Adventures in Everyday Entertaining
I am not a professional wedding planner. But as someone who has been a bridesmaid several times over, a personal attendant twice, and now a very soon to be bride, I feel that I’ve got some insights to add to subject that is wedding planning. Now, not everyone has the time span of one month to go from getting engaged to saying I do. The timeline is different for everyone. But the steps getting there are generally the same. Some of the tips that I’m about to share might seem obvious, but when you’re caught up in all that is “being engaged” the obvious is easily overlooked. Some articles or books give a solid timetable that lays out what you should be doing “12 months in advance, 11 months in advance, 10 months in advance” and down the line. That is fine if you are doing a wedding that nicely fits within their prescribed windows. But what if you aren’t?
The number one rule to remember when planning your wedding is that it is your own! It isn’t a book’s wedding. It isn’t a blog’s wedding. It isn’t your friend or family’s wedding. It is between you and your partner. What are the most important elements that should be part of your wedding and what are things that you are willing to compromise on? This pertains to BOTH individuals. Marriage is a partnership and this is a special day for you as a couple. Discuss what elements you feel very passionate about. And what elements you would like to have but are willing to compromise on if necessary.
The first topic of discussion between the couple is timeline. Trust me, you will be asked by friends, relatives, and everyone else in between. “When is the big day?” And it’s good for the two of you to discuss it before you start getting the pressure of outside forces. The answer can be that you don’t know or that it is several years off. But it’s good to get a feeling of what each of your opinions are on the subject. Going forward it is essential that you keep the communication lines open at all times. (Both in planning your union and in your life in general). The last thing you want is one person thinking that you’ll get married in six months, and the other wanting to wait a few years.
Even if the decision is to wait two or more years, the rest of the points discussed in this article should be considered and talked about (at least from a conceptual standpoint). But if the decided timeline is a year or less, upfront decisions on some of these things should be made in the early stages of the engagement.
The type of ceremony is one of these types of elements that need to be talked about. Chances are if you are close enough to be getting engaged, you are also close enough to know feelings on religion, spirituality, and culture. Even if you have an idea, make sure you discuss this and that you are on the same page (or get there). You have an opportunity to add personal touches to your ceremony and/or create your own. Look through books and on the internet to read about wedding customs that could be incorporated into your day. Talk about music for the ceremony, readings, symbolism, etc. If you desire to get married in a house of worship please note that you will probably need to run by certain music, readings, etc. with them to make sure it is ok. Your wedding is a joining of you with the most important person in your life. Make sure your ceremony represents the deep meaning behind that. Make sure that it is a representation of you as a couple and the love that you share.
Money is never a fun conversation to be had, but hey — as a married couple you will be discussing it on a very regular basis (if you aren’t already) so you might as well get used to it. How much you want to spend on your wedding day is a big factor in determining how the event will come together. Another aspect of this is WHO is paying? Are the two of you paying for the entire thing? Is a parent or relative paying for all or part of it? The decision of who pays will affect all other decisions that get made, big or small. Who pays has the control. Receiving financial assistance from a family member or friend can be a huge help in fiscally supporting your dream wedding. Remember though, that if someone helps pay for the day, their opinion then has a say. Now, this could be fine and not an issue for you and your partner. But if it will be an issue, you might want to consider having a smaller, less expensive wedding and covering all costs yourself. Otherwise, if Aunt Mildred pays, then Aunt Mildred can have a say in making sure all of her cookie jar pottery classmates can be invited and have a display of their creations on the table next to the cake.
Whether the two of you are paying or someone else, it is necessary to create a budget. If someone else is paying, have an upfront conversation with them to figure out how much they are willing to contribute. It is important to find this out up front so that you can avoid confrontation later on. I will go into more details about laying out a budget in a future blog within this series.
How big do you want your ceremony to be? Your reception? The guest list will have an impact on everything including wedding budget, venue, food choices, and type of reception. Consider who is most important in your life to share this special day with. Both you and your partner should each make a list of family and friends that would ideally be present. Once those lists are made and combined, go through them together to see if there are those on the lists that could possibly be removed. It may sound cutthroat but it is necessary (unless money is no object and in that case, hey the more the merrier). For most though, money is a relevant part of the decision making process. Weddings can be expensive. And every guest counts. Catering companies, cake makers, reception halls; they all base their estimates on a head count. So when you are looking at the list, ask yourself when the last time you saw or communicated with this person. Even if they invited you to their wedding eight years ago, if you haven’t seen or talked to them in five — they don’t need to be invited to yours. Remember, weddings are about choices and compromises. Decide what is the more important elements you want included. If the food and drink that you serve is a high priority, then you may need to cut the list in order to afford the menu of your dreams. If being surrounded by tons of people is most important, then the menu can be cut or changed to fit the budget.
I’ll be going through these topics and others in more depth in the coming weeks with the hopes of passing on some of the ideas and tips that I’ve discovered along the way. Happy reading, happy planning.