Two of the most joyful experiences partners can have together are learning new things and creating something from scratch. Planning your wedding is exactly that. It’s an adventure that will bring you face-to-face with all sorts of opportunities for discovery, creativity, and reflection.
My best overall advice around wedding planning is for the two of you to set an intention to make the planning process fun, easy for each other, and full of love. There are a jillion details to manage and big discussions to have. You’ll be talking about money, and lots of it. Almost every relationship in your world will be considered and examined. There is also plenty of opportunity for anxiety and unhappiness to slip in – if you let it. But you don’t have to!
Determining how much money you have to spend and how you plan to spend it can bring up all of your thoughts and feelings about money. This is a great time for you and your partner to examine those thoughts and feelings head-on, together, before you start making big decisions about your wedding. Being on the same philosophical and practical sheets of paper around money will make all the difference in creating every aspect of your wedding experience.
Along with setting your budget, one of the first things you’ll want to do is make a list of the people who you love and who love you who you’d like to participate in the formal, ceremonial creation of your union, and with whom you’d like to celebrate that sacred experience. That’s your guest list. It doesn’t have to be any more complicated than that!
Wedding planning takes time. There is information to gather, places and people to visit, and time to spend talking, considering, and reflecting with your partner. Give yourself the gift of time to do all of these things, and to do them well. The more time you devote to your wedding planning, the less stress you’ll experience.
Wedding planning is full of details. Taking good notes will keep you from being overwhelmed and forgetting important things. Use spreadsheets to keep track of venues and caterers and other wedding professionals – even if you’re not a spreadsheet kind of couple. They will be really handy when it comes time to compare one venue or caterer to the other and to make good choices. To that end, it’s perfectly okay to make notes when you’re visiting venues and talking with caterers and photographers and others. Wedding professionals, myself included, love seeing organized couples come through the door!
It’s also a good idea to sit down with your sweetie right after each visit and record your impressions. Believe me, after the first two or three venue tours or visits with caterers and others, everything will start to run together! Keeping good notes will make all the difference later on.
Some planning decisions will come easy for you while others may take more work. Be patient with each other. Look for common ground, and explore the “heart” and “head” aspects of each decision. Holding good space for each other and being in a mindset of discovery and wonder will serve you well in keeping the planning process centered around a celebration of love and unity.
Weddings are about celebrating the union of two people and extending hospitality to the participants in that celebration. That’s it. Everything else is fluid. You can choose your own path. Is there guidance to be had from those that study weddings? Sure. Are there traditions to consider? Of course. But ultimately, it’s your wedding, and your decisions to make around how best to create an experience that expresses your sacred union, and honors those who have come to celebrate it. Be willing to create something new and exciting that speaks to who you are as a couple and what you believe about marriage.
Next time: sit-down vs. buffet vs. cocktail-style receptions.
David L. Egan is the proprietor and steward of Chase Court, a wedding and event venue in downtown Baltimore. Visit Chasecourt.com, and follow ChaseCourtWeddingVenue on Instagram and Facebook.