When I was a teenager, I remember thinking, “I want someone to plan my wedding for me and I just show up and get married.” Not your typical bride, I wanted as little stress as possible (it is the theme of my life). This might have worked for me, but I decided to marry a man who cared about the details. ~smile~ So, there was no just showing up at my own wedding – I had to get involved in the planning.
Planning a wedding can feel like an insurmountable task, but you can do it. Take your checklist a bite at a time, get the right people in your corner to help you, and remember that at the end of the day, you will be married and that is the ultimate goal. And, if you do not have a checklist, get a checklist – it will make planning easier for you! Here’s a free wedding checklist I found online.
If I had it to do over again, I would be more involved in my wedding planning. I would speak up more for what I wanted. I would force myself to make decisions and have opinions. I would take the time to think about the message I want to convey with my wedding and what I want to remember about it. Then, combining our visions, Eric and I would create a ceremony which was truly us.
Wedding planning (by its nature) requires making decision after decision. When you think there could not possibly be more decisions, more decisions to be made arrive. This is one of the reasons brides need people they can trust in their corner to help the couple’s vision come to life. Since you are going to be faced with dozens of choices anyway (colors, designs, bridesmaids, music, food, etc.), be intentional about your choices. Before you get too far into your wedding prep, take note of which components mean the most to you. Where do you want to be most intentional in your wedding planning?
- Be intentional about making your wedding yours. Some couples have hands-off parents and family who just want the couple to be happy; yet, other couples have a controlling or strongly opinionated entourage. Remember, this day is about you, your partner, and your Lord and Savior. Listen respectfully when others share their ideas; but, remember, they are only ideas, not mandates. If what they want does not detract from your vision, then you can graciously add it. However, if their idea clashes with what you and your fiancée want, give yourself permission to do what you want. This is your special day (and plan for it to only come once!).
- Be intentional about having no regrets. This point is linked with the first point. Think about what you would regret if you did not incorporate that element into your wedding; then, be sure to incorporate those elements and include them. When I got married, I sang to my dad at the reception. We got married on his 50th birthday and I wanted to surprise him with a special song. As the planned time to sing grew closer, I almost chickened out, but I made myself… and I am so thankful as it is one of my most precious memories – especially now that he is gone.
- Be intentional about capturing special moments. We recommend our couples hire a skilled photographer and videographer. If you use a friend or family member to video, make sure it is someone with a lot of experience who will do a professional job. But, we honestly encourage you to hire it out instead… your friends and family should be enjoying your wedding, not working it. We had two friends video our wedding as a wedding favor to us. We thought it was great as we would save a good amount of money. Well, we never received either copy (even after asking for them). Please do not leave this detail to chance.
- Be intentional about who you let into your wedding planning circle. We all have people in our lives who drain us, heap drama on us, or make our moments about them. This is not the time to give in to their “needs” and demands. Invite a few people who you know you can trust (and will have your back when others try to invade) to be in your wedding planning circle. If possible, enlist someone in that circle to run interference for you to keep those difficult people at bay.
- Be intentional about who you want to honor. Weddings are a special time to highlight the people who have made an impact on your life. When Eric and I got married, his dad placed a rose on the altar in honor of Eric’s mom who passed away before he and I met. And, instead of having them sit in the crowd as any other guest, we asked my mentor, Miss Betty, and her husband, Mr. Dave, to sit in an honorary seat behind my grandmother. Is there anyone you want to honor?
- Be intentional about what you want to remember. The day may feel stressful, but instead of rushing through it and worrying about every detail, take it in and create mental pictures. Watch your guests interact with each other. Admire the cake. Watch each bridesmaid walk down the aisle. Laugh at the little children in the wedding party. Remember to look deeply into each other’s eyes. Think ahead of time about all you want to remember and make a point to be present for those moments. Wedding planners can help take stress off the couple so they can be fully present for their day.
- Be intentional about letting others serve you on your wedding day. This advice can sound selfish, but it is not. This is the one day when everyone is willing to cater to any reasonable request you may have. We planned a “four seasons” feast and had Spring, Summer, Autum, and Winter foods. It was amazing. Eric, being chivalrous, went around the room getting my plate of food for me from each season. But, you know what? In hindsight, he should have let others do that. He then went around to get his own food and then by the time he returned, the photographer was alerting us that we had limited time left in our package if we wanted to get the rest of the pictures we wanted. He literally had two bites of food after a very long day and an amazing feast he was looking very much forward to for months in partaking. In another wedding, where Eric was in the wedding party, the bride asked a hotel server if she could get a Coca-Cola. The reception’s offered drinks were strictly water, tea, lemonade, and coffee. But, the server’s response? “The bride gets what the bride wants;” and she promptly got her desired beverage. Let others serve you on your wedding day.
- Be intentional about shining a light on the Author of marriage. “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16, ESV). Your ceremony is an opportunity to share the gospel with your guests, and any other message you want to convey. If this is your desire, work with your officiant to incorporate your desired message into the service. Or, if you prefer, you and your fiancée can do the speaking yourselves.
Sometimes I think we take weddings too far in trying to impress everyone else. If you want to have a fairytale wedding, then feel free to have one. If you want a small gathering in the church yard, go for it. But be sure it is what you want. If your partner is taking the planning in a direction which bothers you, say something. Let your voice be heard. One person should not be doing all the compromising.
We once had a couple we were counseling tell us that engagement is where the fun of the relationship goes to die. We found that statement both funny and sad. Dating is a wonderful phase where there is little responsibility and a couple can simply enjoy each other. With engagement comes a lot of life-changing decisions and a major event to plan, but we encourage couples to keep dating while you are engaged. Take a day each week and have fun without working on the wedding. Try not to lose sight of why you are getting married in the first place. Accept help and choose to enjoy this season. Find the humor in what goes wrong (and, if your wedding was like ours – there will be plenty of things which will go wrong… but that also gives you an opportunity to laugh it off).
We wish you the best in your springtime wedding planning adventure and we also recommend daily journaling the entire process to reminisce and enjoy later as well as to share it with your children.
When you look back on your wedding day in ten years, what will you most want to remember?