The first days after an engagement are heady for the new bride-to-be, buying all the wedding magazines you can find, gazing at wedding dress shops as you drive and happily showing off your new “bling,” of course. In the back of your head, though, you were probably formulating your fantasy wedding from the moment you said “yes” to your potential mate.
Planning a day as big as one’s wedding day can be a very exciting – and very stressful – portion of a young woman’s life (or young man, depending on who’s doing the planning). Sometimes the stress overwhelms the excitement, and can result in some very bad behavior which can best be described as “bridezilla”. Hindsight being crystal clear, allow a former bride-turned-wife to provide some of the hard truths that are necessary to keep in mind when planning a wedding. Keeping these thoughts in mind while planning will allow a bride to focus on what’s really important: they are marrying the person who they love the most. These essential truths aren’t necessarily sugar-coated, but they are meant to be helpful, not hateful. The 4 Truths Every Bride Needs to Hear:
- Your wedding will not be unique; it will be uniquely YOU.
This was a truth that a guest at my wedding told me months later while dealing with a particularly demanding bride. It hurt to hear, but she’s right – weddings are essentially the same thing with different colors and minor details slightly shifted. There is nothing new under the sun, and that includes wedding ideas. A lot of brides get caught up in the wedding version of keeping up with the Jones, which can cause a lot of unnecessary stress and frustration. The sooner it is nipped in the bud, the better. Everything you can think of has previously been done. Photo booths for guests? Seen it. Choreographed first dance? Do a YouTube search, you’ll see a bunch. There have even been weddings underwater! It’s all been done. Don’t stress yourself out aiming for those “unique” little touches, especially if those unique little touches will add a hefty number to your wedding budget. Don’t spend thousands on the rarest flowers, decadent foreign chocolates for favors, the most ornate wedding venue, etc. Your guests won’t really care about any of those details as much as you do; all they’re really looking for is that the food is tasty, the seating is comfortable, the tunes are good, and that the bride and groom look happy and in love!
- It’s just one day and one (very special) party – THAT’S IT. Focus on the marriage, not on the wedding.
Weddings have achieved a certain type of mythos in American society that they are these magical, life-changing events that are one of the most important days of our lives. While it is a big event to get married, the wedding is essentially the party celebrating the major event; the marriage is the important part. This doesn’t mean the wedding isn’t a very special party, but it shouldn’t be treated as the be-all, end-all of one’s existence, either. Don’t let the wedding preparations take over the relationship. Take the time to reflect on why you’re marrying the person you love and what you hope to achieve with your partner during your marriage in addition to reflecting on how beautiful the wedding will be.
One great piece of advice to not overwhelm yourself or your betrothed during the planning process is to agree to one to two days a week where you will both deal with wedding preparations, and stick to the schedule. This way, the person who is doing the bulk of the planning feels he or she is being heard, while the other party feels like they’re not being overwhelmed. Doing the planning this way also forces the planning partner to focus on non-wedding-related things when spending time with their future spouse. Spending time together that isn’t wedding-related is essential during the wedding planning process, as wedding planning can easily overtake the relationship and leave the person not planning feeling ostracized; no one wants to feel like the party is more important than the person. While a wedding is a very special day, it’s just the celebration of a larger, more important journey.
- It is not just the bride’s day – there’s this guy hanging around called the groom, and (to a lesser extent) it’s the parents’ day, too.
A big hindrance to enjoying the planning process is when the bride gets in the nasty habit of treating the whole experience as her day. The wedding business has aimed their advertising at the brides, and perpetuated that the wedding is all about the bride. In all fairness, our culture doesn’t do much to fight this, either, and it has become the habit that wedding = bride’s big day. It’s definitely a big day for the bride, but it’s also a big day for the groom, and for the families and friends. The groom is making a big move in his life as well, and the families are seeing their children move onto a huge change in life. The friends are also seeing their pals make a big life change. Marriage is a big deal, and the celebration should reflect that it’s a joyous occasion for all involved. While the bride and groom shouldn’t completely give in to pressure from parents on everything, the parents do deserve some say in some aspects of the wedding, especially if any of them are financially contributing to the wedding. At the very least, the bride should be open to hearing feedback from the groom and the parents, as well as include the groom in some of the decision making. (Just a hint: the grooms usually prefer to have a say in the food and drink areas of the planning, as well as the honeymoon; those tend to be the areas the grooms look forward to the most.)
On a related note, don’t lose sight of the fact that a wedding is essentially a formal party. In other words, keep the comfort and enjoyment of your guests in mind during planning, and try not to focus on only your desires. Some examples are if you will have a few vegetarians attending then make sure they have something to eat other than bread, or if you’re getting married during the hottest month in your state, aim for a venue that either has air conditioning, or is available at a time of day that will be the least uncomfortable if you must be outside. While you are the bride, you are also the host. Don’t be a rude host just because it’s “your” day.
- Your bridal party ≠ your personal assistants.
One of the worst things a bride or groom can do to the people they love is treat them like slaves during the wedding process. If you picked your attendants well, they will be offering their assistance to you at every opportunity they have available. If so, that’s wonderful and you are very lucky to have such great attendants, but try not to take advantage of their offers. All of your attendants will have lives outside of your wedding planning. Life happens; People get married, pregnant, or have unexpected personal crises, which requires them to focus on their needs over yours; this isn’t an unreasonable or rude thing to do on their part. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t request assistance from your bridal party, it just means you might want to remember that they have lives outside of you if they aren’t always able to help you when you need it. To expect the bridal party to be at the bride and groom’s beck and call in all the months leading up to the wedding is unrealistic – unless you’re planning to pay them accordingly to be available at the drop of a hat.
The whole purpose of a wedding attendant is to support the bride and groom on the wedding day. The bride and groom should first and foremost choose people they want to honor, but also people they know will be supportive when they need support most. Frankly, all the other stuff that a bridesmaid or groomsmen is “expected” to do is superfluous, and should be done because the attendant wants to. To ensure satisfaction with your bridal party, be honest with your bridal attendants from the get-go of what you want from them in regards to the wedding and the months leading up to the big day. Allow them to gracefully bow out early in the planning if they don’t believe they can be the bridal attendant you desire. This way, you can preserve the friendship through honesty about your expectations. You may have a bridesmaid or groomsman who thinks their only responsibility is to show up at the wedding in the required dress code; in all fairness, they aren’t technically wrong, as that is the main requirement of being a wedding attendant. They don’t have to throw you a huge bridal shower or bachelorette, and it shouldn’t be the reason you choose your bridal party. Pick people you love and trust to help keep you from going nuts, and if you really want control your bridal shower and bachelor/bachelorette parties, plan them yourself and take the stress off of your bridal parties!
The overall purpose of these truths is to ease the wedding planning process. If expectations are kept reasonable for all aspects of the wedding, the process will be smoother and happier for all involved. The wedding is supposed to be a joyous event, after all! Don’t ruin the event with memories of stress and bitterness in the months leading up to the event; try to relax and have fun during the wedding planning process. It will be to the benefit of everyone for the bride to have a happy, healthy attitude about weddings and wedding planning!