Wedding planning? Try these expert tips to avoid the overwhelm.
You just got engaged! Woo hoo! Hooray! Congratulations! But now what?
If you’re anything like the couples I often work with, you and your partner have gotten engaged (with as much or as little fanfare as feels right to you), and then you have absolutely no idea what to do next. Or maybe it’s that you’re overwhelmed with all there is to do. Before you know it, you start telling people you’re engaged and they immediately start asking whether you’ve set a date, picked a venue or decided on your color palette. I know, it’s A LOT.
But don’t worry, I’m here today to give you some tips to help you get started and create a solid foundation for your wedding planning journey.
First, you and your partner should take time to enjoy being engaged. Marriage is on the horizon and that is something to celebrate! The wedding can happen on your own timeline, so don’t let outside pressure make you feel rushed to jump into planning if you don’t want to. But, if you’re excited to plan and can’t wait to get started, then go for it! The morning after I got engaged, I was at brunch with my (now) husband with a notebook in hand already talking about timing and venues. He had no idea what he was getting himself into!
Once you are ready to start the planning process, but before you start talking about details like timing and location, you and your partner should do a little inner work and explore what this wedding means to you. What are your views on marriage? How are you separating the act of marriage itself from the wedding celebration? Do you have some past experiences in relationships that need to be addressed so that this experience isn’t overshadowed by the past? How do you want to feel on your wedding day and what’s important to you about that day? After each of you has had a chance to journal your answers to these questions or spend some time thinking through responses, share them with each other. Open and honest communication is key to any relationship (and also wedding planning), so talking to one another about what came up for you in answering these questions is super important.
After you’ve done some of this heart work, you two will also need to get on the same page about the practical details of the wedding. When will it happen? Where do we want it to be? How many guests will we invite? What do we want the wedding to look like? If you’ve got differing opinions on these foundational questions, then you’ll need to be ready for some give and take. On the aspects where you have different views, you should each communicate why your stance is important to you. For example, let’s say you want to get married in your hometown (where you don’t live), but your partner wants to get married where you do live. Upon further discussion, you’d be able to explain that the reason you want to get married in your hometown is so that your grandparents can attend, which isn’t an issue for your partner’s grandparents since they can easily travel. If you compromise and decide to get married in your hometown, maybe then you compromise on something that your partner wants but you’re not over the moon about.
So, you’ve spent some time being introspective and worked out the basic (but major) details for the wedding. Now, it’s time to turn to no one’s favorite subject: money. I know it may feel kind of icky to have to focus on money so much during a joyous occasion like a wedding, but the truth is that until you know how much money you have to spend, you can’t begin to determine what your wedding can realistically look like. The work during this phase of the wedding planning process focuses on figuring out (1) how much the venues and vendors that you gravitate towards in the area in which you want to get married cost, and (2) what your financial resources are. Part one is going to require research as to what things costs or hiring a wedding planner who can provide you with that guidance. And part two is going to require that you and your partner take a look at your own finances and consider whether to accept financial contributions from others. In deciding whether to self-fund or have family or friends assist financially, you’ll need to understand what expectations and level of involvement come along with that money. Not an easy conversation to have, I know. But one that’s absolutely necessary.
I’m not going to lie; the wedding planning process can be a long and complicated journey filled with lots of ups and downs. But if you know where to start and how to set yourselves up for success, my hope is that you can pave the way for a smoother road ahead.
Wedding photo by Chaz Cruz Photographers