I had a friend that was getting married a few weeks before me say, "Your engagement was magical (this is true....see here), and you look like you're both having so much fun planning the wedding."
OH MY GOSH.
I about fell over because little did she know, in a five month engagement, I had just had three major surgeries including a double knee surgery and two months later, a deviated septum repair (AKA breaking my face so I could breath...leaving me with black eyes for weeks). All three of them left me worse off. I had a follow up septum surgery planned the day after my honeymoon (not convenient) because I only had 50% breathability at the wedding and I had to get three different rounds of painful steroid shots in my knees and then a fourth heavy duty, NFL worthy round, the week of our wedding so that I could walk down the aisle. Did I mention the month long side effects I had to the anesthesia? You don't wanna know.
All that happened on top of my fiancé touring most of the time, dress complications, signing my life away on our house the week of the wedding and packing/moving literally right before the rehearsal. This was all while meeting my soon to be relatives that flew in from Australia. They probably didn't meet my best side.
So, all that to say...we had a bit of a stressful engagement. I would say we maybe even had an extreme case. Ha.
NORMAL BRIDE STRESS.
Besides all that craziness...I still had normal bride stress. The thing is...I didn't have anyone say to me, "You're normal". I thought I was the only bride to feel out of control and stressed at times. So, what happens when that feeling sets in? Shame. What a killer of joy during a once in a lifetime process.
After talking to a few former brides, I realized we ran into similar issues during the engagement and had no warning nor did anyone talk about it afterwards. Shame. I came up with a list of things that we wish we would've been told to avoid the shame or shock that a bride can experience. Not all of them will be true for every bride...but it's here more so for all brides to say "Me too! Thank God!" or for the friends and family of a bride to help them out.
If you have any more things to add to the list...please comment below or email me!
1. I'D RATHER EAT SOAP THAN MAKE ANOTHER INVITE LIST.
Narrowing down the invite list is the worst! There will always be people that you want to invite that you aren't able to invite. Jared and I created a rule of thumb that if they weren't family, they had to know both of us well and be involved in our lives in some shape or form. We set a number of people we could invite according to our budget. I wish I had an endless budget because it would've looked very different, but that just wasn't possible. Set up your own parameters to remain sane.
2. NOT EVERYONE WILL RSVP. NOT EVERYONE WILL SHOW UP THAT RSVP'D "YES". GIVE THEM GRACE.
The sad part about this point is the people that do this don't understand that they took up a spot that could've been someone else's spot. It's easy to translate this action as a form of disrespect, but try not to take it personal.
The redeeming part is that you will (or should) probably get a "Sorry I couldn't come wedding gift". Or you may receive, like we did, a sweet card or gift from the thoughtful people that you wanted to invite but weren't able to add to the list. I did notice the older generations were extremely thoughtful when it came to rsvp's, presents, making a commitment, etc. Just so you know.
3. OTHERS WILL WANT TO HELP. LET GO OF YOUR PRIDE AND PERFECTION.
Some brides are shocked by who doesn't offer to help. For me, what I was more shocked by was who offered to help. I had a handful of people that I could not have pulled off the wedding without. I had to constantly let go of my pride and creative perfection and know that I could not do this thing on my own. It takes an army.
Wedding planner. Worth the investment! With all that we had on our plate, we could not have done it without our wedding planner, Leigh. She kept me sane, organized all of our vendors, and was my rock the day of. Skip out on the extras that no one will remember and pay a professional to help you. That way, you, your family & friends can relax a bit more.
4. ELOPING OR DESTINATION WEDDING WILL CROSS YOUR MIND MANY TIMES.
These wouldn't have been bad choices looking back. We would've saved a lot of money and brain power....yet, we found it really important to not only have the day about us, but to have our loved ones experience what the day represented. You have to decide what's important for you.
5. YOU WILL HAVE A BREAKDOWN. THERE WILL BE TEARS.
Jared and I are two of the most laid back people on the face of this earth. So, when I heard of brides getting "slightly" stressed, I didn't think twice about it. That wasn't me. It was fine for the majority of the time until the last month...really the last two weeks. Then, it was all over.
What happens is you work like crazy to get everything done on time. When the last two weeks arrive, it's crunch time. It's different for everyone, but here are a few triggers: In laws come to town, final decisions and numbers need to be turned in, weather issues, & all the last minute things to be done are suddenly an emergency. The worst thing is that only you and your fiancé can really do them so you become business partners. Just know, you will get through these two weeks.
6. YOUR PINTEREST BOARD MAY NOT FULLY COME ALIVE.
So for the most part, I've learned that most brides have encountered major stressors if they have married within the last couple of years versus 7+ years ago. Why? I blame Pinterest, Instagram, and other social media for setting a creative standard that keeps raising. I had to let go of some outrageous ideas that included life size flowers since it was fall (what was I thinking?!), a 6' x 6' watercolor backdrop, a cascading bubble chandelier, whimsical drapery, etc .
7. YOU WILL RECEIVE A LOT OF ATTENTION AT WEDDING SHOWERS.
I mean, they are all there for you! I thought I would love this part of the engagement since I had waited so long to get married. It was my time to shine.
Yet, when it came down to it, I was a bit uncomfortable at times. I don't know if it was the repetition of telling people how the wedding planning was going and realizing I had so much more to do or all the eyes on me at one time. Ha! Overall, our showers were out of this world gorgeous and thoughtful. There isn't much personal interaction at the wedding so this was a great time for one on one convos. Just relax and sit back and soak in as much as possible because they are such a good break from the planning!
8. THIS ONE IS FOR GUYS: GIVE ADVICE.
Depending on their personality, some girls like the idea of planning and others will need help making decisions. One thing I've heard from girls is how they needed help, and the fiancé would answer "Either way is fine. I'll be happy with your decision". NO!!! Wrong answer. While that's lovely and I'm sure it's thoughtful from your perspective, it actually puts one more thing in the bride's court that she has to make a decision on.
Even if you don't care guys, give your gut answer. It may help her make her decision easier if she agrees, or she may realize she actually likes the other option better once she hears your opinion. Either way, it may help her.
9. THE HONEYMOON MAKES EVERYTHING WORTH IT.
I felt like once the wedding day actually came, I was absolutely fine. Something could've gone wrong, I wouldn't have cared. Why? Because I was marrying the man of my dreams, throwing a big party with all my loved ones and then heading to St.Lucia with my new hubs. Best feeling ever. All the months of planning are suddenly worth it.
10. THIS DAY REVOLVES AROUND YOU, BUT IT DOESN'T, AT THE SAME TIME.
This time is a transition for everyone. You, your fiancé, the families, etc. I didn't necessarily have this issue, but many of the brides I talked to mentioned the friction with their future in-laws or own family. What helps? Realizing that everyone is letting something go and gaining something else. You both are losing single-hood but also gaining a spouse. A mom is losing the thought of being the only girl in his life, but she gains a daughter-in-law. Be patient and understanding all around.
MY BEST ADVICE. TAKE 'EM OR LEAVE 'EM.
- LET LAUGHTER BE YOUR FIRST RESPONSE!
Our premarital counselors said that early on their marriage, they decided laughter would be their go to. We thought, why wait until we're married? So, did things go wrong throughout the planning process? Yes! Did things go wrong during the wedding? Very minor...but yes. Did things go wrong after the wedding? Oh yeah. But, when you decide to not let them get to you and to laugh at life, it makes things seem not quite so bad.
- THOSE LAST TWO WEEKS...TAKE CARE OF YOURSELVES.
Don't overbook yourself outside of the wedding, stay focused on you and your fiancé and even take a night to grab a last "dating" dinner.
- DIY SOME PARTS OF THE WEDDING, BUT DELEGATE AND HIRE FOR THE BIGGIES.
I absolutely knew that I could do the flowers, Yet, when it came down to it, I didn't have one extra second right before the wedding. So, hiring someone may have cost me more money, but it was worth it. I just kept it reasonable by not going overboard and I got a great price because of this.
- I RECOMMEND A SHORTER ENGAGEMENT.
Some people would recommend a longer engagement to stretch out the responsibilities. My advice is the longer the engagement, the more time you have to think, stress, change your mind, and find more to do. Just shove it into a few months and get on with the fun part!