The Five Stages of Wedding Planning

The Five Stages of Wedding Planning

Friends, there are journeys in life that we undertake without realizing the full scale of what’s involved. Marriage is one such journey, as is its cousin, The Wedding. Let’s talk about marriage later though. Being just a couple months away from our wedding has given me some good perspective on what it takes to plan and pull off a wedding. Although I am sure I will have updates when it’s all over, these have been the stages of wedding planning so far.

1. Anticipation/Naïve Optimism

OMG, you just got engaged! It’s exciting, it’s a whirlwind, you’re calling everyone you know and there are tears and hugs all around. It’s such a happy time and the wedding is a vague, future notion. Once the excitement of the engagement dies down a little, you start talking wedding ideas with your fiancé and closest friends and family. This is the stage when you are still using adjectives: “Definitely rustic”, “Just charming and sweet, you know?”, “Classic, timeless, lots of black and white!” You come up with a budget that seems reasonable and will end up being about 38% of the actual total cost of the wedding.

2. First Steps/Fear

Once you have a general idea of when the wedding will be, one of the first details to lock down will be a date and a place. This can be scary. Let’s say the wedding is a year away. Have you ever worked on something with that much anticipation? Managed expectations and vendors, and tried to figure out what could happen if the vendor should go out of business or become sick on the day of the wedding. The costs also start climbing up in this stage. Your budget starts to expand. You feel a little bit like Ariel signing the contract with Ursula every time you sign a contract and pay a deposit.

3. Resignation/Full Steam Ahead

There is a lot of duality in wedding planning. By this stage, you’re resigned to the costs of the wedding, but you’re also knee-deep in planning, signing contracts, booking hotel blocks (those usually don’t cost anything, you just need to ask), setting colors, figuring out the wording of invites and discovering new details at every turn. Excitement mixes with being overwhelmed and the occasional freak out (What do you mean my flower won’t be in season? What do you mean I need to buy chair covers?!!).

4. Anthropology Experiment/Detached Management

As Revanche did an awesome job of pointing out all the little quirks of both wedding planning and the actual wedding,  it has been funny/exhausting/pleasantly surprising to see how people get involved in this big event. It’s truly an event that brings families together, although I have to handle feeling guilty for taking up anyone’s time (I‘ve always been adamant about not asking anyone for favors, so this whole thing is new to me) or being the center of attention. We talk about the wedding a lot with family and friends and while I love it and enjoy it, I also don’t want to make it all about me or be an attention hog. I try to balance but have no idea how well that’s working. And it’s true, some people will surprise you by being flaky, backing out of things they offered to help with, or just generally being unhelpful. It’s not personal. It has nothing to do with you, and it’ll happen more than once. What can you do? Just observe and smile and try not to overreact (I may have had a few “this is f***ing horse***” moments) We’re also at the moment where we have to simply get it done, order this, order that, confirm that. I try to work a little each day but it doesn’t feel like enough. Thankfully I have help from family members and friends to just guide and generally be supportive.

5. The Final Countdown/Let’s Do This

I’m not here yet. But when all the final payments are made, when all the plans are more or less in place, when details have been confirmed by all one last time, I imagine all you want to do is just arrive at the big moment and try to enjoy the day and make each moment last. I want to be present and relaxed by the time the rehearsal dinner rolls around all the way until we head for the airport after the wedding. I tend to overworry, overplan, overanticipate and underbudget (ha!). So with all of those over-unders, I still want to come out remembering that we pulled off a wedding with our friends and family, we got to spend time with each other and share our love, and we got some great memories of our summer wedding.

What stage of wedding planning are you in? Do you want to skip the wedding altogether? What do you remember most about your wedding or what one thing would you have done differently?

(This post is part of our MOST READ series, which preserves posts from the Tiny Apartment Design archives. Credit and copyright goes to original author.)