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
Do I have to wear white?
Yeah, now you are going to get a history lesson.
Let's talk about Queen Victoria! When we think of her, we typically equate Victorian era England to high religious morals and a child queen who was sweet and innocent. She had severe temper, in fact, and growing up under the Kensington System that her mother forced her into, made her a little rebellious and I love her for that.
First of all, she really shouldn't have been Queen Victoria at all. Born Alexandrina Victoria, she defied everyone when she chose to be known as Queen Victoria the First. Secondly, she married out of love and not out of obligations. Her cousin, Prince Albert was not the popular choice for her, but she proposed and married her "angel" on February 10, 1840. Finally, at her wedding, she chose to wear white, which was not the tradition of the day. She also insisted that no other woman wear white on her wedding day so she could stand out. Some have said that she wore white as a symbol of her purity, but it was not that at all. Many industries in England were taking hits financially, and lace was one of them. In an effort to patronize and hopefully create a boon for the lace industry, Victoria had her dress designed to show off the Honiton style of lace that she adored.
Why the history lesson, Noelle? Because white was never traditional. It took one fiesty young lady with an iron clad resolve to change the monarchy and set the tone and tradition for years to come. It wasn't as a symbol for virginity or innocence. It was to help out a dying industry and to put a spotlight on something that was important to her. So, don't get bogged down with "traditional" wedding ideas. What is important to you? What do you want to be known for? Set some trends of your own and get people talking!
Which of my vendors do I need to pay upfront?
Honestly, all of them. For wedding vendors who put aside a chunk of time on a specific day in the future, it is important to all of us that you are serious about using our services. Most vendors are going to require a deposit to hold your date. They may call it a retainer fee or even a non-refundable down payment. Whatever they call it, the point is to secure your date so they do not book anyone else. That deposit may not be subject to refund, espcially when you get closer to the wedding and their ability to fill that slot slips away.
That doesn't mean that you need to pay everyone at once or that you cannot get started on your planning. Many of your vendors are going to require sampling from you. For instnace, you may need to plan for 3-5 tastings from caterers and bakeries. They may charge you a small fee for these tastings, but they are worth it. Set up a few of these and spread them out over a month or so. Once you settle on your vendor, you will pay the deposit.
Other vendors require a little research. You do not want to just pick a photographer that fits your budget. You want to study their style and match them with your personality and even your decor style. If you decorated your house in warm and nuetral colors, but choose a bright and vibrant photography style, you may be staring at a portrait that doesn't feel like YOU forever. See my blog https://www.73-productions.com/post/iso-photographer-for-my-wedding for more on this.
Once you know what syle you are looking for, begin to research florists that can add that into their floral arrangements. Bit by bit you can slowly start to pay your vendors. Space out those final payments as well. See how many of your vendors will allow you to pay over time.