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How to plan a wedding the stress-free way
Several years ago, my (now) husband surprised me with an engagement ring. After the initial excitement, the reality of it all started to sink in - now we had to plan the wedding! After seeing many of our friends and family get married over the years, we knew that getting married could be very stressful. We wanted to make sure we got to enjoy our own wedding so we decided to take some steps to try to minimize our stress levels - with great success I might add!
A wedding is a memorable event, and minimizing the stress involved with it may help you to enjoy it more. It's important to realize that the stress is not limited to the months before the wedding, but also to the wedding day itself. Not to worry, if you follow some of these tips then you'll be on your way to a stress-free wedding!
1. Make a budget.
Do a little research beforehand and set a realistic budget for your wedding that includes at least a 5% contingency fund, then stick to it. The contingency fund is for unforeseen events, not for spending more than your budget allows on individual items. You don't want money worries adding to the stress leading up to your wedding, so even if you do nothing else to minimize your stress levels, I recommend that you do this.
Getting financial assistance from family members can sometimes be a good idea, especially if you can't afford the wedding you want. However, make sure that it's clear from the beginning that you're still in charge, regardless of where the money comes from. In my opinion, it's probably better to have a wedding you can afford to pay for yourself if you think this will become an issue.
Some ideas on where to start on your wedding budget:
- Easy Budget Wedding Worksheet - Printable Wedding Budget Planner
Use this handy wedding budget worksheet to plan out what you'll need to pay for, and how much you should plan to spend on each thing.
- Wedding Budget Worksheet - Real Simple Wedding Guide
2. Create a timeline
Whether you're having a small or large wedding, either abroad or locally, you should have an idea of what timeline you need to follow. There are many wedding planning tools on the Internet, but these make it seem like there are a million things to do, but it doesn't need to be that way.
Here are the most important things and when they need to be done for a relatively simple wedding:
- Set the date! Some people seem to forget this part, but it's quite essential.
- 12 months before: Book your ceremony and reception venue(s) and officiant (if necessary). This is the most important thing, so you can relax after this is done.
- 6-9 months before: Book your other vendors (caterer, florist, photographer, baker, DJ, etc.).
- 6 months before: Order the bride's and bridesmaids' dresses. Book your honeymoon.
- 3-6 months before: Send out your invitations. Arrange dress fittings and reserve tuxedo rentals if needed.
- 3 months before: Order your wedding rings. Start confirming final arrangements with your vendors and schedule any trials necessary (eg. hair and makeup, food, etc).
- 1 month before: Write your speeches and make your table plan. Apply for a marriage license if needed.
- On the day itself: Someone needs to make sure everything is set up ready for the big event. It's preferable that this person isn't you, because no matter how calm and collected you think you will be, you'll probably have quite a few butterflies to contend with that day!
3. Remember that it's YOUR wedding
Family members and even friends often want to have a say in your special day, especially if they're holding the purse strings. Try to remind them that you and your partner are the ones getting married. This may be difficult if you have a very involved/pushy family and friends, so be firm with them.
Another option is to give them a task to do to get them out of your hair. Some people will be much more satisfied if they can control at least some small part of your wedding, so choose something you don't mind letting go of.
4. Forget tradition
There are many traditions associated with weddings, and most of us don't know where many of them came from. The wedding industry is built on incorporating more and more expensive and time consuming elements into your wedding, but you don't have to buy into it. Sticking with traditions that are important to you will make your wedding more meaningful, while keeping it as stress-free as possible. Really consider what traditions you want to keep, especially when it comes to extra things that have to get done on the wedding day.
If you're more of a risk-taker, you could go even further with this: Do you want to elope? Do it. Why not get married in your parents' backyard or have a destination wedding? How about holding it over 3 days, like my husband and I did? The sky's the limit - just make sure that you have the wedding you want.
Here are some of the elements I cut out at my wedding:
- The cake - We had a nice dessert served with the meal, so there was no big fancy cake.
- The buffet after the main meal - Many weddings these days serve 2 meals for their guests. Start your wedding a little later and this won't be an issue.
- The favours - Who needs a bunch of sugared almonds?
- The huge wedding party - One maid of honour, one best man. Done.
- Throwing the bouquet, and the whole garter thing - Totally pointless, in my opinion. Don't single out your single friends.
5. Keep it small
This is often the tricky part for many people but I think it's a key element, especially if you have a small budget. Although you may not have to plan that much more for the extra guests, it will be more expensive, you'll have more invitations and thank you cards to send out AND you'll have to spend time talking to them during the event.
Cut that guest list down as much as you possibly can (and by no means should you allow your parents to get their hands on it). Having a destination wedding is one way to cut back on the guest list without offending anyone. Even holding your reception an hour out of town may deter some guests.
Some related articles you may want to check out:
- Wedding Planning: Creative Ways to Include Friends and Family by JulietduPreez
There are ways to include your loved ones in your wedding apart from the bridal party.
- Tips for Planning a Long Distance Wedding by Veronica
Long distance weddings can be tricky. Here's some tips that will help it go smoothly...
6. Don't reinvent the wheel
Benefit from others' experience. Ask for recommendations for vendors from people you know who recently got married or threw a big party. You should still meet with recommended vendors and get quotes from them, but if you like them and the price is right, then this can save you a lot of hassle.
Ask your married friends and family about their weddings to get some ideas on things you want to include in your special day and things you could improve upon. For our wedding we copied the best parts of some other weddings we had been to, and it worked out really well.
7. Look out for number one
Many people spend a lot of time before and during their wedding worrying about how/what everyone else is doing. You have enough to think about without worrying about everyone else. Just look after yourselves, and everything will be fine. Accept that your wedding won't be perfect, and stressing out over it won't help. You are in control of your own happiness.
8. Accept help
I know that I mentioned earlier that you shouldn't allow others to take over your wedding, but accepting help is a different matter altogether. It goes without saying that both the bride and groom should be involved in the wedding planning, but you may still need some help at some point in the process. Your family and your close friends will all be happy to help out with all kinds of errands and tasks if you ask them. It is essential to recruit someone else to help out with the final details on the wedding day itself, because you both will have a lot going on and won't have time to organise everything yourself. If you want a lot of help, then you may even want to consider hiring a wedding planner/coordinator.
Stress-Free Wedding Tips (recap)
- Make a budget.
- Make a timeline.
- Remember it's YOUR wedding.
- Forget tradition.
- Keep it small.
- Don't reinvent the wheel.
- Look out for number one.
- Accept help.
How to plan a wedding the stress-free way
Weddings have become more and more complicated over the years. Just remember that yours doesn't have to be that way if that's not what you want. A wedding is about two people who are in love making a commitment to each other, often with the added bonus of being the biggest party they'll ever throw for their friends and family. If you focus on this, keep it simple and relax, then your wedding should go off without a hitch! Good luck.