If you're anything like me, you've watched plenty a home improvement/house hunting show. You know how the couples do their interview and express to the camera a vision that is completely opposite of their partner? Before you smirk and pat yourself on the back, let me tell you that for some people, planning a wedding can feel just like that. Yes, the dramatic irony makes for amazing television, but for the relator/design team and more importantly, the couple, it can be incredibly stressful when there are sky high expectations on the line and compromises need to be made on the fly. I want to share some tips on how to avoid that scenario.
After the proposal I think it's important to let everything sink in. Take some time, celebrate with your loved ones, post to the Gram, go to a few brunches - enjoy the bliss of being engaged and relish in all the joy of possibility for the life you're about to build with the person you love. There will be a moment when you've had your fill of being bright, shiny and full of guava mimosas and you'll be ready to plan your wedding in earnest.
For me, (check out my last blog) I was beyond ready. I waited maybe 2 weeks before told I Mr. Lane we should begin planning. If that's a little too soon for you, I'll share (for comparison) that my best friend and her husband were engaged for almost a whole year before they started planning. There's no definitive right or wrong answer, as a couple you'll have to decide what feels best for you and assemble a team of vendors that are in alignment with you.
What is key is that you and your future spouse get on the same page. It's ok to want different things, the goal of this exercise is to share and reach compromises. You want to do this before you invest your time and treasure into your wedding. The last thing I want for you as a couple is to come face to face with the same frustration, isolation and panic that we've watched others experience on our favorite home improvement/house hunting shows. How do you do it? After reading the article (of course) I suggest that you both plan for a night in: Get some good food, a fancy drink or bottle of wine. Take a look at the talking points below to get you started:
Take a second to think about the wedding day itself. When you picture it, what do you see? How does it feel? What happens from start to finish? Now think about what an ideal planning process looks like. How much energy are you both wanting to put into it? Do you want a full time wedding planner to handle the bulk of the logistics or do you want to try it yourselves? Are you going to lean on each other or defer to one another depending on your areas of specific interest or expertise? Will you empower each other to make executive choices when one of you can't be present or will everything be decided 50/50. How will you handle arguments? How will you compromise?
Real talk, one of you may care more about "wedding stuff" more than the other. We're going to call the one of you who's dialed into weddings, Partner A and the one who's committed, but not attached, Partner B.
This advice is for my Partner A's:
Something to consider that will save you both a lot of time and help avoid arguments is this: take what your partner says they value as their word. Don't try to read too much into it or suss out any hidden meaning. If you're finding that their level of interest isn't necessarily matching yours it doesn't suddenly mean that your partner doesn't care about you and your marriage. What's most likely going on is that the wedding area of focus is something they may not have any expertise in and they are deferring to you because it's something you're more knowledgable. When you're looking for your partner's opinion, give them 2 or 3 options to choose from and go from there. If you need support, let your partner know. Don't forget to give them credit when they are trying!
Partner B's, listen up:
Just because you don't care about napkin folds and have nothing to contribute to the ghost chair vs cane-backed chair debate, doesn't mean that you get to check out. Your partner still needs your support and more input beyond "whatever makes you happy, will make me happy." Remember, that this is your day too. Your partner is trying to include you in it. Let your partner know which areas of the wedding are interesting to you and really show up for those. When asked for your opinion in the areas that you find less engaging, still share your thoughts. Remember that you can do other things to show that you care!
While preparing for this topic, I came across the image above posted by fellow wedding planner @thegentleplanner. She applies the iceberg theory to engaged couples. The Iceberg Theory, in the most basic terms, says that we only deal with with we can visually perceive. I agree whole heartedly with this concept. Not just for people on the outside observing, but for the couple when looking at their partner. Neither of you are mind readers. If you don't take the time to talk things through and set your expectations, you run the risk of struggling internally with all the same stressors above and feeling completely isolated. Being engaged and planning the wedding is a happy season in your life. You don't have to decide everything in one sitting, but get a clear-ish picture of your wedding day and wedding planning expectations before moving on to big decisions.
Talk About Dates
After you announce your engagement people will be chomping at the bit to get details. You don't have to have an exact answer right away, but having a response ready will always be better than nothing. In the beginning, my non-committal answer was spring.
My husband and I, for the most part, are very practical people. We looked at our calendar and tried to find a month and date for our wedding that was:
1) Not in a high birthday/holiday cluster
2) Easy to remember (Mr. Lane was very athletic and has suffered a few head injuries. He never wanted to be in a situation where he could forget)
This elimination process might look different for you and your partner, but it's a start. When you or your wedding planner go about reaching out to vendors I've found that it's easier to be go into the inquiry process with a flexible date in mind. Why? The COVID "Wedding Boom" may still be in high affect where you live. If you're wondering what that is --- A lot of the 2020/2021 weddings were postponed to 2022 and the 2023 prospective weddings are booking up fast at the same time. Venues and Vendors are very busy so booking who you want to work with when you'd like has become a challenge for couples. If there's a venue that you and your partner are set on, I recommend that you lean toward choosing a wedding date during a slow season and asking for a slower day of the week.
Other things to consider and if there are any special events happening in your city during the week that you're planning to get married. This could end up affecting hotel bookings, restaurant locations for rehearsal dinners, general traffic and parking. Ultimately, its your prerogative, but knowing about those potential problematic variables ahead of time is better than being blindsided.
What are your Priorities
When you imagine your wedding day, what are the things that you absolutely want/need to incorporate? Write down 3-5 things. It could be your cultural traditions, amazing food, guest experience, dancing. Is it a big wedding or something intimate? Are you hoping for a beachy location or do you envision a more formal, black tie affair? Keep in mind that you and your partner may have very different ideas of what you consider essential. That is totally fine. After you've made your own shortlist, compare your answers and agree on 3 things that will be the important focuses of your wedding. For example, Mr. Lane cared most about what he was going to wear, having amazing food and being indoors. I really cared about our wedding photos and our decor. When picking our wedding colors I based it off colors he liked that I could live with. We're both foodies, so we did all of the tasting and catering research together and I found amazing photographer who had worked in our venue to ensure that we would get good photos.
Tentative Guest Count
Remember when I asked if your wedding was going to be big or intimate? Here's where you and your partner will need to unpack that idea a little more. Do you need a definite answer? No, but having a rough guest count is something that you'll need once you start looking at venues. Start by writing down family and extended members. If you need to defer to your family members and see if there are any people who they are "expecting" you to invite -- remember they may not actually get that invite later on, but it's better to have a full count and tick people off the list then having to deal with trying to add people on the back end of planning and not being able to accommodate the changes. Subdivide your list into friends and coworkers. When it comes time to make that final count -- think about your coworkers and friends who have been most supportive of your relationships. Take little kids into account, are you comfortable having children present on your wedding day?
In addition to setting expectations, you and your partner will need to establish boundaries for yourselves and your your friends and family. Trust me. Here's why:
Mental Stamina: The road between getting engaged to your actual wedding date can be long. You’ll burn out way before you even get down the wedding aisle if that is your 24/7 focus.
Personal Boundaries: There are other things going on besides your wedding. Don't forgot your role as a child, friend, etc.
Relationship Health: Your fiance may not be sharing it, but they miss spending time with you and just you. Until the wedding day rolls around, it’s not going anywhere. Close your literal/figurative wedding binder and tune into your partner. Taking breaks from planning will help you come back to things refreshed.
Unsolicited Advice: A lot of people are excited for you and the journey you and your partner are on and they only want to help. Whether you chose to incorporate that advice, or can even accommodate, it is ultimately up to you and your partner. If you're going to say no, say it with grace and stand firm in advocating for your partner and yourself.
Vibe Killers: You need to guard yourself from any nay-sayers because nothing can tear you down faster. When you and your partner are planning your wedding related social events (dress/suit shopping, showers, etc), think about if it's worth it to invite that person. Again, handle the situation with grace, but if that person isn't supportive of you and your relationship without cause they may not be a person you need in your life.
Take a big gulp of wine/fancy drink and discuss who is paying for your wedding. Are you and your partner covering everything? Are your parents, grandparents or some other angels in your life chipping in as well?
Keep in mind that things like your wedding date, the guest count and wedding priorities can contribute into your total wedding cost. If you find at any point your family or friends are asking to extended the guest count or requesting that additions be made -- can you financially afford to do so?
Other things to consider:
-Deadlines: If you ask your vendors to make changes late in the game, be prepared for additional charges. Usually things can be added here and there, but the longer you wait to make decisions, the more coin you're going to lose. So be aware of your timelines and don't get carried away with last minute requests.
-Limits and Splurges: Once you and your partner get going you may find that you're falling in love with all the possibilities wedding vendors have to offer. In order to stay grounded, set aside some funds for splurges. That way if you decide you want to upgrade any decor or spring for extras (ex: time with your photographer, time in your wedding venue, a next tier premium wedding package/ bounce house) you can. Also, establish a hard limit number that you won't go beyond.
My goal in sharing this with you is to give you and your future spouse a strong foundation into each other's mindset in regards to your wedding. You don't have to agree about everything, but as you both talk it through, remember that you're both on the same side. The first steps in any adventure can be overwhelming. Take this opportunity to be open minded and well organized so that you and your partner can set the path to having the wedding of your dreams. Enjoy your night in, getting in sync and take a sip of wine for me!
Drop a comment below or find me on IG @jasperandlaneevents. I'd love to know how you're doing!