My top 5 “ah-ha!” wedding moments: Shit I’m glad I know now

Guest post by vertigo912
Ashley & Ryan01

Besides the obvious “ah-ha!” moment of “OMG I'm SO glad I found Offbeat Bride,” I wanted to share the top-five realizations I've had while planning this thing. These tidbits may not be for everyone, but if my best friend was getting married, this is what I'd tell her:

1. Get officially married before the big day

We got hitched in our living room by our friend who got ordained online. It was for insurance purposes; I wanted it to be unemotional, so we could save our feelings for the “real” day. But it was intimate and beautiful. We cried. And NO ONE knows except me, hubby, officiant, and now you guys. 😉 For all intents and purposes, our ceremony will still be our wedding — but I'll be able to walk down the aisle a little easier knowing that the sexy guy at the end of the aisle is already my secret husband.

2. Go with a short engagement

Having dealt with (only) six months of the planning stress, I can't imagine having ANOTHER six months or more of sleepless nights, fretting over Save the Dates, invites, colors, photos, details, etc. Sure, we've worked with a truncated timeline, but it means we have to work efficiently. Who doesn't work better with a little fire beneath them?

3. Consider just one attendant, or none at all

Instead, reach out to friends to fill special roles. We didn't want to play “favorites” with friends. In the end, we each chose one long-term friend from highschool to stand with us. Instead of asking my girlfriends to spend money on a bridesmaid dress, I asked them if their gift could simply be to showcase their talents. From baking the wedding cake and decorating the park bridge, to arranging our flowers and DJ-ing our tunes, our friends will make our day special not by standing with us in awkward group photos but by highlighting their awesome talents.

4. Create to-do lists on Google docs

For awhile, I was keeping a running list of to-do items as a draft message in my email. My honey suggested we create a Google doc out of it, and voila! We share just one list with eachother (instead of me emailing myself different drafts). We add tasks to our living document as we think of them. You can have the Google doc open at the same time, editing things as needed. And there's that ever-satisfying “strikethrough” text feature to cross off finished items. Almost as good as a hand-written list.

5. Sometimes you just need to step back and not give a shit

A few weeks into the process, when we were getting overwhelmed, we took a night away at a cheap farmhouse bed and breakfast. Left our laptops at home, turned off our cell phones, and stared into eachother's eyes to the tune of the thunderstorm. Its easy to get swept up in the bustle of planning. But this unplugged getaway helped us remember why we were wasting time picking out old table cloths to cut into napkins or scouring craigslist for reusable wares. In short: be the honeybadger. Honeybadger don't give a shit. (Click on it. You won't regret it.)

What are your own “ah-ha!” moments?

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Comments on My top 5 “ah-ha!” wedding moments: Shit I’m glad I know now

  1. Heck yes! We’re getting married in a courthouse ahead of time, my sister is my MoH, we’re having as short an engagement as possible, I live off of lists anyway, and I can’t count the number of wedding-centric-people I’ve absolutely gobsmacked by seriously just not caring about stuff.

    This is a great post, and you should feel good. 😀

  2. My man and I are so damn good at being honey badgers (lol) we actually have trouble caring enough to pull the thing together. Neither of us give a shit about linens or if there should be a fountain in the pool, but we team up to at least create enough anti-mehtter to reign in the MIL. We’re good at 3 too, using lots of friend assistance. The rest isn’t our style. I like my sketchbook list (it doesn’t feel so scary) and our time line is good for our meh ness.

  3. I did all of these things while planning my wedding too. Yes, it all helped 🙂

  4. I did 4 out of 5 things— and it is great. I don’t understand how people spend more than six months planning… it’s crazy!. I can’t do 5 though. My fiance/husband absolutely can.

  5. My A-HA moment was when I realized that if I didn’t want people bitching about my wedding choices, I shouldn’t tell them SHIT.
    Don’t want flak about how you didn’t invite your cousin you hate? Don’t tell anyone. Love your aqua blue mini dress but worried your grandma will freak? Shut up about it. Did you follow the above advice and go get married on your own because you realize your wedding actually has nothing to do with you (we did this and almost canceled the wedding because it was so AWESOME)? Keep it a secret!
    Your life will be so much easier for it.

    • TJ,

      This reminds me of the axiom by which I taught my children about what should be private. This was when they were teens and “overshared” all the time. I told them “the easiest way to keep people out of your business is NOT TO TELL it to them!” As adults they live and die by this rule, teaching it to their significant others and friends as best they can. Makes me damn proud, but it probably shouldn’t, because it’s not that I’m a genius, it’s just that it is so true.

    • AGREE!! I learned that if I don’t want to hear feedback on what I think is a kickass idea, then don’t say a word.

  6. I’d disagree with #2. We’ve had an 18 month engagement but it’s been almost completely non-stressful and I think part of that is because for most of it we could plan what we felt like when we felt like and drop it completely when we didn’t without worrying about what needed doing. Then when it got to the point where things did need to be done most of it already was.

    It also meant we didn’t have to conciously apply #5 because we were only planning when we wanted to.

    Completely agree with #4 though. Having everything written down and accessable is incredibly useful. A printer comes in handy for sharing files with less computer literate people too.

    I think my ‘ah-ha’ moment is still when I found Offbeat Bride and learned that the rest of the internet massively exagerated how people will feel about a personalised or DIY wedding. Especially a DI-Everyone wedding. We had more volunteers than we knew what to do with and I was still paranoid about asking for help because I’d read so many times that no one wants to ‘work’ at/for your wedding. It was fantastic to realise this could work and I can’t wait to see the result of everyones amazing contributions.

    • I’m also in the long-engagement camp. Our engagement is about a year and a half, and it’s given us time to really think about what we want to do instead of freaking out and feeling like we have to get everything done now-now-now. It’s pretty leisurely! Plus it gave us time to research before we committed to anything since neither of us have exactly spent a lot of time with the inner workings of the wedding industry.

  7. So interesting to read your comments – I totally agree with #4. Google docs checklists are awesome, and a good way to collaborate on planning across distance. We shared our Google docs with my parents and they added stuff we wouldn’t have thought of. IF ONLY I had kept using the planning docs up till the last minute. Ooops.
    We had a long engagement and I sort of agree with you on that, but on the other hand agree with Danikat. the year + 1/2 of planning was tiresome, but it contributed to our ability to do 5. There were some intense periods and some when we didn’t plan at all.
    Because we were way in advance we did get the pick of venues and scored BIG on that. Snipes Farm Retreat is so awesome and since we needed to get married in early June (academic schedules) we had to book it a year in advance. Also, we were able to buy stuff for much less money because it was out of season – like sandals I bought which would normally have been $250 in summer, but were $160 in January.
    My big A-ha moments were:
    – Give Mom a Break and she will be more fun: My Mom, bless her, is like me – a total stress freak. I knew she might have a melt down, so I booked a massage for her right in the middle of the wedding day so that all she had to do was show up and get her hair done right before the ceremony. It totally worked.
    – Limit family time in the days before the wedding. My Mom had originally planned a family dinner at her house two days before the wedding (the night before the rehearsal because folks would be arriving from out of town) my husband asked that we not do this because it would be too much. He was so right. I had dinner out with my Dad, his brother and his brother’s partner with two of my best friends who were in from out of town the night before. It was so relaxing and fun. The groom hung out with his mom and sister. Nice. My Mom made dinner for her sisters and my brother, his wife and their kid. She said it was so much easier than if she had tried to cook for 20 people that night.
    HUGE AHA:
    Bridesmaids & Groomsmen are there for a reason & wedding work can be a bonding experience. Sorry to disagree with you, Vertigo912. I loved, loved having bridesmaids. I had my sister-in-law as maid of honor, and four others: two best friends from highschool, 1 from college and on and 1 from grad school+ years. They did the flowers with me at the rehearsal & one gave a reading. During the rehearsal prep I was having a problem with messages and dealing with folks on the phone while the groom was asking me to do stuff to and my friend from highschool said, “let me take your phone.” Life saver. She also gave a great toast. Because my husband didn’t want to be outnumbered, he recruited groomsmen who were an army of workers for the whole wedding – they cooked and prepped the bbq, bought the beer, and cleaned up, saving my parents from having to do it all. Also, my parents friends offered their help and we took it. They were great!

    On the day of the wedding when I was totally freaking out, my fantastic bridesmaids wrote place cards with me just like I asked them to. They laid out the guest-book, place-cards, favors and did the card box after the guests had started arriving (early). My sister-in-law dealt with the boutonniere crisis. I would have been a total mess without them. I should have asked them to come even earlier than I did and it would have been less stressful for all of us. Also, I have always wanted these friends from different parts of my life to really meet and hang out. Having their help throughout meant that it finally happened. Now we are all planning on going on a girls weekend some time.

    FINAL AHA Moment:
    Stay in a hotel if you can, and have your guests there too. Or at least come up with a common after/before hours meeting place that people can go to if they want, like a coffee shop or bar. We had a sort of “destination wedding” because we chose to get married in my home-town, where we don’t live and few of our current friends do, but which was close enough for my husband’s southern friends and family. As a result, we had tons of people all staying in the same hotel and were able to have a lot of random and unplanned social time in the morning and after hours when we really got to talk to our friends. Since this doesn’t happen at the wedding, is was really nice to have it. I know that a hotel could be expensive depending on where you live, but having some place where people can congregate not in the formal event context is really great. I had a spontaneous hour with my husband’s birth mother on the morning of the wedding when I went to get my nails done. great!

  8. Awesome advice!

    I’m so glad that the guy and I are going with a short engagement (5 months). My cousin decided on a 2 year engagement and oh my gosh, the stress and worrying that long would kill me.

    I’ll try out google docs. Never thought of using that. =)

    • 100% agreed. I might marry the honey badger as well as my boyfriend. That’s how much I love the honey badger ^^

  9. Ah Ha! I incredibly agree with these things. Maybe not number one. Not sure about that yet. But all the rest of them I am already doing and this makes me feel better about the fact that I’m doing them THIS WAY! Thanks for publishing this.

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