Unfortunately, this blog post may crush the dreams of every premarital girl out there who, like I used to, fantasizes about the day she gets to be a bride and have her own wedding. First, let me make one thing clear: I hate having to write this post, I really do…but, as a 28-year-old newly engaged female, I for the life of me cannot figure out why no one told me how terrible wedding planning can actually be. I just want to know why it has been built up in our heads for so long as the most magical and romantic experience in the whole world, when in reality, planning my wedding has got to be the most stressful, frustrating, unnerving thing I have ever done in my life. And now, for some reason, I feel this need to break open the facade and discredit all of the lies we’ve been fed about the whole experience. So, in the spirit of transparency, here is my harsh truth: the entire wedding planning process is about 20% fun, with the remaining 80% being straight-up mentally and emotionally exhausting.
Let me break it down for you.
What I’ve heard most from my bride friends is that the fun happens at the beginning and the end, and all the rest in between is just chaos. So here are some things that are just as fun as you think they are:
- Venue shopping/touring
- Engagement photoshoots
- Bridesmaid proposals
- Save the dates/invitations
- Designing a wedding website
- Picking out the menu & food/cake tastings
- Creating your music playlist
- Registering for gifts
- Wedding dress shopping- the meca of all that is being a bride
And here are some things I have found to be the absolute most painful part of wedding planning:
- Hotel room blocks & transportation
- Deciding on your final guest list and making difficult cuts
- and then tracking down all their contact info
- Researching, choosing & coordinating multiple vendors
- and then dealing with contracts
- Sticker shock and trying to stay true to your budget
- Legal paperwork & changing your name
- Waiting for RSVP’s to properly plan
- Managing people’s feelings & opinions
- Setting boundaries
In case you’re wondering, the reason why the stress section makes up 80% of the breakdown when it has the same number of items as the fun section, is strictly because the bullets under stress make up a much larger, arduous portion of the wedding planning process, and are ongoing versus something you just do once.
Out of all of those bullets, managing people’s feelings and opinions has got to be the hardest one. It’s very likely that at least once during the planning experience someone will reveal their true colors—whether it be a distant relative or close friend—and you probably won’t like what you see. It’s another harsh truth: people just LOVE to make your wedding about them. So, if you’re a constant people-pleasing pushover like me, I’ll start by wishing you good luck, but let me also give you the advice that so many loved ones have given me:
“If there is any occasion where you are allowed to be 100%, no-fucks-given selfish, it’s your own wedding day.”
Do your parents insist you invite certain people to your wedding that you don’t like just to avoid the drama? Unless they are paying for the entire thing, who YOU choose to celebrate with shouldn’t really be up for debate. Do you have family members that would start drama if they weren’t invited? Well, that explains why you don’t want them there in the first place. Or what about a bridesmaid that verbally berates the color of the dress you’re putting her in, or has constant opinions about all of the things she would do differently if it were “her day”? Then kindly (or not) remind her the bridesmaid role is completely optional. Whatever happens, always remember that first and foremost—and all the other days after that—the only thing your wedding should be about is celebrating the love and commitment you and your partner have to each other. Nothing, and I mean nothing else matters.
So, when you’re letting the planning pressure get to you too much, and may be on the edge of a breakdown, turn to these important reminders to help ease your mind:
- (Again) Your wedding day is the one day you can be totally selfish
- No one’s opinion matters except you and your fiancé
- You’re allowed to change your mind
- The little things won’t matter in the end
- It will all be totally and completely worth it
It continues to surprise me after every negative experience both myself and my newlywed friends have encountered regarding our weddings, that certain people do not seem to understand what wedding etiquette is—meaning the obvious do’s and don’ts when you are an invited guest of any upcoming nuptials. Now maybe it’s because this person has never planned their own wedding before, or it’s been so long since they’ve attended one, or maybe they just lack any self-awareness whatsoever…but I think it’s necessary to list a few loose “rules” that certain people tend to miss in their interactions with a bride or groom.
Here are the top 4* [what should be obvious] wedding etiquette that are major no’s if you’re invited to be a part of someone else’s special day:
- Don’t complain to the bride.
Listen, I don’t care what you’re upset about, but whatever it is definitely does not dignify a complaint to the person planning the wedding, because chances are she’s already had many different breakdowns during this process, or has worked really hard on the exact thing you don’t like. Vent to any other third-party human being you want, but under no circumstances should you complain to the bride.
2a. Don’t ask for a plus one unless it’s given to you.
Plus ones may just be the most frustrating part of the RSVPs and guest list for a bride. So much so that I had to make it a two-part rule…
All I have to say for this one is that weddings are freaking expensive, and the happy couple has a lot of difficult decisions to make regarding guest count and budget. Whatever your situation is, please just respect the wishes of the bride and groom to only include the specific people they have invited to be a part of their day. Trust that they have their reasons, whatever it may be, and their reasons are the only ones that matter.
2b. Don’t change your invited guest count on the RSVP card mailed to you.
Now this is why I personally made my RSVPs online, because I’ve heard horror stories from close friends about guests sending back their RSVP cards with additional names handwritten in that were not included by the bride and groom as guests. Tell me in what world do people think that’s okay? I’m gonna take a shot and say doing this is much worse than requesting a plus one, because you’re not even asking the bride and groom for their permission. Instead, you’re basically inserting someone else into their wedding day on your own accord, and just assuming they are going to allow it. Don’t be stupid.
3. Don’t ask the bride for information she isn’t ready for you to have yet.
My biggest pet peeve about getting engaged was the week it happened, I had people asking me when the wedding was—like “ballpark month”—when I hadn’t even been able to enjoy being engaged yet. I know they were asking to set expectations for themselves and their schedules, but it was just too soon and stressed me out. You’ll know when I know, let’s leave it at that…
I also had people asking me for links to the website or hotel rooms so they can book, before I had sent the save the dates which have that exact info on it. Please know there is a process that brides have for their weddings, and even if it doesn’t align with your preferred timing, just let her do this her way.
4. Don’t get engaged on my wedding day.
Maybe this one is just personal preference. Maybe some brides would be cool with you making her wedding day about your engagement and taking that attention away from her on her special day. So at the very least, PLEASE ask permission first before you start planning that as your “big proposal idea”. If you have a really chill bride, maybe she’ll say yes and it will be a magical moment for everyone. But for the love of god, please do not propose to your significant other without the bride knowing ahead of time. Nobody wants that drama.
It’s important that I end this blog post reaffirming that I know my wedding day will be nothing short of magical, and all of the chaos leading up to it won’t even matter once I say “I do” to the love of my life. I just wish that someone bursted my fantasy bubble before I got engaged, so I didn’t go into wedding planning as naive to the hardships as I was. If someone had set the expectation for me a while ago that it wouldn’t be all sunshine and rainbows, maybe I would have been better prepared mentally to face the obstacles we’ve encountered thus far.
I should also add a quick note here that some of the obstacles you face will test your relationship as well. Not only do you have to manage boundaries with people outside of your inner circle, but you also have to regulate feelings between you and your partner, which matters way more. Hopefully one of you can keep the other grounded when stress starts to spike, but if you do find yourselves arguing about wedding details, just remember it’s completely normal and everyone goes through it at some point in the process. In the end, your wedding day will be everything you’ve both ever dreamed of. Dare I say, even the best day of your lives. Though if you’re lucky, it will only be the start of all the “best days” to come.