Planning A Wedding, Sanely

As some of you might know, I am getting married in two months! And while I have zero ambivalence toward my beloved, I have to admit that I have been very ambivalent about "planning a wedding."

Because although a wedding can be a lovely outpouring of affection and support for the newlyweds, it can also be a uniquely fraught situation where lots of tricky and deeply-felt things come together -- family relationships, gender roles, religion or lack thereof, budgetary concerns, even food allergies. It is a lot to hold in your head, and a lot of different people have strong expectations which they can't help but project on you.

And there is a fuckload of minutae to deal with. Where will it be? Who will be invited? What kind of food? What kind of flowers? Assigned seats or no? What's the ceremony going to look like? What kind of music? What kind of favors? Should we have a gift registry and if so what do we register for? What are we going to wear? How can we do this within our budget?

It goes on and on and on, like a fractal, and you can zoom in on infinitely tiny levels of detail if you want to.

And you are supposed to want to! There is this weird pressure -- magnified in the internet age -- to make your wedding day perfect, to personalize every little detail, to make it special and unique to your particular brand of love.

Which is sort of sweet, I guess, but can also lead to getting obsessed with tiny tiny things in a way that excludes the BIG thing. Which is, at the end of the day, you're going to be married to this awesome person you love.

All this intimidated me. I feared that, as soon as I started planning our wedding, I would grow both scales and a veil and take down all of the Eastern seaboard in my search for the perfect tablescape. So for more than a year, I put it off.

Luckily, I am hooked up with a guy who is good at taking big problems and breaking them down into smaller ones. "Let's just think about a place," he said. Then, once we had a place, we could choose a date, and were able to make other decisions more easily, too.

So, thus far in the planning process, with my beloved's help, I have successfully avoided most wedding-related crazypantsness (touch wood). Here are a few things that have helped:

* Big stuff, then small stuff.

Don't start by thinking about napkins or rings or how your invites will be worded because starting with the minute level will definitely make you want to jump off the tallest building in your town.

Instead, start by deciding how you want your wedding to feel in broad strokes. Do you want a big raucous party? Something quieter and more contemplative? We knew we wanted a small wedding where we could get married outside in a beautiful setting, then walk inside and eat. This feeling led us to a venue and date, which then helped guide our further decisions.

* Think about what's important to you, and focus on that. Let everything else go.

For us, good food is important, as is having a casual-yet-elegant-feeling party where we can all just hang out and enjoy each other's company. We don't care at all about fancy place settings or gobs of decorations so we're sticking to simple options for those.

* Keep it small, or keep it simple. Or both.

Take the number of people invited to your wedding, and multiply it by how fancy it's going to be on a scale of 1 to 10. This figure is your projected craziness level. If you want to reduce your craziness, you'll need to either invite fewer people, or make the day simpler. We invited only fifty people, the wedding and the reception are in the same place, and we're not having showers, favors, assigned seating, or "Here Comes The Bride." Small + simple = sane.

* When you start to feel overwhelmed, just stop.

There have been a few times when I've started to get manic about the wedding -- when I've got fifteen browser tabs open and find myself thinking about rings and vows and cake and fascinators and photography all in the same breath. When I notice this happening, I stop. I let the wedding go for now and get stuck into another project. This way I can avoid setting sail on the SS Obsessive Bridezilla.

* DIY if you want, but don't bite off too much.

I really enjoy being crafty, so I'm doing a few projects for our wedding -- paper flowers, hand-printed invitations, custom bridesmaids dresses. But I'm not trying to do much more than that. And the things I'm doing can all be done long before the day itself, so that on the morning of the wedding I can focus on more important things, like my hair.

* Work hard at being less crazy about your body in the lead up.

How much weight can I lose before the wedding? Ugh, why am I thinking so much about that question? Deep breath. Step back. Be less crazy. (This may warrant another post at some point!)

Have you ever been impacted by wedding-related craziness? How did you keep your head together? Enquiring minds (mine!) want to know!

Thanks for this awesome photo, SebastianDooris!