As the New Year begins in Chicagoland, so does the engagement season, such a fun and exciting time of year for these couples and for us wedding photography professionals. So you’re engaged, he asked in the most romantic way and the ring is beautiful, exactly what you wanted. You said yes, this first “yes” starts the process of getting married and soon you will begin planning of your special day soon! First you called all of your friends and family together as fiancés, maybe even via Facetime to show off your bling, gushing over the details of the proposal, glowing with happiness, and dreamily imagining your future together. Can you believe you found your one and only?! You did, congratulations! But now what? Now the planning begins and this is actually the tricky part of the engagement phase…
Your parents want a big wedding in the suburbs of Chicago, his parents want to host the reception at their club Downtown, you want a destination wedding outside of the midwest, he has too many brothers who want to stand up, your sisters don’t want matchy matchy bridesmaids dresses, and your fiancé just wants to be agreeable, “whatever you want dear”, which is not very helpful when everyone seems to be giving you their opinion on how YOUR wedding day should look and feel.
How will you be able to plan your Wedding day without offending or disappointing any family members or loved ones, all the while still planning for the wedding of your dreams? Lady friend, it’s not easy, but you can do it!! Here are a few tips that will help you and your fiancé get to your wedding day unscathed and still very much in love.
- Set realistic boundaries immediately. You are the bride for goodness sake, this is your special day, you need to stand strong to the important decisions and let everyone around you know that you are indeed running the show.
While yielding your power as the bride remember to be grateful for input and help, but don’t be afraid to say no thank you, and to be aware and confident in what you want for your wedding day. Hopefully you will only have one wedding, and it should be just as you imagined it to be. Share your vision honestly so everyone knows what you really want for your big day. If you know your want blue flowers, end that talk of yellow roses like your mom had back in the day, no time for giving false hope and not communicating clearly, state what you want and less pain and confusion will ensue in the end.
- While staying strong and being true to your vision, share the workload leading up to your wedding day. Coordinate and assign tasks to reliable family members, friends, your fiancé, and the bridal party. Include your fiancé in the process, he is the groom and it is his wedding day too so don’t assume he’s uninterested. If you work well with your mom and/or his mom, allow them the freedom to help with some specific tasks, as long as they are open to your guidance, approval, and vision.
- Stay organized. Set up your planning schedule step by step and stick to the process and schedule you create for yourself and those helping. If you decide your wedding will not be kid friendly, don’t make exceptions for your maid of honors new baby. Make a friendly, yet classy, and to the point notation on your wedding invitation: “adult only wedding”, or “leave the littles at home and make it a date night”. This to the point tactic throughout the wedding planning process will prove successful. Don’t be afraid to stand by your decisions, the goal is to have your dream wedding and to keep the peace. (the Knot has a great check list worth checking out)
- Be honest about your budget and your dream wedding being realized. Let’s be totally real here, your new life together will have lots of detours and speed bumps, so make it easier for yourselves by not starting off under a mountain of debt. (check out the Knots budget calculator) Your wedding lasts one day, your marriage lasts forever. If you can make exceptions to spend less and still realize your vision, do it! I bought the most beautiful wedding dress from Here Comes The Bride, a bridal boutique that sells the previous years sample dresses at a fraction of the price. I wore a gorgeous ivory strapless princess designer gown that cost $4000 all in, including the alterations. Originally, I was imagining buying my dress at a super high end bridal boutique, but through a friend I learned I had more frugal options of equal beauty. I would have unnecessarily spent around $10,000… I still bought my dream wedding dress and didn’t max out my credit cards. Learn from the interweb, your friends, and family members how and where you can save money but not lower value or expectation. Use your people.
- Be prepared for unforeseen planning issue. Stay flexible and try not to be overly emotional if something random happens. Stay logical and calculated in your interactions with family members and venders. Don’t have a complete bridzilla freak our if the flowers you want for your bouquet are not in season, or the DJ is running 5 minutes late due to insane Chicago traffic, perhaps the caterer recommends broccoli instead of spinach with the chicken, keep your cool, I promise it is not the end of the world. And remember to work with the experts around you, trust in the talented wedding professionals you have vetted and hired. That’s why we are here, to guide you, support you, and provide excellent service.
- Get referrals for your vendors. Talk to other married friends, again, use your people and their knowledge…talk to the venue about what works best in their space, view photos, go to Instagram, the knot, partyslate, and pintrest to find inspiration and to vet your prospective vendors. Only work with vendors who put you at ease and are reliable. Read their reviews and don’t be afraid to ask hard questions before signing any contracts. Meet with your local vendors before the wedding and share your expectations and vision with them.
- Be selective in choosing your wedding party. Make sure those who stands with you and your soon to be husband are likely to be around to celebrate your 20 year wedding anniversary. Your wedding day will hold a much deeper and relevant essence, if the love and connection are real between everyone standing with you. I remember my husband asking an occasional drinking buddy of his to stand up in our wedding party. He was friends with Dave, a cop who we played softball with us at the local bar, but by no means was Dave someone we really knew or cherished. I was too afraid to cause a stink so I let it slide, Dave stood with us during our most intimate moments, he is in so many of our cherished wedding photos, and yet, a year later, he moved and we haven’t heard from him since.
In the end, have fun with the planning process, do it together, and wallow in your love!! Enjoy your engagement! Enjoy your life and don’t let the pressure of having the “perfect” wedding distract you from what is most important…The love and commitment you are about to embark on with your man. Give yourself a break during the planning for you and your fiancé to spend some non-wedding related time together, you know just a date night or a quick vacation. Best of luck and congratulations again!!