of planning? When everything was more about how you wanted it to feel rather than look? Hold on to that. Write it down on a post-it note and stick it on your mirror or fridge.
When things threaten to spiral out of control or you have to make a decision, look at that little post-it and see whether your decision adds to those ideas or takes away from them.
The hardest part of making a decision is having the right criteria. The right criteria for you are probably not your wedding’s pin-ability or how much your Aunt Gladys wants you to do any given thing.
The right criteria have to do with the overall feelings of your day (think adjectives) and with how much both partners are on board. Out criteria were: simple and vintage feeling
Note: If you’re having difficulty with this exercise, think of three adjectives that describe you—that’s probably how you want your wedding to feel.
But as I said, after the initial planning phase, it’s easy to go astray. We certainly did with pressure to invite lots of people, our small wedding quickly grew out of control. So here’s another exercise:
Plan multiple weddings.
Not in reality—it’s a thought exercise. And it’s especially helpful for the budget conscious (and no matter what your budget is, if you’re a bridechilla—you’re probably budget conscious…)
Think of the wedding you’re planning now, with your current budget. Outline the big stuff and the most important details. For example, our penultimate wedding plan (right before I contacted Aleisha in distress) looked something like this:
A lot of these plans felt like compromises, and though it was the closest to what we both wanted to anything we’d planned before, it still wasn’t exactly right for us.
After you outline your current wedding, think about what you’d do with the tiniest budget you can think of:
Then think of the wedding you would have if you had an unlimited budget. What would that wedding look like?
Basically if you took the party scene from Sabrina and brought it to wedding life…
Look across these three weddings and think about what they have in common and what’s different. The small wedding will show you what you can live without (for us that was flowers, a fancy wedding venue, and fancy/expensive catering—my family is filled with wonderful cooks). The large wedding will show you what you can splurge for (and might reveal a wedding dream you didn’t know you had). Your current wedding can show you where you’re needlessly compromising or where you could get away with less.
The goal of this is not to make you upset you can’t afford a crazy, over-the-top wedding. You’re a bridechilla—the goal is to be married in a way that’s authentic. The unlimited budget wedding isn’t one I’d put on even if I had the money to do it with. My fiancé and I would rather spend the money on something else like a house. The unlimited budget wedding doesn’t actually say all that much about my fiancé and I because that’s not how we live our lives day to day, and I don’t think we’d want to anyway. But it does tell me that I want my wedding to feel special (more special or different than my grandmother’s where I’ve had every major occasion since my 16th birthday)—that I want there to be artistic and customized elements and vintage glamour. And I can have that at any budget.
And the goal of this isn’t necessarily to guilt you into eloping or having a tiny wedding. Instead, the hope is that it shows you that almost everything you think is non-negotiable really isn’t. You could make things work by utilizing the love and the skills of people around you. But it also shows you which things you have a harder time giving up. For me, that was photography. My fiancé couldn’t care less, but since we don’t take a lot of pictures of ourselves—I really want those beautiful memories.
This exercise showed me that I really wanted a more intimate wedding, a vintage feeling, plenty of DIY elements (more on those in another post), and lots of family involvement. I found I didn’t need anything horribly extravagant, complicated, or showy, and I ended up cutting our budget.
So our final wedding outline looks something like this:
If you’re on the precipice, I hope this exercise gives you another way to think about what you really want in a more structured way than just thinking about it, and a less confusing way than a simple pros and cons list. I hope it gives you the courage to go after exactly what you want.
I think that getting the wedding you want means taking your time at the beginning to really think about what exactly that is before you lock down suppliers. You want to feel good about your decisions, not trapped by them.
Wishing you all the best in planning, Allison!
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