The Almighty Dollar

Restoring some fiscal sanity in our -- negative savings rate -- lives

3.02.2006

How to plan a wedding and preserve your sanity

To all you bride-to-be bloggers, who are normally sane and happy people but whose dark sides have temporarily taken over, do not be concerned. Most of us already-marrieds will admit that at some point during the wedding planning process, we lost it, too.

Maybe it happened once, or even multiple times. Seriously, it's happened to the best of us. For those embarking on this journey, I have some advice for you: Just assume you will breakdown at least once, so you won't freak out when you do.

Having planned my own wedding (and consoled my friends during theirs), I've picked up a few methods on how to stay cool and still make it to the altar:

1. He proposed, you accepted -- yippee! Now before you do anything, sit down with your fiance and talk.

Discuss what the wedding means to you as a couple and what type of wedding each of you wants. Most importantly, be honest. Dream a little. You will be surprised what at first seems impossible may actually be very possible. My husband and I wanted to keep it small; a big white wedding in a church wasn't for us. We tossed around alternatives, like eloping or wouldn't it be great if we could do it overseas? Our idea of having an Italian wedding began as a wild fantasy, but after doing some research, it gradually became a reality.

2. DO NOT TELL YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS ABOUT YOUR PLANS until you have reached a decision.

This way, you will automatically have the upper hand from the start. It is astounding how many people think they have the right to tell you what kind of wedding you should have. Your best friend, your aunt, your neighbor, the cashier at the gas station -- they will let you know. And even though you may not care for that person's opinion, it will affect you.

My friend got married last year in a huge church ceremony. She and her fiance weren't religious and didn't want a large wedding, but went ahead with it anyway to please her mother. Throughout the process, everyone pushed them around. Because they never decided what they wanted, they were exposed to the mercy of others and got eaten alive.

3. Decide how to fund your wedding.

In an ideal world, you and fiance would have been saving up for this occasion for some time. If not, try your best to fund as much of the wedding yourselves. From experience, I can tell you it is much easier to maintain your ground when the bucks are coming from your wallet. Every time someone felt it necessary to butt in, I would remind them it was our money and our wedding. That usually shut them up fast.

4. Is bigger really better? As quickly as you discovered that you can't please everyone, you also can't invite everyone.

Friends of friends of your parents won't cry if they're not invited. I have a friend who nearly fought with his fiance over who exactly was considered family, since her side was much smaller than his. In the end they just agreed that each would invite 75 people. He followed my advice to pick his battles carefully. Obviously, money will be a factor in this decision as well. Please don't get stressed out because you can't invite all of your college friends and co-workers. Most reasonable people will understand and just be happy for you.

I strongly encourage you and your fiance to make the big decisions early on in the engagement. Otherwise, you will spend every stinkin' day leading up to the wedding stressing about this stuff!!!