Congratulations, you’re getting married! Now it’s time to get to work.
Unless you’re headed to the courthouse, weddings are complicated events. Maybe you spent your childhood dreaming of tulle, or maybe you’ve never really thought about it before. Either way, it’s important to start your planning process off right. Before you start selecting cake fillings and dress colors, use the information below to help you understand what you really want out of your wedding day—and how to turn those wants into reality.
First, determine what you want from your wedding. Ask yourself, “What are my hopes for this day?” Maybe you want to celebrate your culture or create a touchstone for your marriage to come. Maybe you want to be surrounded by beauty or just have a lot of fun. You may be able to get all of these things and more from your special day. By prioritizing now, you’ll make your coming decisions much easier.
2. Hope made manifest
Now ask yourself, “What specific elements of the event will support my hopes?” A destination wedding in Wine Country might bring your loved ones together, and a Vera Wang wedding dress might help you feel beautiful. Let yourself think big. Will the presence of live elephants reinforce your love of animals? Great. You may not get them, but it’s good to know what you want.
3. Start talking
It’s essential to get on the same page as your spouse-to-be as soon as the wedding planning begins. Now that you know what you want, ask what they want. Take some time to dream together. Maybe you both want elephants, so don’t rule them out yet. Of course, you will disagree on some possibly key things. If your partner wants to please mom’s social circle and you want everyone in black, you’ll both need to compromise. And guess what? You’re getting married, so if you haven’t learned about compromise yet, it’s time to get started.
4. Come back to Earth
Once you and your partner agree on the meaning of the event and the broad parameters of what you want, see if you can get what you need. Set a budget. Figure out which dates might fit with your work schedules. Consider locations. It’s time to start making realistic choices about how to best allocate your money and time. Unless you have unlimited resources, you’ll need to make some hard decisions. Luckily, you’ve already clarified your hopes for the day, and you may find that these choices are easier than you expect. Have you set your heart on that expensive Vera Wang wedding dress? Allocate your budget to the dress and keep the guest list short. On the other hand, based on your desired outcome (see #1), you may decide that the dress is less important than having a large, well-attended party.
5. Let it go
As you move fully into planning (and, ultimately, to the big day itself), remember that there’s no “finally.” As Shel Silverstein said, “There are no happy endings. Endings are sad, so let’s have a happy beginning and a happy middle.” So, here’s to a happy beginning and good luck with that big story: the one you’re about to embark upon.