How Being a Bride made me a Better Wedding Planner
Happy 6 Month Anniversary to me & T!
Go ahead - give me the eye roll! It's such an overly sweet and sappy thing to do - celebrating a 6 Month Anniversary. Very Jr. High School of me! But being a newlywed does something to even the most analytical of wedding planners!
The psychology of "Being a Bride" is so vastly different from that of "Being a Planner". Something I found that out, much to my surprise! I really thought that I could approach my own wedding with the same rationale that I use when planning for my couples. But the fact is that despite having over 20 years of wedding planning experience, I was simply not prepared for actually being a bride!
And what a beautiful thing to be introduced to after all these years! The ability to step away from my daily role as wedding planner and into the shoes of my couples has taught me more than anything else I have ever done.
And so, in celebration of this mini-milestone I wanted to share just a few of the things I learned during my time "Being the Bride"!
Have YOUR wedding...No one else's!
I deeply believe in the idea of living out your love story. While blogs, magazines, Pinterest and your "college-friend's-sister's-cousin's" wedding are all great for inspiration and beautiful in their own right, your wedding needs to be an expression of you and only you. Draw inspiration from everyone, everywhere and everything, but be ruthless in editing your day. Include only what speaks to you. Nothing else. Even if that means surprising people.
From my own experience - Tony and I both have very social jobs. We spend our days (and most nights) in celebratory mode with groups of people large and small. Yet, in our personal lives, we are happiest when we are with our children. We are grounded and rooted in our family life - It is the most important thing to us. We are obsessed with food and dining, conversation and the small details that transform the ordinary moments into memories. And so, in planning our wedding, we made a conscious decision to keep it very small and intimate, having only our immediate family join us for the day. We came up with the most lavish, fantastic meal that we could and limited nothing in terms of the food and cocktails and wine. Everyone had an amazing time! Still, this decision to plan a secret wedding and not include extended family and friends was met with a range of reactions - Not all positive.
Someday we may host a super sexy and very fun little cocktail party for our friends and extended family that allows us to celebrate with the rest of the people that we adore and that have touched our lives over the years. And I hope it's a hell of an anniversary party! But for us, and forever, this was our one wedding day, and it was quintessentially us.
What kind of wedding do you want? Not your mother, or sister, or friends...You! Do you and your fiancé share a love of travel? Then seek out the most amazing destination you can find! Are you social butterflies that are always planning big nights out for your friends? Then perhaps an enormous celebration is in order! If you fell in love over linguine in clam sauce look for Italian influences. I don't care what you do, as long as it is all authentic and all about you!
And then trust them to do what they do best!
When planning our clandestine day it would have been easy to dictate to each and every person what exactly we did and did not want. But what's the fun in that? Aside from not wanting to be difficult, I didn't want to take away from the romance of the day by micromanaging every single detail. And so I gave everyone involved a general wish list, made mention of things that we love and loathe, and then I let go and trusted that the people we chose for our day would give us something magical. And boy did they ever!
Tony and I were delighted at every turn, and amazed at the myriad of details and special touches that came together to make our day amazing. It made me think, "I wish every bride could have a little bit of this...a moment when the unexpected show up and just completely knocks her off her feet." And you can. All it takes is a little bit of trust!
Sure, you may be thinking, it's easy for your vendors to do something special for you...They're practically your friends. That's true - They are. But what's also true is that each and every person I know working in weddings - whether they worked on our wedding or not - does it out of love. Every florist, every designer, every planner and photographer and hotel catering manager and so on, we all want one thing - and that is for you to have the most amazing day. We want to see you blown away and to feel that we had a part in making the day special for you. So give us guidelines and tell us what you want, but give us room to really play and explore and create something fantastical. I promise you won't be disappointed.
In fact, my guess is that you will be delighted, and that the things you didn't plan for will be the ones that stand out long after the day has passed.
Surround Yourself with Things You Love!
What's one of the best things about a lavish, week-long vacation? Coming home! Because no matter how luxurious the accommodations, how delicious the food, how amazing the service, we all feel the most comfortable when we are surrounded by the things we love and cherish most.
So bring in something from your own home and from your own wardrobe. Have a faux-fur throw that you love snuggling with on the couch? Bring it in and drape it over some lounge furniture at the reception. Is half of your closet filled with items from the same designer? See if they make an accessory or piece that you can incorporate into your day. Not only will these things put you at ease and give you the sense of being in "your" environment, but you will forever come to think of them as "your wedding vase" or "your wedding earrings" when you come upon them in your day to day life. It's a really wonderful way to be sure that you stay in touch with the romance of your wedding day on every other day.
Splurge on Something Fantastic!
Everyone has a budget. Everyone. Which is why I hate the idea of a "budget" wedding. There really is no such thing. There is only your budget and your priorities. Your wedding is going to cost money, but you have the ability to determine where and how that money is spent. Take note of the things that matter most to you and apply the bulk of your budget there. But be forewarned - There is going to be something that you fall in love with, become obsessed with, and absolutely have to have, and it is not going to be in the budget.
In these times I have to say...go for it! As long as it is somewhat reasonable (read: a super fantastic video or a live band...NOT renting our a private island in the south of France) then I always recommend that you find a way. The truth is, none of my couples have ever looked back and regretted going over the top for the one little thing that really made their day. I have, however, had couples regret the thing they didn't do. And that is why I work so hard to ensure that if my couples want it, they get it! And why, when planning out a budget, I always add in a line for a "Miscellaneous" item or expense. It may not cover the entire splurge, but it will at least soften the blow.
Think of it like this...Over the course of 10, 20, or 30 years what does this one thing really cost you? Is it something that you will pass down as an heirloom? Or is it an experience that you will never be able to have again, that you and your guests will talk about for all time? When my parents got married they had lobsters dresses up as Carmen Miranda in honor of where they met and were honeymooning. 40 years later, people still talk about them! The point is that while you should never go into extreme debt to pay for a wedding, you shouldn't deny yourself
And no matter what you do or how much you plan...
Something is Going to Go Wrong!
Something went wrong in conjunction with my wedding. My own wedding. Despite all of my years of experience and regardless of the fact that I worked with the best of the best, in my opinion, something still went wrong. And do you know why? Because something always does. That's life. There is good and bad, amazing and amazingly disappointing. perfection is an illusion, and simply does not exist. So give up the pursuit of perfection, and accept the fact there there are going to be things that are out of your control. Accept them, allow yourself 5 minutes to be a stress monkey, and then simply embrace them and move on. After all, there is nothing you can do once what's done is done. Wallowing in the misstep will only make you (and your guests) miserable. It will steal your joy and make you blind to all of the things that are going so right. Most importantly, your new marriage and the one you love!
Out of curiosity, having seen many of my wedding photos appear in the blog over the last few months, were you able to tell what went wrong? Of course not! Neither were my guests. Because even though I had that moment of "Oh. Em. F-ing. Gee..." I knew enough to let it go and move on.
So if the flowers aren't the exact shade of pink you had in mind, if the band plays a song from the Do Not Play list, and if the soufflé falls before it's time take a deep breath, look around, and recognize that the only thing people care about is seeing you happy.
And isn't that what life and marriage is all about? Looking beyond the "ick" to find the beauty and the happiness and the joy in every day. Happiness, like marriage, is a choice. You have to make it every day. You have to choose the good things and simply find a way to move passed the bad.
If there is one more piece of advise I could give you, sort of a 5.5 Things I Learned From Being a Bride, it would be to marry the right person! I made the choice of my life in picking Tony to be my partner, my friend, my boyfriend, and more. He is the father of my children, my husband, and the person who knows me better than anyone else in the world. And, despite this, he not only still loves me, but he likes me!
I will never forget the experience of Being the Bride, and I hope to always be able to go back and put myself in your shoes as we plan the most magical day for you and your loved one.