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GP: Dealing with Wedding Expectations

June 30, 2010
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I am pumped to have Angie and Josh from One Cat Per Person (I’m down with OCPP, yeah, you know me) as co-guest bloggers today. If you haven’t checked out her blog, don’t waste any time, go now! Oh wait…read the guest post…and then go….you know…get on with it, then!


Weddings are hard. Damn hard. Especially when you have your best friend, mother-in-law, second cousin, Maid of Honor, the blog scene, and the WIC setting ridiculous expectations for your wedding. As we brace ourselves and dive into the deep, dark waters of wedding planning, these are the inevitable facts that we know come with the territory. How we choose to navigate, accept or avoid these expectations is up to us.

As soon to be married folk, we expect other people to be uncooperative, selfish and demanding. We know they expect us to act like bridezillas and groomzillas. But what we sometimes fail to recognize are our expectations for our partners and the wedding planning process.

Why are these expectations important? Well, they can keep you sane for one. They can help you understand how to communicate effectively with your partner. And it will keep you sane. Yes, I meant to say it twice.
It’s just. that. important.

When my fiance, Josh, and I began planning our first wedding we had a very difficult time with wedding expectations. Together we made timelines, wedding pillars, goals, vision statements, mission statements, and more. You name it, we have an Excel spreadsheet for it. We had a file on each of our laptops filled with tutorials, inspiration boards, and look books. It quite sickening now that I think about it. We focused so much on meeting the expectations of the blog scene, WIC, and our mother’s that we forgot to create expectations for ourselves.

So with our experience in planning two weddings, one that failed miserably and another that we’re crossing-our-fingers-praying-to-the-wedding-goddesses-above it goes off without a hitch (pssh, yea right.), we decided to highlight a few gems of knowledge about wedding expectations that we wish we knew eight months ago:

Expect your wants and needs to change.
What you are so totally digging now may not be what you are so totally digging five months from now. This may include your wedding dress, your suit, your food, your venue, the list goes on. Maybe the change is caused by you or maybe your venue owner so damn high all the the time he sucks to work with… ahem, I digress. If this happens you need to assess if it’s too late to make changes. If it isn’t too late, embrace the change. Figure out a plan B, get back your deposit, find a new dress, do whatever it is you need to do, and start researching.

Ask yourselves these critical questions:

  • Why caused this change? Was it us? Was it the stoner?
  • What is it about our plans that we don’t like?
  • What can we do to get back on track?
  • Will this new plan work?
  • Is it worth our time/money/energy?*

A note from the authors: Time/money/energy is the holy trifecta in our wedding planning process. If any wedding element/project/thingie doesn’t meet all any part of the trifecta, we don’t even bother.

If you can’t make any changes, welcome it with open arms. Accept the fact that it’s going to be part of your wedding and you have plenty of other elements to focus on. This wasn’t very easy for us at first. Wedding #1 was not our wedding at all. It belonged to someone else I saw on some wedding inspiration blog and when Project Copy-that-chick’s-wedding failed, we were completely blown by the unwelcomed change of plans. I cried. A lot. We drank. A lot. And then we picked ourselves up off the floor and went back to the drawing board. Wedding #2 (our current wedding) started off as a non-wedding wedding. We did the opposite of what we thought the cool kids were doing and decided to be all punk rock about everything, but that left in the same boat that Wedding #1 put us in. But this time, when our non-wedding wedding started to look like a somewhat traditional-kinda crafty-maybe even a little trendy wedding, we embraced the change. We understood that our wants/needs had evolved, and went with it. Now, we’re so stinking happy you couldn’t pry it from our cold, lifeless, dead, monkey hands… or something like that.

Be realistic with your expectations.
Please note, realism is something we failed to put into a spreadsheet. Josh feels very strongly about this point. He says, “having a picture perfect vision of your wedding day is all well and good, but it’s important to recognize that some things are not attainable.” That doesn’t mean you need to lower your standards, but you need to get real with what resources you have, what resources you may not have, and how you can substitute those resources if need be. For example, we did not have the money to letterpress invites, maps and the like. So instead we used Josh’s design skills and made our own post card invites and a wedding website. It was more work than we anticipated and sure I still dream about letterpressed invites, but our DIY approach helped us save a lot of dough.

While we’re on the topic. DIY route is not always the answer and it’s not always a money saver. You also need to ask yourselves if DIY-ing something is worth your [insert holy trifecta here]. Money doesn’t solve your problems, but if you spent the last five nights trying not to throw your DIY cake topper out the window, cough up the $40 bucks and hit up Etsy. Josh may be a designer, but I am no crafter.

A note from the authors: If you build your own website, do some research on other people’s property wedsites. Check out the free websites available and what they have going on.The free websites gave us lots of ideas on how to make our site both informational and functional. Josh built us a WordPress template because it’s easy to use, especially for someone like me who is all kinds of html/css/blahblahblah illiterate.

Set expectations of each other.
So maybe you’re the planner and the list maker. You set up all the tasks and deadlines that you and your partner follow. Maybe your partner isn’t as hands on as you are. Whatever the case may be, it’s important to discuss what your roles are in wedding planning. Mr. Joshua and I thought we had this all figured out. Oh, how sweet and naive of us. We created a his and hers task list and it completely bombed. I tried to conquer both lists on my own, I didn’t ask for help, and Josh sat around twiddling his thumbs waiting for my cue. This is not a good way to plan a wedding. It took us many, many months to get wedding planning down to a science that works for us. For example, I am not comfortable with confrontation. So when we dumped Wedding #1 and needed to get back our deposits, Josh felt more comfortable contacting the vendors. My source of discomfort is an arena in which Josh thrives.

A note from the authors: Feel free to write your own rules to wedding planning. Maybe it is easier for one of you to make a list and the other to delegate. Or maybe you make a list together and pick out the projects you want to tackle solo or together. Either way, find what’s right for you. It may involve some difficult conversations, but in the end it’s worth it.

Expect to have fun! Duh!
It’s your freaking wedding, ya turkey! You’re going to look hot. Your partner’s going to look hot. You’re going to dance your hot little asses off and have a banging time. Don’t fret. Weddings bring people together. And not just any people- the kind that love you and your partner. Bonus! No one will notice that you changed your mind and went with fuchsia over violet or that you hated the playlist you made four months ago and downloaded an entirely new playlist the night before. Your guests will not notice these things unless you do. If you shine with love and have the greatest time of your life, your guests will too. That’s a fact, yo.

We’ve put together some of our wedding wisdom gems and now we want to hear yours. What has your experience been with wedding expectations? Have you been successful in navigating your way through them or are they still presenting themselves as a challenge? Or maybe you have some other tips you want to share?

Cheers and Happy Planning!

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30 Comments leave one →
  1. June 30, 2010 12:37 pm

    I just love your cross-guest-posting today. So sweet.

    I agree wholeheartedly that DIY has its time and place, and then there are times when it’s just not cost effective or it’s just too aggravating to bother.

    • June 30, 2010 1:05 pm

      Completely agreed. I used to read Young House Love and Apartment Therapy like a mad woman, and I realized every time I finished… I felt like I wasn’t doing enough DIY stuff.

      And I only do the DIY crafty thing, maybe every couple of months or so. I’ve personally done two crafty things for the wedding (in the last few weeks) and that’s already way over my limit!

      • June 30, 2010 1:46 pm

        Hahaha! Those damn origami cranes I started are mocking me. Mocking me, I tell you. I’m the queen of half-finished DIY.

      • June 30, 2010 1:47 pm

        What if you call to the bloggers for help? We could each make some and mail them? I wouldn’t mind foldin’ up a dozen or two.

        Ok, I know I said I’m not crafty…. but I can fold!

      • June 30, 2010 8:49 pm

        YOU girls are SO cool.

    • June 30, 2010 5:20 pm

      Thanks, Sarah, I LOVE Angie and Josh’s post, eh!? Let’s get real! TOTALLY call on us to make origami cranes! I would love to try a crafty project! HOORAY for Angie’s kick-ass post, eh? Woot!

      • July 1, 2010 2:58 pm

        I may take you guys up on that as we get down to the wire, but for now I feel like it would be cheating to have other people fold them. I think I’m supposed to be learning patience or something from this whole thing.

  2. June 30, 2010 1:56 pm

    You totally hit the nail right. on. the. head.
    There is just so much STUFF that goes on with a wedding, it is so easy to get wrapped up in something because you think that is what you should do, or what someone else wants, or what the wedding industry thinks you should do.
    The DIY bit- wow did I learn about that.
    I’m excited that you are having a wedding #2, oh I would like to change somethings but not enough to go through it all again. Therefore, I will be planning a different sort of event to redo some of the things that got left out 🙂

    • June 30, 2010 5:38 pm

      True dat! And there’s also the whole thing of getting caught up in NOT doing something because you think everyone else is doing it or it’s too trendy. And I’m guilty as charged.

  3. June 30, 2010 5:30 pm

    DIDN’T SHE?! Wowza!

  4. June 30, 2010 7:32 pm

    Angie..We’re re-reading and re-reading and LOVING this post. You are so thoughtful and intuitive and mature “in the ways of wedding planning” kidding, in life as well. You really nailed the important topics dead on. Couldn’t agree more about being ready for change! You KNOW we’re trying to learn from your successes! Thanks so much!

    • June 30, 2010 10:37 pm

      successes?! i guess when you think about it, they kind of are. and i mean that in the last egotistical way as possible. i fought damn hard for our little wedding and i’m going to stick up for it if/when i can.

      you guys will too. swear it. sense it. KNOW IT!

      can you tell i’ve had too much sangria? i can.

  5. June 30, 2010 8:41 pm

    I love how two of my favorite bloggers posted for each other today. In theory, you might argue, it’s a “zero-sum” type of situation because in the end, I get the same amount of posts from each one. But you’d be wrong, because the intrigue and excitingness of a guest post – much less a cross-guest-post-switcheroo – add an intangible element to it all. If I go to One Cat Per Person, I get Lizzie. If I go to Ten Thou, I get Angie. Crazy!

    • June 30, 2010 8:48 pm

      Ahahaha! Thanks Bret! We thought we’d throw a little confusion into the world, and it just e-mailed me “I had no idea what was going on there for a while…you got me! You got me!”
      And I was all: “World, capitalize that first you.”
      And the world cursed at me.

      Kidding. Too far. I’m all loopy from le surgery.
      That’s a good excuse for a little while, though eh?

      • June 30, 2010 8:53 pm

        Yeah, you should milk that for as long as you can. I had swine flu and I was still scoring sympathy points weeks after I was over it!

      • June 30, 2010 10:38 pm

        actually we’re Russian spies sent to retrieve random information from conversations and happenstance.

      • July 1, 2010 6:36 am

        p.s. I don’t know how you retrieve information from happenstance. If you’re a spy, obtaining information seems very intentional and well-planned. Happenstance is none of those thangs.

        Sangria makes me believe I know what I’m talking about.

  6. June 30, 2010 9:36 pm

    Oh, haha. I plan on it. Can we get some nationwide audible applause for the kick-ass kids who guest posted?! They are some sweet-heart kids. don’t forget to check out their blogo!

  7. June 30, 2010 11:48 pm

    LOVE. THIS. POST. Great tips – if only we read this a year ago 🙂 Keep up the cross-posting, even though I already follow your blogs like posts, I’m all for this synergy!

  8. July 1, 2010 1:16 pm

    super fabulous list! I think you really hit on the major issues. The first two especially are right on target. My original wedding ideas are pretty far from where I am now but I lvoe this one so much more. Its much more Lisa & Ryan and much less ode to Once Wed. Being realistic is also key since I have a way with deciding to make projects which are crazy time consuming and think I can ‘whip them up’ all by my lonesome.

    Excellant advice but of course I knew it would be coming from Ms. Angie!

    • July 1, 2010 1:55 pm

      Thanks, Lisa!

      We were totally trying to do something all Style Me Pretty. But that’s not us, at all really. I don’t have time to collect china for a year? Yaknow?

      Glad all of us are finding our own aesthetic as well as our own rules through this whole thing. It’s really so much more than planning a wedding- it’s taking who you are as individuals and a couple and making it into something tangible for your loved ones. It’s quite an amazing thing when you think about it that way.

    • July 1, 2010 2:04 pm

      haha “Don’t have time to collect China for a year.”
      You girls crack me up!

      @Lisa: Didn’t they do an EXCELLENT job, I really have to check back on these because Isaiah & I are having a hard time discerning what WE want and what SMP and Once Wed are showing off of the most beautiful weddings, you know?! God love those sites for their dedication to beautiful and the best in weddings, though, eh?!

      There’s just a point where you’re all: “Okay, too much is decided to look at these anymore.” lol
      Love’s Gift (Charity Wedding) gave us some advice on our Venue Freakout post, she said: “There are 100 weddings you could have, and 99 of them would be GREAT, so pick one and go forward with it, don’t look back.” Some of the best advice I’ve heard yet. We’re not choosing between GREAT and AWFUL weddings, we’re choosing between a beautiful wedding that’s less “US” and a beautiful wedding that’s ALL “us.” *By we, I mean all of us over-planning-over-thinking-bride-to-bes in the wedding community! haha.

      @Angie: Definitely! Thanks so much for sharing again, really appreciate what you had to say, you know I luuuuuv you guys, haha!

  9. July 1, 2010 3:42 pm

    Okay I totally feel like I’m chiming in from the other end of the room, but this is such a great post. As a recent wedding graduate, I’m still kicking myself for not getting all my DIY projects ready, or all the cutesy-little-must-be-photographed details set up, but you know what? I’ve whined about it all already, and now I kinda have a smug I’m-better-than-that feeling. (only to make myself feel better) but still. I’m getting over it. Things happen, some things don’t happen. You don’t fail if its not perfect. Another thing I’m telling myself.

    • July 1, 2010 4:22 pm

      Definitely agreed. I think Angie and I share a similar feeling, so though it’s her post, I’ll answer for both of us: “The wedding is just a day.” You can do all you can to make it a great experience of togetherness, a beautiful day and a marvelous memory…however, at the end of it, there’s nothing about it worth beating yourself up about! haha..

    • July 1, 2010 5:43 pm

      Yea! What Lizzie said!

      And it’s weird writing posts like this when I’m still a wedding undergrad. But I feel like I’ve come really far. If I had started writing my blog back in say… January, you would have heard a lot more bitching and whining.

      And Jasper, in a weird way, I’m glad to hear you still felt bad about not getting to the DIY projects you had planned. That’s a real bride voice. As much as we say “chin up, baby, it’ll be okay” we really aught to be saying what we really feel- feeling free to feel bad, upset, angry, whiny etc. Those are all very real feelings and it’s our right to feel that way. Go through the motions, is what I like to say- feel it, embrace it, and once the motions pass, you can really puff up your chest and say “I did the muhfukkin thang.”

      And p.s. Just stepped over to your blog, which I think I have before, but your wedding day necklace and bouquet are some hot stuff. Like really hot stuff. Me likey.

      • July 1, 2010 6:45 pm

        Thanks angie and lizzie! I felt pretty for sure. And it was just a day, but it was supposed to be THE DAY you know? But I’m not an event planner, and I don’t get a do-over!
        Enough.

        Take care ladies, bust out your ideas to the fullest so you have no regrets!!!!
        And i’ll keep checking in on the progress…

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