In all the gushing about trends and dresses and color schemes that the wedding mags do, they don’t adequately prepare brides for a very real part of the planning process: stress! Pulling off a wedding is no cake walk: some of the items on your to-do list won’t be quite as fun as choosing the dress. Like, for example, making that damn seating plan or getting frantic e-mails from your mother-in-law at 3 am.
We’re not trying to scare you — just prepare you for the inevitable meltdown(s) you and your groom will have in the coming months. It’s how you handle these moments that will make you a rockstar bride — rather than a bridezilla. Because, let’s face it, there’s nothing worse than that.
The Seating Plan
Making the seating plan is one of the last things you’ll do — and one of the hardest. There are a lot of emotions and expecations at stake with all parties involved — from you and your groom, to both sets of parents, to grandparents and other elderly family members (they want and deserve a good view!). Add family feuds, divorce and estrangement, and things can get messy.
Here’s a tip: don’t take anything personally.
I’m sorry, MIL’s of the world, but it is not always easy to work with you. Mothers often have their own expectations about what their son’s wedding will be like — but so does the bride. There WILL be a lot of passive aggressive behavior, back-handed comments and occassional bitchiness.
The Rehearsal Dinner
Who pays for it and who to invite to the rehearsal dinner will keep you up at night. If you have a big family or bridal party, you’ll feel monetary pressure to either cut the list or go over your budget. If you have extended family members coming from out of town, or a bigger family on either the groom or bride’s side, things can get tricky.
Talk to your fiance (and possibly your in-laws, too) about who they expect to be at the rehearsal dinner. Settle on a guest list before you choose the location, so you don’t pick a restaurant that becomes too expensive per-head when your list expands, or that can’t accommodate add-ons.
The Guest List
Much like the seating plan, getting in-laws to agree on a guest list can be like pulling teeth. It’s incredibly difficult to keep things fair and balanced — everyone involved has their own idea of how many guests they should be allowed to invite. There are also so many etiquette questions that arise — do you have to invite your boss? What about your second cousin? Or that friend you’ve grown apart from since college? Do yourself a favor and order an Emily Post book on the subject, then read our list of the 10 People You Should Never Invite To Your Wedding and have a laugh.
Picking The Venue
This is where you’ll spend the majority of your wedding budget — so it will inevitably be a source of stress for you and whoever’s paying. In addition to the monetary concerns (“Can we afford this?), the venue is a big decision because it will be the backdrop of your reception (and possibly the ceremony). It will be immortalized in your photos forever, and a place that is too small, too cold, too hot, too fancy, too casual, etc., could make for unhappy guests (and an unhappy bride).
Do yourself a favor and give yourself at least a year before the wedding date, so your dream location isn’t booked up and you don’t get gorged with high-season prices. Also, consult a planner or expert on ways to enhance a simple venue with flowers, decor and lighting. You can always transform an affordable (read: cheap) venue into something spectacular with these things.
The Final Days
The most stressful part, for me, was executing all of the projects I had up in the air — like double-sided printing of the escort cards, or tying tiny green ribbons on my programs at the last minute, because my mom decided they needed “a little something.” You know what? She was right and they looked beautiful — but these are the kinds of last-minute, unforeseen things you’ll be dealing with in the final days. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Fighting With Your Groom
Ok, honey, I love you — but you drove me crazy during the wedding. My husband and I bickered so much during the months leading up to the wedding, the whole point of a wedding (ahem, LOVE) was lost. This is natural and totally normal — so anticipate it and be prepared to work through it. Ok, enough of the Dr. Phil now.
Picking The Theme
Okay, we threw this one in because it’s a silent killer. You might think choosing a wedding theme will be the most fun and enjoyable part of planning — but let me tell you honey, it’s not easy to execute that table setting you saw on Style Me Pretty, or that DIY project you saw in Martha Stewart.
If you have high hopes for your wedding decor & theme — you may want to consider hiring a planner, or asking a friend with really good taste to help you pull it together. Matching colors isn’t as easy as you think — there are over 2,100 Pantone colors (and growing!), so that “pink” you love may actually come in 10 different tones.
Here’s what you’ll need to do: book blocks of hotel rooms, distribute this information to guests (tip: as an insert within your formal invitations and on a wedding website are the best ways), and answer guests endless questions (“Can you send me that hotel address again?” “What is the block under?” and “What if I forgot to book?” are among my favorites). The latter can be especially stress-inducing. Tip: enlist a day-of planner or charge a bridesmaid with being in charge of day-of inquiries. You do NOT want to be the point-person for all 150 guests on the morning-of. That time is for relaxing, champagne-drinking and faux-eyelash-applying.
If you or your groom have children, the wedding signifies more than just a pronouncement of your love. For the kids, there are a lot of emotions evolved — will I like my new “dad”? Will I get along with my new siblings? You may be ecstatic to have finally found a life partner — but be prepared