Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Year 25, Wedding Planning Edition: Top 5 Things That Surprised Me

Top 5 Things That Surprised Me About Planning Our Wedding. (So Far.) 

It's a beautiful day here in Happy Valley and I am up to my elbows in planning! There have been some bumps in the road, and I'm not one to "fake it" on Facebook and act like everything is 100% going our way. Because it hasn't been. A month ago, we decided to postpone the wedding altogether. After a rough evening, I was in tears sobbing for my wedding, and my marriage. The next day, Lando and I shared some tense moments pouring our hearts out to each other and coming to the conclusion that we needed to stop planning a party, and start working on our marriage. I emailed the marriage counselor at our church to set up a time to our pre-marital counseling sessions. In the meantime, while I was waiting to hear back from the counselor, Lando and I made a pact to not talk about wedding planning until he had gotten a job offer. It didn't make sense at the time to plan a wedding when we didn't know where he would be at the start of this school year. We stuck to that pact fairly well, and I'm quite proud of myself!! I felt like such a nerd starting counseling early, but I know I won't be 100% happy with one Big Day if the Rest of Our Lives are doomed. (More on that later.) As soon as we set up a time to meet, Lando and I started to ease back into the planning conversations. We took it one small step at a time: reconfirming our wants and absolute must haves and our "wouldn't it be great if...."
Then, one morning I woke up with an idea. A great idea, and everything has fallen into place so far. So, stay tuned. Because it's going to be explosively amazing.

Anyway, I thought I'd share the top 5 things that have surprised me while planning:

#5: How hard it is to plan a wedding. 
For years I've been saying how awesome it would be to become a wedding planner. It's actually one of my dream jobs! So when I got engaged, I set my jaw and said (numerous times) "We don't NEED a wedding planner. I got this, yo." Here we are three months later and we are searching for a wedding planner. To some it seems excessive, and I had that mindset too. But there are a million little things that go into this wedding, that I am sure I haven't thought of. For example: who takes the flowers from the church to the reception venue?? I'm not about to stick them in the back of my parents suburban and have them transported like that over a mountain! Those types of details can be ironed out with the help of a planner.

#4: How hard it is to plan a wedding in State College. 
The person who is 1/2 of our photography team warned me about a week before I got engaged that local vendors would start booking up about a year in advance around here. Then I got engaged, we set an arbitrary date and it hit me that we were already MASSIVELY behind. We trudged through, looking at venues, meeting with people, and making internet searches. When our date changed the first time, I breathed a sigh of relief, because we had just bought ourselves the exact amount of time we needed. Then when that fell into the sinkhole of "Bad Ideas," and we came up with our new date, we somehow found ourselves in the "Holy Cow, This is Less Than A Year Away" category. (Side note: this may have been intentional on my part, and yes, Lando knows it.) So we contacted our three necessary vendors (Photographers, church, and reception venue) and ate a giant slice of humble pie, and asked if our new date was available. And, much to our relief, none of them were booked! Now, this is not to in anyway suggest that you slack on booking vendors in the Centre County Area. We were, future State College brides, my advice is to pick three dates (which is apparently what you're supposed to do anyway....?), do your research on vendors in the area, and then propose the dates to see when they are available.  We almost settled on a second choice vendor, and the moment I hit "send" on that email, I regretted it. Don't regret your venue choices! It will be the third most photographed thing on The Day. Next only to you and your partner, and your family and bridal party. (That statistic is completely made up.)

#3: How expensive invitations are. 
Lando and I decided on invitations about a month after we got engaged. We made some Chinese food, turned on Boy Meets World, and went through the free samples I got from Wedding Paper Divas. WPD is seriously an amazing site. You get free shipping on all orders ALWAYS (the code is at the top of the page), and you can order up to 8 FREE samples. You can customize them (not with names, but with dates and designs), and they send you the invite, RSVP card, details card (lodging, etc...) AND the envelopes that match. I digress, we perused them. Picked out our top one, and did some number crunching. It was going to cost us over $1100 to get these invitations. We said a quick "heck no," to that, and decided to come back to that detail later. A few weeks went by and one of my dear friends asked what we were doing for invitations. I said I wasn't sure, but I knew I didn't want to pay a huge amount for them. He then said "I'll do them. I'm not kidding. I'll design your invitations for you." So now, Josh is designing our Save The Dates and our invites and so far, they are so cool. Josh knows me fairly well, and can tell what I might like, or what I might not like, and always checks with me to make sure I've actually shared his ideas with Lando. (Ha! Whoops. Doing my best to keep this an egalitarian planned activity!) In the long run, Josh is saving us an enormous amount of money, and he might be off the hook for getting us a wedding present...

#2: How much of an adult I am...not.
As 20 somethings, we really struggle with where and how we fit into this world that we're inhabiting. I always felt that the minute some brave guy wanted to wife me, and put a sparkly ring on my finger, my course would be laid out before me. I felt so grown up the morning after The Proposal, when my dad and I were filing my taxes. And then when Lando and I started budgeting and crunching numbers, I felt so grown up, because if you know me, you know I'm a terrible money manager. That's around the time I realized that I had no money to spend on this wedding. And that was right around the time that I decided to put in my two weeks notice at my job, that I didn't like, but was my only source of income. So for the last three months, I've been poor. Like, poorer than I've ever been in my entire life, and the most discouraged I have ever been in my entire life. I'll spare you the gory details, but there were other things happening that made me feel like I wasn't ready for marriage. I've cried a lot, and there have been some intense arguments with various people, but in the end, as a good friend reminded me, no one is ever truly ready for marriage. It's a journey that most of us in our early 20s have never been on, so of course we're not "ready" for it. But we can prepare for it as best we can. Counseling, budgeting, job searching, going on road-trips with your fiance (seriously, go on a 3.5 hour + road-trip with your significant other. If you can handle that, and both of you escape well-fed and alive, you can climb marriage mountains), and lots of reminders to keep things easy. Laugh a lot. Take time away from planning The Day, and plan The Rest of Your Life. We've started our marriage counseling, and it was an amazing, and very eye-opening, 2 hour session. It got pretty intense really fast, and none of us were expecting it. But because of that, Lando and I feel better prepared for our second session. I digress...take time out of the wedding planning to work on your marriage, and your personal lives. Because once all the confetti, sparklers, and your Caribbean tan all fade away, and it's just the two of you standing in the kitchen of your new home...that's when stuff gets real. And if you're not prepared for probably won't be easy.

#1: How much support we have. 
Seriously, we have had an OVERWHELMING amount of support. People have come out of the woodwork to offer tips, and tricks, or simply lunch dates to talk about wedding plans. People I haven't talked to in years have inquired about how things are going. It's amazing to know that even though I might not be invited to share in their festivities, women are so helpful when it comes to wedding planning. I think that's one of the coolest things about being engaged...people who have been there will lend an ear, advice, a bag full of vendor information, anything. And this is not to say that our non-engaged or even single friends haven't been helpful....they've been some of our biggest supporters! Especially the people in our bridal party. So a tip for picking bridesmaids and groomsmen: think of the people you know you can trust. Choose the girls who will come over for a wedding crafting night, and the guys who will take you out for wings when your bride gets a little overbearing. (It will happen. Even the most casual bride has her "must haves" list.) Ask your parents to chip in! I found a great article on TheKnot on how to get the Father of the Bride involved in the planning. I think it's adorable, and dads, or step dads, will jump at the chance to help their little girl have a special day.  Let your day be your day, but don't be so prideful that you refuse help. You'll be up to your ears in mini details that would be easy to sort out if you ask for some assistance!

So those have been some things that I've learned along the far. Advice, additions, and questions, as always are welcome at anytime!

(This is one of the invite samples from Wedding Paper Divas! 
I've cropped out the irrelevant information, but you get the point!)