It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and jump head-first into wedding planning, but are we missing out on important milestones along the way?
Wedding planning season is just coming to a close, making way for one of the busiest and most popular times of the year for couples to have their big day. With the royal wedding a few short weeks away, it’s amazing to think that they (with a little help) have planned everything in six short months.
The average UK wedding now costs an eye-watering £33,884, not to mention the average spend of £2,083 on the engagement ring alone (rising to more than £3,000 for Londoners). With almost 40% of brides’ parents and more than 50% of grooms’ parents no longer helping with wedding costs, the “most important day of your lives” is starting to look more like a massive financial burden and period of intense stress, and less like a cause for celebration.
Four months into my own engagement, with our big day looming 18 months away, it still doesn’t seem like enough time to get everything organised and in place. In my mind, I had this picture of our friends and families being laid-back and just happy to celebrate with us. I’d somehow forgotten one of the most important lessons in life: everyone has an opinion – and often, they want to share it. Loudly.
Once the big question is out of the way, it’s easy to stay swept up in the excitement and rush straight to social media to share the good news. Within an hour of saying yes, we’d both posted a handful of photos to Facebook, updated our status, grabbed our first wedding magazine, and rushed to make it to our gate for a 12-hour flight – where we spent the next four hours solidly dissecting friends weddings, making tentative plans, and grinning like idiots. By the time we touched down in Narita, Japan, we had a couple of hundred well-wishing messages between us to sift through, with one big question looming from all directions: when’s the big day?
To help you tackle some of the stressT that is bound to come up from the moment the question is popped, we’ve put together a few simple tips to help you have a more mindful, in-the-moment engagement period.
Take a break
Get away from it all – just the two of you. If possible, take an extended weekend together, escape for a week, or even just grab a day alone, away from friends and family. Spend time together appreciating this new stage in your relationship – as soon as you share the good news, you will be flooded with well-wishing, well-meaning, but potentially overbearing comments from friends and family.
Step away from social media
Do you really need to share the happy news the moment it happens? Or do you want to preserve the moment for just the two of you a little bit longer? We managed to find a happy middle-ground; we shared on social media fairly quickly, then logged-off for some uninterrupted us-time. Once you hit that button on social, things stop being about just the two of you, and the way is opened up for outside demands and influences.
Remember, it’s not a race
Take the time to enjoy your engagement, and try not to see it as just a stop-gap until your big day. My first instinct was to grab the nearest bridal magazine and jump right in. My other half proposed a month ban on wedding planning and discussions after the initial excitement settled down. I wasn’t on board with the idea at first, but have come to realise it was quite possibly the best thing we have done so far. It gave us space to enjoy, relax, and fend off initial questions without giving away any little details we wanted to keep as a surprise, or give in to family expectations.
Set an objective
What’s the main “goal” for your engagement and wedding? It may sound a bit corporate, but it has helped us immensely. For me, I want to be married before hitting 30 and my mum to walk me down the aisle. My partner wants to keep things classy without losing that personal touch. We both want to celebrate with the people who matter to us the most, rather than putting on a big party for extended family and distant friends.
Try to find that one thing (or two, or three) that matters most about your big day. For some of our friends, a longer engagement so they could save for a house deposit first was important. Another set of friends eloped and got married on a glacier (an idea I hastily ruled out when spotting my other half’s research into a similar option). Figure out what matters to you both, then worry about everyone else.
Focus on your time together
There’s a lot of pressure to plan “the happiest day of your lives”. But what benefit does that pressure, or those expectations, have for either of you, really? Most couples give themselves an average of 20 months before tying the knot. While it may seem like a squeeze to get everything planned in time, try not to put your lives on hold until after the big day.
Spend time with friends and family without focusing on wedding planning. Declare a few weekends wedding-free. We’ve spaced out at least one weekend a month, every month, where there will be no wedding talk, just time together for the two of us. It’s not only relaxing, but refreshing, and often leaves us both happier to get back to planning, feeling less stressed when the next week rolls around.
Keep in mind that they mean well
Inevitably – everyone from your best friend to your third cousin you only see at Christmas – will have an opinion about your wedding. From warnings that weddings are just a money-trap, to suggestions you should lose weight to look your best in the photos, some of the well-meaning suggestions will likely strike a negative chord.
Take a step back. Take a deep breath. Remember: this is about you, as a couple, together. You can handle it together. If any persistent offenders keep speaking up, it could be worth setting boundaries by having a quiet word as a couple with them. They may not realise how their words are coming across, and may be willing to take a step back.
Think: what’s one day?
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement, but it’s good to remember: you’re getting married to the person who you want to spend the rest of your life with – that’s much bigger than one day. This is your forever-person. Take some time to bask in your us-ness. That’s what you’ll remember in the long run, not which font you used on the table settings, how many likes you got on Facebook, or what that first bridal magazine had to say.