10 Life Lessons You Learn From Planning A Wedding
Engagement season is upon us (if there is such a thing, but ring photos are flooding my social media). Our wedding was less than 2 years ago so planning is still fresh in my mind and the questions from my newly engaged friends are starting to roll in about wedding planning. Oddly enough, most of the questions my friends ask aren't even related to what florist or cake vendor to use. The most frequent questions are about survival. HOW DO YOU SURVIVE THIS COMPLETELY OVERWHELMING, ABSOLUTELY MASSIVE THING and everything that comes with it?
We had the best wedding planner ever. Seriously...even Vogue agrees with me. I loved Lindsay from TOAST Events so much that I'm now lucky enough to call her a friend. I teamed up with Lindsay (my favorite Toastess with the mostest) to come up with a list of the most important lessons we learned from wedding planning. Not only is she a wedding planner, she's also a recent bride so her advice really is second to none. As we were writing this post, we both realized that absolutely every single lesson has a bigger life lesson attached with it.
It started as "things we learned from planning our weddings" to "The 10 Best Life Lessons You Learn During Wedding Planning"
1. Have a "f it" bucket and know when to use it.
I have a hard truth for you that brides don't want to hear: nothing is perfect and there will be something that doesn't go according to plan. That's life. The post office will lose an invitation, or you'll have a family member be an a-hole or whatever else. It'll happen. A great wedding planner can save you from a lot, but they can't save you from those things. It's important to remember this: You're getting married. You guys are making a LIFETIME commitment. THAT IS THE COOLEST EVER! If that's not the center of the universe for you during wedding planning, shift those priorities. Here's the thing: if what you're upset about is going to be important in 5 or 10 years, you may need to re-think something. Have a friend who isn't being a good friend? Maybe re-evaluate how badly you want that person in your life. Bosses invite gets lost in the mail (this happened to me)? Will they even remember in a year? No. That goes in the f it bucket. I can confidently tell you that the people who remember our wedding remember how they felt when they left. They remember how much love they felt. I don't think a single person, including my mother who helped make decisions, could tell you what color our plates were.
About 3 months before our wedding, I said to Lindsay, "I don't care. You can make all of the decisions, the only thing I care about is that Jeff shows up" and I meant that.
My mom came to me worried about where a guest was sitting..."mom? I love you. handle it."
You choose what gets your energy. Set a value for what your energy is worth. Sometimes you have to put it in the "f it" bucket and move on.
2. Choose your 'tude wisely
You can be kind and gracious or you can be a total nightmare, the choice is up to you. Being an a-hole isn't going to make anyone want to go out of their way for you and spoiler alert: the wedding biz is full of rude brides. The nicer you are, the nicer everyone around you will be and I can't tell you how many people involved in our wedding planning went the extra mile for us because we approached planning with gratitude. I'm not sure why people forget The Golden Rule while wedding planning but it's a key thing to remember.
This goes for wedding day perspective too! Here was my mentality going into the wedding:The wedding venue burns down? Let's make s'mores! Cake falls over? Grab a camera! Let's go viral! Having that as your attitude going into your wedding day will make the entire day so much more enjoyable and you'll be so grateful for all of the wonderful things that day.
Basically, as with everything in life: don't be an a-hole.
3. Hold hands with the most important person in your life. Don't let go.
The best advice we got for our wedding day was definitely "HOLD HANDS!" and I can't remember who gave it to us. We had a rule for our wedding day. As soon as we say "I do" we don't break hands all night. If you let go, someone will steal you away to talk to you and there's a good chance you'll wind up at the end of the day feeling like you barely saw each other. At one point Jeff even walked me to the bathroom door. Best advice EVER but it really takes a conscious, team effort. We got to experience the entire night together and didn't get lost in chatting separately the whole night.
It's easy to get distracted when there's a lot going on around you. Don't lose sight of what's most important: being together and focused on each other despite all of the background noise.
4. Make decisions for YOU! Great example? Wedding dress shopping.
I know it looks cute on TV to have 10 of your friends help you pick out a wedding dress but real talk: that's 10 opinions (or at least the faces of 10 people) who you are hoping agree with you. My mom is super easygoing and wants what makes me happy so she was invited to wedding dress shopping. My friends were not invited. My best friend came to one fitting with me but that was it. I really don't care how anyone thinks I look and I didn't want opinions. I wanted to feel confident. My suggestion is, even if you feel like you need a party to squeal at your dress, go solo first to figure out what YOU like, without anyone swaying you. If you're deciding between two and need a weigh-in, the time for it is after the first appointment. I've heard more times than not from friends who left an appointment confused or wanting to cry after making a party out of dress shopping. There are so many fittings and those are a GREAT time to include friends for gushing. Controlling mom? Go to a few appointments without telling anyone to get a feel for what you like. OH SWEET LIBERATION!
Trust YOU, listen to YOU. Your opinion of yourself is the one that counts the most! If you don't feel confident, you won't look confident. Do what's best for YOU!
5. If spending the extra money you want to spend doesn't hinder you in the long run: DO IT!
This fits right in with "life is short, buy the shoes" mentality. It's important to spend money wisely, but don't get so caught up in it that it takes away from what's best for you long term. I had a girlfriend who chose a photographer because the person was a little bit cheaper and guess what? She hates all of her wedding photos. She said the difference in price would have taken her one month to pay off but she kicks herself for pinching pennies where it really mattered to her. I did that the very first time I bought a car. It was a brand new car and there was an upgrade package that would have made me LOVE the car. I looked at the price tag, saw the $1,000 price difference and was terrified by that $1,000. That's so much money! What I didn't think about is that the price difference per month on my car loan was extremely minimal and still in my price range. I wound up feeling BLEH about that car the entire time I owned it. DOH!
6. The time is now: say how you feel now.
Write your own vows! I did NOT want to write my own vows but I'm so glad I did. Saying things out loud really helps you mean what you say and say what you mean. You have the opportunity to set intentions out loud. Put it out into the universe! You may regret not writing your own vows but you will NEVER regret saying exactly how you feel on such an incredibly big day in your relationship.
7. Don't let details paralyze you. The devil is in the details….weddings are all about details, and the part I love the most! However, don’t let these details paralyze you. If you start becoming overwhelmed and it’s not fun anymore, take a step away or simply make a decision and don’t look back. Ask yourself if the guests will notice this detail you are hung up on. My benchmark is always asking… is anyone going to leave your wedding saying “That was the best wedding ever but, the font on their cocktail napkins was different than their invitation.” (or whatever detail you are currently obsessing over).
Make decisions and move on.
8. Break things down into small, more manageable parts.
Avoid DDD- Decision Deficit Disorder. There are hundreds of decisions that have to be made through the process. Hundreds! Not just the flavor of the cake, but the shape of it.. and how many tiers you will have and then what the outside will look like. Will you keep the top tier? What does the cake go on?
Do you have anxiety yet? I’d be remiss without saying, having a planner by your side to help navigate these decisions will be your biggest blessing. TOAST breaks the planning into phases with you, to help make the process more manageable and fun. If a planner isn’t in your budget, try a similar approach. Source an online list or template or write down all the decisions that need to be made and break them into three or four phases. Do not allow yourself to think about anything in phase four, until phase one is complete.
Think of it like building a house, you aren’t going to go into your first meeting with the builder talking about the window treatments. You have to lay down the foundation and build the walls before you have a clear vision of what the details will look like.
9. When you choose someone to be on your team: trust their strengths.
Trust your creative team. You have hired each piece of the team for their taste, style and talent. Relax, and let them create magic for you! Allowing the creative to “create” rather than to be “directed”, will yield a much prettier result, I promise! I
Literally take at least 10 seconds every hour to pause. Stand. Look around and soak everything in. Life is short and your wedding will fly by. You will never regret taking a few seconds or moments to breathe everything in and truly appreciate it.