The newly-engaged endorphin high has faded, you have about 7 million tabs open, 62 thousand different inspiration images, a list of vendors a mile long to look through, and are pretty close to calling it quits and eating all your feelings. First off, you’re not crazy. Almost exactly every bride feels overwhelmed by the sheer amount of wedding *stuff* to go through. If you’re not professional event planner by trade, it can often feel like everything wedding is drenched in rose gold glitter and commercialism and is all so much more expensive than you thought it would be. So, the trick to
surviving the insanity planning a wedding is to create a solid, well-rounded vision for your wedding with your fiancé. Even if you’ve already booked vendors and are further along in the planning process, taking the time to create a wedding vision at any step in the process will pay off enormously.
If you’ve got a gajillion ideas, but don’t know how to make them all work together: create a vision board for your wedding. Hell, even if you know exactly what you want your wedding to look like: create a vision board. I’m dead serious. It sounds ridiculous, but create a vision board of 10 or so images that you want your wedding to look like. Feel free to go as artsy or high brow as you want. Refer to this board, over and over and over again, for when you’re not sure if something will fit together, unsure about a new project or idea, etc. Use it as your guiding aesthetic principle, use it when hiring vendors, use it when trying to explain what you want your wedding to look like. It’ll be helpful for you, for your vendors, and for your friends & family to understand what you want.
Then write down your biggest priorities for your wedding day. You cannot skip this, and you cannot do it alone. Your fiancé definitely needs to be a big part of this conversation. The two of you, sit down together and decide what you want to prioritize. What part of the wedding is most important to you? How do you want your wedding to feel? How do you want to feel? How do you want your guests to feel? (feel free to use your married friends are a resource here, ask them what they would have done differently, and what they would avoid if that had to do it all over). Then, make a top priority list of a few things (5 max), and stick to it. It’ll help you decide what is worth spending your time & your budget on. It’ll also give you an idea of what to tackle first.
Now that you’ve made your vision board and decided your big priorities: STEP AWAY FROM THE PINTEREST BOARD (even delete it, if you like living on the edge). Avoid the inspiration accounts & blogs & magazines; they’re only going to make you feel overwhelmed and crummy and have you second-guessing everything. You’ve decided what you want your wedding to look & feel like, so now all you have do is find your army & execute.
After doing your research and making your vision, you have to get down to the nitty gritty of things, like contracts and budget limits and all of things to consider about throwing a party for a large number of people. Unless you’ve got a bajillion dollars to spend, this part can often feel a long road of compromise after compromise until that dream wedding vision is all but gone and you’re wondering, “How did we get here?? This is so different from what we wanted.”
And that feeling epically sucks, but you’re not doomed. The idea is not to compromise on the stuff that forms the core of what you want your wedding to be, while being flexible with the stuff that is less important to you personally. This part requires a bit of collaboration with your fiance, a bit of deep, reflexive thinking (do I actually want llamas at my wedding, or do I just really like that picture on instagram?), and yep, some compromise. It also requires you to stick by your priorities, which can butt heads with other people’s ideas of what your wedding should be. If you’ve decided you want to do a first look but your mom hates the idea, then you have to decide if disregarding her opinion and forging ahead with your priorities is a good plan. (And that, if you’re a people pleaser like me, is never an easy call, and it would be foolish of me to insist that wedding planning always be fun & easy. However, I do promise that sticking to your priorities will be worth it!)
In order to manage the to-do list, which will inevitably make it feel like wedding planning is slowly sucking your life away: take it slow. Set up a timeline for your goals with small, reasonable deadlines along the way. Break down big tasks into a succession of little tasks. If you need help, ask for help (always, always. People frickin’ love to help with weddings). If you’re confused, at a dead end with research, or have a dream with no idea how to make it happen: ask your vendors. We all have years of experience and knowledge, and most folks are always happy to hand out suggestions, referrals, ideas, and encouragement (and if they’re not, why are they your vendors anyway??). Know your limits, and don’t beat yourself up for sticking to them.
As a last little guiding light, the best piece of wedding planning advice I’ve ever heard: Does it stress you out? Toss it. Seriously. Everything is optional in a wedding (except the vows & legal bit). Literally, e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. So, does it stress you out? Toss it.
Oh, and one more thing: your wedding is gonna rock.
Laura & Devon