A wedding is a church service followed by a party. A lot of T.V. shows, magazines, and movies may try to tell you differently, but don’t believe them. When planning a wedding the best advice a person to can give you is to lower your expectations a little bit, cozy in real close to your fiancee, and remember that you love your mom despite the insane amount of texts you are going to begin receiving from her on a daily basis.
After planning my own wedding, all I want to do is dump advice on the heads of all brides-to-be. But, because all unsolicited advice is annoying, I figure writing it down and leaving it out to be picked up at will is probably the safest way to make my thoughts available.
It is astounding how many moving parts there are in planning and executing a wedding. From the vendors, to the etiquette, to the details I totally missed till the day of, there is a lot. So the first thing to keep in mind is:
Do not be overwhelmed.
This wedding is not defining your whole marriage, so don’t let people over-hype it for you. The biggest thing that helped me in this process was just getting the most daunting details out of the way as soon as possible. For us, that was booking the venue. Once we got that nailed down, my stress levels were reduced by half. This brings me to my second point:
Let your values direct you.
With weddings we have so much cultural baggage about what is expected or what is “done” that often there is a pressure to do things that we don’t even personally enjoy. Forget that! Josh and I basically had to sit down and decide what our greatest priorities are, and let those direct the rest of the wedding details. For us, the most important thing is family… which means we knew our wedding would involve 200 guests at minimum. That made picking a venue and caterer way easier because we knew we needed a place that was big enough and food that was cheap and abundant. Which raises my next point:
Keep it simple.
Our wedding budget was $5,000, which sounds like a lot until you try to plan a wedding with it, and then it sounds completely impossible. We knew we couldn’t afford a big production, but still wanted to feed people well. And, since we are Californians through and through, Mexican food seemed to be the obvious choice. Because of our desire for frugality, we ended up doing a lot of bargaining and talent scouting, which turned out way better than we could have even imagined. Which raises perhaps my favorite piece of advice:
Embrace your community.
And this means to find the people you already know who have all of the talents that would shine in a wedding! It made my wedding so much more special knowing the people who cooked the food, baked the cake, arranged the flowers, and took the photos. Not only are you supporting your friends and family by giving them a key role in your wedding, but they are supporting you by making sure everything is just as it should be. I guess the best way to describe this route is “personal,” for good or bad. For me it was good. And speaking of personal…
Make it your own.
This wedding will be fun for you and your guests because it is a testament of you and your fiancee’s relationship. So make it personal for goodness sake! Walk down the aisle to a song that means something to you! Not just because it is titled “Wedding March.” I walked down the aisle to “Clair de Lune” which is perfectly lovely and holds familial significance.
Pick out a dress and suit that you both love, and don’t be afraid to bargain hunt. I learned very quickly that as soon as “wedding” is tacked on as an adjective, a product’s price triples. I found my dress on sale for $300 at BHLDN, which is pretty miraculous. And, because I am not a big fan of wearing white, the pink dress seemed just right for the occasion.
When it comes to the food, music, decorations, colors, and every other single detail, just pick what you like. This includes traditions too! I have always loved the bouquet toss and hated the garter toss, so guess what we did and did not have at our reception? Just make it your own, that’s all I’m saying. Amplify the details that inspire you. Speaking of inspiration…
Pick a muse.
Because Josh and I love Mexican food, and are both seventh and sixth generation Californians respectively, we let our state’s history be the muse of the wedding. This meant authentic Mexican food catered by the New Love Church of Santa Maria, a cake inspired by Mexican folk art, and beautiful Mexican paper products which were surprisingly abundant and inexpensive on Amazon. On top of the California theme, we also had a pallet inspired by my love of water color paints, primarily directed by our gorgeous wedding invitation I stumbled upon on Pinterest. This created a rich and striking color pallet of blues and purples that bled into each other perfectly. Speaking of water color…
Do what you like, and leave the rest to the professionals.
If you do not like and/or are not good at arranging flowers, making favors, or baking goodies, please let me urge all of you DIY brides out there to stick to your strengths! I made a lot of different items for my wedding, but only the items I knew I would enjoy making. I had one of my best friends act as wedding coordinator, and boy am I glad I did not fill that role myself! Having someone else be the point of contact for the whole wedding makes your time as a bride about 1,000 times easier.
The worst thing you can do is stay up the night before your wedding crafting gift bags for your bridesmaids. This will make you miserable. Finish all wedding prep at least a week before your wedding so you can savor the wedding week itself. Just do what you actually enjoy! For me that was making necklaces for my bridesmaids, painting water color votives, soap labels, and escort-cards, and sewing my garter and veil. But, allow me to reiterate, sewing, painting, and beading bring me joy! So do what makes you feel happy, and refuse to bow to the pressure of being the perfect DIY bride.
Let no one steal your joy!
I am not going to lie, people get weird about weddings. Suddenly relatives who have never shown one iota of interest in your life will come out of the woodwork and express strong opinions about aspects of the wedding you didn’t even know existed until three days prior; people you have never met will decide to never speak to you again (or for the first time?) because they didn’t get an invite; and friends you haven’t spoken to in years will suddenly want to start texting about the wedding with you on the reg. And that’s just how it goes! Don’t let it throw you. There is so much fun to be had with wedding planning (and with wedding) that you should do your very best to just enjoy each planning junction and laugh off the weird behavior of others.
Surround yourself with support!
Josh and I met with our pastor once every two weeks for all six months of our engagement, and I am so glad we did! This lent us the strength to keep going despite all the highs and lows of wedding planning. So rally round! Be it your family, your friends, or your church, now is the time to lean into those people who shaped you and love you.
When all is said and done, it’s the marriage that matters, not the wedding. So have fun with it and don’t let anyone tell you it is the most important day of your life! Your life will be full of important days, and this is just one of the many great days to come with this person you love.