My Two Cents for the Non-Bride Bride

More about my wedding? Yes. But I promise this is different from the other posts. It’s an advice piece. Yes, I, in my less-than-a-year marriage, already have advice to tell to you non-married people. Giddy up. But this isn’t marriage advice. It’s advice, I suppose, about planning a wedding. 

I have a lot of wonderful memories from my wedding. It was a fantastic weekend filled with a lot of excitement and lots of good food, good people, and good dancing. I have friends and family who still talk about how much they loved the way we did this or that and without a doubt, it was the greatest event of my life, celebrated in an extremely fun way. And while I feel like I made a lot of great decisions regarding the actual wedding and how things went, the process that it took to get to that day was not my favorite thing in the world. 

Well, to be a bit more frank, I hated planning my wedding. I really hated it. Even though I had experience helping with other friends’ weddings and planning plenty of other events, I did not have a good experience planning my wedding. I think I might be a rare case as far as this goes, but I wanted to write this post in hopes that if there’s another girl out there who is getting chastised for not being the “typical girl” and you haven’t had your wedding planned since you were 14, you’re not alone. It can be a scary and daunting task to plan such a big day. I’m not an authority on wedding planning by any means, but I do feel like I would’ve been better off knowing a few certain things, if only for my mental well-being. So, this post is more for how to deal with the stress and pressure of planning a wedding. And while I think advice pieces suck most of the time, if any of these ideas happen to help some frazzled and stressed-out bride out there, then I’d feel great knowing I’d somehow helped.

Things I wish I would’ve known before I started planning my wedding: 

 Get the pressure out of your head.
  • Pt. 1. There is an absurd amount of pressure that comes with weddings. About everything. About decorations, about your hair, about your invitations, about the venue, about your slammin’ hot bod, about your shoes, about your thank-you gifts—TRULY ABOUT EVERYTHING. For this, I truly think there’s something wrong with the wedding industry to put so much pressure on one day. It’s insane and it’s just not natural (another post, another time). Some of the pressure I felt was likely brought on by myself, but I think there’s a lot of hype to get these magazine worthy weddings. Weddings can be beautiful and inspiring, but if the idea of crafting a million doo-dads for your wedding makes you want to vomit, don’t do it, even if it means your wedding might be overlooked by Martha Stewart. People won’t remember your custom graphic-designed labels or the bunting you labored over for hours. People will remember you and your spouse. And at the end of the day, when I look at the photos of my wedding and reflect on that day, I think about my family and my friends and all the people that came together to celebrate Ian and me. I didn’t have time to notice how my flowers looked or how the cake was displayed. I was talking to people. Because people are the things that matter at your wedding. The rest is secondary.
  • Pt. 2. Even deeper at the heart of the pressure issue is how you feel. This is something I want to write, if only for my sake. I’ve briefly talked about this before on my blog, but I know that body image issues are not uncommon. I feel as though I’ve dealt with them on a similar level as most women, and when wedding time came around, it brought these issues to a head. So, this is for every girl who feels like they’re less than adequate at being a bride: I had a near mental-breakdown after I got my bridals back from my photographer. I thought I looked hideous. I thought I looked fatter than I was and that I looked horrible in my dress. I couldn’t see anything but the bad because I had these weird expectations of what I wanted to look like and I felt this enormous pressure to be the hottest I could and would ever be in my lifetime. No matter what my friends or family said, I couldn't see what they saw. I just saw a girl who didn’t look like other brides. In retrospect, what makes me so sad about that is that at the time, I completely missed what Ian looked like in those photos. I didn’t see the way that he looked at me in the photos. I didn’t open my eyes enough to see that he was completely in love with how I was. I had gotten such a weird bride complex in me that I had completely forgotten why I was a bride. The thing is, you’re a bride because someone loves you and wants you to be their bride. You’re a bride because of your relationship with him and yourself. That person loves you enough to marry you and thinks you’re perfect the way you are. I have always known that Ian loves me the way I am, but I didn’t love me. This is a constant battle I fight with myself, but after many tearful conversations and mental adjustments, when I got dressed on my wedding day, I saw the woman who was marrying the man who I thought deserved everything. I saw Ian’s bride.
Prepare to be frustrated, and know that it’s okay to be.
Whether you’re upset about something simple like the shade of green that’s all wrong, or it’s something bigger, like you’d really like to burn your dress, it’s okay to be upset. Planning a wedding is, plain and simple, a stressful thing and there are bound to be frustrating things along the way. Unfortunately, the notion of being a “bridezilla” made me feel overly dramatic and like a selfish and spoiled nutcase any time I was upset about something. But if something is different than what you wanted, it’s fine to feel upset. If something isn’t right, take the time to address it and if possible, see if you can change it. If it’s not possible, you will have at least acknowledged it and hopefully come to terms with it. Part two of this point is for those who aren’t planning a wedding, but your _____ (best friend, sister, daughter, etc.) is. Please, please don’t call her a bridezilla. Don’t diminish her feelings. Don’t make her feel stupid and dramatic. Just listen and try to help. 
Learn how to say no. 
This was a major problem of mine—I was a major push-over. I passively nodded my head to so many things that it got out of control and it was hard for those helping me to figure out what I actually wanted. I wanted to please those around me, but in doing so, I ended up creating a problem instead. This is sort of a big deal and is essential to a lot of different things involving a wedding—the décor, the food, what you spend your money on, etc. I had said yes to so many things that I ended up being overwhelmed and over-budget, which is something that I truly could’ve avoided. It even comes down to dealing with vendors, too. Vendors jack up their prices because people will dish it out because it’s a wedding, but it’s completely in your power to turn things down. For example, the first bouquet I had for my bridals was completely different from what I had ordered (like, the specific flower that I asked to not be in anything was the biggest part of it and I had asked for all white flowers, and they were all different colors). I should’ve told the company that I wouldn’t pay for that bouquet or that they should do something to make it right or fix it. It’s their job to do things the way they’re ordered, and if it’s wrong, they should be told no. 
If you like something, stick to it. 
This is another part of learning how to say no. There were a lot of ideas that I was talked out of and talked in to and a lot of them didn’t match up with what I actually wanted and I wish I would’ve just stuck with what I initially liked. If your favorite color is neon orange, do neon orange. If you want to use mason jars even though they’re at a lot of weddings, use mason jars. If you don’t want to have a reception because the thought of talking to that many people stresses you out, for the sake of your own happiness, don’t do it! Do what you want! Don’t feel obliged to do certain things this way or that whether it’s about how you schedule things, what things look like, or even who you invite (although that one might be a bit trickier…). It’s your wedding. Do what you like. 
Understand that there will probably be things you might have regrets about.
Maybe regret is too strong of a word. But this was something that I wasn’t expecting to feel at all, but it was making me feel weirdly sad. I mentioned to a dear friend of mine that I sometimes wished I would’ve gone with a different style of dress, and without missing a beat, she replied, “Oh, me too. There will always be things that you see later that make you think, ‘I wish I would’ve done that.’ It’s just a part of it.” After she said this, I felt really relieved just knowing that I wasn’t the only one who wished that this or that could’ve happened. (I had a friend recently find her dream wedding dress three years after she was married. It happens.) On the flip side, there’s no use in harboring bad feelings and in the grand scheme of things, whatever happens, happens. 

Don't be afraid to ask for help. 
That's what bridesmaids are for. And what your mom is waiting to do. I had a pride complex here and it totally added to my stress level. Let go of your obsession for cootie-catchers that are perfectly folded. Let people help you. They might even want to help.   

When things go really wrong, keep it in perspective.
It is your wedding and there’s no question that it is an important day and you should feel great, but when things go haywire, remember that it’s about you and your partner. I got a sinus infection two weeks before my wedding. I frantically altered and cut up parts of my dress a week before my wedding. I got a yeast infection (TMI, SRY WHO CARES) a week before my wedding. I had to get a shot in my face for an acne cyst three days before my wedding. A lot of crappy things happened all at once at a crucial time when I would’ve loved for none of that to happen. But it is what it is, and I still got married and still had a great time even though I had a bruise on my face that looked like I had been punched by my brand new husband. Luckily for me, all of those things make me laugh now. 
When the day comes, be positive and be present.
At this point, your wedding day is what it is and chances are, it’s going to be a fantastic! Focus on what’s happening and let go of anything else. If a groomsman shows up late, just carry on with a smile on your face. If someone drops your cake, laugh about it. This is probably the most basic piece of advice, but it is something that is crucial. Don’t miss out on moments from your wedding because things might not be going just right. There are so many people there to celebrate with you and it’s just not worth it to spend time in a negative mental place. Also, despite my earlier point about being frustrated and upset, on the day of your wedding, be classy and kind and graceful—it is unflattering otherwise. I was once shooting a wedding at the Salt Lake Temple and was literally yelled at by a bride after I directed my bridal party to a certain area that she had been waiting for. I was in the wrong, sure, and I quickly moved out of the way and to a different area, but I was offended and more embarrassed for that bride and how she had acted. Your wedding day should be full of happiness and love, and you can dictate exactly how it goes by your behavior.

I don’t mean to depict planning a wedding as this horrific, unavoidable burden. Fortunately, all of the crap that came along with planning this thing ended with a wedding that was not only special and meaningful, but incredibly fun, too. It was great. My beginning of my marriage is undoubtedly the most important day of my life and I'm so glad that all the hard work led to a beautiful and fun wedding that celebrated that. 

But in general, planning a wedding just takes a lot of time and can cause a lot of stress. It takes a lot of organization and a lot of help, too.

Fortunately, there are lots of helpful tools and websites out there to help. I don't know about many, but once resource that I found to be really stress relieving was A Practical Wedding. This website helped me a ton with certain issues I was dealing with in regards to my relationships around me and with myself. I won’t go into detail, but this site made me feel infinitely better about how I felt while I was planning. (And just a tip, I did buy the book, but I ended up finding the website to be more useful to me. JSYK.)

So, to those of you that are embarking on the adventure of planning your own wedding, I hope that this post has nourished and strengthened your body and mind. Really though, I hope that this post helps! I know there's a pretty sad tone to this whole post (yikes, sorry), but I have wanted to write something about this for some time. Planning a wedding can be tough. But weddings can be so, so great.
Alright. Well, that’s all I have to say about this. (This may be the longest written post on my blog ever…) If any of you readers have any advice to add to this, please comment!


Photos by the wonderful J. Taylor Photography. 


Lindsay said...

Dear Anna,
Same. On all accounts.

ps, glad "A Practical Wedding" was helpful. It pretty much saved my planning life.

Anna said...

I never got around to thanking you for recommending a practical wedding!! It was a live saver. And you are fantastic by the by. I think you are too great.

Emily said...

I was like you and didn't ask for much help (and couldn't afford to pay for it) so the process for me was really, really stressful. In the end, I think it would have been worth it to pay a little more so that I could enjoy the process more, and this will be advice I pass on to my (future) children. But AMEN to what you said about the event being about the people, first and foremost!

Anna said...

LINDSAY. I MEAN LIFE SAVER NOT LIVE SAVER. Oh man. Auto-correct got me on that one.

Anna said...

Emily! I'm totally with you...I should've just hired a planner!

L J said...

Cool post sis, love ya sis. I like that you are honest about it all. Ya look stunning in that top pic by the way. k sis. i'm gettin almost too effin excited for the visits. k

Brissa said...


Brissa said...


Brissa said...


Brissa said...

YEAH, three times (how embarrassing!) that's how much i mean it!!!