Frequently asked questions
Help! I just got engaged and I don't know what to do first!
First and foremost! Congratulations! This is an extremely exciting time and emotions are high for everyone. Mom can't wait to start planning, Aunt Jaimie wants to make your cake, and your brother is already planning on getting his online license so he can officiate. Your fiancé's family have things that they want to weigh in on too.
Take a step back, breathe and just celebrate. I always tell couples after the proposal, to take a week to just celebrate. Don't plan, don't get caught up in someone else's plans, and don't make a single list until you have had a full week to celebrate. During that week, the only thing you should plan is date night. This will be one night of every week that you put aside for just one another. There is only one rule: NO WEDDING TALK. Trust me on this. The wedding can become all-consuming and lead to tension and arguments that steal the joy from the moment. By taking this break once a week, you will get connection with one another that you will need.
Once you have celebrated and set aside that one day of the week, start by sharing each other's ideas and visions for a perfect day. As a general rule, women tend to have these things thought and planned in their hearts with way more detail than men do. This is why I usually want to hear from the one who hasn't got as much of a plan first. If you have a Monica notebook and you plop that on the table before your fiancé has gotten to share, you will shut him down and he will just get overwhelmed. Marriage is about a ton of tiny little compromises that lead you to big decisions made together. Your wedding will be one of your first trials by fire so be sure to listen more than you speak.
What is the first vendor that I should secure?
Back it up, baby! Just before we get to your vendor list, there are a few things you will want to have decided ahead of time. Don't go to details until you have your "Big Picture".
First and foremost is the type of wedding you want. Do you want a big wedding in a church with pews and a cathedral veil? Or do you want to get married outside in a barn so your father can wear his favorite pair of boots? Are you and your fiance going to want something small and intimate or will you be inviting the entire office and their spouses? Everything moving forward will be based on your vision for your wedding so before you start calling up venues or caterers, settle this issue. Your guest count will be essential. Planning a wedding with 200 guests is very different from 50 guests.
Part of the "big picture" will have to do with the time of year you want to get married. In Kansas City, October weddings book up faster than any other month, so if you are hoping for those warm colors that come with Autumn, plan to get married far enough out to get your dream venue. However, if the season doesn't matter because you have your heart set on an urban industrial loft wedding, then you will have far more flexibiltiy in securing your ideal location.
Once you have an idea of what your "big picture" is and you have a general idea of how many guests you will be inviting, then you will want to start researching venues before any other vendors. You may think that want your best friend's sister's fiance to bring his speakers and play a spotify list, but the venue may have a sound system that they want you to use and they require their own sound technicians to be used. Your venue will be your first priority so don't make anyone promises about using a family friend to make the cake (some venues do not allow outside catering) or letting your future sister in law try her hand at wedding planning (some venues have an on-site coordinator that you have to use).
How do I navigate the family dynamics during the wedding planning process?
This is really, really important. If you would allow a moment to use a totally nerdy science anaolgy, I think I might be able to shed a little light on things.
In 8th grade science we learned about Compounds and Solutions. If you add a rock to a pitcher of water you just get a wet rock. Rocks and water do not instantly change. The rock is still a rock, and the water has merely been displaced a bit. This is a compound. Marriage however, is not a compound. Marriage is a solution. Let that sink in a little. If you add sugar to a pitcher of water both the water and the sugar change to create a brand new creation. The Bible says that "The two shall become one". Two totally different human beings, with different backgrounds and upbringings; different traditions and celebrations, are becoming something totally new. They are becoming a new family.
Now, that isn't always easy on the old family. It is often hard for mothers (especially mothers) to let go of their children and see that they have created a brand new entity in their marriage. The "way it's always been" doesn't mean that it's the way it has to be in your family. You will take the good parts of each of your lives and incorporate those things into your marriage. Hopefully, you will also be able to look back on your own childhood or upbringing and leave behind things that don't work in your new solution.
I used this analogy when I got to officiate my sister's wedding. I knew both families were very different and to help them see my sister and brother in law as a new creation, I merged their last names. She was no longer a Martinez and he was no longer a Norris. Together they would be the Nortinez Family. It actually stuck and they call themselves that from time to time.
Having a firm sense of who the two of you are will really help you navigate these often stormy seas. It can be tough the first few years of your relationship, especially when you are still trying to figure out what family expectations are. It gets tricky again when babies come. Just remember that you and your fiance are the ones who get to decide what your family looks like. Give what you are able to give and refrain when you must. But do those things together as a united front. The family will begin to grow and change with you if they want. Or, they may just be a wet rock.
Is Post-Wedding Depression real?
It really is. You have spent so much time in high planning mode with a very big emotional payout at the end, that coming down from that emotional high can leave you feeling like there is nothing to look forward to. This is another reason that I tell my clients that they need to plan a date night each week that restricts all wedding talk. If you cannot set aside this time for one another without talking about the wedding, you will more than likely be setting yourself up for Post-Wedding Depression.
Another thing that I tell my couples is to plan more than your wedding. Plan your life together. Before my husband and I got married I read a book on marriage. The book talked about infatuation as being hit with the "stupid stick". You know when you see it. That couple in the lovey dovey stages of the relationship where they cannot remember simple things, like hanging with the guys or coffee with their best friend. Stupid stick! Infatuation and young love makes all kinds of grandiose promises, but marriage says, "Now prove it". Marriage is so much bigger than your wedding day, so spend more time planning your marriage in small steps. The wedding is one plan. The honeymoon another. But then, plan your first home, your children, your vaction schedules, home improvement projects. Those may seem like benign every day tasks, but they require planning and thought too. And, they give your more in your life to look forward to than just a party. Sorry, Monica.
Honey, I love you. But if you call our wedding a party one more time, you may not get invited. #monicageller