The big day all about the “I do” is churning out a long list of “do I have to?” for many brides and grooms.
Wedding ceremony and reception expectations is one of the largest reasons you might want to scream, elope, or silently sob to yourself while you look over your spreadsheets. Now, I think eloping can be the right answer, but for the sake of this blog post I’m assuming you’re going ahead with your big party.
To save yourself from sobbing or shouting, start from the beginning (or wherever you are in the planning process) with asking why you’re celebrating your marriage this way. Why are you inviting 80, 120, or even 200 people? Why are you planning on using fresh flowers? Why do you want 15 homemade pies with bunting decorations on them? Asking why can help you figure out what you really want. And I mean you. Not your mom, not your best friend, not your Pinterest dream wedding board, and not your future in-laws. The only other person who has a say in this is your future spouse.
Write down your answers to “why are we doing this?” next to your to do list. Here’s an example of what your list might looks like:
- Kids table — Because our friends have kids and they are important to us and we can’t imagine them not being there!
- Coordinating tuxes and dresses – Because we want color coordination in our photos
- Hiring a DJ —so we can dance until 1 AM
- Flowers — Maybe we could use fake? Research the price difference and hassle
- Having Pie—It’s unique and our friend would really appreciate the gesture
- Table decorations — Because we want the guests to feel special
- Party Favors—Can’t think of a good reason. Maybe don’t do these?
- Coordinating something for relatives to do since they want to come early and help with decorations — They’re my relatives, so I guess that’s a reason
- Tracking expenses and making sure we stay close to our budget — because we don’t want to go into debt
- Red carpet to walk down the aisle in — It divides the room and adds more color
OK, you’ve made it through step one and have given a satisfactory answer for most of them. You’re inviting 120 people because family is important and you have a lot of ’em. You want to use fresh flowers because… well, no good reason. Time to rethink that one. And you want 15 homemade pies because someone made a cute display of them and it was on your Pinterest board and because your best friend doesn’t like cake—only pies or brownies for him. Now that you have a reason behind it, scratch off anything on your list that doesn’t have a good reason. On the list above, I would immediately take off party favors — it has no special meaning to either my spouse or I. Ah, feels good. One less thing to do!
Now that you have a reason behind it, rate each aspect or task as fun or stressful. Got it? Good. You can choose to do this mentally, or you can divide your wedding planning tasks into two columns, like this:
- Making decorations for the kids table
- Hiring a DJ so we can dance until 1 AM
- Keeping track of the expenses on a spreadsheet (hello to all my Type As out there!)
- Baking pies with your friends and family the day before the wedding
- Creating decorations for all the tables
- Coordinating tuxes and dresses
- Having relatives who want to come early and “volunteer”
- Finding flowers
- Red carpet
Now the job is to eliminate the stressful column by delegating tasks to friends and family, or with the clever use of the word no. For tuxes and dresses, could a bridesmaid or groomsmen do that for you? Can you politely decline your relative’s “help” and ask that they just enjoy being a participant on the big day? Can you say no to table decorations? If not, can you make the task less stressful by making the decorations simple or fun? And just say no to the red carpet. It had a great reason, but will a carpet that’s only out for 15-30 minutes really make or break your day?
Now your list should look more like this:
- Making decorations for the kids table with my best friends who have kids
- Hiring a DJ so we can dance until 1 AM
- Keeping track of the expenses on a spreadsheet
- Baking pies with friends and family the day before the wedding
- Helping my spouse create simple decorations for all the tables
- Checking in with my bridesmaid to see if everyone got their tuxes and dresses
- Research flower costs
Did you see that? Your list just went from 10 items to 7. It’s a miracle! Now Rinse. Lather. Repeat. until your to do list is fun and manageable.