Looking back over the few months of planning and the last few weeks of married bliss, I am happy to say it was all worth it. I think I have a little bit more to offer in terms of advice. So here are my reflections from a bride on the other side:
1. Tailor the length of your engagement to the length of the relationship. From my experience, being together for a long amount of time lent itself well to a short engagement. Also, this way, I was able to focus on only the wedding related things for that length of time. Because we had worked out all the daily living things, had the discussions about the future, and become really synced in our lives, we didn't need to have all the discussions about who does the dishes, do we want kids, why do you sleep in when I want to wake up early, etc. I was able to just focus on what we wanted to do for the wedding — that one day — because everything else was out of the way. Now, if we didn't have all that other stuff out of the way, then I would have wanted a longer engagement.
It's not about focusing one hundred percent on the wedding and stressing about everything — it's about finding balance.
2. Use your time wisely. It's not about focusing one hundred percent on the wedding and stressing about everything — it's about finding balance. Once you have your ideas and your plan, stick to it and use whatever organizational tools you need to keep you on track. I made boutonierres for everyone that came to the wedding. But I started with just the wedding party, then just the parents, then the wedding party spouses, then the parents' partners, then the siblings, then the aunts and uncle, then my grandma, and finally friends. And suddenly, I was done. I did this for everything. I started with what was absolutely necessary and worked my way out from there each time I completed a list.
3. If you are crafty, DIY it. I discovered so much about myself through DIYing my wedding. I discovered that I am patient, creative, talented, and motivated. I took ideas from everywhere and made them my own.
4. Love your dress. I had major dress drama because I picked it because it was inexpensive rather than because I loved it. Whatever you are going to wear, love it. Know that you love it before you buy it. Don't let anyone push you into something that you don't love. Also, take one or two people that you trust to help you.
5. Spend time with the people that came for the wedding. This is my biggest regret. I didn't have enough time to spend with people that came out for the wedding. I did get to spend time with them the day before and at the wedding but I didn't get to spend time with them the week before the wedding like I had hoped.
6. Make your budget realistic. We wanted a wedding on a budget and other than the reception, we were able to do that. My dad surprised me by paying for the reception. We spent around $1000 for everything including clothes, shoes, feathers, beads, and all the other kooky things we had. Set a budget and try not to go over it — but if you do, have a discussion about whether this is something you really want or is it something that would just be nice? If it is something that would be nice, it can wait. If you have "bonus" money, then you can do it.
7. Enjoy the day. Everyone always says the day goes by so fast. But I disagree. I was present in every moment. I enjoyed every aspect of the day. I just let myself relax and know that everything was taken care of. And it was. It was the perfect day. The only thing that went wrong was that the cupcakes were forgotten, but they arrived in time for dinner — no problem there. Everything else was just awesome. And I wish there was something to write about that didn't go right. I think it was because everything was very well planned and I gave everyone a job to do on the day so that I didn't have to worry about any of it.