Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Stay sane

A friend of mine has a daughter getting married this fall, and everyone is feeling a little overwhelmed.  I offered her, and her daughter, some of my advice the other day, then it occurred to me that should share it here, too. I've already posted about getting started, but I haven't really discussed keeping the overwhelming  details form drowning you.  Silly me.

The trick to getting through the planning of any event with your sanity is baby steps.

  • DON'T FREAK OUT!  This is the first rule of wedding planning. Panic and tears solve no problems, so set them aside in favor of a can-do attitude.  Take a deep breath, have a drink, meditate, light a candle- whatever you need to do to be calm.  
  • Remember that goal of a wedding is to be the beginning of a wonderful marriage together. It's easy to get tunnel vision and forget this.  When in doubt, do what's best for you and your significant other.
  • Don't neglect important parts of your regular life for wedding planning. Eventually, the wedding is over, and you will need to return to regular life.  Your relationships, family, home and job are still important. Don't forget that.
  • Give up on picture perfect and aim for what makes you happy.
  • Find your vision. This can be a sketch, a photograph, a paragraph, a piece of music, or a list of key words.  These can help the people around you figure out what you need or want when words fail you or if the stress makes it too hard to focus.  Keep these in your planner.
  • Find a way to keep all your ideas and contracts and phone numbers organized. There are many, many printed wedding planners available, but a large envelope, a notebook or journal or even your smart phone might be the best choice for you.  Wedding planning generates lots of information that you may need to refer back to.
  • Ask your professionals for help, advice, or inspiration. Their experience and knowledge can save you tons of time and effort.  Bridal salons tend to know the area's seamstresses, lingerie providers, and shoe stores.. Caterers know venues and DJ services really well. Photographers and videographers often know lots of professionals, plus they can also show you what other people have done that worked out great, or conversely, totally destroyed an event.  DJ's and bands can also help you design the flow of your event, and can be great allies for getting things to run in a timely fashion.  If you are looking for a supplier for anything, these people often have the connections to make it happen in a few phone calls.
  • When things get to be too much, take a break. Trust me, a few hours off will not make or break your wedding.
  • Prioritize what you most want.  For details that don't matter much to you, go a ahead and take the advice of the professionals around you or allow friends and family to help make the decision.  As I wasn't super picky about my wedding flowers, I gave up control of these decisions. I got fabulous floral decorations at my wedding when I gave the florist a list of flowers I loved (and a notes on those that I hated), and let her make something beautiful, new, and perfectly suited to my venue. Better yet, I had fewer meetings and details to worry about.
  • Create a timeline-  the end date will obviously be your wedding day (to start with), but you should also mark other important dates such as:
    • One month away from the event should have final fittings scheduled and suit measurements submitted.
    • Wedding gowns typically need  12 weeks to be delivered, plus that month for alterations. Bridesmaid's dresses typically need 6-8 weeks.  If you need things quicker, be sure to state that up front.
    • Wedding invites should be sent out 6-8 weeks before your date, and save the date cards should go out up to 18 months in advance if you have lots of out of town guests or a destination wedding.
    • Your caterer will give you a date by which the final guest count needs to be in. Take my advice and lie to yourself  by moving it up a few days on the calender.  Any major due date could benefit from this treatment.
    • Any due dates for payments should be highlighted.  Some contracts are void if not paid on time. Don't tempt fate.
    • To preserve your relationships, don't forget to keep reminders of friends' and family members' birthdays, anniversaries and holidays. It gets very easy to forget these when you feel stressed, and a fight is the last thing you need right now.
    • Keep a couple of swatches handy (but in different locations). You might unexpectedly find a great deal on decorations, jewelry, dresses or anything else, and it is handy to be able to match your swatches before you buy to prevent reverse shopping trips.
    • Accept help from the people who offer, even if it's for something small like tying bows on favors.
      • Divide up the labor. You don't have to do everything yourself.  Friends and family, and most importantly, your significant other, can be a huge help in getting every detail taken care of. Many people around you are waiting for you to ask.
      • Don't be afraid to politely pass on the help from those people who are likely to sabotage your plans or become flaky.  These people will stress you out more than they will help.
    • When things get to be too much, take a break. Trust me, a few hours off will not make or break your wedding. Schedule in some relaxation.
    • Ask for contracts in advance so you can read them at your leisure before you sign. This also gives you a chance to write down your questions and contemplate your purchase before you commit to anything.
    • Make back up plans for getting out of town guests to hotels, picking up tuxedos, and other minute details that require an errand runner more than anything.

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