Few life events are more imagined or idealised than a wedding. In your mind, it will be the most magic, romantic and special day…and in many ways, it will exceed your expectations. However the pressure to make it ‘the most incredible day of your life’ can quickly shapeshift the planning experience into an expectation vortex. And we’re not just talking about the expectations of your mother-in-law or that well meaning friend. We’re talking about your own crazy expectations. The ones you’re projecting on to yourself. Because left unchecked, these have the tendency to take away some of the joy from what should be a really special occasion and experience. Which is a shame. So below, we tackle a few of our favourite fantasy vs. reality myths and misconceptions – to help keep your feet firmly grounded in that lead up to your ‘most amazing day ever!’
Who hasn’t fantasised about their dream ‘will you marry me?’ moment. A story you’ll regale to friends and family and future children, for years to come. Only your fiancé didn’t get the memo so it didn’t go down quite the way you’d imagined? Ask yourself honestly (if you’re feeling any twinges of disappointment) if your feelings are do to with the proposal itself, or if it’s actually just pondering how you’ll answer that inevitable question “so how did he pop the question?” – and secretly wising you had a more epic story to tell. If it’s the latter, all you need to remember is you just got engaged to the love of your life. This is cooler than any movie, because it’s based in actual reality. Your reality.
Planning is basically one big Pinterest board, brought to life
Can’t wait to begin choosing your dress, stationery, dream venue and favors that no one has ever thought of? After all, you know yourself and your taste sooooo well, and this whole planning thing should be pretty breezy and straightforward, not to mention fun and beautiful (because who doesn’t love spending time on Pinterest and looking at pictures of flowers and dresses right?). The thing about planning is that the deeper you dive in, the more options you will unearth (who knew grosgrain ribbons came in that many colours!?). Prepare to be overwhelmed, big time. Because the terms choice paralysis and decision fatigue could have been coined around the wedding planning process. Our hot tip? Don’t overthink things too much or spend months agonising over any one detail. Go instinctually with what you love or things you are repeatedly drawn to. Better yet, enlist the help of a wedding stylist who will make sure all your ‘favourite things’, come together in cohesive fashion.
The great expectations of others
A funny thing happens when you become engaged. Suddenly everyone around you is an expert on planning a wedding, or at the very least, has an opinion on the particulars. An opinion they feel entitled to share. Whether you asked for it or not. Even if they haven’t planned a wedding themselves. The polite thing to do is to smile and patiently listen to all of their ideas and well meaning advice, graciously. Then following that, the only sane thing to do is keep the parts that resonated (with both you and your partner) then discard the rest. This means checking any sense of obligations at the door. Because truly, your wedding cannot possibly be everything to everyone. And the sooner you make peace with the fact that at some point, some people might be disappointed or might have their feelings hurt (because you chose to part ways with a particular tradition or because you’ve opted for a “no children” policy on the day) the happier you will be. Promise.
Choosing the bridal party
This HR aspect of wedding planning can be an emotional minefield and total expectation nightmare to navigate. Or it can be a breeze, depending on how clear cut your ‘best humans’ are. Our best advice is to choose the path that will cause you (personally) the least amount of anguish. Namely, do not cave to the expectation of including your sister in law as part of your posse, if you don’t actually adore her, or want her vibes in close proximity to you on the day. Because this will cause too much anxiety on the day. Similarly, don’t loose sleep over wishing you could just have 1 more bridesmaid because you genuinely adore them, plus you’re worried if you don’t, it will cause anxiety for years to come. In this case, just ask them! This will cause you less anxiety, forever after! Golden rule here, never make an anguish riddled decision based on bridal party numbers. It is perfectly ok to have ‘odd’ numbers of bridesmaids and groomsmen. Choose this inner circle based on their legitimate meaning to you as a human, not on portrait symmetry or bridal table seating plans.
Choosing the bridal party attire
Google ‘choosing bridesmaid dresses’ as a topic and you will open a veritable can of etiquette worms. Movies have been made about bad bridesmaid dresses and the dynamics hilarity (if it wasn’t so cringe worthy) of attempting to group-shop for this item. Our advice on keeping it super clear cut? If the bride is dictating a specific dress, the bride pays for said dresses. Because if we’re being totally honest, there’s no such thing as a universally flattering cut / colour / style. So if your ladies are ‘matching’ at least one of them is wearing something they’d never purchase for themselves. But they should have no issue slipping into it for the day, if they’re not expected to fund it. If however you expect your bridal party to foot the bill for dress, shoes and accessories, then you need to meet them halfway and at least let them choose something they’ll reasonably wear again. Chances are they have different body types and signature styles. A good compromise? Same fabric, different dresses. Or nominate a narrow colour palette and leave the rest to them. Alternatively, embrace non-matching picking a bunch of different dresses but from the same designer / same season. Collection dressing, drawing cues from dreamy backstage pics…with models waiting in the wings, each wearing a different print or colour, but looking SO good photographed together. As a solution it offers a quiet cohesiveness, both aesthetically and emotionally.
Will you know it when you see it? Maybe. Maybe not. You might be too confused to even realise it, after trying on the 50 before it. We recommend taking a trusted friend or family member along with you, to bounce ideas off, because you most likely can’t take photos to help jog your memory later. And you need to get a sense of whether or not your dream dress actually exists on the rack, or if you need to create it. Ultimately, expect to feel like the most beautiful version of your ‘best self’ when wearing it, which is something only you will know. And considering wedding dress silhouettes are the most exaggerated shapes and proportions – in a breathtaking way – compared to anything you’ll wear in everyday life, that feeling of ‘most beautiful self’ should be similarly amplified. Take note of the dresses that elicit this feeling, then narrow them down from there (with a trusted second opinion) until you feel clear excitement for a singular specimen, above all others.
The well intentioned plan of being soooooooo organised and supremely relaxed during that whole planning process, because you’re a laid back, down to earth human and you actually can’t understand what all the fuss is about, when people talk about how stressful it is planning a wedding? Maybe write yourself a little note and stick it somewhere for later on, reminding you of this admirable approach. Because guaranteed, there will be moments of feeling seriously overwhelmed. A sense of nothing going to plan, or not coping with the juggle of everyones expectations and questions. When this happens, take a deep breath. Write a list. Phone a friend. Run a bath. Have a glass of wine. Re-group. Remind yourself that it’s a celebration first and foremost, and that at the end of the day if you emerge married to the love of your life, then it all went perfectly to plan!
Remembering this day for the rest of your life
Parts of it, yes, you will vividly recall forever and ever. Expect other parts to seem like an absolute blur and hazy in the details, even the following day. Then there are the parts you weren’t even privy to in the first place (such as cocktail hour while your wedding portraits were being taken). Thank goodness for wedding photography! Our hot tip for this powerful time machine of memories, for years to come? Find a photographer whose work you connect with emotively. Ultimately, this is the most transportive element that will take you straight back. A sense of not documenting just what was happening, but capturing how you felt, in each moment.