Wedding Planning. Been there, done that, and I still remember that feeling of absolute bliss that fateful day in December of 2014 when my husband proposed. We had been together for 10 years, so you could say that I'd been waiting for that moment for a while. You could even say I was DYING for that moment. After managing a Wedding Pinterest board for years, it was finally here.
But when it actually happens, it seems a bit surreal, and you're in this cloud of FALALALA land. Until the realization of wedding planning sets in, and you go "shit."
The secret no one will tell you is, wedding planning is not THAT BAD. With the disclaimer of course, that it's what you make of it.
Yes there are decisions to be made, fights to be had, but honestly, for me it was more of a thing I liked to complain about in glee than something that was actually stressing and eating me away. It's like, happy stress, the kind where you fan yourself and say shit like "OMG I'm like, sooooo stressed about the wedding!" all whilst glowing like a mofo.
I'm sure some of y'all will admit to this.
It's okay, this is a safe place.
I went back to that place this past April, when my baby sister got engaged in effin Paris (way to win, right?). So now, as the unofficial MOH I get to relive that crazy fun journey that is wedding planning. And thought this would make a great chronicle for anyone who's feeling overwhelmed and unsure where to start, as my sister is right now. Yes you've got the pins and the image of what the day would be, but how do you get THERE from here? It could feel daunting, but let me just repeat some things I say to her as a part of this blog series, where I've appointed myself as YOUR unofficial MOH too.
Don't worry, you got this. I'm here for you.
The first steps are the hardest, but think of this journey like a scavenger hunt. You solve one puzzle, which will lead to the next clue, and it goes on and on. Totally doable, right? So what's the first clue, you ask?
Let's brainstorm here
Pick a night, make a date out of it, and talk to your fiancé about some of the prompts below. It'll help to set ground rules, the dealbreakers, and get both of you aligned on what you will be looking for.
What's the headcount?
This doesn't need to be an exact number (because trust me, doing your guest list will be a whole another thing), but knowing the ballpark will help with nearly all the decisions you need to make about your wedding. Is it under 100? 100-150? 151-175, or 200+?
If you were to describe your wedding in 5 adjectives, what would they be?
What's the feeling you want your guests to walk away with after the wedding?
This is a question that I ask with my business branding clients too, and for good reason. When you're planning a wedding, you are going to be presented with lots of choices. And I mean like, a lot of them. You will be weighing out pros and cons until your brain hurts. But the thing is, there is always going to those choices where you feel stuck, and all the alternatives seem equal, so you're in a lock. When that happens, having an idea of your goal really helps to make that call.
The 5 adjectives and the feeling are like your North Star. It's the goal you have in mind, meant to guide every decision you make. For me, it was Affordable, Stress-Free, Pretty, Good Food, Casual, and I wanted guests to feel loved, taken care of, and thank them for being in our lives for the past 10 years and for the rest of our lives. This meant things like forgoing the dream venue because it was too far, or saving money on décor so we could splurge on dinner.
The thing is, there's never a RIGHT answer for your decisions, which is what makes them so hard. But as long as you know what your priorities are, the RIGHT FOR YOU answers will reveal themselves.
What's the max budget for your wedding where you'd still feel okay with your life?
The question is worded this way for a reason. A wedding could be as expensive as you want it to be. Before planning my own wedding, I couldn't even wrap my head around how a wedding could cost $100k... and now, I can totally plan myself a $400k wedding, no problem. And you'd be surprised how easy it is, it's really just a tad nicer for here, and there, and you will get to that number super fast.
Even if you're not planning to budget line item per line item, having a ceiling set for yourself will safeguard you from having that oh shit moment, where you realize you ate through your savings for a one-day party. Again, this is a completely relative, subjective, personal answer. Don't EVER, and I repeat, EVER EVER feel bad about how much you are or you're not spending on a wedding. This is your day, and as long as both you and your partner are on the same page about it, that's the magic number you go with.
Is there a time of year you MUST or CANNOT get married?
If you're like me, timing is everything. Maybe you have a crap ton of relatives born in October so you don't want to compete with that, or your mom works at an accountant's office so April is the worst thing ever. Maybe your flower is only in bloom at a certain time of year, maybe you want to match your anniversary to your dating one. Whatever the case, having at least a season or a 3-month range of when you'd like to get married will help.
Is there a venue you're DYING to get married in?
My advice for all couples is to book their venue or their planner first, or even concurrently. They're the two most important pieces of the puzzle because the venue will dictate and set your date, and it's usually the most expensive thing, while the planner is your new partner in crime and will help to bring your vision to life. So if there is a dream venue, it helps to find a planner who has done a wedding there or somewhere similar before, or of course to go and book that venue.
What vendors are your must-haves? What could you live without?
Your vendors are going to be the ensemble cast for your wedding, so it's important to know who you want to bring on this journey with you. For anyone, I absolutely recommend getting a wedding planner, if not a full planner than at least a day-of coordinator. It's sometimes hard to find value in their service because it's kind of like insurance or a ninja, where if they're doing their job right, then they're supposed to be invisible. But please, for the love of all things sacred, get one.
Other vendors are a mix of common and unique, like Photographer, Videographer, Florist, Live Band, DJ, Photobooth, Paper Goods, Calligrapher, Rentals, Caterer, Entertainment, Hair and Makeup, and the list goes on. Knowing who you need to book and who you could cut from the budget if needed, is invaluable.
What are Your wedding deal-breakers?
Maybe it's a wedding you both went to and you didn't enjoy it, maybe it's a horror story you heard. Whatever it is, knowing both of your never-in-a-million-years is just as important, if not more, than the must-haves.
Now go talk about it!