The wedding planning journey can definitely be a long one and our very own real bride, Elly Steinmetz-Lewis, put together some advice for future brides! Read her advice below and click here to check out her wedding in our Real Weddings section.
My best advice to a newly engaged bride? Here they are - the big 3:
1. Enjoy yourself.
Getting engaged felt totally overwhelming to me - maybe because of the mountain of doughnuts and the associated news coverage - but I honestly think that it's just that way for every newly engaged bride. It wasn't that I had any doubts about marrying my now-husband, David; it was the inevitable questions that came from everyone right after - literally minutes after - he popped the question.
"When/Where's the big day?"
"What are your wedding colors?"
"What does your dress look like?"
"How will you do your hair?"
"Where are you guys going for the honeymoon?"
My answer to each of these questions at that time? "I don't know." - The three words that the Type A in me loathes the most, and those frustrations quickly became misdirected until they focused solely inward- at myself. I began trying to answer them as quickly as I could - looking to wedding blogs and magazines for guidance, until one day my then-fiancé asked me over dim sum, "Are you having fun planning the wedding?" at which point I burst into tears, admitting that I hated it.
This leads me to my second and third points:
2. Be honest with yourself.
3. Be open with your fiancé throughout the whole process.
The whole reason I was crying over steamed buns wasn't because I hated wedding planning per se, but because I hated the wedding I was planning at that time.
The disastrous event I was planning really stemmed from the perfect storm of wonderful things: David and I met in an acting class, and are not infrequently described as "adventurous" or "free-spirited" - characteristics others ascribed to us, and we internalized. We're also lucky enough to live in one of the most picturesque states in the nation. Add to that the fact that we got engaged at the end of a recession during a time when "shabby chic" was very en vogue, and Pinterest's DIY boards were booming like the 1920's stock market... You can imagine the en plein air, Bohemian mountain wedding catastrophe I was in the process of planning.
The thing is, it really wasn't that bad; in fact, I bet it was the ideal wedding... for someone else.
It wasn't "me." It wasn't what I honestly wanted, it's what I thought I wanted- and there's a big difference.
I had been attributing what others said about David and I, and personalizing our own wedding with a combination of their suggestions and fads rampant in print and digital media at that time. And I think the whole reason I was doing it was because I thought that's what I was "supposed" to do. I somehow mixed up the message that it's OK to want the big day that I truly and authentically desired - just as it's ok for YOU to want the wedding YOU want- with a barrage of nuptial propaganda.
After our little "breakdown into a bamboo steamer blip," David and I went about planning our wedding all over again. We'd already been engaged for about a year, but we scrapped all of our plans and started from scratch.
The first thing I admitted to myself and to him was the fact that I was terribly uncomfortable having the wedding outside of a church. As much as I wanted to be, or even thought I was- that carefree waif from Brides Magazine dancing in a meadow in a light silk sheath dress on her wedding day; in my heart of hearts, I wasn't.
And that is A-OK.
And as it turned out, David did not picture himself suited up in Pinterest-approved lumbersexual-wear for our shared big day either.
It actually kind of floored me when David confessed that he had been feeling the exact same way about our venue location. Perhaps it shouldn't have been such a bombshell; David and I have always been "in sync," but it felt magnificently redeeming to know that we were on the same page on this. The problem only came when I didn't trust my instincts, and withheld the associated anxiety from him.
So, remember - as "Disney-esque" as this sounds, Listen to your heart. *It may have a very soft voice, and wedding stress rings in your ears like a 'roided out supervolcano with a megaphone, so make sure you listen carefully.
And if you start to feel out of control (as I did until dim sum happened) - and keep in mind you might not even realize that's happening - (like me!) it's at those moments that your "someone" transforms into your "person-rock." It's then that you need to:
A) let him/her in on your fears, concerns, anxieties - your thoughts
B) trust that she/he will catch you during your high tide. (Spoiler alert: she/he will! Remember, you two decided to spend the rest of your lives together for a reason.)
Chances are, he or she is feeling the same thing - just from a different angle.
One last tidbit of administrative advice: Prioritize your wedding budget with your future spouse, and don't beat yourself up if you go over it. If you are a couple that is super duper into cake, and that's where you guys want to invest your money - go for it. If you two live for nothing but music, and you NEED a small symphony to play you down the aisle - cool! Heck, you might be the world's most prudent couple and you guys want to skip the whole extravagance thing, and invest in a house instead. Just make sure you guys talk about it in advance, give yourselves a little bit of splurge room, and communicate about it clearly.
For us, we talked about it, knew we would only ever do this once in our lives, and decided to go all out on two things: the photographers, and my dress.
My dress was actually out of our original budget, but the moment I slipped it on, I knew it was perfect. So I called up that now-husband of mine and whimpered, "David, it's perfect and I love it, but it's expensive." To which he replied, "If you love it, get it; we'll figure it out."
And we did. And now we're living happily ever after.