We're engaged, now what?

By the time my couples get around to hiring me to officiate their wedding ceremony, there have already been dozens of decisions made, promises sealed with handshakes, expectations set and dollars shelled out. Generally, couples will set a date, book a venue, and start pulling together a guest list long before we talk about their ceremony. And THAT part is okay – everyone’s priorities are different. The part that mystifies me is when brides and grooms sit in my meeting room and bemoan their own decisions…as if they weren’t their own. Their wedding is already not what they wanted.

Because, very early on, they felt the weight of (family/friends/social) expectation and caved into it before they listened to their own instincts.

But what if we turned the wedding planning thing on it’s head?

What if the journey WAS the destination? What if I told you that you are ALREADY setting the tone for your marriage TODAY? Would it change your attitude towards your engagement?

What if every decision you made about your wedding planning depended on only three things;

1)     Enjoying your engagement and the planning process.

This means trusting your gut instincts. Am I enjoying talking with this photographer, make-up artist, venue manager – no? Then get the hell out of there. Is the wedding planning taking up every single conversation that you and your fiancé have – yes? Then back off, hire a planner, push the date back, simplify, delegate, MAKE IT FEEL GOOD.

2)     How do you want to feel on your wedding day?

You’re getting ready the morning of, how do you want to feel? Pumped? Calm? Excited? Nervous? Wonderful? Relaxed? Energised? Because each one of these feelings is linked inextricably to decisions that are made LONG before the big day.

The people you choose in your bridal party, where you get ready, do you have music, or silence, or a yoga session? Do you need to get a jog in every morning to feel human or do you need industrial quantities of caffeinated beverages? Do you feel best in a group of people or are you a more ‘1-on-1’ type of person?

Determine who you are, what you like and how you want to feel before you make ANY decisions regarding your wedding planning.

3)     How do you want your guests to feel on your wedding day?

I say this to my couples all the time: if you didn’t care about your friends and family and how they feel, you would have gone to the registry office. So if you are going to the effort of planning a wedding where 2-200 guests are assembled to celebrate your relationship, think a little about how they feel. Put yourself in their shoes.

When they arrive at your ceremony is there someone to welcome them, signage, shade, water, music, a program to tell them what’s happening? Between your ceremony and your reception have you communicated to them where to go, what they can do, if they’re needed for official photos, when to meet at the reception venue.

The list goes on and on and it is possible to get carried away with ridiculously small details that no one else is ever going to notice. But my core question is this: how would my guests feel? I’m guessing you are aiming for a mixture of happy, entertained, loved, included and relaxed. 

So before you make any (more) decisions about your wedding, maybe check in on how you are feeling right now, how you want to feel on the day and how you want your guests to feel.

How are you going about planning your wedding? Do you have a process for keeping it all realistic and sane?

Celebrant Camille Abbott