Congrats! You got a ring. You have now been promoted to CEO and head hostess of a minor non-profit organization called ‘My Wedding Day’. If leadership is new to you, this is your crash course. Warning: it’s a rollercoaster of emotion!
I am the queen of expectations and high standards. I wish I wasn’t. But I am. My biggest fears are failure and disappointing others. Therefore, I fight anxiety attacks when I feel like I’m not measuring up. I’m reminded repeatedly; unrealistic or unchecked expectations always lead to disappointment or heartache for someone. And most frequently, I see this happening to couples planning their wedding (or raising children…).
I am the type A who has always had a plan for my life, and I create more plans within that plan. However, after 10 years in the wedding industry, having seen a wide range of styles and having realistic expectations for the wedding planning process, I was not as certain of what I wanted for our wedding. I had just as many uncertain decisions as anyone else. I was NOT expecting all of the comments that came flooding in: “Wow, You’ve seen so many weddings! I can’t wait to see what yours looks like! It’s probably going to be the wedding of the century!” Cue the sound of a balloon being robbed of its helium. My excitement quickly gave way to expectations demanding the best wedding anyone had ever seen. And my fears of disappointment and failure went into overdrive. I didn’t have the budget for such an incredible trend-setting wedding. Enter Bridezilla! It took a few months, and more than a few stressed out discussions with Luke before I finally began to rein in my expectations, get my priorities straight, and learn to be happy with the wedding we were planning.
I see this all the time with new brides. We’re bombarded with expectations and pressure for that perfect wedding. We’ve all seen the movies about little girls planning their weddings the moment they discover what a wedding is. We’re confronted with wedding magazines in the supermarket. The pressure is especially strong in Southern California, where image is everything. And then there’s the worst offender… Pinterest. Before the ring—or even before the man—girls have Pinterest boards planning their big day. (Some even go so far to marry themselves, just so they can have their dream wedding. Seriously!?) So we rummage through millions of pins, imagining them for ourselves and feeding this expectation of what our day will look like. If our groom (like Luke) wants to be involved and help make decisions, we approach him with bouncing excitement over the amazing pins we’ve found. Of course he’s going to love everything we love, right? Not always. We just spent hours and hours pinning, only to find that he had something completely different in mind. We fight the urge to get mad, storm off, and tell him, “Too bad! It’s the bride’s day anyways!”
Well, if you haven’t figured it out yet, it’s not just the bride’s day. It’s also the groom’s day, the parents’ day, the flower girls’ day, and so forth. (But those are coming in parts 2 & 3 of this series.) The most important focus is on the couple. This day is about the marriage of a bride AND groom, and celebrating who they are together.
Luke likes to mention to couples that the engagement season is a special time to kill two birds with one stone. You get to plan your wedding and work on your communication skills at the same time. Now begin the wonderful lessons in communication and compromise that will carry through to the rest of marriage. It’s a time of peak excitement about this new chapter in your lives. But it is also a time of peak stress, too much unsolicited advice, and not enough sleep. (Didn’t I say it was like raising children?)
Finally, a compromised vision begins to form. It’s time to begin pricing it all out within in a realistic budget. And then there’s the slap in the face—sticker shock. Once again, deflated expectations. [Industry secret: half of the ideas you see on Pinterest and in magazines come from planned style shoots. They use models and the best of what the vendors can offer, hoping to entice you to the highest dollar. Not all of them are real weddings with tight schedules and moderate budgets.]
With slouching shoulders and hanging heads, we go right back to Pinterest for those DIY alternatives. Our hopes begin to lift as the DIY projects look super cute, and we can totally make this work! But these ideas are all by those super crafty people without a full time job or other responsibilities. Can we really make ALL of this happen? Do we have the time? It looks easy enough, but it never is. And the material costs add up to FAR more than they should have! Time is starting to run out and we’re only 10% done. And we’re back in panic mode again.
AHH!! Being engaged and planning a wedding was supposed to be fun! What went wrong?! Unchecked, uncommunicated, and unrealistic expectations. Is there anything that came be done to avoid the rollercoaster of disappointment and heartache?
Yes, there is. As a couple, before anything else, hash out the questions below until you come to an agreement. If you can do this, it will become your wedding mission statement and a filter for all your wedding decisions. Filtering decisions helps to make them easier and ultimately helps to create a unified vision and execution for your wedding plans. You may need to make some adjustments along the way, but as long as the two of you communicate and come to an agreement, it will be fine.
- Identify your priorities or values for your wedding day: Is it having Pinterest-ready pictures? Is it the open bar to keep friends happy and on the dance floor? Is it the overall guest experience? How about the ceremony: Is it quick and funny? Do you want the depth and seriousness of your vows to be conveyed?
- Describe your wedding style: If both of you close your eyes, envision your dream wedding, and describe it in 5 adjectives or less, are there any that you share or differ? How can you come together on your expectations? Filter your decisions through these adjectives.
- Make sure to communicate this with ALL major players involved. Taking this initiative will help to block out the unsolicited advice, and it will help you stay focused on what you agreed upon.
And at the end of each day, Remember…. Yes, it is a big special day that you will look back on the rest of your life, so it’s ok to do a little more. But it’s still only 1 day and it’s the marriage that matters most. The engagement and wedding day are just the catalysts and public declarations of love and commitment. Forever begins the next morning. You will live with the financial decisions you have made, the words you have spoken, and the relationships you have formed. So take care of them now. The relationships are the highest priorities!