Ideally and typically we only marry once, so it’s hard to know what you’re doing when you plan your wedding. Your family means well, of course, but often they’re caught up in things with you or sometimes may not be around like they are in the movies.
So here are some friendly tips from a woman with some more life experience and the distance you and your family are less likely to have as you prepare for your big day.
1. Maintain Perspective
Your wedding is not about you. I repeat: your wedding is not about you. The hell, you say, but it’s true.
When you stand before that altar, under that huppa, or in front of that judge, you are one link in a long, long chain. Generations before you stood there. Generations after you will stand there. Your grandmother stood, making her vows. It will be faster than you know before your daughter stands there. A blink of an eye and it will be your granddaughter. In a flash, should you be so lucky to live to see it, it will be your great-granddaughter. You are neither the end nor the beginning of that chain. Your link is not the end-all be-all of it.
When you stand there, if you plan right and are lucky, every person who cares about you and every person who cares about your fiancé will be in that room. Not only will they be there, but they will be a vital part of the moment. Their warmth, their well wishes, their prayers and hopes will surround you. When you turn and look out over the crowd, you will feel it. That warmth will give you strength in your difficult days.
It is the only time in your life that everyone who cares about you will be gathered. The next time that will happen is your funeral.
This is what a wedding is about. You and your fiancé make a promise in front of God, and in front of those who love you. In return, God and those who love you promise back that they will do whatever is in their power to support your new family, to nurture and grow it, to help it bloom into a beautiful link of that chain.
Do not forget that. This moment is not about you. It’s about so much more.
2. See Preparation for What It Is
Planning a wedding, even a simple wedding, is a big endeavor. Think of it as the first major challenge of your soon-to-be marriage. It’s all there: Money troubles, family drama, high expectations contrasted with reality, division of labor, and even romance. It is your chance to form a team.
Whatever you are going to fight about as a married couple will be revealed as you plan. The ways you work well together will become apparent. Pay attention to the flags, and if there is a huge, red one waving in your face, look it in the eye and see if it’s a deal-breaker. Do not let wedding dreams overshadow impending nightmares.
3. Let Go of the Unimportant Stuff
This is shocking blasphemy, to be sure, but you will be just as married if your bridesmaids’ dresses do not match. In fact, to be more shocking, you will still enjoy the memory of the day even if they do not match. You will be just as married if there is no Instagram photo backdrop or chalkboard menu or rustic barn with wildflowers. It’s not that these things are bad, but if you focus on them, you will miss the beauty that is inherent in the day itself. Let go of what you do not care about, focus on what you do.
4. Stop the Competition
What is it about women that makes us compete via DIY paper garlands and gilded Mason jars? Do you enjoy gilding Mason jars? If so, gild right away. If not, step away from Pinterest. Put the burlap down. No one is comparing your wedding to that of others. They just aren’t.
To be honest, if they didn’t care about you deeply, they would be doing something else that day, gilded Mason jar or no. They do not come for the jars, the burlap, or even the chicken dinner. They come for you. So let go of your sister’s perfect homemade jam favors and your sorority sister’s amazing DJ and just enjoy what you have. No one is keeping score.
5. Give Your Family, Friends, and Bridesmaids a Break
They love you, and they are here. That should be enough. If they can’t afford time off work and multiple plane tickets to attend your various events, that is about your unreasonable expectations and not their lack of love for you. Some girls wrote about that here. Get a grip.
6. Plan for You
The wedding is not about you. However, like all other spheres of life, it is up to you to take care of yourself. Your happiness is not dependent on your fiancé, wedding planner, or florist. Do what you need to keep your spirits up, your energy level reasonable, and your smile bright. Eat. Sleep. Take time away from the preparations.
On the big day, maybe plan some time for you and your new husband to spend a few moments alone before the reception. Eat a snack. Have a glass of wine. Plan how you will take care of yourself on that day, because everyone will want a moment with you and you with them. It will be a great day in your life, and not because you picked the right color of napkins.
Good luck and joy to you.