When it all boils down to it, wedding planning should be easy, right? I mean, it’s only a matter of making (a massive amount of)decisions. So what makes wedding planning so complicated?
Well, let’s be super real. Anything that holds high expectations, dreams becoming realities, lots of humans (with all of their opinions, emotions and agendas) and is life-altering, always comes along with complications. Since wedding planning happens in the midst of real life, it can’t be exempt from the same stresses, the same 24-hour time constraints, the same weight of gravity even! But we naturally think coming into wedding planning that it’s going to be all happy-happy times, magically shielded from the reality of real life. If you’re into your planning process you probably already have something to add to the list of “this isn’t what I expected it to be,” and have starting to navigate through the complications of wedding planning. I hope this article is timely in helping you out right where you are.
There are a whole bunch of things this blog post won’t be able to do for you in regards to decision making in the wedding planning process. I won’t be able to wave a magic wand and make your soon-to-be-mother-in-law suddenly less over-bearing, (sorry!). I won’t be able to give you fancy tricks to stop time or have money grow on trees. And I definitely won’t be able to stop real life things from happening like job stress, loss of a family member, financial burdens, natural disasters or heartache in any form, from happening. These are things that you will find will happen no matter how wonderful of a person you are, you are still a human subject to real life, and sometimes those things coincide with the unique opportunity of being engaged to be married. And that pesky real life can make your planning journey tough and overly complicated– add to it the total anxiety-ridden state of indecision, and you might have wound yourself tightly into a walking bridal time bomb.
BUT! There is great news. If you can ease the decision making process to be more efficient, intentional and clarifying, you’ll spend less of your time stressing about what decision to make— which will very much make the wedding planning journey more enjoyable! And if you’re struggling through real life while planning, you can put more of your energy into overcoming those things, than in overcoming the strain of indecision.
One thing that’s true about whatever you’re trying to decide, something will be decided– even if it’s to not decide! With the ever-growing list of wedding decisions that you’re facing, I think the best way to combat the onslaught of decisions is to have a battle plan! To do that, I propose a decision-making filter. As you answer and define the categories below, you’ll create a filter by which you run every decision through, and as each decision goes through the filter, you’ll find your decisions can be made faster, cleaner and with more purpose.
I hope these savvy tactics will help you tackle your wedding planning with confidence, peace and warm fuzzies.
Priorities are Key
My first blog post on Reverie was about Priorities. To me, priorities are paramount to making decisions confidently. When you know what’s important to you and your fiancé, it’s easy to see what isn’t. I think seeing what not to choose is sometimes more clarifying that what to choose. Priorities bring light to any decision, giving you an immediate guide to the direction to take. You may only need to remind yourself of your priorities to make the right choice, it can be as simple as that. Yet, lots of times, there are more layers to the decision, so hopefully the next filter items will also help the clarifying process. Start with priorities.
First, have a glass of wine or a cup of warm cider together and just talk about some life priorities. What’s important to you, your relationship, your future? Getting a handle on the big-picture priorities will keep your perspective healthy as you move forward into the finer details. Write them down.
Next, brainstorm every element of a wedding as you know them. Everything from where to spend money to the experiences you love at a wedding: the ceremony, getting ready, attire, wedding party, location, family involvement, honeymoon, guest’s experience, invitations, DJ or band… you get it. Jot down everything that comes to mind. No judging. Then, each of you take a separate piece of paper and write down the top 3 items you personally have as priority. Compare notes. Talk through and find your joint 3 priorities.
Use those top priorities as the foundation of your decisions.
Use your Smart Cents
Oh budgeting. Budgeting and I aren’t always friends. We are frequently on the outs, and when we are on good terms, I can’t say we like each other all that much! Do you have the same relationship with Budgeting?
To be perfectly frank though, without a good relationship with your wedding budget, you will strive in every decision you make. Money can bring a lot of stress to the planning process and to your relationship together. Working through how to talk money, communicating healthily about it and practicing working through the budget together will be one of the greatest gifts you can give your future marriage.
There are lots of budgeting tools online and a simple excel spreadsheet does the trick as well. I suggest, if you’re just at the beginning of your budgeting, to do a “proposed” budget, based off your findings of your potential vendors, venue, guest count and working budget total. Then add columns for actual numbers next to it. Budgeting when push comes to shove is likely going to ask you to rob Peter to pay Paul. So if you can see where you allocated hypothetical funds in one department, it makes it easier to reallocate them when you have actual numbers.
How ever you best budget, figure it out and commit! As you make decisions, you’ll need to put them through the money filter as well. It’s easy when you know you can or can’t afford it, and you’ll have a good amount of those answers. But it helps in decisions where you know something will have to give, in those times, continue to put the item in question through all these filters to come out with a confident answer.
Define “Marriage” and Define “Wedding”
Definitions make things so much more concrete don’t they? You don’t know how to use a word unless you know what it means, right? Well, there are definitions to the words “marriage” and “wedding” technically, but I’m interested in your definitions. What does marriage mean to you two? How would you define your wedding?
By describing and defining those words for yourselves, you can more aptly make decisions. I think this piece is most beneficial when it comes to the ceremony and the traditions of a wedding. How you vow to each other is largely based on what you consider marriage to be. How you celebrate your heritage, culture or family values is largely based on what you consider a wedding to be.
Both your marriage and your wedding hinge on your definitions. You have them, whether you know it or not (we all operate under assumed definitions of pretty much everything in life if we haven’t intentionally pursed the definition). My challenge to you is to define “marriage” and “wedding” together, both events are life-defining enough to warrant intentionality, don’t you think?
Seek out your Style
Wedding style is such a fun filter! Reverie Gallery is famous for their Style Guide, so if you’re wondering what I even mean by your “wedding style” take a look at the side bar! How would you describe your wedding?
You might need to take some time to visualize it. I think imagining, brainstorming, taking a “mental walk” through your day is highly valuable use of your time! Of course combing the internet for amazing inspiration is fun and helpful when it’s constructive. But it can be super overwhelming if you don’t have any idea of what you want your wedding to FEEL like. So start there. What does it feel like? What are some elements you can easily visualize just talking about your wedding with your fiancé? What moments are you most excited about? Let those guide you to getting more specific about style.
Can you boil it down to a few words? Like this wedding I’d say is “metropolitan,” “romantic” and “intimate.” You could also combine words to make a style phrase like “metro-rustic” — whatever you make up or use to define your style, make sure they conjure the vision upon hearing them so you can specifically use them as a filter. When they are too vague or nondescript, they won’t help you much!
You’re getting married!!! On decision 1,578, remember, at the end of the day, you’ll be wed with your favorite person on earth and entering into one of the greatest adventures two people can have! When things get overwhelmed with decisions, get your eyes back on each other, your love and your future.
Last piece of advice? If you just can’t make a choice after you’ve applied the filters and worked through it together, let it rest for a while. If you don’t have an answer, it’s likely it’s not time to have it yet. Give yourselves ample doses of grace and patience– and then go do something non-wedding related that’s just good old fashioned fun! You’re in a no-repeats zone, so while you can make your best efforts to make the best decisions possible, it’s so much more satisfying to make those choices with good humor, deep breaths and limitless enjoyment of each other!