Planning a wedding is a ton of work. I’m getting married in three months and my partner and I are in the midst of full-on planning mode and it’s been … interesting.
As someone who never fantasized about their wedding as a little girl and who later thought marriage would never be an option as a queer woman in a pre-marriage-equality society, I never spent much time imagining what I’d want my wedding to be like. I never considered that I would be discussing small details such as what color we want our napkins to be. The napkins?
For me, I’m apt to take on an attitude of “it’ll all be figured out” but even with this decidedly casual approach, I still find myself caught in the throws of wedding panic from time to time. What if the food comes out cold? What if the flower arrangements aren’t pretty enough? What if there isn’t enough alcohol? What if there’s too much alcohol and we get drunk too early in the night? What if people are cold during our outdoor ceremony? What if, what if, what if?
I say all of this to say that if someone like me is experiencing stress over napkins, flowers and hypothetical cold food, then people who have dreamt about their wedding for years, decades or maybe even a lifetime surely must find wedding planning to be absolutely paralyzing in moments. It is from this perspective that I reflect on some helpful methods to enjoy planning a wedding despite the unavoidable moments of stress and worry.
First, it is crucial that we manage our expectations. I so often hear people associate wedding days with the word “perfection.” When do we ever have perfection in anything? Perfection and perfectionism is a thing that so many of us strive for, but almost always fall short of. Generally, perfection only exists in fantasy. In reality, even the most well-planned events will be objectively flawed in some way. Why? Because people are flawed, flowers sometimes lose petals, weather is unpredictable, and food gets cold if it sits out for too long.
Do we want any of these things to happen on our wedding day? No, of course not, but if we approach the day with the notion that some things may be imperfect, we are allowing in more joy.
Think of it this way: If we anticipate that everything goes exactly as planned, what is likely to happen when some detail ends up straying from the plan? We get upset. The feeling is that something is wrong. Alternately, if we approach the day by assessing levels of love, fun and celebration, it won’t affect the gauge for measuring the wedding’s success when we notice some hiccup. Imperfections won’t ruin the day unless we allow them to. If you reflect carefully on your expectations in advance, an imperfection or two on your wedding day won’t impact much and will probably make for a good story down the road.
Another barrier to enjoying wedding planning is fighting with your partner over details. Some disagreeing and even arguing is bound to occur during this process but, for many couples, it can become out of control, proving that it may be a good moment to get into a bit of pre-marital counseling to get those communication skills in shape. When these contentious times hit, it is also a good idea to remind yourself (and your partner) why you’re both in this stressful situation: because you love and want to commit to each other in front of the people who know and care about you. It is an incredibly basic concept, but simply reminding yourself of the why can shift the tone of your discussions and create a unified feeling between you and your partner. If you become adversaries in the process of cake selections and what song to walk down the aisle to, you’re losing track of what the point of all of this is.
As someone actively engaged in the wedding-planning process, I can comfortably say that it is intense and sometimes even a little bit ridiculous. I think it’s important to acknowledge that. It’s also important to recognize that some anxieties and worries are normal and probably unavoidable, but it is most crucial that we not lose sight of the fact that we get to choose how the planning process feels. We can choose to let stress take the lead and dictate our feelings and behaviors or we can choose excitement and love. In choosing the latter, we ultimately opt for the big day to be even more joyful than it would be otherwise.
So enjoy the process!