When I was getting married, I got so many wedding planning tips that I thought I'd go insane. Unlike a lot of other women, I had no idea what I wanted my wedding to be like. I knew what I wanted my marriage to be like, but I hadn't thought much at all about the actual ceremony. I guess that comes from being a bit of a tomboy who hung around other tomboys and didn't have many girly-girls to play with. Bridal magazines and celebrity weddings are interesting, but it's not always a good idea to take wedding planning tips from people who spend millions only to divorce after less than three months, or allow the American public to decide who they should marry on live TV. I've just never been the type for fancy ceremonies, and neither are most of my friends. We did, however, all manage to have weddings that have given us good memories. Here are a few tips that can help you do the same.
1. Pick the Three Things That Are the Most Important to You
One of the best ways to cut down on wedding planning stress to decide which things you really want and which things you can let slide. For me, it was the dress, a religious ceremony, and having my family and friends involved. It helped tremendously to focus on these things because a) I could decide what to devote the most money and effort to and b) It helped me sort through all the other wedding planning tips I was getting. It also helped my parents decide who to talk to and what about, which leads me to my second point.
2. Use Your Connections
The old maxim about everyone in a small town knowing everyone else is true. This may not be a good thing in all circumstances, but it certainly was here. My parents knew a lot of people who could provide various items or services at a much lower price than they would have paid if they'd just looked through the phone book. In fact, a lot of things were free: the reception was held in a friend's party room decked out like a 50s soda shop with decorations borrowed from someone my parents knew from church. My stepsister managed a high-end seafood restaurant and got some of her employees to cater the rehearsal dinner. The pastor who performed the ceremony even refused payment because he was a longtime family friend and practically saw me as one of his kids! A lot of this stuff could have been extremely expensive, but we got some great deals because of my parents' connections.
3. Make It Your Own
Another thing about having connections is that you can make things a lot more personal than you might be able to otherwise. For instance, having a close family friend officiate the ceremony made it extremely meaningful because this person had been with my family through a lot of hard times and was able to share in the joy of the day in a way that another pastor may not have been. Our wedding cake was made by an extremely talented friend who created something that looked and tasted better than some cakes I've seen sold for twice as much. Even if it's something as simple as burning your own CDs for the reception (we did that too), find a way to personalize the day.
4. Look for Deals
Since I had moved away from home several years earlier, there were some things we couldn't get from friends or family. However, that doesn't necessarily mean you have to pay full price. My entire wedding ensemble - the dress, veil, shoes, alterations etc. - cost less than $500 because I got them from a local shop that was about to close and was selling things at clearance prices. Also, things like favors or pretty plastic dishes for the reception can be found at your local party or wholesale store. In fact, this might be the better way to go if you need to get anything personalized!
5. Don't Allow Yourself to Be Bossed around
One of the most stressful things about planning a wedding is dealing with the onslaught of information we get thrown at us. Some people might be used to planning fancy events, but I certainly was not. Between being told what colors I should use and what kinds of foods I should have at the reception, I began to realize that some of the people giving me advice were using my wedding to correct things that went wrong in theirs. They didn't mean to; they were just trying to save me from the regrets they had. I'm grateful to them, but remember that your wedding day is ultimately your day, not your mom's, sister's or best friend's. Take what they have to say into consideration, but ultimately decide the things that are important to you and your spouse-to-be for yourself. It's much easier that way. Some people might get annoyed that you're "not listening" to them, but they'll get over it. If not, they're probably not someone you want to have around anyway.
6. Have a Backup Plan
I'm sure you've heard of Murphy's Law - anything that can go wrong, will. This seems to especially apply to weddings. Leave plenty of time and room for mishaps and last-minute changes, because they will happen. Somebody's babysitter's going to bail, someone's going to get stuck in traffic and another person is going to have to stay up until 1 a.m. making the programs because the party store spelled your fiance's name wrong (that was me). It's better to get everything done and have three hours to kill than to have to rush around like a crazy person and end up missing something important.
7. Remember What the Day is Really about
A wedding should be about the people getting married. You're marrying the person you love with the intention of spending the rest of your lives together. You're starting a new chapter in your lives that will hopefully give you a lot of joy in the future. To me, that's more beautiful than any flower or dress.
I hope I've managed to help you make planning a wedding a little less stressful. Do any of you ladies have any advice to offer? Do you have any funny stories about your own weddings you'd like to share?