You've gotten engaged and even set a wedding date - that's a huge achievement, but now the real work of "getting married" begins.
"Oh," you say with a wry smile, "We're hiring a wedding planner to tackle it all."
Okay, that's a great idea, but there are a lot of things most of us don't know about the entire wedding planning process, and one of the biggest is that (even with a pro wedding planner) it is never "hands off" or "effortless".
So, whether you are going the professional wedding planner route, planning your wedding with some professional support, or making it an entirely DIY affair, there is one thing you must know before it all begins. And that is the point we just made above:
Wedding planning is a time consuming and challenging task regardless of how it is done.
Of course, as with so many other things in life, if you accept and expect challenges, it makes them much easier to tackle when they appear. That is why I'd like to offer you the following list of "things no one tells you about wedding planning".
Some of them are going to be a surprise and some might seem not all that shocking, but still extremely valuable. Let's start with a sort of reiteration or expansion of our main point:
1. Even if you say your wedding is going to be laid back, casual, informal or any other word of that ilk, it will be just as much work and planning as a full-blown and more formal affair.
Why? Let's consider that briefly. The large-scale formal wedding has a wedding space, flowers, food, music, décor, drinks, transportation, clothing, and events associated with the wedding such as a rehearsal dinner or a departure breakfast.
Guess what? So will that casual wedding. You'll still have to find and book the space, choose the menu and see it arranged, figure out music, do some decorating, plan on your bar or drinks, arrange transportation for yourself and guests, buy the wedding clothes and do the same side events!!
Lesson: Don't be blindsided by the reality that simple or fancy, all weddings take the same work and decision-making processes.
2. Expect unexpected expenses - With our without the professional planner, almost all weddings have at least one unanticipated expense enter the scene. It could be that you now require a tent or the photo booth you want so badly is now much more than you originally figured.
Lesson: Even before you get started, do a budget that is equipped with the famous "wiggle room". Most experts say to tack on an extra five to ten percent so you don't freak out when that expense suddenly appears.
3. While we're on unexpected expenses …Did you remember that you will need to budget for "gifts" to give out to your wedding party, certain family members (grandparents, etc.) and even your planner?
Lesson: Those getting married are often not the only ones who are expected to be on the receiving end of gifts! Budget accordingly.
4. Be careful about vocabulary. What does that mean? As the most common example, let's say you hire a wedding planner (or if it is a DIY event, you are speaking with vendors).
You use the words "classic" and "traditional" to describe what you're looking for, and yet you keep receiving suggestions that are nothing like you had in mind.
Lesson: Be very expressive about your desires, and even better is if you start assembling visual examples of what you mean. Pinterest and simple search engine "images" results can help you explain and show what you want.
5. While we're on the subject of words, be aware that you may allow yourself to become overly involved in the whole issue. This is particularly true if you are a DIY wedding person, but even if you have a planner you might become the proverbial "wedding bore", talking nothing but wedding to family and friends.
Lesson: You are going to talk about the wedding no matter what, so get a firm hold on that habit now.
Book specific times per day to speak with people about it, try journaling or jotting things down, but don't immerse yourself too much in it for weeks or months, it puts way too much pressure on the one day.
6. Crying, arguing and emotional outbursts will ensue, no matter what. First, you may have the tears that flow freely when something you really want falls through.
The reception space is booked, a family member cannot make it, the flowers won't be in season…there is much you'll weep over, so just let it happen. It will be a short burst and then be done. There will also be many happy tears, and you need to just enjoy it.
Lesson: Wedding planning can feel like an emotional roller coaster, but if you expect a few emotional overloads and let it happen, you are unlikely to have any major meltdowns at crucial moments.
7. While we're on emotions…Be prepared to see that your partner may not care about a lot of the things you thought/hoped that they would. As a prime example, they might give you a shrug about food choices, décor or major items like the honeymoon. This is not unusual, and though you might feel like a good tantrum, it is not as bad as it seems.
Lesson: First, ask if you have vetoed too many of their previous answers. If not, ask them what they are interested in about the event. Then, get them involved in that part, or even hand it over entirely. You are marrying a partner, not a wedding planner, so keep it real.
8. While your partner might have an opinion…It will start to feel like everyone else does! Colleagues, family members, friends, social media contacts, vendors, the wedding planner all have thoughts on everything and it can feel quite defeating.
Lesson: People are people and will have their own preferences, and often share them. It's fine if they don't like a certain type of cake, gown, flower, paper, etc. It is your wedding and you should listen strictly to the advice that you ask for.
9. Regardless of your level of participation, wedding planning sneaks into your dreams. Lots of brides and grooms complain they feel like they are not sleeping. This is because they are giving so much thought and fear to the process.
Lesson: You can have a few sleepless nights, but if it becomes a problem, start setting aside the wedding planning a few hours before bed, talk it out with your partner long before you try to sleep, and make wiggle room in the schedule to catch up on sleep.
10. You'll need a lot of timelines…Your wedding planner might help out with the wedding day and even the days before and after, but you really (and read that as REALLY) need to keep track of yourself.
Lesson: Begin planning your wedding in reverse, i.e. if you need the final fittings on a specific date, look back to find the days you must meet the original starting points to accommodate the deadline. Do this for everything, and you should have a much easier time.
Anyone planning a wedding is likely to be surprised by how much it involves. You now know ten things that often catch people off guard, and as the old saying tells us, you have been forewarned so you can now be prepared.