So... you are engaged!?!?!?! Ahhhh! Yay! How exciting! Congrats!! Woooo! I AM SOOO HAPPY FOR YOU! Sorry if that is a little strong from a perfect stranger, but I truly believe that marriage is one of the greatest gifts you can enjoy. Finding your person and being able to go through life together is one of the most amazing experiences ever! You get to marry your best friend and you get to merge two lives into one, which is as great and as messy as it sounds! I am sure that there are a lot of thoughts and emotions running through you right now in this time and I am sure your phones and social media pages are blowing up with congratulations already.
If you haven’t been asked already be ready to be asked “when is the date?” and “what are you doing for blank?”. Those “blanks” are going to start piling up, trust me. Chances are you have no idea how to plan a wedding, for many of you reading this, this is your first time planning one of these things after all. The wedding industry is HUGE and the rabbit hole (or pinterest hole) is endless. As soon as people hear that you are engaged they will give you all of the things that a wedding “must have”, both sides of the family are going to give you their thoughts, and the internet if full of billions of websites to “help” guide you through the process. All of these voices, visions, and thoughts can quickly become impossible to manage.
I don’t mean to sound all doom and gloom, I am so excited for you and I hope that I can help! I want to help relieve some of that stress and to make sure that your big day is one that you will absolutely love. So, how can I help? As a wedding photographer I have seen my fair share of weddings, and I have been a bride myself so I have first hand experience. Yet even for someone like me that is in the industry and thought she had the whole wedding day idea figured out this process was a not always easy! It turns out that in all of my planning and dreams I had forgotten one key element: my future husband. A couple days after we got engaged, I was ready to jump right into planning; my fiance, Andrew, was not. My creative mind was moving a mile per minute. And from my point of view, Andrew and I had talked casually about our day, so we were going to be on the exact same page once the planning started. But let me be honest here, that was pretty far from the truth. What we discovered was that both Andrew and I had different expectations when it came to putting together a wedding. First piece of advice, Andrew and I both strongly believe that a wedding day should be created by the couple. It isn’t just the bride, and it isn’t just the groom’s responsibility. It’s a celebration about the couple & God’s wonderful union of marriage, and therefore, the couple should have a huge influence on what the day looks like, feels like, and how it is celebrated. Now of course there are always hiccups and snags, with rules that are in place by vendors, or expectations of family members, but we are here to encourage you to tailor your day to you as couple. If you love the normal traditions ( I grew up in the South, so I mean southern traditions) then great! If you don’t, don’t be afraid to try something new, or say no to something that doesn’t work for you. How cool would it be if you thought of a new unique way to celebrate your love on your wedding day, and it became a tradition of your very own. Both you and your significant other are going to have hopes, dreams, and obligations for the wedding day that may be unknown to the other and these need to be brought up early in the process to avoid as many headaches and stress as possible.
In order to do this, I recommend doing the Priority Exercise. What is the Priority Exercise? Well before you start talking about your wedding day with others, go get coffee, drinks, or be comfy at home with your new fiancé and do this little exercise. Be warned, this might spark some long conversations, so be prepared to talk. Also, if you don’t get it all figured out right away, don’t worry. Just recognize the areas where you need to talk before anything is reserved with a deposit.
Now that you are both comfy: first, write down these 10 categories on a piece of paper, then sit opposite your future spouse so you cannot see their paper. Now, write a number 1 through 10 next to each category based on what you personally think is the most important on your wedding day when it comes to solely planning party details. 1 being the most important, 10 being the least. When I say “most important” I want you to ask yourself these three questions to answer your priorities.
How much happiness will it bring you?
How much money are you willing to be spent on it?
How much of your time will it take to plan/find this category?
Try your best to give a number to each category, and understand in wedding planning, things and priorities will change, and that's ok. You just need to understand where you are now. Are you ready? Ok, ready, set, go….
When you are done, scoot closer to each other and reveal your papers to each other. Go through the list, and see where the other person put their 1 through 10. Does it surprise you? Is it what you expected?
Now don’t panic, if your numbers don’t align! It actually would be weird if you were perfect across the board. When we started out, Andrew and my list would have probably looked completely different. But let this be the place where the conversation begins. Star your top two, and explain to your partner why those things are important to you and why you see them as a priority. If you could make a new list right now, could your top two, and your fiancé top two be the biggest priorities on your day? If not, you just might need to talk a little more. If so, you are well on your way! The goal is to be able to create one priority list that you both agree on, and feel good about as you march into wedding planning. Hold your heads high, you got this!
Now a huge thing for you guys to understand, this list might not correlate to the timeline of when you should book things for your wedding. It will just help you know if your venue is number 7 on your list, then it shouldn’t be the most expensive thing you purchase. I would consult other sources for when to book, or hire a wedding planner.
Also, my biggest hope is that this list will become a powerful tool in other conversations as well. If parents, family members, or friends are going to be heavily involved in your day, then make them do this activity with you and your spouse-to-be. You and your fiance can have your established list, and once again see where expectations match up, and where they fall flat. Getting everything out on the table early on will help set expectations correctly, and make the whole planning process much smoother for everybody.
Overall I am so excited for the both of you, I know this is going to be a season, but you can do it and CONGRATS again!