Mission to not plan my wedding: Success

Guest post by Lauren Graves
Mission to not plan my wedding: Success (how I planned for my wedding as little as possible)
Photo of the author by Sarita Photography

On May 17th, 2019, I joined the newlywed club and officially became un-single and not ready to mingle. I'll say it even though it's a cliche, because it's true: it was the greatest day of my life. The wedding went off without a hitch, we got hitched, then everyone danced the night away and ate great ice cream. My favorite part of all of it, except for the whole marriage thing, was how little time and effort I put into planning.

If you want to have a magical wedding and keep all of the hair on your head when all is said and done, the first thing you have to do is plan to not plan.

Maybe you are one of the dreamy people who has looked forward to your wedding your whole life, knowing exactly what you'd look like and how'd you feel on the most special of your days. Or perhaps you are even lucky enough to be recently engaged, and are ready to throw yourself into planning-mode and inevitably fret over the wedding minutiae to ensure that the day is as spectacular as you pictured it the instant that fated proposal finally happened. It is safe to say that you are most likely not like me, because I think I broke the record for most laid-back bride, and the time I spent planning the wedding was barely, if at all, more time than the duration of the wedding itself. Here's how I did it…

If you want to have a magical wedding and keep all of the hair on your head when all is said and done, the first thing you have to do is plan to not plan. The peace that the admittance of this simple philosophy brought me was sweeter than that ice cream I talked about earlier. Some great advice I received soon after my engagement was something along the lines of, “Remember that you can't plan for everything,” and I took that to heart and clung to it for dear life. Why? Because it felt like permission to relax just before entering the time in my life that everyone was insisting would be so very, very stressful (note: it doesn't have to be).

The second favor I did for myself was to keep our engagement short. Now this one might be hard for some people to pull off for logistical reasons, maybe financial or booking-related, but is one of the most worthwhile choices I have ever made. I wanted a short engagement because a) I don't much care for planning and b) I really, really wanted to be married. The night I became engaged, I asked my now-husband nervously (for some reason, I thought he might say no …psh) how he felt about a spring wedding. He said, “If that's what you want, then it's fine by me,” — bless him — and our engagement lasted from August 25th, 2018 to May 17th, 2019. For those wondering, that's 265 days to plan a wedding. The average engagement, according to BRIDES, is anywhere from 12 to 18 months. In the end, 265 days was more than enough time to create the best wedding I could've hoped for.

The final decision I made before launching into actually planning the wedding was to remember why I was doing it. This was my mantra, and it became sacred. I may be young, but I am not so young that I haven't seen what it looks like for people planning a wedding to grow so frantic in their organization and crazed micro-managing that it seems they have forgotten what they're even doing. I loved my fiance and that was all that mattered, and it's all that matters now that he's my husband. Each time I lost sight of the end-goal (by getting caught up in a detail that I can't even give an example of now because that's how insignificant it was), which was to marry my best friend, I chided myself and reset. Eyes on the prize.

With a frame of mind that was so empowering, I felt battle-ready, I waded into planning, found it to actually be quite easy, then cannonballed in and hey, it was still super easy. My secret for this part was to keep things simple, so I backwards-planned. For example: I knew that I wanted my dress to be meaningful, so I bought one from a secondhand shop that donated all proceeds to a local cancer support community. I knew that we didn't want cake (we're not cake people), so I found an ice cream sandwich truck that served cookies and ice cream that I think about at least ten times a day. I knew roughly what we wanted to spend and about how many people would be in attendance, so I found the perfect venue that checked off those boxes. By not getting in my head, taking things step-by-step, and saying “yes” more often than “no”, the perfect wedding practically fell into my lap.

I found it liberating to not obsess and to just ride the tide. All of my mental and emotional capital mostly went into the features that were most important to us, like having the right people there and making sure that the day made us both happy. What was left went into the rest and when I ran out of capital, I just said, “Whatever happens happens, and I'll still get to marry that man.”

Set a limit for yourself on how much time and energy you are willing/able to spend on the master plan, and you'll be much more likely to enjoy the wonderful period of being engaged. And let me tell you, it is so wonderful.

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Comments on Mission to not plan my wedding: Success

  1. I’ve learned that even the most small, chill, laid-back weddings do take time and effort. It’s totally great to have a positive attitude and to concentrate on not obsessing over details and decisions, but don’t undersell your (and others’!) real labor. Overwhelmingly (though of course not always) led by a female-identifying member of a couple if there is one, and another form of emotional labor that can feel extra invisible because of the celebratory nature of the event.

    For example: Ice cream truck. Awesome! Low key! Delicious! But – did you email back and forth to arrange it, get a quote, and possibly meet in person? Did you research industry standard? Did you email your venue to confirm they’d be cool with parking? Did you keep track of deposit info? Labor.

    Repeat for other vendors, including sometimes 2-3 different options if you don’t already 100% know who you’d like. Add in rentals, if it’s a raw space. Add in budget re-negotiation. Serious Labor.

    Even a small guest list – did you reach out to inform people/get addresses/emails/RSVPs/answer questions? Labor.

    Chillness is lovely, and weddings are amazing. But so is recognizing work when it happens, and not hiding it under a “cool girl” guise.

    • Super appreciating this perspective — YES! Recognizing emotional labor as labor is REAL.

    • YES THIS. With my wedding less than a week away, the resentment certainly bubbled up in me as I read this! I tried sooo hard to have this attitude the whole time. I’m a queer woman who’d never even imagined getting married and always thought the whole wedding culture was silly, but when it came to planning mine, I couldn’t escape the fact that I’m someone who cares about the details, loves letterpress, doesn’t like asking for help, and is prone to anxiety. This meant lots of stress! In fact, my attempts at a chill attitude was probably counterproductive because I literally lost sleep over the months-long fight with my friend/planner to not have floor length table clothes because I was trying so hard not to care.

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