Last week I went to a girlfriend’s engagement party and when all of the ladies were clustered together – the bride-to-be asked if we had any advice. After a few mumbles of “not really” and “just have fun!” The real secrets came pouring out.
Turns out, when 6 married women get together, there are a lot of lessons learned, here were 9 of the biggest ones.
Being married has been the most exciting thing I’ve ever done. Marriage is essentially having a sleepover with your best friend every single night. A built-in date for special events and a movie buddy to cuddle with on the couch.
Oh, did you catch that, I said the marriage was the most exciting part, not the wedding?
Let me explain.
1. Get everything in writing
This one is particularly important to vendor scouting. I found time and time again that the first meeting goes vastly differently than the follow-up meetings with vendors.
You’ll find yourself saying, “well you said you could do X, Y, X” and in return, the vendors will look at you with ghastly angst and say there’s no possible way to do that – and the cycle continues.
The method I found best for combating this was to type a synopsis of your meeting including all bullet points on pricing, what’s included, how many people, how many hours, etc, and send it over via text or email to the person and ask them to confirm if you got the notes correct or if you wrote anything down incorrectly.
This gives you leverage in writing in case things change down the line.
2. Pinterest isn’t real life
Oh, I wish I could shout this from the rooftops! Pinterest is not real life. The elaborate estate table of 500 guests off the California coastline with Ellie Goulding on violin as you say your vows and Bruno Mars at the after-party is usually not feasible.
Don’t fall prey to the styled shoots and remember that your wedding is about celebrating your marriage, no one cares about 16 ft floral arrangements.
3. Let people treat you
One of the biggest challenges when it comes to weddings is the events leading up to them.
There is a lot of hype around the bridal shower and/or bachelorette party and that can lead to some drama with a capital “D”.
While it’s important for you to have the event that you want, remember that more than likely, your friends are footing the bill for this extravagant weekend.
As mindful as you can be, this usually costs around a thousand or more per person. Let your planner (maid of honor, bridesmaids, sisters, etc) know what you want and your vision, and let them coordinate with the guests and plan this for you.
If you’re already planning a wedding, let your friends treat you to a fun weekend without dictating exactly what needs to happen. Often times the planner creates a schedule based on what the guests can manage both via schedule and financially, be mindful of this.
4. It’s not about the wedding, it’s about the marriage
Too many people get swept up in the hype around the wedding and forget that it’s a celebration of two people committing themselves to each other – for life.
This is a big freaking deal. Way more than a party that you are throwing that’ll last 24-72 hours.
When the stress hits, you should be able to turn to your partner and try to figure out the situation together because this is your person, there’s nothing you can’t handle – right?
5. Make smart decisions
Be smart about your financial situation and think about what these decisions mean for your future. Do you really need a master chef station or is that half of a down payment on a house?
Weddings are notoriously expensive, so spend within your means. You should never take out a loan to pay for a party.
6. Be upfront with your bridal party
On the topic of weddings, some people forget that while it’s an honor to be included in a bridal party, it also comes with a hearty price tag.
You know your closest friends and their financial situations (if you don’t should they really be included in your bridal party?) so be thoughtful of what expenses you anticipate them accruing.
Bachelorette parties can be thousands of dollars and when you tack on a destination wedding, bridesmaid’s hair & makeup, dresses, etc – you could be looking at over $5,000 to be a part of someone’s big day.
While your friends love you, that’s a huge amount of money. Especially for someone who may be saving up for milestones in their own lives.
Be respectful and don’t take it as a reflection of your friendship if someone can’t make things happen.
7. Don’t do personalized shirts
Just don’t do it. No one needs another bachelorette tank that says “bride squad” or “bride tribe” that they will never wear again.
Go classy with color-coordinated dresses for dinner or an event for you to shine, but let the girls wear something they own already and that they are comfortable in.
A good compromise is usually hats, sunglasses, or cute little temporary bride tattoos!
8. Skip the useless gifts
If I never see another “bridesmaid proposal” I’ll be just fine. I think asking your besties to be a part of one of the most important days of your life is super sweet, but you don’t need to spend $50 on a box of useless gadgets like heart-shaped sunglasses, a personalized tumbler, and a candle.
Instead, spend $75 and gift your best gal her makeup for the day of or earrings you want her to wear. She will look pretty and you gifted her something she will love and use.
Same philosophy for a bridesmaid’s dress, Saree, or anything you want them to wear – If you want them to wear it – gift it to them.
Girlfriend, no one needs another robe.
9. Spend your money & energy on what matters
Getting swept up in the whirlwind that is an engagement can be overwhelming, but don’t lose sight of what really matters.
No one will remember what wedding favors you had or what chairs they sat in – what they will remember is your energy and how happy you and your partner are on the day of.
Splurge on the photographer and a bomb hair & makeup team that will make you look good no matter how little sleep you got the night before.
10. Always do a hair and makeup trial
These will cost money and they should. You’re taking time and talent from an artist who will be doing God’s work on your puffy and sleep-deprived face. Test out multiple looks and hairstyles and take this time to really gauge how you feel about this person. Are they stressing you out? Or do you feel super comfortable with them for your big day?
Personalities match matter in high-stress situations!
11. One Team or Separate?
Consider doing separate vendors (who have experience working together) when it comes to photos and videos.
In my experience, people rarely do both well. Choose what’s most important to you and splurge on that.
Pro tip – if you hire a videographer, ask them to separate out all of the clips of speeches, dances, and your vows into individual files, so you can download and share them seamlessly.
Ultimately, your wedding is a time to celebrate with your closest friends and family. Don’t lose sight of the people who love you and want to enjoy this milestone in your life.
The bride paradox is where a woman is bombarded with messaging around how this is “her big day” and it’s “the most important day of her life” – when in truth, it’s one of the many big days of your life.
But it’s also a big day for your parents, your siblings, and of course – your partner. Their opinions do matter.
Remember, the end of the wedding is the start of a marriage.
That’s where the real fun begins.