Maybe you’re planning to tie the knot at a 50-person backyard barbecue. Or maybe you’re hosting 350 friends, family and business associates to some Gilded Age castle. Whatever, here are a few pieces of real-talk wedding advice that you can actually actually use.
1. Maybe pay someone to do that. Are you supremely artistic and experienced in the ways of crafting? Is your great aunt Martha Stewart? Unless the answer to one of these questions is yes, think very carefully about any D.I.Y. projects. Examine your own abilities with a critical eye. For instance, I once tried to complete a “Cosmos manicure” and ended up looking like I’d let a four-year-old paint my nails. Face the music: Despite what Pinterest would have you believe, some of us are not able to make it look like the picture. Your wedding is probably not the time to learn that lesson. It’ll only be more expensive when you have to replace everything at the last minute.
2. Not everyone gets a date, and that’s fine. Look, lots of us wanted everyone we’ve ever known and loved at the ceremony. That’s just not feasible. You’ll want to invite as many significant others as possible, of course, and if someone is flying from Shanghai to Cleveland for your reception, you’d better allow them a date. But at some point, it’s time to say enough is enough, and once you do, stick 100 percent to your guns.
3. You are not the Lone Ranger. Perhaps you want to be the Stanley Kubrick of weddings, strictly controlling every single aspect of the entire production. But that way lies The Shining, my friend. When someone graciously offers to help, come up with some very specific detail they’re well-equipped to handle. (If you’ve got it covered or this person is an absolute incompetent, politely decline, but I urge you to consider the offer, even if it’s as simple as logging RSVPs.)
4. Write thank-you notes as gifts come in. Do not get behind, unless you want to spend your honeymoon crafting odes to the lovely Waterford from Aunt Mildred.
5. Be ready to show some backbone. I’m willing to bet that most readers of this blog are very, very committed to not being a power-drunk nightmare-person Bridezilla during their planning process—and that’s great! Never, ever be nasty. But know that it’s perfectly okay to say no, no thanks, not gonna to happen when your florist tries to talk you into expensive hot-pink table overlays. (You’ll also need to be prepared to wield that NO like a broadsword if you’ve laid down a law like no kids or no cellphones, by the way.) Let’s practice together!
And once you put down a deposit on something, don’t feel guilty about making sure that vendor gets her job done. If you’re paying for a wedding planner, don’t let her drop the ball. If your sample floral arrangements are the wrong color, speak up.
Now, a corollary: Pick your battles and save your emotional energy for the big stuff. Maybe you hate your cousin’s formal kilt, or your bridesmaid’s spray tan, or the best man’s habit of wearing lime-green socks with dress shoes. Just let it ride. Save your fury in case the limo never shows.
6. All you need is Google Docs. I’ve got a binder, a website, several notebooks and pieces of wedding-related paper lying all over my apartment. But the only tool I really needed to get through this without rending my garments and running screaming into the night was Google Docs. Sure, maybe your dad still hasn’t gotten the hang of the Internet. But that’s what the export to PDF function is for!
7. Limit your options. I couldn’t have any old thing that flitted into my brain, because I am a reporter and not the third employee of Google. A lot of things were simply out of budget. But honestly? There are too many options out there, and limitations are your friend. The name of the game in wedding planning is eliminating as many possibilities as fast as possible. If you’re pretty sure you don’t want to get married in a barn, put your blinders on and stop looking at barns.
Do not let yourself get bogged down in any single decision. I spent weeks scouring New York City for wedding shoes and a hair comb. My mistake was ever considering more than five options in the first place.
8. Ask (politely!) for discounts. Hey, it can’t hurt.
9. Treat thy bridesmaids as thou would like to be treated. Don’t pick a bridesmaid dress that would look good on you but not them. There are more body types than stars in the sky; maybe give them a choice of five dresses and let each pick her fave. It’s not the end of the world if they don’t match. Don’t ask them to spend a fortune on something they’ll never wear again, and give them some sort of thank you at the end.
10. Stop trying to be so unique. Look, weddings are not original. They are a template, a form letter drawn up hundreds of years before we were born. No matter how much money you throw at the planning process, your wedding is not going to be one of a kind. Chill.
11. There is no perfect dress. Do yourself a favor and pick a gown that’s beautiful and within budget. Don’t let the dress shopping drag on until the entire experience curdles.
12. Ask yourself: Who actually cares? Agonizing over whether to have a champagne toast, or pay for chiavari chairs, or (god forbid) shell out for peonies? Here’s a question you should seriously ask yourself: Are my guests really going to care? Because this is technically a celebration of you, but REALLY it’s an enormous party that you’re throwing for your friends and family. You are hosting these people that you love. Every decision should come down to whether the guests like it, appreciate it, or notice it at all.
Remind yourself (as others have reminded me) that people care about the dancing, the food and whether a good time was had by all. You’re better off focusing on the broad strokes that best facilitate the party than bothering overmuch with the little touches.
13. Have fun. Unless you are Olivia Pope and thrive on details and chaos, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. (Yes, even if your plan is simply to order 25 pizzas and surprise all your buds at a bar, you still have to write the ceremony, write up the invites, etc., etc.) But this is fun! It’s a happy occasion! Remember, as long as you’re married at the end of the night, it was a success.
Thank you to Kelly Faircloth
Presented by Mary Beth Lovejoy, photographer
Lovejoy Photography and Heritage Maker
315.374.0506 or 585.348.7380