Updated: Aug 2, 2020
I'm about to get very real with you during this post. We're going to get down and dirty and discuss all of the things they don't tell you about wedding planning. Although rewarding, it is NOT always pretty to get to the end result. I'll give engaged couples some tips on where to start in the planning process, how to deal with family "help" or drama, and I'll provide some useful templates.
So you're engaged. Congratulations! Where do you begin?
First let's be realistic. Although wedding planning can be a very fun distraction for some (obviously myself included), it can also be extremely stressful, time- consuming, and daunting. Where do these negative emotions come from and how do we avoid them? Unfortunately in most cases they can't be avoided.
Negative emotions are all part of the planning process, and they can result from many different things. If you start your wedding planning process out by being realistic and learning to embrace these negative emotions or use them to your advantage, then you will be setting yourself up for a fun year (or however long you have) of planning.
Stress can come from the budget/money aspect, from having to deal with family issues, from not seeing eye-to-eye with your spouse, or even whenever things don't go your way. You WILL experience stress at some point in the planning process, whether it comes from one of these factors or a combination of them. The best way that you can minimize the stress is from being realistic with your budget and vision, dealing with family issues head-on vs avoiding them and letting them fester, and by exercising regularly. Meditation also works well, as it helps people clear their mind and get ready to focus on other tasks that the day brings. Usually the closer the wedding date is, the more stressful it is to plan. Same goes for the size of the wedding- larger weddings usually create more stress because there's more that can hypothetically go wrong. A really great way to minimize stress is to give yourself plenty of time to plan the wedding (I would say 9 months or longer is ideal). For a lot of couples, another stressor is that each of their friends/family members has their own ideas and opinions of how your wedding should go. This can be hard to block out, so there are a couple of suggestions that I have for this. One suggestion is that you have a sit-down conversation with your family to let them know that you appreciate them but don't necessarily need their unsolicited advice. Please note that this is not the direction you will want to take a conversation with your parents if they are paying for the whole wedding. In that case, it is courteous to take their suggestions and let them aid you throughout the whole planning process. If your family is still being persistent with suggestions, you might want to try being selective about how you talk about your wedding in front of them. This means saying things like "We decided..." "We chose..." "We are doing..." and staying away from leaving the talk open ended or up for suggestions like "We're not sure about..." "We don't know..." "We can't decide between this or that." Stay away from those kind of phrases unless you actually want their input.
Wedding planning WILL be time-consuming. You're putting all of your dreams into a one-day event, after all. That's a lot of pressure. And it takes a lot of searching to find vendors who are the right fit, and to put all of the singular elements together to create one special day. If you're not careful, the wedding planning will consume your day-to-day life. My advice to stop this from happening is that you and your partner set aside a couple hours on one day each week until your wedding. These hours on this day each week will be deemed your "wedding planning hours," where you and your spouse will sit together undistracted (and preferably without extra friends or family involved) and tackle a few items on your wedding planning list. Designating a wedding planning time each week will 1) ensure that your whole relationship doesn't just consist of wedding talk for a year or more, and 2) will be an easy time commitment that both your and your partner can agree on to give the wedding some undivided attention.
Lastly, for some, the wedding planning process WILL seem daunting. There are so many tasks to complete, and so many places you could start. Sometimes it can be hard to get motivated to get the planning done. Sometimes you and your partner don't agree on everything. Sometimes you're worried that the day won't meet your expectations. There are two main pieces that make the planning seem daunting- those that you can control (where to start and what to do next), and those you aren't always in control of (the emotions tied to planning). It's hard to manage emotions sometimes, because there are so many complex emotions tied to planning and they will be different for each person. Meditation, positive affirmations, empowering quotes, and listening to music can help people deal with their emotions, but each person will have their own preferred methods. What's easy to control is the feeling of being overwhelmed or not knowing where to start. This is a perfectly NORMAL reaction! And it's one that I can help with right now! Check out my wedding timeline template to get an idea of which wedding planning tasks you should complete when. The template should be used as a helpful reference to keep you on track with the planning. It is not a one-size-fits-all template, so you might have to adapt it for your specific needs.
This has been my short (and hopefully somewhat inspirational/helpful) post on being prepared for all of the natural emotions that you will experience during planning and dealing with them in a healthy manner. It is perfectly okay to take a step back from planning when you are feeling a bit overwhelmed. It will not be pure joy all the time and that is okay. For more helpful wedding planning tips, please check out my other blog posts and my "freebies" tab on the menu for some helpful extras. Happy planning!