There is a stereotype in our society that most women dream about their weddings from the time they are little girls playing with Barbies. And like all stereotypes, this is not true in all cases. I had thought about getting married from time to time over the years, but it was never something I daydreamed of much. I was more concerned about finding the right partner to embark on that journey with, not so focused on destination: wedding.
So, like many women, I had little idea what was in store for us when we got engaged. In our financial situation a wedding coordinator was out of the question, so we began the process of planning our own ‘big day’. Now that I am halfway though our 13 month engagement, have read over a dozen books on the subject, and have familiarized and submersed myself in most of the relevant websites online, I feel that I am prepared to give this little questionnaire to the newly-engaged, so you can test yourself to see if you are in fact cut out for this crazy thing called weddings.
(Please note: these questions are intended only for the purpose of determining whether you are well suited for planning and throwing your own wedding, NOT whether you are ready for marriage or marrying Mr/Mrs. Right. Being married requires an entirely different set of skills than event planning. Mmmkay?)
1. Money Can you afford this on your own, or will you need to borrow from a line of credit, go into credit card debt, or ask your parents for money? Do you have experience creating and managing large scale budgets, realistically estimating costs and staying within those parameters? Do you have the assistance of someone else to help you, such as your significant other, Mother, or best friend? In general, what is your relationship to money? Are you a saver, or a spender? How do you handle paying down debt? If any of these questions frighten you, you will need to carefully consider whether you want to take this particular bull by the horns.
2. Event planning and volunteer coordination Have you any previous experience throwing a large scale event? If you have, do you remember how it typically involves many coordinators, leading teams of dedicated volunteers to pull it off? Who will be your team leaders? Who will be your dedicated volunteers? Know your support network- and don’t assume, ask. Very. Politely.
3. The emotional rollercoaster ride How do you handle stress? Are you an adrenaline junkie, or do you shy away from it? How do you feel about being the center of attention? How do you feel about potentially ‘ruffling feathers’ of family and friends? For example, if you can’t invite everyone and people’s feelings are hurt, or you decide to have a more formal, adults-only event? There are close to a million wedding-related things that can potentially strain or ruin friendships and family ties, not to mention your relationship with your beloved. Bridezilla is not a mythical creature. She is real, very scary, and can happen to the best of us.
4. Your day, your way Are you an assertive person, or a people pleaser? How will you stand up to family, friends and vendors who question, judge or try to over-rule your choices? How will you react if your Mother or Mother-in-law starts planning your wedding in a way that you hate? Is this wedding all about YOU? Or both you AND your partner? Do you typically agree on things? Do you want to plan this together, while your significant other is silently expecting you to do it all? Better get clear on your shared vision for the event and your values surrounding the complicated myriad of customs, traditions, and ‘wediquette’.
5. Decorating How well do you know your own style? Do you have a clear vision of how you want to create a unique, personal aesthetic for the event, or will you find it easier and less stressful to make popular, trendy choices? Are you a DIY, crafty queen? If not, do you have the funds to buy or rent?
and the final, big question:
6. Eloping Do you really want a WEDDING? Or do you just want to be married to the person you love, and take a fabulous trip together? If so, I suggest a simple ceremony at the Law Courts, and jet off for your honeymoon the next day! Why spend all that money on hosting family and friends when you could be in Tahiti! The Mediterranean! With the average wedding costing anywhere between $10,000 to $30,000- some adventurous couples decide they would rather take the trip of a lifetime with that kind of budget. Many people feel that one month in Europe or southeast Asia would be better value for their money than a 5 hour wedding. Think about it….
But seriously, folks. If you catch yourself suddenly stressing over things that never mattered to you before, or having a meltdown because of some little hitch in your ‘dream wedding’ plan, or if you are both having a heart attack as your vendors come back with their quotes- take a minute and re-evaluate what is really important to you, and what’s not.
I have the advantage of many years of throwing live events: from band gigs and tours, to raves in the forest, and Burning Man theme camps. I’ve created and managed budgets, and I have also co-ordinated volunteers and been a volunteer for music, film, and theatre festivals. I am also used to living on a budget (my gross annual income has pretty much always been below what my government considers the poverty line), love thrifting and re-using and could never dream of spending anywhere close to the national average on a single day of my life. In all these ways, I have found that I am doing pretty well with planning my own wedding.
I am, of course, hoping for a long, happy marriage, so this will be my one and only wedding. However, hypothetically, if I WAS to do it again in the future, and I had more money- I would hire help. So for Pete’s sake, if you can afford it, hire a wedding planner. Live your life. You want to be a glowing vision of beauty on your wedding day, not a frazzled bundle of nerves. The other day I realized that 10 months of my life was going towards planning 12 hours (essentially). Crazy, isn’t it?
So what do you think? Are you cut out for this wedding thing?