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Ask Team Practical: The Beginning Stages of Planning

My fiancé and I have recently been trying to plan our upcoming wedding, but my fiancé is not the type to discuss things, so I’m working a lot of this out on my own. I’m not good at brainstorming and organizing my ideas, so I’m kind of (read: really quite) annoyed with him about this. I’ve asked him how best to approach him with the information I gather, but the way that he wants to see the information (in a list-type format from which we can choose and discuss) is not a way that I am comfortable working. At this point, we’re communicating but not jiving on how to discuss wedding ideas. Nonetheless, I’ve tried offering him ideas to mull over and am still getting no real input from him.

Which leads to what happened next: I cracked. I broke. I melted down. I cried and hollered and bitched and moaned and then I did it all again. There was swearing and a nap and a monster headache and the consideration of the bottle of rum in the cupboard (I didn’t do it, for the record).

All of the wedding blogs I’ve read have been no help in trying to figure out what I really want. I’ve lost myself in all of it—all the dresses, cakes, decorations; all the food, invitations, flowers—I am completely lost as to What I Want For Our Wedding or what kind of budget we are looking at. And my fiancé is, clearly, no help since we can’t even agree on how to discuss our wedding planning. And while I know, logically, that those things don’t matter—at the end of the day, I just want to be married to this person—I still want some of these things: flowers, a nice dress, music we love, etc. But I don’t know HOW I want them. I have Pinterest boards coming out my yin-yang with ideas and inspiration and things that I like, but I can’t nail (couldn’t bring myself to use a “pin” joke when referring to Pinterest) anything down.

What do I do? Where do I start with figuring out the wedding that I really want? Do I delete all the Pinterest boards and toss out all the Google Reader feeds of wedding blogs (except APW—you folks keep me sane and give me some perspective)? Do I harass my fiancé until he cracks and finally tells me that he’ll plan the whole thing so that I don’t lose my damn mind? What now? What next?

—A Lost And Confused Karyn

First off, I am going to tell you to STOP PLANNING. This is obviously stressing you out in an unhealthy way, so it might be time to put all this wedding stuff in a box and NOT LOOK AT IT (or blogs, even APW) for a while. Like a week. Or a month. Possibly more. Find your equilibrium and get to a place where wedding planning doesn’t make you contemplate booze. (Not that we’re against the occasional calm-you-down-drink, but you know.)

Your frustration is understandable, but it does not have to result in you doing all the work, or harassing your partner until he does the work to save your sanity. That’s one of the amazing parts of wedding planning—it gives you a chance to work together on a major event, possibly for the first time. Wedding planning can set the stage for the actual marriage, and two big pieces of marriage? Compromise and Teamwork. Like sweet tea and barbeque, they go hand in hand, and in the end, everybody leaves happy. You guys can compromise on how the tasks are divvied, how information is communicated, whether you write a meticulous list or pick from a hat, but the end goal should be teamwork. That means that he needs to get his butt off the couch and maybe call a DJ or give a crap about the flowers, and you need to stop looking at Pinterest boards all by your lonesome. This wedding is for BOTH of you, and his involvement is as much of a requirement as yours. Consider this the beginning of your personal partnership mission statement.

So now, after your wedding hiatus, it’s time to do some prep work. You have the book, yes? Read it. Then go look at the adorable “Newly Engaged” button at the top of the APW home page. That’s not just decoration, darlin’. Then ponder the previous ATP regarding the initial stages of engagement and planning. Read through those, but not as a game-plan, just as general information. This is just like prepping for a test, you have to read the chapter before you truly start to study. Hell, look through the archives and get caught down the rabbit hole of APW-goodness. We’ll wait here. Tell us when you’re back.

Ok! Now! Your first active step after all that lovely reading is to streamline your planning process. To do this, you need to figure out how you plan. When organizing a birthday party or project for work or school, what’s your style? Do you make lists? Collect pretty pictures and let inspiration strike? Follow strict guidelines set by others? Wedding planning does not change your personality, so if you are a list-maker who loves ticking off boxes, Pinterest will just make you feel squirrely. I’m not saying abandon any new ways of planning that may be helpful, but know yourself and how you work. Fighting against your nature because “brides” plan a certain way will do nothing but make you reach for that rum. While you mull that (not the rum, the idea), read this ATP from a kindred soul, and then have a heart-to-heart with your partner about how he plans.

From there it’s a matter of figuring out how you two can plan together. (Hint: this is where you go back to the book and these posts.) His list format seems lovely and methodical, but if you’re not willing to do it, well then he’s just up a crick. It may be tough, but he’s got to work with you on this just as much as you need to work with him. There is an assumption that women just love wedding planning, so they get to handle the details while the partner gets a say in the final product. (And TWO women planning, well that’s just got to be a cakewalk!!!)  To that we say, Horsesh*t. If a vagina comes with superior party planning skills, then some of us need to check our warranty. Make sure that your partner understands that this is as alien to you as it is to him and that you need to work together to get an end-product that you will both love, or at least like a whole lot. And may I suggest that the first thing you both do is figure that budget out? Knowing what you can afford will go a long way in helping make some of these decisions.

After that, if you still need guidance, remember to take each piece one step at a time. Decision fatigue can be crippling, so don’t overwhelm yourself. Look at the big picture and then narrow things down. Remember, there’s always going to be a bit of a disconnect between the wedding you want and the wedding you can and will have. Sometimes that’s sad, sometimes that turns out better than you thought, but you’ll make the best of whatever comes because you’re completely right: “…at the end of the day, I just want to be married to this person.” And you will be. And it will be AWESOME.

*****

Tell us what roadblocks you had in planning, Team Practical! Too many choices? No clue where to start? How did you get your partner to fully share responsibility with you? Discuss!

Photo by Lauren McGlynn Photography.

If you would like to ask Team Practical a question please don’t be shy! You can email Alyssa at: askteampractical [at] apracticalwedding [dot] com or use the submission form here. If you would prefer to not be named, anonymous questions are also accepted. Though we prefer if you make up a totally ridiculous sign-off like conflicted and rageful but deeply in love in Detroit (CARBDILID, duh). However, don’t let thinking up a sign-off stress you out; we’ll love you regardless. You’re already writing in for advice, don’t you have enough to deal with, sweetie?

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