Planning my wedding was one of the most trying and wonderful and exhausting and fulfilling experiences of my life. From choosing a date and time to compiling the guest list to finding the dress, the details quickly became overwhelming. While my fiancé and I enjoyed the anticipation leading up to the big day, stress and worry clouded some of our pre-marital bliss.
In the end, our wedding and reception went off without a hitch, but there were definitely some things I wish I had known before organizing the biggest party of my life. Here are a few suggestions I picked up along the way that may help you through the process:
- Attend premarital counseling. First things first: Maintaining your relationship with God and each other during this busy time is a must. An experienced pastor or Christian counselor can guide you through the issues critical to every successful marriage.
- Stay organized. As fun as it is to buy stacks of wedding books and magazines, there is plenty of help (for free) at the library and online. Here’s one example of a detailed wedding checklist: Ultimate Wedding Timetable.
- Establish a budget — and stick to it. Decide who’s paying for what before you go on a spending spree. It’s a sticky subject, but an important one: Whoever foots the bill ultimately has the final say on how much is spent. If you want complete control over your wedding, it may be best to pay for it on your own.
- Be firm on major details and flexible on minor ones. Sure, a compromise here and there is necessary, but you’re never going to please everyone. Months after the fact, my parents and I still disagree on the reception time. And how many appetizers to order. And the size of the wedding cake. While it’s unlikely you’ll see eye-to-eye on everything, it is possible to make decisions everyone can live with.
- Let others help. Loosen your grip on every little detail and allow others to give you a hand. Not only will this free up time, but some friends and family members will appreciate the opportunity to get involved.
- Put down the bridal magazines (and pick up your Bible). I made the mistake of buying a stack of glossies, which made me acutely aware of my limited budget and unrealistic standards. Sure, it’s fun to pour over the flawless images and extravagant receptions, but at what price? Not everyone can afford to spend $9,000 on a dress and twice that on flowers. Do yourself a favor by keeping your Bible handy and your focus on God — not image.
- Remember those thank-you notes. If possible, write cards as gifts arrive. This will save you time — and grief — after the wedding. Also, don’t forget to take note of each package’s contents. That way, you won’t thank Aunt Marian for a vase when she gave you a set of sheets.
- Take care of yourself. It’s easy to obsess over appearance, especially when you’re the center of attention. When it comes to our bodies, upping the activity ante and cutting down on calories is a good thing. But sacrificing emotional well being to shed a few pounds isn’t worth it. After only a week on the Atkins diet, I was three pounds thinner and 10 times crabbier than when I started. We all want to look our best on the big day, but our fiancé, friends and families love us the way we are — imperfections and all. Looking for a godly identity check? Pick up a copy of Nancy Stafford’s Beauty by the Book.
- Relax and enjoy this special time together. A significant question ("Will you marry me?"), a simple answer ("I do!"), and a couple of vows later — bang — life is forever changed. Enjoy the journey.