I have always envisioned being the most relaxed wedding planner who has ever lived. I don’t care about details, I don’t care where the wedding happens, I don’t care about anything besides throwing a fun party for all of our friends and family, and at the end of the day, ending up married to the love of my life. I also care about staying within our budget of family contributions, because we just bought our dream house and money is tight.
My fiancé wants the same things but, unlike me, he is unwilling to settle for “good enough” or “fine” or “in our budget, so let’s do it.” He wants to get married somewhere beautiful, because we are better than “good enough,” and has accused me (rightfully so), of just wanting to get the planning over with so we don’t have to talk about it anymore. I have accused him of having specific ideas and opinions for the wedding but not being willing to do any planning to see if those ideas are viable (like calling venues for pricing and capacity information). I have accused him of having unrealistic expectations for our wedding, and being uninformed about the actual cost of the ideas that he likes. I send him too many wedding-related emails that he doesn’t respond to, and he has recently told me that the only thing I talk to him about anymore is the f*cking wedding.
I HATE talking about the wedding. I don’t want to talk about the wedding. The wedding stresses me out. I cry about it regularly. So far, we have done nothing but fight about this day that’s supposed to be the jumping off point of our happy, loving, meaningful life together.
We both want a wedding. We love the idea of having all of our family and friends together to witness our love and joy. But, since the first steps (making a guest list, trying to find a venue) have been so hard and so stressful, I’m scared there won’t be any joy left to celebrate at the end of this process.
How can I make this process more relaxed and more joyful? What am I doing wrong? I’ve already said “F it” to all the b.s. that I don’t care about, but I feel like I may have gone too far to the other side and have ceased to care about anything that my fiancé still cares about (and that, in my heart, I care about too)—like a meaningful, beautiful space for our ceremony? We’re on the verge of eloping, but I’m scared we’ll regret that decision later—that it will be a quickie solution and we’ll end up married, but we’ll miss out on the wedding we wanted before we realized that we hate planning.
How do I make wedding planning more fun?
Ah, dammit. I’m sorry, dear Anon. This is where I have to be the bearer of bad news. Sometimes wedding planning isn’t fun. There. I said it. That’s not altogether avoidable. Deciding who not to invite? Not fun. Determining how much cash to spend? Not fun. Mapping out a seating chart? REALLY not fun.
Luckily, beyond a few specifics, you get to pick and choose what other grueling work you do. It sounds like you’ve already decided on a budget—fabulous! Next up, guest list. Then, date (or at least time of year). Once you hammer out those major sticking points, you can really get into the nitty gritty. Or, not, if you choose not to. That’s really the next big decision: what are we going to do? (And, by default, not do?)
There are certain aspects to planning that you don’t need to spend a lot of time or energy worrying about. If you don’t want to bother with flowers, just don’t. If picking out music sounds daunting, plug in an iPod and leave it up to fate. All those pretty DIY wedding blogs con us into believing that making eight hundred tissue paper flowers is all so much fun! Make a party of it with your best friends! In fact, make the tissue paper by hand, too! But the people who write those blogs enjoy it not because it’s inherently fun, but because they’re type-A, DIY type people. They generally like planning and hostessing and spreadsheeting into the wee hours of the morning (I know, because I’m one of them). The fact that you’re not enjoying wedding planning doesn’t mean that you’re broken or you’re doing it wrong; it might just mean it’s not your bag. And that’s okay. If you’d rather not spend hours choosing the exact shade of sunshine yellow for your paper napkins, you don’t really need to. Your wedding will still be fine.
In fact, that’s just one more little sneaky lie we’ve been told—that everything needs to be “personalized” and “meaningful.” Don’t get me wrong—it does! But sometimes that meaning isn’t invested before the wedding. Sometimes it’s a result of the wedding. So, maybe you just pick some random restaurant that makes good food for cheap. Maybe it’s not the place where you had your first kiss or your first date or your proposal. That’s okay. Because from here on out, it’s the restaurant where you got MARRIED. That’s meaningful enough, wouldn’t you say? If part of your wedding planning stress is wrapped up in deciding on what’s most “meaningful,” take a breath and cut yourself some slack. Picking what you like and what fits the budget is work enough. And by default, whatever you both pick will, ta-da, represent you naturally.
So! Your homework assignment! Set a night with your fiancé to hammer out some details. Be clear that it’s a designated time to talk about wedding planning, so there’ll be no more naggy emails that are just ignored anyway. This is the chance to knock it all out so you can move on with life and, you know, enjoy one another. If your guy is still resistant, this is also your chance to be frank with him. He’s been sort of a butthead this far in planning, and you have my permission to tell him so. Well, maybe not in those words. But, you can tell him that 1) this is “our” wedding and requires the attention of us both, 2) this is important to me and I’d like for you to see it as important for that reason alone and lastly, 3) this is stressing me out, and I’d like for you to help relieve that stress, person-who-will-be-my-husband. Teamwork, respecting what one another finds important, and helping to lessen each other’s burdens are all important in marriage, so handling this issue now will set the tone for other things once you’re married (like choosing a cable provider or deciding who to invite to Thanksgiving dinner).
Before you get started, flip through the book and maybe pop over here. You’re not the first to wonder why this planning stuff isn’t more fun, and luckily, you don’t need to go it alone. Then, pick up a bottle of wine and a cute notebook, and have that night of knocking through those main decisions with your fiancé: budget, guest list, and date. Once you’re done that, decide what’s important and what maybe isn’t. If something is important to both of you—like choosing the venue, like you mentioned—divide up the tasks for that one job. “You call this many places, I’ll call this many.” If something is important to one person and not the other, that person can handle the calling and figuring and planning. If something isn’t important to either of you, easy. Drop it. “Do you care about favors? No? Me neither. Cut.”
If you realize you both don’t care to choose any specifics but really want a gorgeous day, an all-inclusive (like a hotel ballroom or historic mansion) or a wedding planner may be worth the cash. Like I said, even if you go this route, there may still be some tasks you need to do, but don’t want to. Your wedding planner can’t decide whether or not you’re inviting cousin Frank. But this, like so much else in marriage, is just a matter of teamwork. I hate dishes but don’t mind cooking, and the reverse goes for my husband. That makes it easy—I cook (or drive-thru Taco Bell), he cleans up after. But for certain jobs—changing poopy diapers, for example—surprisingly, neither of us is super enthused. That’s when we need to both suck it up and be adults and take turns doing the (literal) dirty work. Do the same with your wedding planning. Divide according to interest where possible, but when you get down to the truly icky bits, just bite the bullet and share responsibility.
Then, your next bit of homework. Leave the planning alone for awhile. Maybe you hate wedding planning in general, but it’s also possible that you just hate it right now. Things that we love to do can become almost painful when we feel pressured and stressed about doing them. Take a break, and maybe eventually you’ll get the itch to browse through Pinterest for centerpiece ideas. Once the pressure is off and your relationship isn’t strained, it might just become fun.
Team Practical, how have you managed to make wedding planning fun? Have any tips for involving your partner in knocking out the ickier tasks?
Photo by APW sponsor Jesse Holland Photography
If you would like to ask Team Practical a question please don’t be shy! You can email Liz at: askteampractical [at] apracticalwedding [dot] com. If you would prefer to not be named, anonymous questions are also accepted. Though it really makes our day when you come up with a clever sign-off!