What I wish I knew before planning a wedding

The days post-engagement are a blissful haze. Perhaps you are still swooning over a romantic proposal that took your breath away. Or maybe you are basking in the celebration of your relationship entering into its next phase. You might even be excited to dive into the fun aspects of wedding planning, like sampling cakes or choosing decorations. Regardless your post-question-popping state, if you are anything like me, the last thing you are thinking about is how complicated one event can become. Here’s what I wish I knew before planning a wedding:

Everyone has a story and an opinion on how to do things

The most shocking part of the wedding planning process was learning just how much other people had invested. Parents have thought of the day their child would walk down the aisle since they took their first steps; recently married friends are choc-full of how-to tips and DIY horror stories, and are excited to share; even the co-worker who you pass occasionally in the hallway will weigh in. While I was grateful that people took care in my experience, after a while the sheer volume of competing opinions was deafening. I had to take a step back and figure out what my partner and I wanted. While fancy flowers or a long guest list of names I didn’t recognize were important to others, they weren’t to us. We sat down, prioritized our wish list and budget (which on the salary of two students wasn’t much), and stuck to our guns. At the end of the day, the only outside opinion that needed to matter was that of my fiancé, and I wish I had realized this sooner.

Something will go wrong—and it’ll turn out OK

As much as you plan, and you plan, and then you plan some more, something will go awry. Trust me. In the world of weddings, “perfect” does not exist. It could be a small issue like the DJ doesn’t play the correct song for your father/daughter dance. Or a medium panic-inducer, like the power going out at the venue half an hour before guests arrive, halting the ambient music and shutting off strategically placed twinkly lights. And in those extreme cases of Murphy’s Law, you might get the worst case of food poisoning of your life, preventing you from attending your own rehearsal dinner the night before. Yes, all those things happened to me, but I still had the wedding of my dreams. Each wrinkle in my day-of timeline forced me to re-focus on what really mattered—my friends and family were there to celebrate a commitment between two people that was so special it didn’t need any of the pomp and circumstance.

You’re going to feel all kinds of feelings

Maybe you just cannot deal when you think of what this day means for you and your partner. Maybe your family is driving your crazy with guest list request and seating arrangement demands. Maybe it’s from the emotional and physical exhaustion of coordinating a day that means so much to so many. When a caterer was mean to me during the price-quoting stage? I cried. When I found out loved ones I was sure were attending had backed out? I cried. When I was printing bridal programs and menu cards during a break between work and graduate school? I cried—hard. I wish I had known that this was a natural part of the process. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed. It’s okay to be disappointed. Communicating these moments with my partner preserved my sanity (and the resulting feel-better shoulder rub didn’t hurt either).

When it gets there, the “Big Day” will fly by

Let me be yet another person to recite the cliché “it’s over before you know it.” No, seriously, it is. Months (or in some cases years) of planning all come down to a 6-8 hour period filled with happy tears, laughter, and love. You will be so busy greeting your guests, taking photos, and partaking in all the tried-and-true festivities that a lot of the little things you agonized over just won’t matter. I wish I hadn’t stressed over having flavor options of cupcakes I never got the chance to taste, or spent so much time finding the right combination of flowers for the venue (I couldn’t even tell you what they were that day). Whether you are a one-person show or have a team of help, it’s important to not lose the purpose behind the planning. I wish I had known to give myself a break—as long as you go home married, you had a successful wedding.

(Image via Universal Pictures)

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