Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Wedding Planning

My friend Jen is planning a rustic, beautiful summer wedding in Cooperstown, NY. I thought it would be fun for us to hear about her wedding planning process... here is a bit about her experience so far! She is going to guest-blog again post-wedding, so we can hear about how everything turned out!

Thanks for stopping by, Jen!

Cornwallville Church in Cooperstown, NY

Hello, New Mom and the City Readers!

Thanks to Neha for letting me guest blog about my wedding-planning experience.  My fiance Joe and I got engaged last June, and are getting married July 19 of this year.  So, I've made it through approximately 11 months of wedding planning so far, and I've got a little over 2 more to go.  As the big day is quickly approaching (!!), I've been reflecting on my experiences over the past year, and trying to incorporate the lessons I've already learned into the final planning push.  I've never been someone who had a vision for her wedding day, so when I started planning I was working from scratch.  That has made the planning process rocky at times, but I've learned some things along the way, which I hope will help me from here on out.

Jen & Joe in Yosemite National Park, where he popped the question!

1.  Seek advice from those who've been there . . . but don't lose sight of what you want, and what's realistic.

Since I'm getting married in my 30s, I have plenty of friends who've already tied the knot, so I'm lucky to have both lots of weddings to be inspired by and many former brides to share their been-there, done-that knowledge with me.  I've drawn on friends' experiences for tips about invitations, registries, seating, food, everything.  I found the most amazing website and accompanying book, A Practical Wedding, to answer all questions logistical and emotional.  (Seriously, I could write an entire blog post about the virtues of that website alone!)  However, the flipside of having been to a lot of weddings and of the existence of about a zillion wedding blogs is that it's very hard to resist comparing.  Since nearly all of the weddings I've been to have been religious, I worried that ours will feel like less of a wedding with a secular ceremony.  After looking at countless highly-personalized DIY receptions online, I've wondered whether it's okay to have a wedding that has no theme other than "wedding."  When I started obsessing about those questions, I realized I had to take a step back from others' advice and focus on what would make the day perfect for Joe and me.  We're not religious, so it wouldn't make sense for our wedding to be.  That doesn't mean our ceremony won't be filled with meaning and love.  And, our wedding's theme will be "fun party with people we love."  That's realistic for us, and that's what we set out to do when we started planning nearly a year ago.

The Farmer's Museum in Cooperstown, NY
2.  Ask for help.  Really!

We've all laughed and then gasped in horror at the leaked emails that surface every couple of months, in which a terrifying bride-monster tells her bridesmaids to lose weight, wax their arms, and clear their calendars of any non-wedding responsibilities for the next 365 days.  The Bridezilla is such a trope that I think many women--completely normal, non-narcissistic women--live in fear of embodying the stereotype.  But the thing is, most women don't police their loved ones in their everyday lives, and they also don't start doing it when they're planning a wedding.  For fear of appearing selfish, I spent a lot of energy not asking for help, even when I very much needed it.  And then, one day about 6 months ago, my parents said, "You seem stressed about everything related to the wedding.  What can we do to make it more fun and less stressful?"  That sweet, wonderful question opened the floodgates.  Once I learned to start asking people for help--my parents to take on transportation planning, my crafty aunt to sew table runners, my friends to brainstorm songs for the playlist--I realized that people really do want to help.  It shouldn't be a surprise, but remember that your loved ones want to be involved in your wedding.  Accepting this help and support was a huge de-stressor, and has made me feel incredibly lucky to have these people in my life.

Beautiful Farmer's Museum in Cooperstown, NY

3.  Make decisions and move forward.

Weddings, and wedding planning, are life, condensed.  You're taking many of the people and things that matter to you from various stages of your life, and trying to smush them together (in what's probably the biggest party you've ever thrown, unless you are a professional event planner, in which case, call me!) into one perfect 8-hour day.  In that context, every choice takes on huge significance.  Do we tie flowers on the end of every pew, or every other pew?  Can people choose from 2 types of red wine, or do they need 3?  As someone who has a difficult time making decisions, I was overwhelmed.  Worst of all, the dumb, little decisions (flowers, wine) were taking up as much of my mental energy as the big, important decisions (where to have our wedding, who to invite with space and money constraints), and nothing was getting done.  So, we made a rule-- if it's a small decision, one of us just makes it and moves forward.  No second-guessing.  If it's a big decision, then we talk about it for a little bit and then table it for a few days, and then repeat until the decision is made.  Allowing myself to just make a decision without worrying whether another day of thinking would lead to a better decision has been a huge relief.  It feels so good to cross things off the to-do list!

As of right now, the result of all this planning is a medium-sized wedding in Cooperstown, New York, with the ceremony in a small, non-denominational white clapboard church and the reception in an old town meeting hall.  Joe will wear a grey suit and I'll wear an ivory dress, and we'll dance with our guests and eat brunch foods for dinner.  That's the plan!  I'll be back this summer to fill you all in on how it went!



This gorgeous vintage carousel is the site for Jen & Joe's Cocktail Hour!
I'm curious how universal my experiences are, and would love to hear others' advice, struggles, and triumphs.  What do you think?  Please share!

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