I feel like wedding planning has a bad reputation. To some people at least.
It seems like once the excitement of getting engaged wears off, there are people who really start to panic because they realize that they will likely need to do a lot of work to make their wedding day actually happen. That, plus budget and/or time constraints, and maybe some family traditions or expectations to uphold, can certainly stress people out during a time that should ideally be really exciting and meaningful. Especially when a lot of us dream about this day for years and years, and want it to be exactly as we imagined. It definitely makes sense why people associate it with being a stressful time.
Thankfully, our wedding day was exactly as we both had imagined, and we actually really enjoyed the entire planning process! People were legitimately shocked when I would tell them how much fun we were having with it. It definitely helped that we gave ourselves a full year to plan, which really allowed us to stick to our budget and not be stressed by deadlines. We were also very clear about what we wanted our wedding to be like from the very beginning, and were fortunate to both have families that were (mostly) really easy going and understanding. Sure, there were some slightly frustrating times throughout the year where we kind of just wished we were already married — but thankfully these were just very minimal (and expected) setbacks, and we kind of just trucked through. The amazing part about the wedding planning journey, is that there is always something REALLY exciting to look forward to at the end of it all.
I would definitely not classify myself as an expert on this topic, because I’ve obviously only gone through the process once. But since some people do tend to get nervous about the planning process, (and since I currently find myself missing it) I figured I could share some thoughts on why it was fun for us, and how to make it more of an enjoyable experience.
1) Enjoy being engaged first
I think this was key for us. We took A LOT of time to tell people that we were engaged. Brian proposed on a Tuesday night during a hike with the dog (it was the best!), and we didn’t start telling people until Saturday. It was an amazing little secret that only we knew about, and it made the whole thing feel even more special and intimate. Obviously it was hard to keep something that exciting a secret, but we decided to wait so that we could tell our families in person, since they had been “patiently” waiting for this to happen for eight years, and we really wanted to be there for their reactions. It was also super convenient that the ring didn’t fit that great at first, so we gradually told the rest of our family and friends while it was getting sized. We waited almost three weeks before announcing our engagement on Facebook so that we could really take our time telling the people who were truly invested in our relationship in person. Every single surprised squeal, hug, and tear was extremely worth it.
Not telling people for a little while also enabled us to prepare to answer the questions we knew were coming. I’ve had friends who got engaged over the weekend, told people at work on Monday, and then had to field off questions for the rest of the week about when and where the wedding will be, what the dress will look like, etc, which can inevitably lead to unnecessary stress. We found that the line “we’re not sure, we’re just enjoying being engaged for now” really worked for us.
We also conveniently had a two week trip to Guatemala coming up less than a month after we got engaged, which also just let us relax and enjoy being new fiancees. Wedding-related things gradually came up in conversation throughout the trip, and by the end we essentially had a lot of the answers to the questions people were asking us beforehand.
10/10, would recommend an “engagement-moon!”
2) Make it a team effort!
You’re agreeing to be partners for life, right? Why not start now.
It was really surprising to me that a lot of people just assumed that I was doing everything myself, and that Brian was essentially removed from the process. Because boys typically shy away from wedding planning or are bad at it, or something like that I guess? Fortunately in my case, that couldn’t be more false. From the very beginning it wasn’t even a question that we would be deciding everything as a team, because it was our day! Bride + Groom, not just Bride. This made it way easier on both of us because we knew that the other person was cool with what was happening, and you didn’t have to guess that they were on board with things. We went to all of the vendor meetings together, crafted together, and even had a Pinterest board together (that we both pinned to!) This made everything more fun as well, because it made things feel less like tasks that needed to be accomplished, and more like fun adventures that we were doing together.
It’s also important to be honest with each other about what you don’t think you’ll enjoy about the planning process, so that you can split up the tasks based on your strengths. For example, I do not enjoy using excel spreadsheets – it’s not my jam – but Brian loves that stuff. So we knew when it came to the guest lists, schedules, and all of the technical organization things, that Brian would be the champion for that, and ask for input when necessary. I, on the other hand love to do crafts and make things pretty, so I found a lot of enjoyment in addressing all of the invitation envelopes – and Brian was more than happy to let me own that task.
3) Think of it as an empowering experience
I plan a lot of events for work, which I do really enjoy, but I never get to make all of the decisions. Usually there are parameters around the date, the budget, the location, number of people etc. And I usually need to run things by my team or get my manager’s approval before making decisions. But with our wedding, Brian and I got to decide literally everything, so we could really ensure the day was exactly what we wanted it to be. This was something that I absolutely loved about the planning process.
It can definitely seem daunting when you list out all of the things that you have to accomplish, but on the other hand, you can look at it as an empowering experience with all of the things that you as a couple get to do and decide. How involved you are can totally be up to you. If you want to be creative and make lots of things like we did, you ultimately get to decide what that looks like. Or, if you’d rather not be involved at all and it works with your budget to hire someone to do some things for you, you get to decide that as well! You get to set the rules, and that’s awesome.
4) Clearly articulate your vision and expectations
One thing that we seemed to do really well was communicate what we envisioned for our day, from the beginning. This ensured that our family had a pretty good idea of what we wanted things to be like, so we found that when they gave input or advice, they really tailored it to line up with our interests and expectations. This was a huge win!
We also found that with wedding planning, people love to give advice and input, even when you don’t ask for it. It’s normal, people are excited, and they just want to help. But when they have a general idea of what your vision is, then they likely won’t be as surprised or offended when you don’t follow their advice, or do the complete opposite of what they suggest (like when we had our adorable dog take the place of a second cousin being our flower girl – sorry mom!)
5) Involve your friends and family
This one is HUGE, and was definitely a key part of why we enjoyed this experience so much. We had a ton of help!
As someone who sometimes feels bad asking for help, I was kind of hesitant at first to ask people to be involved in wedding planning. But lucky for us, our amazing friends and family just started offering to do things, and we soon realized that this made things way more fun! As you start to work through your wedding to-do list, think about some of the tasks that would be easy and fun to accomplish as a group. One of the first things we got people to help us with was assembling our invitations. While this may not seem like a fun or easy task to have people help with, we essentially broke it down into different mini tasks that were clearly outlined (i.e. using a paper cutter cut along our invite template, or cutting out the smaller RSVP cards), and we had wine and snacks to make it a fun experience for everyone. What would have taken Brian and I hours to accomplish, literally only took an hour and a half. It was magical! We had so much fun with this that we decided to have many more wedding-craft parties leading up to the big day. People love you and will love to help you! Make it a fun party, and everyone will enjoy themselves!
6) Just have fun with it!