There’s a line from one of my favorite songs that says, “I wish that I knew what I know now, when I was younger” (Ooh La La by Roonie Wood and Ronnie Lane).
So, dearest brides and grooms, here’s the advice I would give myself if I were planning another wedding:
(10) Start with the Big Picture, Not the Details
Sit down with your fiancé and figure out what kind of wedding you want. What do you want to be able to say about it when it’s over? What do you want your guests to say? How will you make your wedding memorable, relaxing, and fun? Develop a list of your goals and vision and then move on to the smaller details. Always ask yourself, “Does this small detail align with my broader goals?” Make decisions accordingly.
(9) Make It Happen
Once you know what kind of wedding you and your fiancé want to have, make it happen. Don’t let your parents’ preferences and tastes, your insecurities, or your budget get in the way. Have courage, stand your ground, and be creative. Your wedding should represent you and your fiancé, not anyone else.
(8) Limit the Guest List to Your Nearest and Dearest
Your wedding is not a show. It’s a celebration of your commitment and your community. You will feel much less stressed and nervous if you are truly surrounded by your closest friends and family. It’s your day. Don’t let anyone else commandeer the guest list for their own purposes.
(7) Distinguish Between Wants and Needs
When you’re planning a wedding, everything feels like a must-have. Use the 10-10-10 rule that was featured in O! Magazine: when making a decision, ask yourself: “What will be the effects of this decision in 10 minutes, 10 months, and 10 years?” It will help you keep everything in perspective. Not everything is important.
(6) Don’t Let Your Wedding Overshadow Your Relationship
Planning a wedding takes a lot of compromise and consensus. It’s highly likely that you will disagree and probably even fight. Just remember that your wedding is only one day of your lives together. Don’t get too wrapped up in it.
(5) Build Relationships with Vendors
Working with others to bring your wedding to fruition is a very stressful process. There has to be a lot of trust. Do your best to build relationships with people along the way. They will have more investment in the wedding and be willing to go above and beyond for you. You will have fewer doubts about their reliability.
(4) Don’t Forget the Ceremony
Don’t get so caught up in the invitations, dress, flowers, reception, music, and catering that you neglect to put the same kind of thought and attention into your ceremony. The purpose of a wedding is to publicly declare your commitment and seek support from your community. It’s important! (And make sure your guests can hear everything that’s said during the ceremony.)
(3) Dress Comfortably
It’s your wedding. You should enjoy yourself. Make sure you can walk, dance, and move comfortably from head to toe, from ceremony to reception. Seriously.
(2) Moderate Your Wedding Porn Viewing
Don’t spend too much time reading wedding magazines and blogs. Yes, they give you ideas. Yes, they are fun. But mainly they just make you doubt things you’ve already decided on.
(1) Just Breathe
Planning a wedding is stressful. Your expectations are high and the stakes feel high even higher. But remember: No matter what happens with the details (the weather, the vendors, the food) you will be married in the end. And anything that goes wrong will make a great story.
When you become too irrational, read the newspaper and remind yourself that the world has much bigger problems.