PART TWO - Your guide to staying away from the cray cray, and having fun while planning a wedding and being a fiancé. If you missed the first part, read it here.
Getting engaged is exciting! Having a fiancé is exciting! Planning a wedding is... well it can be a real ball ache - which is the exact opposite of how you thought your balls would feel, right? If you read last week's post, you'll know this Q&A was inspired by a bride who asked me why getting married had to happen to a nice person like her. Another friend got engaged and then almost immediately went into an anxiety spiral that left her Googling 'best engagement rings for chubby sausage fingers'. Not exactly the glowing, love filled time of their lives.
Behold, it doesn't have to be a nightmare and going cray cray is not guaranteed! Read on for the low down on guests numbers, avoiding all the 'good advice' from 'annoying people', budgets, what order to book things in and how to have a wedding that doesn't look like everyone else's.
How do you decide who's coming and who's not? Numbers are hard!
Invite people who you truly want to share the day with. If the thought of a prospective guest makes you sigh dramatically, roll your eyes or start telling an anecdote involves bodily fluids, beer bongs or getting arrested, strike them off.
- Don’t invite Amy from accounts because you have lunch with her occasionally but never see outside of work
- Don’t invite smelly Great Uncle Bert who you only see at funerals
- Do invite friends who you can see yourself still hanging out with in 10 years
- Do invite friends and family that you both already know. Your wedding is not the time to meet your second cousins new boyfriend.
There are tonnes of wedding guest flow charts to be found on the interweb (like the one below) if you are really having trouble. And as my mum said when I was doing the guest list for our wedding - are these really the sort of people you would normally shout such an expensive dinner for? OK Mum good point.
How much lead time do venues typically need?
Some will be adamant that they need a thousand years notice. And of course, some places are booked out well into the next millenia. It all really really really depends on the venue.
Definitely don’t listen to people or wedding vendors who tell you that you can’t possibly organise a wedding in less than a year or whatever arbitrary time passage they come up with. You are not Princess Diana. I promise you that simple weddings can be organised in a few weeks if that is your want. Lead time is heavily reduced by not having to formally invite seventeen European royal families.
What order do you do things in? i.e. book venue, write guest list, find celebrant, stockpile valium etc
It’s probably a good idea to decide on an approximate number of guests so that you can search for a venue suitable for that number. Generally speaking, your venue will set the tone for your wedding, so you could choose that next. But really, who cares - you don’t have to follow someone else’s order of things. If you have your heart set on a particular dress, buy it! And find a venue that suits it. Make up your own rules!
Give yourself some time to settle into being engaged and enjoying that time with your beloved before you become Wonder Wo/man; Wedding Project Manager Edition. There is no rush and often, what people think they want at the start, is not what they end up having. For instance, "Oh I don't want to be a bridey bride, just a simple dress for me, thanks!". Which eventually translates into full ball gown, veil and tiara, and: "When will I do this again? Veils are the best thing? Why cant't we wear veils more often in life. VEILS FOREVER!".
How do I react when someone wants to tell me about their son's wedding at the Echuca Caravan Park and campground for 25 minutes? I'm sure they mean well but I hate camping and am never going to have a wedding with caravans.
You should definitely scream in the person’s face, “GET AWAY FROM ME!”, throw paint on them, then flee the scene. Alternately, if you don’t have any paint on you and have forgotten to wear your screaming pants, you can try the old smile and nod, smile and nod, repeat. If the caravan wedding discussion trails on for more than 6.7 minutes, tell them you've just seen the Bat Signal and have to go save Gotham City.
A wedding, along with divorce, relationship status, reproduction queries and what to have for dinner, seem to elicit a shit tonne of unsolicited advice and often, some prying questions to boot. Thus, it’s good to prepare for these conversations. For instance, if you have an engagement party, you'll inevitably have the same conversation 985 times about how the proposal happened and what your wedding plans are, before being schooled on that guest’s thoughts on those topics. Ensure you balance out your guest list with excellent people who won’t harass you because there was no knee bending or make helpful suggestions about other transient accommodation-style wedding (trailer wedding anyone?). For every Aunty Phyliss who drinks too much cask, spits when she talks and has All. The. Opinions., invite two fun, thoughtful friends or relos who showers you with love, praise and encouragement and whose gift giving is A1 tip top.
There are people who understand and acknowledge how special a time it is for you and your beloved and go about making you feel a million bucks. And there are people who use it as a reason to tell you about caravan weddings, their four divorces and why they should never have let Terry’s mum get between them back in ‘84. Life is all about choices, so make wise ones and keep your finger on the eject button when you get stuck with the Aunty Phyliss types.
How do I not end up with a wedding that looks and feels like everyone elses?
Ah yes. This is all Pinterest’s fault. Also a concern when heaps of your friends have already married - of course the weddings might be similar - you are friends because you have lots in common and like the same things, so it stands to reason that you might like similar dresses, decor or venues. Social media, Pinterest and access to loads of rad real life weddings via the many great wedding blogs out there, can mean that weddings can tend to follow the same trends. Using these channels as your only inspo can create a bit of an echo chamber.
When I am working with styling clients, I get them to do a whole lot of pinning - but I get them to look outside the ‘wedding’ search terms and categories. By all means, search for weddings and follow wedding vendors, but also follow and search for interior designers, fashion designers, architects, landscape designers, crafters, studios (like Studio DIY or Oh Joy), florists, jewellery designers and so forth. Look for beautiful, interesting design that screams your name and think about how it might translate into a wedding setting.
And BE YOURSELF. Run your own race. Do what feels right for you. And other cliches. Your pals might have dropped a bomb on floral design - but you might want to get a family member to do it for you for sentimental or budgetary reasons. Every bride and their rescue dog might be having dessert tables, but why not set up a dessert lounge where people can relax and indulge.
Your mum might have exceptionally sturdy opinions about the type of dress you should wear based on one of the worst justifications of all time, “That’s how we did it”. But if you want to wear a pants suit made out of your fiance’s skin, I say do it (with their permission plz). If you want to wear a T Rex suit (like this legend below), you damn well should. If you want to wear tie dye, don’t OK, because it sucks and no one likes a hippy.
If you are really keen on having a wedding that is different, think about hiring an event designer and stylist. Event designers and stylists will meet with you to hear what you want your wedding to feel like, about you as a couple, your venue, and so forth. They'll bring all your ideas and likes together, take it up a notch into a cohesive and rad concept and design, that they'll bring to life on your wedding day, making your wedding totally about you guys! It’s something more and more couples are investing in.
How much is this wedding REALLLLLLY going to cost us?
How long is your piece of string? Because heaps of wedding vendors love accepting string as legal tender, so you should be just fine.
People spend anything from a few hundred bucks to millions on weddings - and my guess is, yours will fall somewhere in between (genius advice, I know). There are heaps of budgeting tools out there and these are a good place to start because they break out the standard things you may want to spend money on, such as food, drinks, wedding dress, photographer, celebrant and so on and so forth and so on and so forth and etc and more, more, more (hint: see previous post about keeping it simple).
I’m a practical person so my opinion is that you choose a budget that you can afford, because there is nothing romantic about unsecured debt. Then choose a passage of time for your engagement that allows you to both organise and fund the wedding.
Some clear and upfront discussions with parents are a good idea if you are hoping for or expecting cash contributions from the good people that gave you life. It might feel a bit awkward but it’s best to talk about the dosh now, than to hope it will materialise later, only to spend that money and never receive it. Only to bring it up on Boxing Day four years later after you've drunk too Riccadonna, causing your mum to sob because 'Christmas is ruined and I wish I never had children'.
People are really good at picking arbitrary numbers out of their backsides, and saying ‘that’s how much our wedding will cost’. That figure is probably more like what you are willing to spend, not what it will cost - and those two things are very different. So, clock the numbers that you can afford, are willing to spend and that includes any likely contributions from family. Then break it up into each of the categories to form a budget.
Remember those priorities we talked about in last week's post? Go back over them. What’s important to you - and thus what are you willing to spend on and what things are you willing to forgo. If flowers are your jam, then set aside good dollars for a rad florist. If couture is your currency, then you’re not going to be happy with an ASOS wedding dress (though they do have some rad stuff, FYI) so pop the requisite amount in the dress line item to get you that Valentino.
Add a contingency - weddings do tend to add up so if you pop in a contingency of 10 - 20% for things you didn’t think to budget for, when it comes to paying out lots of spondoolies towards the end, you will have some room to move and won’t feel like you are haemorrhaging money, which is a crap feeling that takes away from the enjoyment in the lead up and can sometimes cause you to shout NO YOU CALM DOWN to the fiancé or John from HR.
Need more engagement related sanity?
- Read last week's post on remaining sane, avoiding stress, the best rings for chubby sausage fingers and the hunt for the perfect dress
- Listen to the Bridechilla podcast - it is super funny and sensible and acts faster on anxiety than a valium and a glass of vodka
- Tune in for part three next week - how not to kill your family, is it possible to wear undies with wedding dresses and help, my bridesmaid is being a dick! If you have questions that you'd like answered, email them to firstname.lastname@example.org .