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When wedding planning causes conflict in your relationship

I’m a wedding planner, not a marriage counselor, but believe me when I say I’ve seen engaged couples through all stages of happiness, joy, stress and conflict as they prepare for their big day.  Wedding planning can be a highly emotional process for a number of reasons.  There are budget ceilings, childhood dreams, rain plans, venues you wanted but couldn’t afford, and the (seemingly) nonstop input and pressure from your future in-laws, best friends, and older siblings who had the best day ever for their weddings and absolutely must have the final call on what you do for yours (even though you never asked for their opinions!).  The simple act of going to work on a daily basis while also planning the-most-important-day-of-your-lives-together-as-a-couple-so-far can seem cruel and unfair.  The amount of pressure on each of you, and together on you as a couple, can stir up frustration, irritate old wounds, and trigger emotions that cause you to fight.

I wish I had a simple, bulleted list to outline exactly how to overcome these stressors, but in the end this day is about you and your future spouse, and nobody else.  It is up to you to come together and first decide what your priorities are as a couple, and then stick to them.  Don’t agree about all of your priorities, or what your priorities should even be?  That’s even better!  Because wedding planning just happens to be the ‘pressure-cooker’ version of married life.

Once you are married, your life together will always have budgets, in-laws, deadlines and – most importantly – compromise and communication.  It isn’t as though you get married and your in-laws suddenly have no opinions about traditions, or you suddenly have a limitless budget to draw from.  You will always have to work through challenges together as a couple, and planning your wedding is a great place to start.

Conflict during wedding planning doesn’t have to be a negative thing.  Conflict is an opportunity to grow, learn more about one-another, and practice the skills of listening and compromise.  These are tools that you will use on a daily basis, for the rest of your lives, and you will never forget what you learned while planning.  In some ways, the planning process is even more important than your actual wedding day.  A wedding is a single day, but the lessons that you learn about one-another and yourselves as individuals will last the rest of your lives.  You are working on an enormous project together, and you are becoming a team.  The lessons that you learn will make you stronger as a couple than you were before.

Of course, having the right crew for your wedding day is an enormous help.  Nobody is happy when a caterer takes a full week to answer your questions, or a venue springs additional liability paperwork a month before your wedding.  Those things can be avoided by hiring the right crew members to help facilitate your big day.  What I want to tell you is that it’s normal to disagree.  It can even be normal to fight.  But let the resolution of each argument bring you closer together, and let each disagreement be an opportunity to learn something new about yourselves.  Partnership starts long before you are married.

 

Above photo credit: Angela @ Hitches and Unions

Save your Wedding from the “D.I.Y. Trap”

diy_wedding.jpgListen- I get it- I’m married to a craftsman, and I’m hopelessly crafty, myself.  I’m guilty of dismembering and storing sentimental T-shirts from High School to sew into a quilt (“one day”), and meanwhile the pile of “to-be-polyurethaned” projects continues to collect by the washing machine.  Our cat eats out of a ceramic bowl I threw on the pottery wheel, and my husband and I sat in our backyard hand-sanding and staining our baby’s crib when I was 40 weeks pregnant.  D.I.Y. crafting is in our blood, and there is a significant amount of satisfaction that comes with looking back at our hard work, at the imprints of our hands, and knowing that nobody could have done it better (or with more love) than we did…

But – and I truly mean this – weddings are a completely different type of animal.

That’s not to say that you can’t have a custom wedding that reflects the crafty, artistic talents of you and your partner, but there are many ways you can lighten the load from your already busy wedding planning schedule, and steal back the reigns from the right half of your brain.  Your stress level – and wallet- will thank you.

Below are some pointers and advice about D.I.Y. impulses.

D.I.Y. WEDDINGS & YOUR BUDGET

Many people jump directly into a D.I.Y.-style wedding because they have a very, very tight budget & believe that they can save money this way.  The only time that a truly D.I.Y. wedding will save your budget is if you resign to have a 25-person casual reception in a backyard, with simple decorations and homemade food.   As soon as you rent a park or estate and invite scores of friends and family, your D.I.Y. wedding can become just as expensive, if not more expensive than having it at a wedding hall because…

…YOU BECOME THE VENUE AT A D.I.Y. LOCATION
There are many unappreciated perks to having your wedding at a proper venue, as opposed to a “blank slate” venue such as someone’s barn, personal property, or a public park.  When compared to the other locations, a legitimate wedding venue has bathrooms, (and staff to keep them clean & fully stocked), has potable running water, has an ice machine, refrigerator and places to store your goods securely, and takes care of all the trash removal.  Think – you need to take care of ALL of this if you host your wedding at a venue you found on VRBO – and each item adds an extra line to your total budget!  Once you add up the costs of a bathroom trailer, ice delivery, trash removal and a tent in case of rain, your cheap rental suddenly became more expensive than many of the lovely venues in town!

Solution #1: GET THE RIGHT VENUE
There are many incredible venues that offer a “rustic wedding” vibe- including converted barns and untamed fields – while still providing the amenities of a traditional wedding hall.  They will also have the proper permitting to host weddings and serve alcohol, and have the necessary staff to handle setup, bathrooms, and rain emergencies.

Solution #2: ALWAYS USE A PROFESSIONAL CATERER
If you are determined to have your wedding at the park you and your partner first kissed, hiring a professional caterer can fill in a few – but not all – of the gaps that are missing.  Typically, they can organize your rentals order, set up & break down the reception area, and handle all of the food service and cleanup that they normally would.  You will still need to order a considerable amount of rentals so that they have the gear they need to cook onsite, so don’t expect this to be a cheap route.

D.I.Y. PROJECTS WANT TO CANNIBALIZE YOUR (PRECIOUS) TIME

Once you have your venue in place, you can really get excited about customizing your event.  You don’t want your day to look like any other wedding that has been there before, and you want your guests to feel as though they are immersed in the creative spirits of you and your partner.  But before you know it, your pre-wedding project list includes embroidering vintage cloth napkins, carving tie pins, painting vases, knitting lacy shawls and pocket squares for the bridal party and welding your centerpieces out of reclaimed mid-century kitchen appliances.

Unless you decide to quit your day-job and put pause on your social life, the sheer time that D.I.Y. projects consume is monumental.  And, once again, the familiar ‘budget’ word rears its ugly head, when you realize how much that organic, hand-spun lace wool is going to cost you on Etsy – forget about the weeks of knitting that the final projects are going to take.  I’m probably laying it on a bit thick here now, but those of you who have the itch to forego storebought-everythings & dive right in with your own hands understand my sentiment.  The bright side is- there’s hope!

Solution: Make a list of ALL of the projects you envision, and next to each one, write down the time they’re going to take you, and the cost of raw materials.  Although the reclaimed material centerpieces may be cheap, you do not have 5 hours to work on each one of them for your 25 tables.  Find a compromise, and pick your favorite one or two projects- tops.

Can’t decide?  If each project triggers sentimentality in you, then consider sticking to homemade favors.  That way, you can leave the custom design to your planner, the heavy lifting to the vendors, and still send your guests home with a little piece of you and your partner that they can keep for a long time.

Bonus Advice: DON’T DROWN IN PINTEREST!
Pinterest is an incredible resource for ideas and inspiration.  However, some of the projects you see on craft blogs or pinterest were not fully tested or vetted by the person who posted them.  I only use blog recipes from well established bakers, for example, because people who post untested recipes just leave you with a clump of wasted of ingredients.  So don’t get carried away with every project you see online, sometimes it’s just an image you’re falling for.

What are your favorite DIY favor ideas, and why? 

Have questions?  Want to pick my brain?  Want to vent about the time your future spouse decided you’d never buy storebought bread again?  Give me a shout on my contact page, and I’ll get back to you ASAP!

How to Keep your Wedding Day Stress Free!

Yes! I am starting my first blog post with the dreaded “S” word that we’ve all fallen victim to at one point in our lives.  The sooner you build your strategy to tackle wedding-related stress, the easier and more enjoyable planning your big day is going to be!  Weddings are a magnificent ritual of love and devotion, and they should be a personal expression of the relationship you and your partner share.  There are a few key things you can do early on to make sure your wedding, and the months of planning, go as smoothly as possible!

1- FIND YOUR CREW
Bridal parties are a classic part of traditional weddings, but not all brides or grooms choose to have them.  This could be because you desire a smaller wedding, or you just want a simpler day.  Regardless whether you choose to have friends standing beside you when you say your vows, you still need your crew!  As soon as you announce your engagement, there will be friends, family and social media putting unexpected pressure on your plans.  Your CREW will be there to support you and your future spouse, and help you filter out any unnecessary static from the outside world.  Your crew might be your siblings, your closest friends, your parents, or even some of your vendors!  Make sure to locate them early on and ask them to be a part of your planning process- and let them know exactly what you need help with!  Your marriage will be perpetually supported by your community in unexpected ways, and the sooner you allow your community to help you, the better and more meaningful your event planning will become!

2- KNOW YOUR BUDGET
Planning a wedding is impossible without knowing how much money you have to spend on it.  You won’t know what venue, photographer, or attire you can afford, let alone how many guests you can invite!  Save yourself budget stress by knowing the total dollar amount you have to work with, and then dividing it up from there.

3- DO NOT COMPARE YOUR DAY TO ANYONE ELSE’S
Here’s where it gets tricky.  We are hit on a daily basis with images of other peoples weddings, engagements, and families from social media.  Most people know that these images are idealized glimpses into others’ realities, but it is still very difficult to tune out what you see, and in the process, compare yourself with it.  Your wedding will be more meaningful the more you focus on who you and your future spouse are as people, and let your personalities shine.  This day is about YOU, not Instagram or Facebook!

4- FOCUS ON YOUR LOVE
If you spend too much time choosing between red velvet and hazelnut cakes, you’re bound to get into at least one minor tiff with your partner.  Remember to come back to the real reason you are getting married- your love for one another- and to dismiss any of the undue stress that comes with event planning.  Which brings us to #5…

5- BRING IN OUTSIDE HELP
Weddings can dredge up many unexpected emotions, and in the midst of the joy, excitement, and- yes you guessed it- stress, it’s important to bring in someone from the outside to help you through it.  A wedding planner can take most of the burden off of your shoulders, or a coordinator can come in to polish and organize your final details and ensure that everything runs smoothly on your wedding day.  Not to be too on-the-nose, but you’re already in the right place to find that help- so reach out to me any time, and let’s talk about getting you the wedding of your dreams!