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The Realities of Wedding Planning

Wedding tablescape photo by 22Ivy

First, let me reassure you: the reality of your wedding will still be beautiful, memorable, and uniquely yours. You don’t have to justify what you want for your wedding. You and your fiance should decide what your day will be about, and your friends and family should be happy to support. However, it is possible (and even likely) that you may have to adjust your expectations in order to enjoy it to the fullest. To do that, you will need to get in to the right mindset for wedding planning, and that may mean setting aside the dream that you had envisioned for the practical business of defining what you want, what you need, and how you’re going to get it.

After my first meeting with my clients, I send them home with homework. I ask them to define their budget if they haven’t done so already and then identify the elements of a wedding that are most important to them. This can be anything from the guest list to the smallest detail. This list isn’t just about the actual event of the wedding; it’s also about your time, your money, and how you choose to spend both. Once they've identified the most important items, I ask them to rank them.

It may seem tempting to decide that everything is number one, but realistically, at least some of those elements are more important to you than others. For example, you may say that having your friend and family there is your number one priority. If that’s the case, then the budget becomes less of a concern. Whatever your list looks like together, keep that in mind as you continue to plan your wedding. I also suggest advertising it to friends and family. It’s a really powerful tool to let people know what your priorities are and why, and I find it helps with avoiding (or at least deflecting) an influx of opinions. I fully understand that priorities can change while planning. However, knowing the plan means that you must make a conscious decision when making a change as opposed to simply allowing yourself to be carried in a different direction.

I’ll be honest: most people hate this exercise. This isn’t the fun part, or even the interesting part, of wedding planning. It really does help, though, to make things move a lot more easily. Once you’re in the right frame of mind for planning, then and only then can you move on to the bulk of the process. Of course, most of my clients are not as interested in the minutiae of the plan. However, if you’re really going to enjoy wedding planning, you will have to learn to love details. If you totally dig the details, then you will have a blast with the process. If not, this is the part where I suggest hiring someone who can handle many of the details for you.

The first thing you should be prepared for in wedding planning is the amount of time it’s going to take, and the truth is that the more time you spend dreaming, the longer it will take you to plan the real wedding. The part that starts to get more difficult when it comes to your time is when what you’re wanting doesn’t match the reality of your budget. We’ll talk a lot more about this in the next post, but just keep in mind that you will likely have to make some compromises at some point.

They say that the average bride spends about 6 hours a week planning a wedding, and that the average wedding takes a year to plan. If you do the math, that’s over 300 hours of your time! That’s actually far improved from years ago when it used to take 10 hours a week on average (the internet is a helpful tool). However, put another way, that’s like working full-time for two months without pay (in fact, you will be shelling out the money). Keep in mind that these are averages; it is possible that some spend less time, but it’s also very possible that you can spend even more time (and this will go back to what your expectations are for your wedding).

If this is your first time planning a wedding, this may seem like an over-exaggeration or simply a lack of time management. What could possibly take so long? It’s just a big party, right? Or maybe you’re thinking that it really is just a matter of the type of wedding you’re planning. The truth is, there is a reason it takes so long, and it almost doesn’t matter what type of wedding you’re having.

We'll discuss some of those reasons in the next post.

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