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I’m getting married to the other side of my coin, Josh, next year, and I’ve been dealing with a lot of back-and-forth internal dialogue and literal nightmares about our wedding. One said nightmare involved the invitations never getting sent out and, as a result, no one showed up and I cried over the food-and-beverage minimum we’d been contracted to pay.
I’ve been informed by currently and formerly engaged friends that this is only the beginning.
While we know that, at the end of the day, we just want to get married (and go on an awesome honeymoon, obviously), Josh and I also realize this is probably going to be the biggest day of our lives, save for the days when our children are born. And I’m one of those girls who have dreamed about her wedding day since she was a kid, so naturally, I’m already stressed to hell 16 months out.
We’re having, from what I can tell based on “statistics” and friends’ weddings and whatnot, a medium-sized affair -- and one that we’re funding on our own and sacrificing some other things to have. When discussing marriage and/or weddings, something I’ve heard from people who are having a smaller or no wedding has been, “Oh, we just care about getting married and being in love.”
Maybe the snarky tone I hear behind the words is my own imagination, but nevertheless, this sentence pisses me off because it implies that all couples who throw medium to large affairs are missing the point.
There’s nothing wrong with having a small or no wedding at all. In fact, part of me at this point is kind of wishing Josh and I had decided to do the same, because planning a little bit bigger of an event has been a pain in the ass in many respects. But it doesn’t mean I think people who decide to have smaller weddings have a smaller amount of love (see how silly it sounds the other way around?), and it also doesn’t mean the point of the entire thing for us has become lost in a sea of tulle and tuxes. Once I realized this, things got a lot easier.
Here’s some advice I’ve gotten that has helped me come to terms with the fact that it’s OK for me to be overly excited about my wedding, and might help other hesitant-to-get-excited brides-to-be, regardless of the size of their weddings:
1. Remember: you’re only getting married once.
This is obviously not true universally, but as far as I know, not many people show up on their wedding day knowing they’re going to eventually get divorced and marry someone else. This is a big reason I want such a memorable day –- I don’t feel like I’m “entitled” to a big event, but the knowledge that I get to marry this man is the happiest I’ve ever felt, and I want to mark that with a pretty kickass party where friends and family can have the time of their lives.
While, for us, this ideal day includes a 100-guest buffet dinner on a Saturday night complete with a DJ playing well into the night, for someone else it could be a 200-person country-club affair with fireworks and a live band; for another couple, it could be a backyard brunch with an iPod playlist and 25 of their closest family and friends. As long as you’re throwing the event the way you and your future spouse envision, you’re golden.
2. Go crazy buying things that proclaim you’re getting married, but be aware that no one really cares.
I saw a sticker on the back on an SUV the other day that said, “The Future Mrs. Jones” with a picture of a ring next to it. My first thought was, “That’s pretty tacky,” but then I was like, “Why is that any different from my 13.1 sticker or those family stick-figure ones? Or that stupid-ass workout shirt I bought?”
If you’re excited, shout it from the cheesy-product-factory rooftops. But just remember that strangers don’t care that you’re getting married, and even your family and friends (however much they love you) care about .07 percent as much as you do.
3. Watch Bridezillas and instantly feel better about yourself.
This one doesn’t require too much explanation if you’ve seen even part of one episode of this show or its deliciously addictive spin-off, Marriage Boot Camp: Bridezillas. If I happen to catch an episode, I usually can’t finish it because of how much secondhand embarrassment I get for the women on the show. I’m sure it’s probably scripted, but if it isn’t, I don’t want to know. But if you’re feeling particularly zilla-esque, turn on some WeTV and be instantly cured of your worries.
4. Go into debt if you feel like it.
Before y’all scream bloody murder at me, let me explain: I, personally, think a large amount of debt for what is essentially a party is not a good idea –- at least, not for my lifestyle. Josh and I aren’t going to go into substantial amounts of debt for it.
But are we open to putting a few smaller items on a no-interest-for-a-year credit card? Yes. Are we open to putting part of our honeymoon on credit and paying it off with money we receive from our Honeyfund, while at the same time being prepared that it may not cover everything? Yes. But again –- we’re adults, and it’s our decision. Even if, “OMG, but you could put all that money toward a house down payment!” Maybe that’s not important to US right now.
The bottom line is: who is anyone to judge anyone for going into debt for something specific? If upgraded centerpieces are important to you and you can afford to pay them off in a reasonable amount of time, why not?
5. Don’t build so much stress that you won’t be able to enjoy your time NOW (and have a plan for after the wedding is over).
The first part is something I’m going to have to really pay attention to because I’m a very goal-oriented person. But I’ve made a timeline, we’ve gotten the big stuff out of the way, and now we need to relax for a while. Just because we’re getting married doesn’t mean we don’t have awesome things to celebrate right now –- and Josh is awesome at reminding me of that.
Friends have also told me to make sure we have a post-honeymoon plan in place to get back into a normal routine and savings plan, and start our new life together without the huge project of planning a wedding filling a “goal hole.” I’m sure there’s a better term there, but hooray rhymes.
I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way to plan a wedding, but I do think, at the end of the day, it’s crucial to remember that the point of the entire event is to form a symbolic union with the person you love the most in the whole world. If that’s with a big event, cool; a small event or no event at all, fantastic. It isn’t a contest, and us wedding planners should remember that and support each other.
If you’re married, did you have a small, medium, or big wedding (or none at all)? Do you regret it? If you could do it all over again, would you change anything?