Ten things I wish I knew before planning a wedding

by jaime on August 1, 2012

Yesterday, I think I hit a wall when it comes to the wedding. There are so many things that are great about this experience, but I’m going to be perfectly honest: planning a wedding kind of sucks. Add in the fact that I’m trying to pay my bills, have a great relationship with my fiance, keep up with a regular workout schedule and maybe shower once or twice a month and I’m left feeling drained emotionally, physically and bridally. (I know that last one isn’t actually a word. Don’t worry.)

So in the spur of the moment, I asked a question on the Facebook page. I just wanted to know if I was the only one who felt like this whole wedding thing isn’t all it’s cracked up to be… and a bunch of comments later, I found out something that I had never known: we are all scared and confused about what to do for our wedding. ALL OF US.

With that in mind, I wanted to share some of my fears, excitements and frustration about this whole process because if I thought that I was alone, maybe you do, too. But I promise that you’re not.

1. Everyone wants to talk about the wedding. Friends, family and total strangers all want to know what your color scheme is. And how dress shopping is going. All of a sudden, everyone cares about this one thing and forgets about everything else going on in your life. Don’t take it personally and don’t get offended. And if you really don’t want to talk about it, don’t. There’s no law that says your wedding has to be public domain, and you have a right to your privacy if that’s what’s right for you.

2. No one asks about your marriage plans. I think people just get caught up in the glamour of a wedding day, and it distracts them from the big picture: you have a wedding BECAUSE you’re getting married, not the other way around. And why is it that so many people think it’s weird to want to go to premarital counseling? I didn’t learn how to tie my shoes without being taught (and then practicing a LOT!), and I feel like marriage is a bit more important. Shouldn’t it at least get the same courtesy as my shoelaces?

3. There are times where you will seriously consider an elopement. This was pretty much the basis of my Facebook post, and before the engagement and wedding planning, I always thought that brides were just exaggerating. They’re not. The pressure of that wedding day is starting to feel more and more like a reality show, complete with makeup artists and hairstylists creating a “better you” and cameras follow like paparazzi. My big fear is that I’m totally going to get stage fright when I’m up there. It’s going to be so sad if I miss the moment because I’m too concerned that I look like an idiot.

4. The groom isn’t expected to care about the wedding. I feel like every woman I know has told me how lucky I am that Cam is ambivalent, which I resent a little. Isn’t it his day, too? I mean, I’m not marrying myself up there. He’s kind of involved. Oh, and what if I spend all this time planning and he ends up totally bored/unhappy? It doesn’t seem like he’s all that excited himself. This double standard never really gets easier (and to the brides who have a groom that’s into planning, I have only one thing to say: you are SO lucky) and you’re just going to have to get used to it.

5. You will feel like your wedding isn’t your wedding. The plus side of this is that you have a lot of eyes and ears on the to-do list. But those eyes and ears usually come paired up with a mouth and opinions. While it’s great to have input from other areas, it can be a bit overwhelming. You’re going to find yourself thinking things like, “Why does everyone care about what I’m wearing? Am I seriously going to disappoint people because I didn’t wear a traditional dress?” Make sure to stand up for yourself and don’t be afraid to ask people to step back.

6. You can DIY your way into a wedding that fits your wallet and wants. It is possible to have an affordable wedding, no matter how much people say it can’t be done. Did you know that the average wedding now costs over $27,000? I’m not sure about you, but if I had an extra $27,000 just lying around, I would probably use it as a down payment on a house. I know that I haven’t spent much time talking about our wedding, but one of the most stressful parts of planning is setting – and sticking to – a budget, and we’re spending less than half the average on ours.

7. The average bride spends 200 hours planning her wedding. And it’s okay if you don’t. I found an article on Yahoo where it said that planning a wedding should, according to wedding consultants, take approximately 200 hours. I can’t begin to imagine the event that will come out of that time, but if I had my way, instead of spending 200 hours planning for a single day, I’d rather take some of that time (how about 25%, okay?) and plan for each and every day that comes after.

8. People come out of the woodwork to give you unsolicited advice. You should ignore most of it. No one means to be a jerk to you, and they don’t mean to undermine your decisions, but it happens. A lot. When someone offers you advice, listen and politely thank them – whether they’re right or wrong isn’t the question. It’s whether things are right or wrong for you and your wedding.

9. It’s normal to worry that everything is just going to suck, and it’ll all be your fault.  So many aspects of your wedding will  feels like this really private, personal and intimate moment. Except you’re surrounded by 150 friends and family. It’s like they’re all watching you at this vulnerable moment, a moment that’s supposed to be all about this new union but instead is more like circus sideshow. Remember why you’re doing all this work (and who you’re ending up with after it all calms down), take a deep breath and let it go. I have written this before, but it can never be said too many times: things are going to go wrong, and you need to just take it all in stride.

10. There are always people who are willing to help, just because they love you. Weddings make people crazy, but there will be someone there to keep you from going off your rocker. For me, that person is my stepmother. She has so many great ideas and has been more supportive through this than my own fiance, and there is no way that I can fully express how grateful I am to have her on my side for this crazy experience.

What are some things you wish you knew before you started planning your wedding?