Approximately five seconds after a couple becomes engaged, the questions start rolling in: “Is your dad going to give you away?” “Will you be doing a garter toss?” “Will there be a dollar dance?” It can all get a little overwhelming, especially if friends and family members insist that you “have to” do things a certain way “because it’s tradition.” The wedding should be about the life you and your fiance plan to build together, not the life your friends and families imagine for you. Wedding planning is rarely easy, but making some hard decisions now means you’re much more likely to have a great wedding day.
Think About What You Value
When you think of your wedding day, what do you most want to accomplish, aside from being legally joined in holy matrimony? Different couples value different things. Some people will want a simple wedding in the park, while others will prefer a gigantic event in a hotel ballroom. Some couples want to invite everyone they’ve ever met, while others would prefer to stick with a dozen of their closest friends and family. Some people have a specific theme, while others decide that no theme is needed aside from “Two People Getting Married.” It’s a good idea to sit down with your fiance and each write down three or four things that you consider essential to a great wedding. Maybe your top priority is an elegant venue, while your partner really wants a live band. Talking about these things from the get-go will help you avoid disputes later on in the planning process.
It’s also a good idea to talk about things you really, really want to avoid. If the bride thinks the bouquet toss would just embarrass her friends, then by all means, skip it. If the groom doesn’t want to invite that cousin who shows up to every single event, including funerals, drunker than a skunk, you want to make sure he doesn’t accidentally get sent an invitation.
The first dance is a source of stress for many couples. If you or your partner is nervous about the idea of dancing in public, consider taking a few dancing classes. Of course, there’s no rule that says you have to have the first dance, but don’t let a minor case of stage fright get in the way of what could be a wonderful moment for you and your spouse.
Marriage has changed and evolved with time; it’s only natural that wedding traditions will as well. Take the father of the bride leading his daughter down the aisle and giving her away. A long time ago, brides were given away in exchange for a dowry, and it was basically like transferring ownership of a woman from her dad to her husband. Nowadays, plenty of women feel free to reject that tradition as sexist, while others decide they want their father to walk them down the aisle simply as a show of support. Some women walk down the aisle with their mother or sister, while others walk down the aisle on their own. As long as you get to the altar, you’re good.
Things can get trickier when there’s a specific antique or item that an older relative always wanted to pass down to you. After all, you need “something old,” right? It can be really painful trying to tell Grandma that you love her dearly, but her wedding dress just isn’t something you could ever imagine picking out on your own. The best option, in that case, might be using the item for something else. For instance, maybe a seamstress can take fabric from Grandma’s dress and turn it into a veil. There’s a way to remain true to yourself while also honoring your most beloved family members.
But Who’s Paying For It?
It’s not pleasant to think about, but it’s much easier to stand up for yourself if you and your beloved are paying for the wedding yourselves. Rightly or wrongly, money often comes with conditions. It’s great if your mom and dad want to help you pay for the food, but it’s less great if they insist you don’t serve alcohol. In the most extreme cases, people who give you money will just assume that they have the right to plan the entire wedding. In that case, it’s time to step back and talk about things with your fiance. It’s probably better to have a smaller wedding that feels like yours rather than a massive gala that your mom wishes she could have had thirty years ago.
The most important thing you can do when planning your wedding is staying true to yourself. The second most important thing? Stay true to your budget.