Thursday, April 17, 2014

Wedding Planning: Lessons From a Bride in the Trenches

I have been officially planning the magical, whimsical, flowery, purple affair that will join my beloved and I in wedded bliss for nearly nine months (let’s be honest though, I have been thinking and plotting about it for far longer!). I am in the home-stretch now with just two weeks to go. As much as I love to plan and love having my brain on wedding channel 24/7, I am to the point now where I can reflect a bit, look forward to a few quiet evenings in the near future where my husband and I can chomp popcorn and watch Netflix and not be surrounded with paper samples, vendor contracts, and this DIY project or that. I am just so excited to be his Mrs. and share life with my best friend. I know I will always be a list-keeping, type-A, semi-neurotic planner and I will always look forward to the next big thing or event to coordinate, but nine months with one solid focus (a big, stressful focus for which I am the sole decision-maker/manager/slave driver) has begun to take its toll on my sanity. I am ready for a bit of peace.

Although I have not yet finished this journey, I have learned a lot through this process. A lot of these lessons perhaps reach further than just the realm of wedding planning and are things I hope to never forget. Maybe you can benefit from some of these lessons and maybe I can remain mindful of them as the crazy two weeks ahead of me commence! 

 (Us. Insert "awww" here.)

1.     People who offer to help mean it. 

I know when I offer someone a ride, a hand, a meal, or a shoulder, I genuinely mean it and am happy to deliver! If I didn’t want to for whatever reason, I would not have offered. I have to believe that other people are generally the same. If someone offers to take some weight off my shoulders, I cannot feel bad for taking them up on their offer!

The kicker- I have to remind myself to ask them to do things they would enjoy and will be good at (don’t ask someone who enjoys creative, fun things, to deal with something budget or contract related). Bonus: if you give them a job, it’s best not to micromanage or tell them how they have to do it. You just have to be okay with the way they wish to get the task done. Yes, this is incredibly more difficult than it sounds.

2.    Flexibility and honey will get you far. 

 I spoke to a wedding vendor yesterday who said I was “the most flexible bride.” When she said that I was flattered, but I also thought, “What does she expect? For me to pitch a fit and tell her no?” To me, that is not only pointless in a situation beyond your control, it is just tacky. I have been treated so well by many of my vendors because we were flexible with what we wanted and were willing to discuss things rather than present a “my way or the highway” mentality. Shane and I knew a general idea of what we wanted to provide our guests, so we decided to have it on a Thursday instead of Saturday so we could afford all the niceties we wanted. I provided my photographer with a general shot list so he was aware of who was family and what images was important to me, but my approach was that providing a 3-page shot list of every single photo I wanted taken would insult his professionalism and hinder his creative process. I gave my florist a color scheme, style, and a few blooms I didn’t care for, and I am letting her take it from there. If I had something specific that I couldn’t live without, I would have told her, but mostly, I love her work, she and I are on the same page, and I am excited about being surprised and wowed on my wedding day!

I want to help people out and do more than my share of the work, but if someone else is the expert, by all means! I think this approach has served me very well and honestly, will remove a lot of disappointed on the big day. I guess we will find out for sure after May 1, but mostly I have had the nicest interactions with my vendors and they have been very willing to work with me on things because I was courteous and flexible (see my previous post on attracting bees with honey!).

3.     It is one day.

Albeit the most stressful and important day of my life, I have had to constantly remind myself of this when I put unnecessary pressure on myself to make this the most perfect, ornate, creative, romantic, awe-striking event my guests have ever been to! In the end, I am putting a large amount of money into an event that lasts 5.5 hours and yes, I want it to be perfect and memorable, but it still just one day. Which leads me to…

4.  There is a single, ultra-important goal of this day.

It could rain (it better not!). Someone imperative could come down with the measles and not show up (take your vitamins, people!). There could be a freak snow storm and my beautiful gazebo ceremony could be forced to move inside amongst space heaters and down blankets (this Southern girl did decide to get married in New England, after all.) I could worry about all of those things and have a bridal meltdown of epic proportions in the event they do happen, or I could focus on the sole purpose of the day: to marry my best friend and merge our two lives into one amazing partnership. To be surrounded by the 75 people that love us enough to travel from all over to witness our matrimony and celebrate with us because MARRIAGE is important. Without marriage, a wedding would just be an overpriced family reunion.  

5.     The people who want to be there, will.

I had to make some very conscience decisions early on in the wedding planning process to                 understand that I can only do so much and there would inevitably be loved ones who would not be on board or able to make the trip to our destination soiree. This mindset has really helped me avoid freak-out sessions because Shane and I could have had a ceremony overseas (I tried), could have done something more expensive and therefore would have had to shorten the guest list, could have picked a different continental location that wouldn’t be in driving distance for the majority of guests like the one that we chose is. Not everyone will understand the thought process and sacrifice behind the decision we made on location and plans, but that’s okay. The people who love us and know that we did what is best for us have been so supportive. Life and circumstances have forced some very eager individuals to not be able to come and they will absolutely be missed. Others may have had different ideas, but bottom line is this: the people who want to be a part of our big day will make every effort to be there. Period. I am choosing to focus on those people.