In the comments section yesterday, Inmytummy wrote:

Is this planning thing stressful to you? You seem so calm!

and I thought, hey, that’s a good question to answer in a post.

The answer is yes and no.  Obviously.  Wedding planning is really what you make it.  To have a wedding, you need a bride, a groom, an officiant, maybe $50 for a license and a witness.  Your wedding, contrary to popular belief, does not require a monogrammed unity candle, ribbon wands, or even a dress.  I try to keep this in mind when making wedding decisions–ultimately, everything but me and T and the officiant is gravy.  Nothing is required, other than what we’ve made ourselves require by hosting guests.

When you get a little more complicated and have guests at your wedding, etiquette requires a few more things.  Contrary to what some brides think, etiquette is not antiquated.  Etiquette is what makes guests feel welcomed and appreciated.  Did you know that wedding receptions are for the bride and groom to recieve their guests and thank them for attending?  Shocker, because from the wedding shows I’ve seen on TV, you think the reception is “all about the bride and groom.”  The phrase “it’s my day” makes me want to throw things. 

When you host wedding guests, you need to feed them, if the reception is during a mealtime and provide them with a seat at the wedding (no standing, thanks).  If you can’t afford food, host a reception that falls maybe between 2 and 4 o’clock and have cake and punch.  It doesn’t have to be an elaborate seated dinner.  Hands down, the best wedding food I’ve ever had was a barbecue buffet catered from a local joint for probably under $10 per person.  It’s doable, and it makes you look like a good person.  (And delicious.)  It’s common decency.

Phew, okay.  Back to the original question.  I am pretty relaxed about wedding planning because I try to keep those basic priorities in mind:

  • Maintain a good relationship with T.
  • Have an officiant.
  • Have witnesses.
  • Get a marriage license.
  • Food for the guests.
  • Seating for the guests.

Everything else is just not necessary.  Even if I blanked and didn’t book a florist, the wedding would go on just fine.  Is it what I want?  Well, no.  But I generally keep a level head about things that do not compromise any of the above.

I will confess to throwing one bridezilla fit.  Long story short, it involves some stated rules posted online not being followed by the people who promulgated the rules, and it involved one or more of the things above.  But instead of taking it out on the person, (after crying and throwing a temper tantrum in the comfort of my own home), I just removed myself from the situation and asked the sweet, level-headed, logical, and patient T to deal with the issue for the rest of the wedding planning.  And it’s been fine.  I didn’t flip out on anyone but my couch pillows (and, well, okay, my mom via phone and I ranted generally in T’s direction but not AT him for awhile) because where would that get us?  Shit outta luck, that’s where. 

So, yes, generally I am pretty laid-back about this.  Here are my tips for keeping a generally pleasant engagement.

  • Prioritize.  At the end of the day, just ask, “Will we be legally wed, and gracious hosts, if we don’t have this?”  IF the answer is yes, it’s not really worth your energy flipping out over.
  • Have a long engagement… We will have had a 16-month engagement when all is said and done.  I get to do things in small chunks, and stop planning altogether for awhile if I get frustrated.
  • …but not too long.  I think our 16 months is pushing it–ideally, I think a year long engagement is perfect.  You’ll have plenty of time to relax, but still get to enjoy being engaged.  We’ve been engaged for 9.5 months now and I”m starting to get a teensy bit ready to get the show on the road already.
  • Delegate.  People love to help with weddings.  My mom and aunts, in particular, have ASKED for “wedding jobs” to do, so I’m using them.  I could care less what the flower girl’s basket looks like, but my mom collects baskets and loves them, so I asked her to figure that out and she’s thrilled.   One aunt volunteers at a Goodwill store and is collecting photo frames for our collection of family photos.  Be kind and gracious to these people and write thank you notes.  Don’t ask for help from people other than your fiance, but if they offer it, feel free to accept.
  • Use the groom.  If he’s old enough to be getting married, he’s old enough to help you.  Don’t make him do the stuff that he doesn’t care about, like pick out bridesmaid’s dresses.  Is he into computers?  He can make a wedding website.  Does he like to tinker around with carpentry?  Have him make a card box.  Good with directions?  He can write out the directions for the invitation. 
  • Chill.  Generally, just chill.  I asked T once what was important to him wedding-wise, expecting to hear “delicious cake” or “cleavage baring dresses” as a wise-ass response.  But he said simply, “That we are legally wed at the end of the day.”  When you can sense a bridezilla fit building, just remind yourself–even if things aren’t perfect, you will still be married when all is said and done.
  • Remember the following: Nobody cares about your wedding as much as you do.  Don’t get the notion that they should. 
  • Pick your battles.  I stand up for the things I care about–and let the ones I don’t go.  I refuse to fight for things that aren’t worth fighting for.

What are your tips for keeping wedding related stress low?

6 Responses

  1. Great post! Every bride needs to stop and read something like this every once in a while.

    And gosh, I wish my license was only $50. $93 here in Florida!

  2. Ohhhh I love your reminders. I’ve been getting little to no sleep the past week stressing about stuff, wedding related and not, that is just plain silly. CHILLLLLLLLL….. ::sigh::

  3. Perfect post, girly. I think this needs to be the official P&E response to just about every first time poster.

  4. “If he’s old enough to be getting married, he’s old enough to help you”


  5. I kept wedding stress low by going to a wedding chapel in TN! lol! No guests. No agonizing decisions about who should be in the bridal party. Todd didn’t have to choose a best man! Of course a lot of people were sad to not see the nuptials. So we had a cookout for all of our friends and family. Very casual, everyone seemed happy!

  6. Lol, I obviously don’t have any tips since I asked the question!

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