I've noticed in planning my wedding that people are questioning my decisions a lot more than they usually do. People, especially families, don't tend to question other life decisions as much as they do weddings.
They're fine with telling brides and grooms that they need to serve the generic "chicken in beige sauce" as part of their reception dinner, but they won't see you out grocery shopping and say, "Oh, I think you should really buy eggplant this week. This just seems like an eggplant kind of week for you." They're fine with saying that you need to have your bridal hairstyle be an updo (and done by a professional), but they would think that saying, "Sweetie, I love you, but I think you would look so much better if you dyed your hair a bold purple and added lime green highlights" is rude.
The majority of families don't even question your choice of partner as much as they question whether or not you're going to have matching napkins, chair covers, and tablecloths. They don't tell you what job you should be doing. They don't tell you how to decorate your apartment or house. For the most part, they see you as a competent adult. But when it comes to weddings, all brides and grooms are clearly seven-year-old children who can't possibly make decisions for themselves, and when they do something different, it can't be because of a meaningful choice they made — it's such a silly idea, and they'll regret not having a photographer/doing a bouquet toss/wearing white/having a formal meal, etc.
With that in mind, one of my bridesmaids (who was married last October) has given me five rules for wedding planning that are incredibly sensible. Here they are:
Stop talking about your wedding.
No. Seriously. Stop talking about your wedding.
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Shut the f*%k up about your wedding.
Find your team of yes-men. These are the people to whom you can say, "I want to get married while skydiving and have a tea-and-cake reception inside an Easter Island head," and they will reply, "That is SO you! I love it!" If they have a safety or budget-based concern, they will mention it, but otherwise, they just tell you how wonderful your ideas are. Your team of yes-men does not have to include your parents, and it does not have to include your bridesfolks.
Make your yes-men sign confidentiality agreements. Or, barring that, make sure they don't regularly talk to the drama mamas in your family and circle of friends.
This has saved me from feeling like I have to justify anything to anybody. Having most people not know the details is taking a load of stress away from me. Unless they absolutely HAVE TO know, I have no problem not telling.
My bridesmaid says that the criticism does usually come from a place of love. People love you and want you to have a beautiful wedding day. The problem is that their idea of beautiful is absolutely nothing like your idea of beautiful, and they fail to recognize that. On occasion, it is jealousy or someone being malicious, but, on the whole, when Great Aunt Gertie gasps and gives you a three hour lecture on the virtues of matching napkins to your manicure, she just wants your wedding to be beautiful for you.
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Besides the obvious "ah-ha!" moment of "OMG I'm SO glad I found Offbeat Bride," I wanted to share the top-five realizations I've had while planning this thing. These tidbits may not be for everyone, but if my best friend was getting married, this is what I'd tell her:
1. Get officially married before the big day
We got hitched in our living room by our friend who got ordained online. It was for insurance purposes; I wanted it to be unemotional, so we could save our feelings for the "real" day. But it was intimate and beautiful. We cried. And NO ONE knows except me, hubby, officiant, and now you guys. For all intents and purposes, our ceremony will still be our wedding — but I'll be able to walk down the aisle a little easier knowing that the sexy guy at the end of the aisle is already my secret husband.
2. Go with a short engagement
Having dealt with (only) six months of the planning stress, I can't imagine having ANOTHER six months or more of sleepless nights, fretting over Save the Dates, invites, colors, photos, details, etc. Sure, we've worked with a truncated timeline, but it means we have to work efficiently. Who doesn't work better with a little fire beneath them?
3. Consider just one attendant, or none at all
Instead, reach out to friends to fill special roles. We didn't want to play "favorites" with friends. In the end, we each chose one long-term friend from highschool to stand with us. Instead of asking my girlfriends to spend money on a bridesmaid dress, I asked them if their gift could simply be to showcase their talents. From baking the wedding cake and decorating the park bridge, to arranging our flowers and DJ-ing our tunes, our friends will make our day special not by standing with us in awkward group photos but by highlighting their awesome talents.
4. Create to-do lists on Google docs
For awhile, I was keeping a running list of to-do items as a draft message in my email. My honey suggested we create a Google doc out of it, and voila! We share just one list with eachother (instead of me emailing myself different drafts). We add tasks to our living document as we think of them. You can have the Google doc open at the same time, editing things as needed. And there's that ever-satisfying "strikethrough" text feature to cross off finished items. Almost as good as a hand-written list.
5. Sometimes you just need to step back and not give a shit
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A few weeks into the process, when we were getting overwhelmed, we took a night away at a cheap farmhouse bed and breakfast. Left our laptops at home, turned off our cell phones, and stared into eachother's eyes to the tune of the thunderstorm. Its easy to get swept up in the bustle of planning. But this unplugged getaway helped us remember why we were wasting time picking out old table cloths to cut into napkins or scouring craigslist for reusable wares. In short: be the honeybadger. Honeybadger don't give a shit. (Click on it. You won't regret it.)