Realizing I can't do it all on the wedding day: A "Type A" bride's crisis

Updated Oct 12 2015
Guest post by Danielle K.
Batman garter
You may have superhero-like Type A powers, but you can't possibly put them all to work on your wedding day.
Oooh boy. I never realized how "Type A" I can be until I started planning a wedding.

For example, my fiancé and I are currently agonizing over photographers, and DJs, and stuff. We found a great center that will arrange everything for you — the only catch is that you don't get to meet with your photographer until a week before the wedding, after you've signed a contract!

Now that's probably alarming to more people than just me, but it's bringing into focus something that's been quietly stressing me out about the whole shindig from the moment I realized it:

I can't actually DO everything on my wedding day.

I'm the kind of person who wants to be deeply involved in every event I plan. I am a band director for a program that sends me to seven different schools a week — so I am always setting up, decorating, and running concerts, pageants, and band parties. With my supervisor (who happens to be my dad) I hook up the sound system and make sure everything works. I do the sound check. I make sure the chairs are set up right and everyone is seated properly.

It's giving me an inordinate amount of stress to know that I can't actually be the one cuing the music during our wedding ceremony. I can't be the one decorating the tables at the reception hall. I can't sit with the DJ and make sure he picks the perfect sequence of songs to follow one another (and turns down distasteful requests). I can't be behind the lens of the camera, finding every moment to capture. And all of that is making me cringe!

Fellow Type-A brides: How are you handling having to relinquish control of your wedding day to other people? Is anyone else finding this to be a sticking point for them, or am I just particularly control-hungry?

  1. I recommend you pick up Meg Keene's copy of "A Practical Wedding." Her advice could help you get over the agonizing. After I read it, I picked three aspects I wanted to focus on for my wedding and then made a list of stuff I don't care about (that part is awesome). That book also helped me make non-traditional choices with confidence. I have mismatched bridesmaids dresses, and a female ring bearer, and I don't really care what anyone thinks.

      • I own both! I've even convinced Mr. Fiance to read them as well.

        As a Type A personality individual that runs and organized corporate events for a living, I know this will be the hardest thing in the world for me. Thank to Ariel and Meg Keene, I think I'm going to be able to grasp the concept very easily. Hell, I've started putting their ideas into my own job, as well! This is saving me a lot of time hitting the bottle and de-stressing as I plan my big day.

        • I own both too (they're the only wedding books I own!), and definitely recommend them both. I think they complement each other well, while still appealing to a similar audience. OBB is a little more memoir-y, while APW goes more into the background of various wedding elements.

      • I also own both! Funnily enough, I bought both of them online, just based on reading Amazon reviews/descriptions. Read them, loved them, OMG THERE ARE WEBSITES?!?

        So that's how I found OBB and the Tribe. I'm now currently re-reading your book, and it's an interesting second read–now that I know what your ribbon headpiece actually looked like, for example. And you post so many photos of yourself on OBE, with various facial expressions, that now I feel like I can see you in my head, while I'm reading, telling me this story of your wedding.

        Wow, that's not creepy at all. Is it?

  2. My then-fiancé was adamant that I plan not to do anything other than get myself ready on our wedding day. So I started funneling my type-A-ness away from the stuff and decor and toward making sure that I felt relaxed all day and happy about my wedding. We hired vendors we trusted, and I forced myself to let my expectations go.

    I also made several Very Detailed spreadsheets with the schedule and where things were supposed to go and who all was supposed to do what. And then I relinquished control to my favorite Type-A ladies: my mother and mother-in-law, and my new sisters-in-law. It actually felt really good to just let it all go. And it all looked fabulous!

    So my advice is to plan thoroughly, delegate to people you trust, and let your expectations go (this is the most important part). It might not be exactly how you would do it, but it will still be fine.

    • A big cheer for Very Detailed spreadsheets. I've only been engaged for a month, our wedding date isn't until September 2015, and my spreadsheet already has something like 20 tabs! I know myself well enough, and this is how I will avoid turning into a raving basketcase on a day that should be happy.

  3. My wedding is in November, only 4 short weeks away. I began planning our wedding 8 months before, thinking that would give me plenty of time to plan and not stress out. As many of you already figured out…I was wrong. If you have 8 months, then as perfectionist, then you work for 8 months. We made homemade favors, I made all the food (It's sitting in my freezer now), I made a wedding website, I made paper flowers…the list goes on. Last week I realized…I can't do it all. And when we get to our rental house (our wedding is on the beach, a short walk from the rental house), I have to let go. Letting go is difficult but just think, if your wedding day is the worst day of your marriage…that's a great thing. No matter what, at the end of the day you will have the guy or girl that is better than your dreams.

    My advice…just breathe and think about the day(s) as an adventure and try to let go.

  4. I'm extremely Type A and I knew from the beginning wedding planning was going to make me batty. So I hired a day-of coordinator. We actually interviewed two and ended up going with the more expensive option because I trust her. That is huge. YOU HAVE TO TRUST THAT PERSON. I trust that she will get everything done while I relax. I have delegated extra hands if she and her assistant need them. I have pre-arranged all the details, made photographs of the centerpieces and sent examples of table draping. She is a lifesaver and I'm pretty sure I would have gone nuts by now without her.

  5. I tend to be a Type A, but I've also done improv for years to mellow it out. One of the things you really learn and appreciate is to trust other people's judgment. Even if they take you in a completely unexpected direction it's still possible to have a great time and enjoy the results. It's definitely hard to just let go! But, everyone knows the suggestion is "wedding" and you've established much of the "scene." Unless someone's outright saying "no" or not being a team player, they're all in this with you to make it a good experience!

    If you're reading this and still skeptical I recommend giving improv a shot. Let the instructor know you're interested in public speaking or want to adapt more easily (as opposed to performing). You'll get some first hand experience in letting go while saying "Yes, and…"

    p.s. I also learned that with the exception of some truly mean people – no one likes it when a show or event goes bad. Everyone is secretly rooting for the performers, crew, couple, or participants. The audience and guests want to have a good time and not squirm. You'll find support when you need it!

  6. I am very type A myself and thank god i have such wonderful parents because my mom knows how i would act so she dished out the money for a day of coordinator. at first i was against the idea because i wanted control but theres this whole thing that im supposed to enjoy my wedding day lol. Its expensive but if i dont ill be running myself crazy.

  7. Just an addendum to finding someone you trust…
    In the event of problems, try to be clear about what sort of issues you want to hear about and which you would rather be kept in the dark about. Bear in mind that some people will want to run everything past you (which can be emotionally taxing) and some will prefer to take the initiative and not check with you (which can be annoying if you have different visions).

    If you'd prefer to be somewhere in the middle of these I think the trick is to empower those people who want to check every detail by giving them the confidence to deal with the minor issues. With the people who are happy to get on with things, give them a good idea of what problems are deal-breakers for you – what you really want to know about.

    It might also be a good idea to ask them to come to you with possible solutions rather than simply the problem. "The cake wont fit on the stage as the band has a massive drum kit. It will fit at the front of the room and the back of the room – which would you prefer?"

  8. I'm all about the delegating for this one, and FORCING myself to let things go. We've got a good friend acting as day-of-coordinator, and will designate other friends to help with specific tasks. I'll be handing over the spreadsheets and trusting that it'll all be okay, and anything that's not okay won't matter.

  9. I didn't delegate enough on my wedding day but it still turned out ok. after a massive panic about a week before, a calm came over me as I realised that marrying the person I love was the most important thing and that as long as the marriage bit happened everything else paled into insignificance. (mostly although I still forgot to do the ring bit right)

  10. I hired a day-of coordinator. Normally I wouldn't be the type of person to hire out stuff like that. I thought a lot of tips I read were great — have trusted friends/family handle x, y, and z! Except my problem was nearly everyone for our wedding was coming from out of town and I could absolutely not bring myself to ask them to handle all the day-of details on top of their travel schedules. I already put enough demand on them by having my wedding where we live now instead of going home.

    So I forced myself to make room in my budget. It cost $1,000 and the girls I worked with were fabulous. A few weeks out from the wedding they'd email or call to check in on me and how I was progressing, help talk me down from any anxiety. The week before we me with them to go over schedules, vendors, etc., and a few days before we handed all the decor items we'd collected to them and got them all explained. Then I left the rest to them.

    I'm so glad I did. I would have hated for my out of town folks to be setting up and tearing down my wedding and checking schedules after having driven 12 hours to our state. I actually had never thought of this until my mom got married recently. She had a very small wedding, but I remembered the stress of making sure I was there in time (after a 14-hour drive) to help set up, pick up the cake and food, get everything together, go over the rehearsal, get ready. Then we all had to chip in to clean up. After a few hours of drinking and partying.

    It just went in line with some other promises I'd made myself. (Namely, making sure my photographer sister-in-law was a part of the wedding and got to enjoy it — not photographing it like other friends/family have conned her into doing previously.) Anyway, it had never been in our budget to do a day-of coordinator, but we made it a priority. We just had to pick and choose. Coordinator? Yes. DJ? Nope, let's go with a playlist on my laptop.

  11. I really wish I had hired a day of coordinator. Or at least did a better job delegating for my wedding.

    The photobooth ended up being a huge issue, mostly because I couldn't let go and trust that the person I had delegated it to would be able to get it together. As a result, I brought a full set of equipment and everything got over-complicated.

    If you don't have a coordinator, make sure you choose people that you can delegate to and TRUST that they'll handle it. That trust will allow you to RELAX and feel certain that things will get done.

  12. I am in a similar position I chose a reception and agreed for the them to use their in house DJ figuring that it would be one less thing I would have to agonize over… especially as I'm terrified I am going to forget a vital part as it is. But since agreeing I have gone through there song lists and realised there are so many songs and artists they don't have that I love now I'm stressing whether I contact them and ask if you can add these songs in or do I look for someone else with only 5 months to go. my partner wants to create his own list and play it on an ipod which I really don't like. So the thing I figured I wouldn't need to stress with is stressing me.

  13. I wrote out a timeline and thought through each step, then delegated to certain people (family and wedding party). I put names on every step and everybody got a copy (so there was always a copy floating around somewhere). So after the ceremony, the officiant told people to go into the yard, there, my friend got on the mic and explained dinner, then another friend MC'ed the toasts, etc. It actually worked out perfectly. The only thing was that I had apparently envisioned setting the tables myself in the morning (a totally unconscious assumption), and I was disappointed when other people did it for me and did it differently than I wanted. (Even though they were being great help and taking initiative!) I let it go and had an amazing day, but I kept thinking about it afterwards. I learned a lot from that incident and shared it on OBB: http://offbeatbride.com/2011/01/wedding-disaster I will say that you are lucky that at least you are having this realization beforehand and not struck by it in the middle of your wedding day! My best advice is plan, delegate, anticipate that it will not be exactly how you visualize it, and trust that it will be magnificent just how it really is.

  14. I was a 'Type A' bride. Until I was a bridesmaid for a 'Type AAAAAAA' bride. That tends to put things in perspective 🙂

  15. I thought I was a pretty laid back person… that is, until I started to plan my own wedding! Now, I have constant anxiety over how my BIG day will go! I think the fact that I will have NO control over how things look combined with the fact that I don't plan to ever do this again is driving me insane. LOL… I'm trying really hard not to be a Bridezilla, but having a hard time finding that balance between being over controlling and not giving any direction or asking for help. The wedding isn't until next August, but I already feel like I'm running out of time. Also, I NEVER thought it would be so damn hard to choose a good photographer for a good price! I'm excited and love the planning, but I hate that when the day comes I will be too busy getting ready to set things up.

  16. My husband and I were both uber Type-A wedding planners, which was exacerbated by the fact that we were planning a Texas wedding from Boston. My life was made much more sane by two amazing things that my husband did: 1) take over everything to do with music and food, 2) gently remind me on many occasions that it's ok to delegate projects to professionals because there was no way that I'd have time to make every little thing in between grad school and working full-time, and actually spending time with my FH and our dog.
    That said, here is a more tangible answer to your question about how to control every little thing while still leaving it in the capable hands of a vendor: My husband gave an enormous spreadsheet to our DJ that broke down our 7-hour reception into 1-hour blocks. In each block, he listed 20 approved songs for that time slot (more than there would be time to play, so that the DJ could still have some creative autonomy). My husband wanted to make sure that every generation "had their time to shine" on the dance floor, so the music transitioned from '20s Jazz during the cocktail hour, to big band classics, to Beatles, other early rock and Motown, through some limited disco selections, '80s, '90s and more modern favorites. Even though I was a little worried that I'd be out cold by 9:30 or 10, when we ended the night with a GirlTalk song, I was so wound up that I almost bolted out into the torrential downpour outside (still in my wedding dress and shoeless) to continue the party a couple of blocks over on Sixth Street! Neither of us wanted the fun to end, and several people approached us later to tell us that it was the most fun they had ever had at a wedding. My brother-in-law actually said that if, in five years, we wanted to get remarried—to each other—he would totally show up. Comments like that made everything worth it.

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