There are 3 days when the attention is all on you – the day you’re born, the day you die and the day you get married. So yes, although you should try to chill out and not stress, this is a big deal and it’s natural to stress. Just don’t take it out on each other, the Bee was a great place to vent for me.
At the early stages of Planning:
Prioritize and Focus: Jointly decide on the Top 3-5 things that are most important to you. (E.g. type and format of food, central location for guests, full sit down dinner, having a DJ or band, having a videographer, religious or non-religious ceremony, amazing flowers, venue with a view, a really great photographer etc.)
Set a Budget: establish your ideal target and your maximum amount you’d go over (because it’s easy to go over.) Do a sanity check – are you spending most of it (or a propotionate amount) on the things you’ve said are priorities?
Towards the end:
Make it personal: people aren’t there for the party and the food, they’re there to celebrate your marriage. So don’t shy away from speeches or writing your own vows, those are the things that make it a wedding instead of a party (NOT the dress or the flowers).
Run most of your speech by your DH… Ideally your speeches complement each other and cover off different areas of your relationship or tell the same story from a different perspective.
…But make some of it a surprise: Save the “I love you because” for the day of. When you get to that portion, speak directly to him.
Delegate…especially if you don’t have a wedding party or a wedding planner/DOC. Pick a few people and brief them on your vision, that way if something goes wrong they can jump in and fix it. Some advice I was given was “By the time the day rolls around you should be a guest at your own wedding.” It’s not entirely feasible but the intention of having a go-to person is right.
Give context and break the ice: You will likely have family members meeting for the first time, friends who you knew in college but who don’t know your current friends etc. Try to introduce them or ask outgoing friends to introduce themselves.
Take 5 minutes, steal away with your DH and soak up all the love: It goes by so fast. If you can make sure the two of you take a look around and just enjoy all the friends and family who have assembled to celebrate with you. And then look at each other…some couples barely get to speak on the day which is a shame.
How this worked for me:
At the early stages of Planning:
Prioritize and Focus: We wanted a venue with a view of NYC since we were having people from 8 different countries, some of whom had never been to the US before. A full sit down dinner and a photographer with a photobooth to capture all of our guests rounded out our requirements. We also had the after party at the hotel where our guests were staying so that guests with kids could still join us.
Set a Budget: We set one and increased it based on our priorities. But we stayed within our limit.
Towards the end:
Make it personal: We wrote our own vows and had a friend officiate.
Run most of your speech by your DH: We heard each others’ before and it was SO cool to hear his take on how we met.
…But make some of it a surprise: Hearing all the reasons he loves me in front of everyone we love was just awesome.
Delegate…especially if you don’t have a wedding party or a wedding planner/DOC. We gave our siblings specific tasks since we didn’t have a wedding planner. But there were a few other things I should have delegated.
Give context and break the ice: We had welcome drinks the night before and a picnic in Central park the day after. This was the only time that our loved ones from around the world would all be together, so we wanted to stretch it out and have them meet. We didn’t make anything ‘mandatory’ but heard many times that people loved having all the opportunities to interact.
I agonized over the seating chart and for a few people who didn’t know anyone, I buddied them up with extroverted friends or people I thought they’d get along with. I made a point of asking friends beforehand to introduce themselves.
Before the ceremony our officiant got New Yorkers to raise their hands, then instructed the out of towners to go say hi to people who raised their hands. People actually did it and met that way which was awesome.
Our speeches and our officiant explained how we met.
We had a lot of people say the vows, speeches and ceremony were awesome. While I like to think that it’s because we’re great writers, I honestly think it’s because we gave context and narration. In the words of one of our friends:
” A wedding is always a great way for us newer friends to get a more complete glimpse into who you are and where you come from!”
Take 5 minutes, steal away with your DH and soak up all the love: We did that. And we also took 3 hours at a spa once all the guests had left.