The view from out the other side of a wedding
I got married just over a week ago in Killarney, Ireland. It was, as many people warned me it would be — one of the most incredible few days of my life.
I was a reluctant bride. And Ben and I were really clear with each other that we did not want the year and a half between our engagement and marriage to be defined by planning a wedding. We didn’t want to be the couple who always banging on about a wedding, boring people to tears. At work, I was even accused of not talking *enough* about the wedding, which made me secretly quite pleased. Now that it’s over, and was more fun than I ever imagined it would be — it’s all I want to talk about! I find myself recapping the most mundane details with Ben as we’re drifting off to sleep.
“Ben, isn’t it good that we bought blankets instead of umbrellas for the party as it didn’t rain but was really chilly?” I asked last night as he was drifting to bed… now even boring myself as I re-type that ridiculous reflection.
So in the end, I’ve become the person I was avoiding. And that’s ok. To channel this newfound wedding energy — I’m going to share a few of the things that I learned along the way that others embarking on this process might find useful.
- Don’t lose yourself in the madness. The wedding industry has an amazing way of making even the most level headed of us a bit cray cray. Don’t fall for it. We agreed going into the process about what things we cared about. Good food and music were a priority. We focused energy there, and reduced time and resources elsewhere. We opted for digital save-the-dates & invitations (designed by Ben) and printed the menus and mass booklets locally at a no-frills printer, saving a lot of money. Whatever you decide you care about, just hold your ground and keep perspective.
- There is no template. An amazing thing about the time we’re living in, is that you can really write the script to a wedding in any way you want. We blended traditional with non-traditional elements, we ditched things that didn’t matter to us — like the cutting of the cake ceremony & throwing the bouquet. We also integrated our own twists, like speeches from both the bride and groom (in addition to the father of the bride, maid of honor & best men) — because we felt it was important to hear from both of us (and we also didn’t want just one female voice heard on the day).
A big piece of this was having the vision for what kind of day/event you want and pursuing that. For us it was choosing to have a catholic ceremony in the local cathedral (in keeping with my family tradition), followed by a marquee reception at home (more a reflection of our style & what we like). We were adamant about this, and while it took some convincing to get our families on board — everyone now agrees it was the right thing to do, and are actually pleased that we were stubborn on this point.
- Build a good team. We researched the suppliers and partners we brought on board heavily (the internet is a beautiful thing) — which is especially important in marquee weddings as you end up having to work with loads of them. We then had phone calls and pre-meetings with all of them. We wanted to ensure the people that would be joining us on such a personal, intimate day were bringing good (and mainly chill) energy, compatible to ours. We were very clear in our requests, and over-organized in planning who needed to be where and when, so nobody would be left wondering. Ultimately, you’re paying for a service — and the best way to get what you want, is to be clear about what you’re looking for. In fact, the feedback we had from the caterer, DJ, photographer, make-up & hair artists were how appreciative of our direct approach they were.
- Remember why you’re doing this. We tackled the planning in phases, as there are clear timelines on when certain decisions needed to be made and lulls in between. We limited wedding chat in the lulls and kept each other honest. We went on trips, had dates, were guests at four other weddings in this time — and I look back now and think thank goodness that wasn’t a year of boring wedding chat. It was a year of fun & us getting even closer.
- Be grateful. We were amazed at the things people we love did for us during this time. Planning incredible hen/bachelorette parties, planning destination stag-dos, offering to help, and getting to Ireland early from the US and UK to be useful in anyway possible. Not to mention, our parents’ incredible generosity & hard work in making all the events come together. It’s an overwhelming time, because you feel so loved and looked after. It is inevitable that things won’t go perfectly, and people may let you down in small — or big ways. Just try to remember people are there because they love you and they’re doing their best.
I hope that helps. And for those just starting this process — congratulations & enjoy!