Recently engaged? Congratulations! The future feels magnificently limitless during the countdown to “I Do”. If you’re planning a wedding, however, you may also feel anxious about your “To Dos”. An aspirational marriage is obviously predicated on the effort that a couple puts into their relationship rather than the effort they put into their wedding day, but it’s worth recognizing that the stress of planning an expensive, once-in-a-lifetime event presents an opportunity to set the tone for how you will navigate turbulence with your new co-pilot.
Bearing in mind that every couple’s wedding day should be a reflection of their own values and desires, here is a collection of unsolicited advice, lessons learned, and hot takes you may find useful as you plan your wedding.
- You do not need to shed, shred, cleanse, tan, whiten, or tighten anything before your wedding. The idea that you need to change yourself for an event was designed by marketing professionals whose life’s work is dedicated to selling you diarrhea tea. You do not need to calculate how many minutes of cardio will “earn” you a slice of wedding cake. You do not need to wait to buy whatever you’ll wear until you hit your goal weight. Tailor your clothing to fit your body; do not tailor your body to fit into clothing. When you and your spouse look back at your wedding photos decades from now, all you will see or remember is how happy you were.
- Prioritize planning aspects of the wedding that are most meaningful to your relationship. Decide what’s worth your time and resources so that you don’t drain your energy or budget on details to impress people who are mostly there for the open bar, anyway. As a wedding guest, have you given a thought as to whether the buffet table linens were eggshell, alabaster, or ivory before housing your rib-eye medallion? If not, then make sure your wedding is a representation and celebration of whatever you and your forever person care about most.
- If you find yourself overthinking trivial decisions or feeling indecisive, ask yourself if you will care about your choice 10 days after the wedding, 10 months after the wedding, or 10 years after the wedding. Keeping perspective about what will matter to you long after your wedding day will right size the burden of miscellaneous concerns.
- Limit the number of guests you invite out of obligation. Envision who you want to surround you in the most intimate moments of your wedding day. Consider how large your extended families are and whether you have close relationships with them. Discuss how you feel about introducing yourself or your spouse to guests you haven’t met before. Plan your approach to talk to your parents/future in-laws about whether there is space for their friends to be invited to the wedding.
- Be consistent and intentional about your plus-one policy to guard against a former fraternity buddy showing up with a date who wears white and gets cut-off by the bartender for dropping her glass of *vokka crambarry* on the dance floor during Hava Nagila. Also, be prepared to decide upfront whether guests can bring their children…or be prepared to justify why your second cousin’s nine-year-old son can’t play the cello at your ceremony no matter how riveting his acoustic rendition of “Wing Beneath my Wings” may be.
- Having parents or loved ones who are willing and able to contribute financially to your wedding is a privilege. With that framing in mind, discuss their expectations before accepting any money from them. Is their contribution a gift that you and your partner get to choose how to spend? Are they buying equity into decisions such as the vendors you select, who attends, religious or family traditions performed, etc.? If their terms make you uncomfortable, then you and your partner must either respectfully decline the money in favor of making your vision happen on your own dime, or graciously compromise to satisfy all parties.
Remember that your wedding day is an important day in your life, but it is not the most important day. Marriage is the only the beginning of a joyful new chapter with the person whose morning breath you’ve chosen to smell daily for the rest of your life; thank goodness your best day isn’t already behind you, right?