I was reminded the other day (thanks to a great thread in the comments of Ask Amy March) that almost everyone who has a wedding ends up with a story of the thing that they anxiously obsessed over, and once the wedding was over, didn’t give that thing a second thought. (Except maybe, “Why did I do that to myself?”) On the flip side, a lot of us also have stories of the things that actually did matter—and of being glad, long after the dust settled, that we fought for them. When I threw my very, very, DIY wedding, a lot of things (that I actually wanted—like a veil and flowers) magically came together at the last minute, and a lot of things (that I didn’t really care about, like a photo booth) fell apart. But the two things that stick out to me are invitations and chairs.
You probably think you know where I’m going with this, but you’re likely wrong. Invitations were the big project that we undertook during the five-months-out planning lull. The major stuff was sorted, it seemed too early to start filling up our house with boxes of decor, and hey, we obviously needed invitations anyway. My husband is a professional designer, and I’m me, so I decided we had to DIY something unlike any invitations I’d ever seen before. (J/K, I probably saw something similar on Tumblr.) Cue dozens of hours of fighting (the phrase “backseat art director” was used generously, and I’m sure whatever I responded with was unfit for printing here), sourcing charms on Etsy, and even worse, hand-sewing everything all together. Sure, people thought the result was cute, but if I had to do it again? I’d have given my husband free rein to design a perfectly normal flat card and would have done something else with those hours of my life.
Chairs, on the other hand? Chairs were important to me. At the time, this shamed me to my core. It felt like every other day someone was saying that “no one cares about chairs” here on APW. And I mean, if you don’t care about chairs, then no one else should. (A subtlety that my anxious wedding planning brain didn’t understand.) In hindsight, though, as someone who spent close to a decade working in production and interior design, I can understand exactly why chairs mattered to me. Duh. My eyes would’ve always zeroed in on our venue’s default 1980s brown metal chairs in the photos and it would have driven me crazy. Even now, I wish I had just splurged the extra $500 on the Chiavari chairs I really wanted, but I know that our budget didn’t allow that. The nice white wooden folding ones were… nice, and, more importantly, not brown metal chairs that would’ve haunted me for the rest of my life.
And to prove I’m not alone in my wedding neuroses, I asked the rest of the APW team for their priority hits and misses:
I spent a huge amount of time worrying about what I was going to wear to our wedding. Ten years ago, wedding dresses were not as good as they are now. Everything—and I mean everything—was a strapless puffy cupcake dress. What I wore felt really important to me, but I had very little money to spend on it. My sister and I tried to make a dress, but six weeks before the wedding, I realized it didn’t fit or look flattering. And by some magic of the universe, I stumbled upon a $250 tea-length vintage wedding dress that fit me like a glove and looked perfect. As it turns out, all that obsessing was worth it. When the doors opened and I walked out, there was a collective gasp, since my dress looked like nothing on the market at the time. Impressing people was nice, but feeling like myself all day turned out to be vitally important. After two kids, my ribcage will never fit in that dress again, but I don’t care. On one really important day, it made me feel like my truest self. —Meg
Planning a wedding fresh out of college was more or less my first exercise in having control over anything in my life, so I cared about a LOT of things that I really shouldn’t have. Did I also obsess over DIY wedding invitations, hunching over a (now defunct) Japanese screen-printing system, even though I gave zero f*cks about paper at the time? Yes, yes I did. Did I have five different versions of what my bridesmaids should wear before I gave up and chose “rainbow” as our colors? Yup. But nothing plagued my brain quite like the table decor at our wedding. We were getting married on the beach, and New England is basically ground zero for kitschy ocean decor. (If I never see another Adirondack chair in my life, I can die happy.) So, I fought hard for something that looked like the California-cool weddings of my favorite blogs, and I laser-focused on tiny details like napkin holders and table runners.
Ever a procrastinator, I found myself with most of our DIY table decor still not finished two days before our wedding, and I ended up having a crying meltdown over our bamboo table runners not being the right color. (I wanted to spray-paint them turquoise. My mother didn’t want our wedding tables to smell like two-day-old spray paint. She won. Don’t tell her I told you this, but her version looked better anyway.) In hindsight, barely anyone even sat at their table, so my stress was wasted. If I had to do it all over again, I would have put way less effort into small details and a lot more into my outfit and our ceremony backdrop. —Maddie
Much like the writer in that recent post, I worried a lot about our guest list. We ended up with 160 guests, and our venue really didn’t seem to have much room for more than that. So I fussed about plus ones and kids and was just generally annoyed that people didn’t follow the rules and boundaries we had set around guest count. In retrospect, I understand why those boundaries were important, but also? There was room for everyone. It was fine. And if I could do it over again, I would have invited more people, not fewer. —Dana
AND WITH THAT—WHAT ABOUT YOU? ANYTHING YOU WISH YOU DIDN’T STRESS OVER? ANYTHING you’re glad you did?