Well, today is my anniversary! Five years ago I walked down the aisle and here I sit with my computer with two little ones upstairs napping. If you are a bride-to-be, congratulations! If you are longing to get engaged, don’t fret it’ll happen. If you aren’t dating anyone then this is still useful advice because the right one is out there. I promise. I wanted to do a wedding post but instead of the same advice that you find while googling (which, a lot of it IS sound, just a bit overdone…) I decided to be completely upfront about what I learned from planning a wedding and pass along nuggets of wisdom that are hopefully helpful.
- Don’t feel obligated to invite everyone you know to go wedding dress shopping and don’t send pics of your dress to anyone. I took my parents, my MIL and a couple of close friends dress shopping. My MIL didn’t have a daughter so it was nice to share that experience with her. I only asked or showed friends my dress who I knew wouldn’t be jealous or dismissive because they were resentful. I asked a friend to come see the dress that I knew deep down was THE ONE but needed a second opinion because it was so different from what I thought I wanted. My friend knew I loved it. She told me I looked amazing in it and it would be a travesty to not get it. That’s a true friend. Anyone who waters seeds of doubt even though your gut is telling you otherwise should be relegated to the back-up guest list. This brings me to my second piece of advice.
- Planning a wedding will bring out the best as well as the worst in the people around you. Don’t be scared to tell someone if they’re acting like an asshole. This is the hardest lesson I learned while planning my wedding. This is due to the fact that I have a friend who I haven’t spoken to since I informed her she was no longer going to be a bridesmaid. In all fairness, I am a very non-confrontational person in real life and tend to make excuses when people close to me aren’t treating me the way I should be treated. My former friend had gone through a painful break-up and I could hear the feigned excitement in her voice when I told her I was engaged. In hindsight, I know she was happy for me but just wanted this for herself too. I chalked up her less than desirable reaction to being sad over the demise of her relationship. However, she continued to act in a way that made me anxious about my upcoming nuptials. I like to consider myself a mindful person so my parents and I agreed that my parents covering the cost of the bridesmaid dress, hair, and make-up was a nice way to offset any financial burden some of my bridesmaids may have experienced since all of my friends had to fly in for the wedding. My friend may have not sounded as excited as I had hoped at news of my engagement, but she never thanked me for covering the cost of the dress. When I explained hair and make-up were also taken care of, she retorted, “Well, they better not MESS it up.” This was where I started to panic. In hindsight, our friendship had always been one-sided. In retrospect I always thought the more selfless I was, the less selfish she would become. However, relationships don’t work that way. What I should have done was confront her about it. I should have explained that her inability to be gracious hurt my feelings. Instead I avoided the issue. NEWS FLASH: Avoidance doesn’t make anything go away. Your wedding day is too special to allow underlying issues to fester. It reached a boiling point and I kicked her out of the bridal party. Truthfully, I don’t regret it. I didn’t have anxiety on my big day over how she felt about the hair and make-up people. No bride should have to worry about something like that! It’s your day, so speak up if you feel like someone is distant or doesn’t act happy for you. I should have been honest about my feelings. However…
- Just because it is YOUR day doesn’t give YOU the right to be an asshole. Don’t be the Bridezilla whose psychotic email gets posted anonymously on Reddit and goes viral. The thing is, you’re excited to get married. You should be! The only people who are going to be as excited are you are the people who benefit from becoming grandparents due to your union. Don’t expect those around you, who have their own lives to live, to be as worried about seating charts or what you’re going to wear to your rehearsal dinner. People will get sick of hearing about every detail if you share every single detail. No, that doesn’t mean you have to keep it all to yourself. Just make sure every conversation you have doesn’t revolve around wedding-realted issues.
- Be realistic about how many events you invite your friends/bridesmaids to. There is the engagement party, likely more than one bridal shower, the bachelorette party. If any of these require transportation that involves a train or air travel, then don’t expect everyone to come to everything. I once worked with a girl who wrote a scathing email to a bridesmaid because she couldn’t come to her bridal shower…in Dallas. All parties involved lived in Manhattan. Nobody was from Dallas except for the future aunt-in-law throwing the shindig. The bridesmaid was single, and I am assuming somewhat broke. If your friend/bridesmaid declines an invitation to one of the extracurricular festivities then don’t assume it is a slight. She may not be able to afford it. She may have a child she doesn’t want to leave or she may have to work. Now, if she gives you some sob story over why she can’t make it but then winds up on your Instagram stories wearing a rhinestone bra inebriated at Coachella then you have my permission to eviscerate her with your keyboard. In short, pick your battles. Being dramatic puts a damper on everything.
- Something will go wrong. Just roll with it. Don’t lose sight of WHY you are getting married. I thought I had prepared for everything. Rain? We were getting married inside. Snafus? We hired the best wedding planner in Louisville. We had even gotten into the New York Times! IN JUNE! We were set. What I hadn’t prepared for was a two-timing groomsman. I will spare details out of respect for one of the parties involved but yeah, Casanova in a cummerbund took me by surprise. Long story short, I got a knock on my door at 4am the night before my fucking wedding because one of the other parties involved got kicked out of her room. I told her to get in bed and go to sleep. I am sugarcoating this entire story but believe me, if I had decided to lose my shit it would have been justified. The point is, I didn’t. I was excited to start my life with my husband so all of the bizarre drama that unfolded really didn’t matter. Odds are, whatever happens will make for an amusing story later. I did get offered a Vicodin by the bridesmaid that interrupted my bridal beauty sleep (I politely declined and then told her again to go the fuck to sleep). Ultimately, she apologized for her antics…via email an entire year later.
- If it all gets to be too much, just elope! Seriously. Family dynamics and intricacies of friendships are complicated even if you aren’t planning one of the most important days of your life. Don’t lose sight of what it’s all for and if you get fed up – run off and just get married on your own!
What did you learn while planning your wedding?
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