By Carrie Lowrance, Crosswalk.com
You just got engaged. Congratulations! After all the excitement dies down, it’s time to start planning your wedding. Not only is this a fun time to decide about your big day, but it can also be very stressful. I’ve been married for almost eleven years, and it feels like we just got married yesterday. I can still remember what all it took to plan our small, intimate wedding. Here are some tips for managing your wedding planning stress.
1. Talk about what kind of wedding you want to have ahead of time.
If you are both positive that marriage is in your future, have some fun and dream. Talk about what kind of wedding you want to have ahead of time. Do you want a traditional or non-traditional wedding? Small or large? Do you want to go somewhere to get married, or do you want to get married in your church? How many attendants do you want? Do you want children to be present or not? This will help you have a general idea of what your wedding will look like once you get engaged. Also, choose the top three things you must have at your wedding so you can budget and plan for those things.
My now husband and I talked it over and decided we wanted a small, Irish-themed wedding.
2. Take wedding trends with a grain of salt.
It’s fun to research and see what trends are going on in the wedding industry. However, just because the popular thing is to have three dresses, a venue dripping with flowers, and a seven-tier cake does not mean it’s right for your special day. Enjoy researching what’s popular but don’t feel you have to keep up with the Joneses of the industry.
3. Set expectations.
Take some time to set expectations for those who will be involved in your special day. Throughout the planning process, let them know what you expect of them (within reason). Also, let parents and in-laws know you appreciate their input, but don’t let them dictate what your special day should be.
4. Set a budget.
This is crucially important, especially if you are paying for the wedding yourselves. According to CNN Business, the average wedding costs around $29,000. Depending on your city, that number can be $35,000 and up. Regardless, that is a chunk of change.
If you are paying for your wedding, sit down and discuss what a realistic budget is for your wedding. If you have a smaller budget, that doesn’t mean that your wedding can’t be fantastic. If someone else is paying for your wedding, sit down with them and discuss a realistic number. This way, everyone will be on the same page, and no one will overspend.
5. Stick to the budget.
This is the most important thing to keep stress at bay. Sticking to the budget is essential. You can buy a wedding planning book to track expenses or set up a spreadsheet, whatever works easiest for you. You can even go on the wedding website The Knot and use their wedding planning software as well. Whichever method you use, make sure you track those numbers on a weekly, if not daily, basis.
6. Decide if you want kids or no kids.
Kids are funny and bring joy to many events. However, depending on what kind of wedding you have, you may or may not want children there. Make this decision early and let your guests know ahead of time so that they can plan. If you’re having a simple afternoon wedding, it may be fine for people to bring their children compared to an evening black-tie event.
7. Don’t go into debt.
This comes right after sticking to the budget. Do not let your desires or someone else’s opinion cause you to go into debt for your wedding. Of course, you should have the wedding that you want, but starting off a marriage with a mountain of debt is not a good idea. It will only cause strain on a freshly minted union. The Bible also warns against people going into debt. Proverbs 22:7 says, “Just as the rich rule the poor, so the borrower is servant to the lender.” (NLT)
8. Research the people that you work with.
This is also very, very important. Do your due diligence and research venues, caterers, cake decorators/bakeries, etc., before you put the deposit down. Read reviews and ask around for recommendations. Before signing a contract for anything, make sure you are crystal clear about what you want and what you expect and that the person or venue is clear about what they will provide.
Unfortunately, we did not do our due diligence, which resulted in the hor d’oeurvres at our reception being served on paper plates and a wedding cake that wasn’t finished in the back. The server at our reception wound up hacking our cake to pieces because she didn’t know how to cut it.
9. Look for helpful resources.
There are plenty of resources to help you on the path to your wedding. Everything from planners to books on how to budget for a wedding and wedding ideas to wedding websites and software.
One of my favorite books is Bridal Bargains: Secrets To Planning A Fantastic Wedding On A Realistic Budget by Denise and Alan Fields. Even though the most recent edition was published in 2013, it still has lots of ideas for a frugal but fantastic wedding. It may even be helpful for those with a higher budget to plan a tremendous wedding under budget.
10. Plan “you” time.
In the whirlwind of wedding planning, ensure you and your fiance carve out some “you” time. Get a massage, do your nails, or have a night out with the girls. He can work on a favorite hobby, get a massage, and spend time with his friends. Also, make sure you plan “date nights” where you do something fun and talk about the wedding is off limits. This way, you will relax and enjoy yourselves.
Planning a wedding is difficult. There are decisions to be made, finances to stay on top of, and tons of people to keep in contact with. There will be issues that come up and snafus along the way. Take a deep breath and remember that God is with you every step of this process.
Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Don’t worry about anything, instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”
Wedding planning is stressful. Take a deep breath, try not to stress, and remember that God is with you in the planning stages, on your wedding day, and through your life in marital bliss. When you meet your spouse at the altar on your wedding day, it will all be worth it.