Turn that to-do into WOOHOO: The best wedding advice ever

February 23 | Guest post by Mary SoLucky
Celebrating same-sex love in Seattle
Photo by Alexandra Knight Photography

When I got engaged, I felt like I was somehow immune to so many of the typical traps that ensnare people while planning their weddings. After all, I had been a wedding planner for a time, didn’t have lofty visions of my own wedding, and did not feel bound by formality, tradition, or family expectations. I was going to plan a wedding of my own design, and it was going to be laid back and easy, dammit.

I did not buy a single bridal magazine (but I did read you, dear Offbeat Bride; you are a sanity-saver). I did not enter one dress store, nor try on any dresses. I did not choose invitation paper, or font embossing, and opted not to have a bridal party. I encouraged my friends to host the only shower just a couple of days before the wedding, to streamline travel and expenses.

What I did do was design and create a lot of stuff myself, deciding what would be special and appropriate for my fiancé and myself. I dumped some “must-dos” altogether. (Sayonara, first dance.)

Surely, with such an easygoing and organized bride, this was bound to be a stress-free process, right? HA.

Six months into our ten month planning process, I broke down crying while talking to my mom about something wedding-related. (What was it? I can’t even remember. It was probably a stupid detail. Keep this in perspective: Whatever is making you cry today, you most likely won’t even be able to recall in about nine months.)

My mom turned around and gave me the best advice I received during the course of planning my wedding: Have fun. She told me that planning my wedding was a really special time, a process I would (God willing!) never go through again.

Through our conversation, I realized I had broken my wedding planning down into a series of to-do list items. As someone who worked full-time, and had plenty of other responsibilities, my plate was already feeling too full, and this new section of wedding to-dos left me feeling sleepless and fatigued of decisions.

My wedding, and the planning of it shouldn't be just a series of chores or items to check off a list. It was a time for my fiancé and me to practice working on a project together, and to carefully write the vows that would define our promises to one another. It was a time to learn more about our communication, and to be a creative outlet from my desk job. It was also an excuse to be in touch with friends and family that I don’t get to see often enough. And maybe, most important, for us to daydream and get excited about our future together.

From that day forward, I changed my attitude. It went from “drive to BigBoxStore, buy nail polish” to “Yes! I get to figure out what nail color I want to wear on MY WEDDING DAY! I will never get to do that again!” With that shift in attitude, suddenly my wedding and the planning became… fun! “Wine tasting anyone?! Wheee!”

And when it came to the wedding day, my mom had great advice once again: Have fun. (She’s sort of a one-trick pony.) She said that everyone at the wedding would have fun if only they can look up and see a relaxed and happy couple.

We had so much fun at our wedding. It was imperfect, and sometimes a chaotic celebration. But it included so many people that we love in one special place at a singular moment in time. It was unequivocally the most fun week of my life, and I felt like it was uniquely ours.

And now, I miss that special time while I was engaged, planning and daydreaming. I’m so glad someone reminded me to enjoy it before it was gone.

What was the best wedding advice you received? Bonus points if it came from yo' mama.

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  1. Brilliant advice!! (Moms are so good for that!)

    Thank you for the perfectly-timed reminder. I too have the tendency to sweat details, and get emotionally overwhelmed by the pressures, but really, the key to throwing a fun a party is to radiate fun yourself. So I'm going to take a page from the rules from one of my favorite things, Bonnaroo, and make an effort to radiate positivity. 🙂

    3 agree
  2. The dress in the photo featured at the top is EXACTLY what I am looking for!! Any way I can get the details on this dress? Thanks a bazillion!!! 🙂

    6 agree
  3. Today was the day I needed someone to remind me of this. Thank you.

    3 agree
  4. Step mom's advice – evil bitch gets to come out only to family.

    Hey, it's working.

    3 agree
  5. My dad is like a sniper with the sanity-returning comment. My favorite so far was "They're not gonna stop making dresses," in response to Mom's constant fretting that I was taking too long to pick a dress. It became something of a mantra for me, and I started applying it to other aspects of the planning. "They're not gonna stop growing flowers," "They're not gonna book every venue in central Florida," and even stretched it to "I have more friends, I'm not gonna be bridesmaidless just cause one girl can't make it."

    Lord, has that helped.

    8 agree
  6. Two pieces of advice:
    1. On the day of you can't do anything about anything so you have to let go. A bazillion little things went wrong the day of our wedding. For the most part no one noticed but me (ok so other people did notice that my in-laws were late for our wedding and that I broke a vase at the reception).

    2. Set a cut off date for dealing with crap. We had a huge family drama going on around the time of our wedding. We decided that we could not deal with it in the two weeks before our wedding. Up to our cut off date we put an effort in to resolving things but after that point we didn't. Some people didn't show up to our wedding over it but they also weren't willing to put effort into resolving things earlier (they stewed over things for months before they even told us something was wrong and blamed us for not noticing that they were upset, and then when we found out something was wrong they had unrealistic expectations and refused to meet with us and then canceled a meeting they did agree to). We got some flack from other family members but we told them our side and that we have this deadline because we have things we need to do.

    4 agree
  7. See, I'm afraid I'll forget things like nail color and all the little to-do list shenanigans that plague and stress out others. I have taken a very hands off approach to our wedding planning, but it helps to have a venue with an awesome, comprehensive and competitive vendor list, so I know these people know the venue and have a good track record. Basically I want to show up and not have to worry or deal with much, be given a drink and have a good time. It also helps that we are 1000 miles away from everyone helping us, bless them, but being around wedding talk 24/7 would drive me up the walls. I haven't talked to many experienced brides about wedding planning, but my mom said that a few people she has talked to have been astonished about how easy it has been for us and how much is already done (venue, officiant, photographer, dj, photobooth, my dress, the guys attire, food is built in, just have to taste test, same with cake, our remaining decisions are: cake design, floral, hotel, transportation and then comes the dreaded details, and my bridesmaids are just about ready to order their dresses) we still have 6 months before the wedding. And the biggest spat the whole time has been my mom not so nicely telling me she didn't like our choice for save the dates and that we might as well email them, I sarcastically told her, ok we will send out the final invitations via Facebook (Not that there is anything wrong with that, my mother thinks this idea is nuts tho, I was just making a point). We decided to be done with wedding talk for the day and that was the end of it, those save the dates will be here any day now! I have a feeling all this could quite possibly change when we get down to the nitty gritty details, and it will absolutely change when we have to have another discussion with my parents about the fact that me and my fiancé really don't want my brother to be there (they might get their way, but we aren't going down easy), but I'm enjoying the easy road for now.

  8. What an excellent article. I feel a variety of emotions towards my wedding on any given day. I don't want to look back and remember that I stayed up all night panicked that my speech won't be funny enough or shrugged when people excitedly inquired how it was all going.
    One great piece of advice i received from my sister in law to be "the little details you are stressed about, you will not even notice them on the day. Don't let people tell you stupid things are important and stress you out."

  9. THIS SO HARD!!! I have been engaged for less than a month and was reading over a checklist on another wedding website and started having a small aneurysm. So #1, thank you, I needed this. I needed this so badly. And #2, THANK YOU, Offbeat Bride, for posting articles like this instead of so many checklists I want to throw up…

    • I had my first wedding anxiety dream less than a week after getting engaged, and felt very overwhelmed for the first month or so. I am now not-quite-three months into the engagement, and I think I have managed to chill out a bit. So give it some time. Remember, even if you have a very short engagement, not everything (maybe nothing!) needs to happen RIGHT NOW. (Some things don't have to happen at all!)

      I just recently told myself that "wedding planning will be fun!" – so it was so good to read this article to remind me and confirm my thoughts!

  10. The best advice I have received came shortly after I became engaged. My wonderful loving aunt told me while at our annual New Year party that "no matter what happens, it will happen." I sat there and thought “Damn, she's right.” I actually live my life now based on those words. Her wedding advice became life advice, and I am forever grateful for that.

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