5) “Everyone needs to get out of the damn way!”
In this week’s podcast episode about our wedding, Adam and I discussed the stress of all the differing opinions while planning our big day twenty years ago. I truly believe that planning a wedding can present such a beautiful and productive opportunity for a couple to grow and practice valuable life skills, such as decision-making, budgeting, and compromise. However, in order to do this, everyone else just needs to get out of the damn way. Here are some ways to help ensure this milestone stays more about the couple and their goals and less about everyone else’s:
Set the tone from the beginning by sitting down and having a very real discussion, first as a couple, and then with anyone who will be involved in the planning. As a duo, solidify which traditions, festivities, and values are most important to you, and for which aspects you’ll welcome outside feedback and opinions. The most important thing is establishing yourselves as a team.
If you’re not paying for your own wedding, or parts of your own wedding, make it clear that you are extremely grateful for the generosity, but that you would still very much like this day to be a reflection of the two of you. While you would like others to be involved and part of your “cheerleader squad,” you want the actual day to be an obvious representation of you and your partner. If they cannot get on board with this, make a decision as to whether or not it’s worth accepting the money or figuring out a way to have a more frugal celebration.
Try to find a good balance between having alone time as a couple and as individuals, as well as times you include family and friends in the planning process. Keep scheduling date nights on the calendar and stick to them. Schedule times also to meet with family and keep them in the loop of what’s happening, rather than talking about it every single day if that feels overwhelming to you.
4) We actually did something right!
There were a few things we did twenty years ago about which I’m still proud that I think still very much hold up in today’s society. I figured I would share.
Giving the bridesmaids a ton of flexibility concerning what they wear, their hair, makeup, etc. Whether that involves just choosing a color scheme and allowing everyone to decide what they want to wear that is that color, finding a dress place that offers several styles of the same color, or asking the bridal party what they would prefer and allowing them to help decide, in my opinion makes the day so much less stressful and more comfortable for everyone. I told my bridal party to wear black (let’s remember this was the early 2000’s), and it turned out they were really grateful for the flexibility, considering one was secretly pregnant, and another friend was still recovering from surgery.
Not going to every table and talking to guests. Adam and I were on the dance floor pretty much all night. To some people, this seems disrespectful to the guests who have traveled to be there or want a moment of attention from the bride and groom. I say NOPE! I sat down with my grandmother for around 10 minutes because that was truly important to me, and otherwise, anyone who wanted to hang with us could come join us on the dance floor. If talking to acquaintances sounds like a great way to spend 25% of your five hours, then go for it! If not, don’t feel guilt.
Therapy!! While we weren’t in the stage of our relationship that I could convince Adam to go to therapy, I was going consistently. This gave me the chance to complain to someone who had zero personal involvement, whom I could trust 100% not to spill my secrets, and took some of the burden off of Adam, to whom I did a lot of complaining and crying.
3) Perspective is key.
Here are some things I wish someone had told me on my wedding day:
This is not the last celebration you will have!! There is so much emphasis on a reception being the pivotal event in your life, that it feels like a lot is riding on this occasion. But this is only the beginning. There will be other, meaningful celebrations when you will feel complete joy and less stress. There will be other opportunities to feel like you are being celebrated and festivities in which you will feel such immense love. Don’t be devastated if the day isn’t everything you had hoped….there is way more of this party life yet to come.
Forget registering for the “stuff.” Register for the experiences and for your future. Unfortunately, Adam and I didn’t even think for a moment that was an option. I would love to have the chance to do it all over. Check out Traveler’s Joy to help pay for your honeymoon, and Honeyfund to register for things like a year worth of house cleaning or a home down payment.
Fun over formalities. Spend way more time being silly, eating, indulging and letting loose and way less time worrying about details. If something goes wrong, LAUGH! If your makeup smears some, WHO CARES! If someone who RSVP’d doesn’t show up, LET IT GO! In the words of Kevin Bacon in Footloose, “I THOUGHT THIS WAS A PARTY….LET’S DANCE!”
2) Our community has got some feelings about weddings!
When I shared the fact that I didn’t absolutely love my wedding day, the floodgates recalling similar musings opened within our community. The story on instagram in which I shared this information got more story views than any I’ve done. People could not wait to share their experiences and feelings about expectations vs. reality of these events. Thousands and thousands of people took part in the polls and submitted responses to questions. It only confirmed my belief that we put way too much emphasis on this one day, and oftentimes (not always), the hype just can’t live up to the dream. My hope is that others in the midst of it all will not put so much pressure on themselves for this day to be perfect and the end-all-be-all, and more energy into just savoring the fact that you are joining together with your partner and starting this incredible adventure together. Just to give a perspective on the polls I did, here are some results:
Did you absolutely LOVE your wedding day?
60% said yes
Was there drama around planning your wedding?
50% said yes
If you are a female, did your family pay for the majority of the wedding?
45% said yes
Did you have sex on your wedding night? (the national average is 30%)
60% said yes
Were you drunk on your wedding night?
35% said yes
Did you or your partner have a bachelor party?
70% said yes
Did you or your partner have a bachelorette party?
70% said yes
Did either of these parties involve strippers:
20% said yes
Of that 20%, I asked if they were ok with there being strippers there:
55% said yes
1) Date Night Questions: Follow up to The Wedding Episode (Questions I wish Adam and I had asked one another while planning our wedding). These questions are meant to be asked by one partner and answered by the other, and then the roles should be switched. Remember to do your best to create a space and feeling of safety, understanding, and empathy If you continue having important discussions and and also have some fun and laughter, purchase The Date Night Questions Ebook (15% off with code “datenight”)
1. What do we want the tone of the wedding to be? What words do we want people to use to describe it afterwards?
2. What aspect of the wedding feels really important to you? What is something that you picture a certain way and would really like that vision to become a reality? How can we work together to make that happen?
3. What are you most excited about (besides being married to me, of course)?
4. What aspect of the wedding stresses you out when you think about it? How can we make it less stressful together?
5. What is one way we can make this day truly reflective of the two of us? What is one way people will actually be able to feel our energy and presence in that room?
6. What vows can we make to one another about the planning process and this time period to have this experience bring us closer and have more understanding for one another rather than leading to miscommunication and frustration?
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