I've been thinking a lot about my own wedding as I have been watching two weddings come together this year in Abe's family. It's interesting to reminisce in the perfect window of hindsight and the poor memory of the past. I remember the engagement period being pretty stressful but overall a fun (but busy time). Since blogging is often about giving away unsolicited advice, here are some of the details of my engagement and some things I learned along the way.
Shortly before our wedding 2007
Abe and I were engaged on Valentine's Day in 2007. We had a relatively short engagement with our wedding set for the infamous 07-07-07. I wasn't the type of girl who had been planning my wedding since childhood. In some ways this made it harder as I had to start completely from scratch with only a few months to plan. So, I started by cutting out a lot of the fluff. I didn't tan, have a make-up artist, fancy jewelry, or shoes. I didn't even have my dress fitted (it was slightly big if anything) and I certainly didn't have time for any sort of exercise regimen. I said no to Bridesmaids. Groomsmen. Flower girl. Ring bearer. In an LDS wedding these people aren't even involved in the ceremony. I didn't feel I needed people in matching dresses just because of tradition or to decide who was important enough to play those roles. Too much stress! And I certainly didn't need a party bus to take them all around with me. This made life a lot easier on me, and I think the potential bridespeople.
I am also under the opinion that just like the commercialization of Christmas, much of the wedding planning hooplah is designed for money! Do you really need to try every kind of cake to choose vanilla or chocolate? Do you have to see every florist shop to decide you want pink roses? If you have the money and sanity to do those things (and most importantly, that is FUN for you), great, but I found I was behind on every engagement checklist before I was even engaged.
I focused on a few details I really cared about and delegated the rest. This was mostly a necessity as I was in Iowa and the wedding would be in Utah (and luckily so was my mom). For some reason the invitations were really important to me to be completely custom. That was a lot of work to get them designed and put together but I was very happy with the result thanks to my friend Heidi who was amazing and designed it perfectly! Funny enough, I mentioned to my mother-in-law the other day that the only stamps available at the time of our mailing were the liberty bell and an ugly ram head. There were no pretty flower or wedding or love stamps. Just liberty bells and a ram with horns. This was a detail I wasn't pleased about but I think even though my mom and I were disappointed about this choice, not even my MIL remembered that detail.
I also got super lucky by finding an amazing cake lady who let me design my cake exactly how I wanted. I don't know what made me latch on to these two things but these were important and I was able to approve each detail. Knowing I had these details worked out made me more flexible on other details like the flowers (which were beautiful even though I couldn't get the exact Hawaiian flower I wanted) and the menu.
As for the rest, I told my mom and my mother-in-law my color scheme (orange and lime green), theme (luau), and that I wanted to have food (many LDS weddings are more open house type events with mint cups and dessert instead of dinner). And the wedding seemed to plan itself (Right Mom? Kristin?).
Some of the major stressors were:
-Timing. I was excited and anxious to get planning but my sister had gotten engaged just a few months prior and her wedding was in March, mine was in July. I had to delay some of my planning until my mom was done with that wedding. What a trooper!
-Guest list. This was the hardest thing to coordinate. Deciding on who should and shouldn't be invited when there are financial and physical constraints on numbers can be fundamentally different between families. In my family we haven't stayed in touch much with distant relatives so it was a little hard to understand why third cousin Sally needed to be invited to our cozy ceremony. Luckily we were able to sort this through after understanding the goals for both the ceremony and the reception.
-Dress shopping. Finding a LDS temple appropriate dress can be challenging, especially outside of Utah! I tried so hard to find one that wasn't too ornate, was whitest white, and modest -- only to be told in the temple I would have to wear one of theirs during the ceremony anyway. I almost cried, told myself it didn't matter, and enjoyed wearing my dress the rest of the day. I got so lucky to have found mine on sale for only $100. I did feel some disappointment that my mom was not able to be present with me to find my dress but I felt lucky that I was close enough with Abe's mom to enjoy the experience with her.
-Venue selection. I know some brides want their fiances to be super involved in the wedding planning. I found when mine got too involved it just made my life harder. My mom found a great outdoor park for our reception in the canyon which was beautiful but originally my fiance had a hard time visualizing it and was worried we were having our reception by the jungle gym. Luckily I think he was pleased with the end result and this was one example of the "It's your day" thing working out for the best.
If I have any advice looking back, I'd say take a deep breathe, enjoy this time together, and remember that the important part is that you are marrying the person you love. That matters more than the flowers, the guest list, or even the food!
Then you'll be prepared when something goes wrong. Because at least ONE thing will!