I’ve officially been married over two weeks! I’m no expert at wedding planning, but here are four takeaways from my wedding planning experience:

IT’S YOUR DAY

It really is your day. It truly is. People won’t always agree with your vision for your wedding. They’ll say your ideas are too extra or they’ll say you’re not doing enough. They’ll focus on what’s traditional or insist you be more modern. But your vision for your day is right. All of my invitations were sent digitally even though I am a huge fan of all things paper. I love a well-designed paper invitation and even had a few saved on my Pinterest board, but it just wasn’t in the budget so I made the choice to go digital. Were all my family members pleased about this? No. Was I uncomfortable knowing they weren’t pleased? Yes. Did I do it anyway? Yes, and I’m glad I did. If what you’re doing isn’t costing anyone but you and your partner, everyone else will get over it. Even if someone offers to pay for what they want you to have, it’s okay to decline or ask that the money be used in a different area. You want what you want and that’s okay. With all that being said, it’s okay to hear people out, especially those close to you. Most of the time you’ll probably still stick by your decision, but sometimes other people have really good ideas. (I can’t think of any ideas I used from other people because I’m stubborn, but I did listen though lol. Be better than me.)

GET PREMARITAL COUNSELING

Premarital counseling was a non-negotiable for me. Perhaps it’s my therapy background or my church background or the multiple articles I’ve read about relationships, but I knew it was going to take more than prayer to have the kind of marriage I wanted, and I thought that’s what counseling with an officiant would be like. We counseled with a licensed counselor and our officiant because I’m extra, but to my surprise, I feel like I got more out of counseling with our officiant than I did the trained professional we went with. Both were great though. Premarital counseling should make you ask questions about yourself and your relationship. It should lead to further conversations and discoveries between you and your partner. All those conversations and discoveries weren’t pleasant, but they were necessary. During one of our sessions with our licensed counselor, she helped me connect how my lack of speaking up for myself was connected to my inflexibility when it comes to change. This led to Desmond and I having a conversation after the session about how this shows up in our relationship and the impact it has had and will have in the future; a very uncomfortable and challenging conversation but also thought provoking and insightful. No matter how long you’ve been dating or how solid of a relationship you think you have, I highly recommend counseling. (And, as a sidenote, professional counseling can be very expensive, like over $100 per session expensive and insurance typically won’t cover it. We were able to find someone more reasonably priced, but if you can’t afford it, definitely take advantage of counseling from your officiant)

CHOOSE YOUR BRIDAL PARTY WISELY

I’ve had my bridal party planned for years. It’s always consisted of people I was close to and thankfully those people were also reliable and dependable. You can do everything for your wedding by yourself, but there’s a high chance you’ll be miserable. A great bridal party will make planning easier. Whether that’s picking things up for you, talking through logistics, venting about things not going how you planned, researching venues, or just being supportive, make sure people in your bridal party have your back (and their coins together). My younger sister was my maid of honor and she picked up things for me, had tough conversations with family members, and she let me have my day without being too judgmental of my choices (a good sister has opinions). You know your friends/family so don’t place expectations on people when you know they’re not going to meet them; it’s just not in their character. If you know your friend is always crying broke, don’t be mad when she says she can’t make the bachelorette party. People will have the best intentions and still not be able to show up for you the way they want to or how you want them to, and your wedding day and life will go on. I’ve heard from several other brides that you will lose a friendship while planning your wedding. I feel blessed and serve as proof that doesn’t have to happen, but part of that was knowing who I chose to be in my bridal party. (And if someone asks you to be in their wedding and your bank account is not in agreement or you know they’ll be asking more of you than you’re willing to do, be a grown-up and choose to come as a guest. You’ll save a friendship and a headache.)

THINGS HAPPEN

Again, things happen. As much as we plan and feel like we have it all under control, things happen. The only thing I had left concerning my big wedding celebration was the walk-thru with the day of coordinator and the planner. I was so proud of myself for having the funds needed to pay for everything, timelines figured out, all the details taken care of. Then… Omicron (read about my devastation here). I sulked for a few days, then Desmond and I started planning again. New venue, new dress, new catering option, new guestlist, new playlist, new ideas for the reception, new invitations, renegotiate with photographer and make-up artist. We did a lot in a little bit of time, but the day was perfect. I was still getting my happily ever after, even if it looked different. Our marriage counselor told us that no matter what happened, keep in mind, this moment we’re planning for is only going to last a few hours and don’t spend days and weeks and months stressing about something that will only take up a few hours of your life when you have the rest of your life to enjoy what this moment represents. I had to remind myself of this advice often. When something goes wrong, it may feel like life as you know it is falling apart but take a deep breath, let that feeling of disappointment wash over you, then move on to plan B (and if you don’t have a plan B, create one or just don’t include it). The day will still be perfect.

Proverbs 16:9 We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps. (NLT)

January 2022