Working as a planner I see, daily, the awesome wedding industry in all its loved-up glory; there's a constant stream of people having perfect proposals, epic hen parties and swoon-worthy, instagrammable nuptials. However, something that isn't touched on nearly enough (and I'm just going to hop up on my soap box here, so bare with me) is that weddings. are. stressful. Whether you are a couple, navigating it all for the very first time- wide eyed and filled to the brim with anticipation; or a supplier wanting to stay current, professional and above all positive, it can be tough when amidst the work/childcare/life admin you are also juggling, all you can see is people having a damn good time.
I will always be the first to admit that planning my own wedding was hands-down one of the most time- consuming, often stressful, occasionally downright miserable experiences of my adult life. It was also, without a doubt, the most incredibly rewarding, beautiful and ultimately inspiring things I'd ever done - and so here lies the conundrum. How can you go ALL in with your plans, knowing that you are putting on the biggest party you will ever throw, at an often huge cost, with quite a few emotional obstacles to overcome along the way, without losing yourself in the process? Here, I've had a go at giving some little nuggets of planning wisdom, in the hope that I will have been the first, and last, bride to start hyperventilating just before heading down the aisle (true story!)
Now, this is NOT to say that people genuinely don't love planning their weddings (or other people's, which obviously I live for) but it's definitely OK to have days where you just aren't feeling it, and I'd say there are probably 3 main areas to address head-on, prepare for, and hopefully find a way to navigate so that you can turn up wanting to do it allll over again:
Tricky family and friends
This is such a minefield- and not one I profess to be a total expert on, however what I will say is that choosing the people who are going to be around you during your journey is probably one of the most important decisions you'll make - forget who's sat next to who for 3 hours on the day, what about who is going to be there for you for 12-18 months?!
Choosing your bridesmaids/ groomsmen/ bridesmen/ groomsmaids (basically- your squad) should not be a decision made off the cuff, drunkenly, when you're both singing along to Beyonce at the top of your lungs and you suddenly think "Yes, Yes! I love you and want you THERE!", because really, you're not asking people who are just going to be turning up to various parties and having a good time, you are asking people who are willing to help you organise those parties, run around at 9am finding balloons, take control of a 30-strong whatsapp group that is turning into an all-out riot and make sure auntie Barbara makes it into a taxi after one too many Sambucas. Ask people you trust, who you aren't afraid to be direct with (because 'bridezillas' only exist in the minds of people who can't step up and support a mate in need) and, obviously, who you love getting drunk and singing along to Beyonce with.
On the family side - there are of course some dynamics which are too complicated to cover in a wedding-planner's blog post, but a good place to start will always be communication - a lot of brides and grooms can often feel under enormous pressure from family members to plan, host and execute a wedding day how they see best, and this is almost always exacerbated when parents/ extended family have 'pitched in' to the pot and contributed. Obviously, generosity should never be overlooked, but don't be afraid to have the conversation before you accept any money towards the day, about what expectations come with the donation - does this mean they want a say on the guest list/ the venue/ the style of wedding entirely? At least once all the cards are on the table, you can evaluate what you see is the easier, or at least more manageable route, so you don't end up feeling penned-in with inviting 43 distant cousins in the two weeks before you say your 'i do's'.
Aaah, the wedding budget, set by some mystical fairy at 'about £30,000' and thrown to the engaged like a big, sinewy bone to chew through and somehow digest. Here's a refreshing thought: a wedding budget is what you set it at. The End.
Ok, not really the end, but why can't it be that simple? Yes, you are going to have to manage your expectations, probably put a bit more graft in and maybe cancel the 30ft ice sculpture if the purse strings are a little tight, but when was the last time you turned up at a wedding, looked around and said "Yep, this clearly cost £3k" (if you did do that, you probably weren't having enough fun, which is on you- not the couple). The joy of being online (after I totally tore it apart earlier) is that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of brilliant blogs and sites that exist solely to provide fun, gorgeous ways to decorate, provide guest entertainment and basically have a ball for the cost of a barn dance - so set your budget at what you can realistically afford and take it from there.
Planning a wedding is, would you believe it, a full-time job; why would planners exist if it wasn't? However, not everyone can afford someone to come in and take it all off their hands (I certainly didn't, nor did I really want to due to the control-freak within) so you need to be kind to yourselves with how much you can take on, and importantly ask people to help you out when you need it. Set yourself times when you can do your 'wedmin': a couple of hours 2- 3 evenings a week to start with is plenty, then as it gets nearer you may want to check in with it every evening, which is also fine, but being constantly available to everyone - whether it's via email, whatsapp or phone, is not a good habit to get into in the run-up, as the questions and concerns will always start to build up in the final weeks, and then that means you have less time to switch off and enjoy it!
Saying that (and yes, I get this probably seems like a sales pitch - which I guess it is), planners and stylists are now offering a more 'hands-off' approach, which can then become very 'hands-on' when needed, especially on the day itself. These are surprisingly affordable compared to the cost of full planning, and certainly didn't exist that widely when I was haring about at 10pm before my wedding day icing cakes (don't ask) so if you haven't explored that option then it's definitely worth a nosey at.
Ultimately, weddings aren't going to suddenly become less stressful; but as more people start to say, honestly, that it isn't all sunshine and roses, the more couples will and should feel more able to put on the brakes when needed. So, when you're knee-deep in font choices for your place-cards and you feel a bit like setting fire to the lot of them, take a step back, pour yourself a glass of something tasty and remember what you need to prioritise: You, both, having an awesome time.
Love, Kate x