Weddings Should Be Fun For All -
That time of year is fast approaching when suddenly it will feel like the whole world has gone wedding crazy, as social media explodes with pictures of freshly engaged couples and the world looks on as they plan their dream wedding with much anticipation.
The world of wedding planning has grown exponentially over the past few years with the arrival of services such as Pinterest and the entire wedding blog industry, which dedicates so much space to advising brides on everything from the wedding dress, to the rings, to the wedding invitations, down to the tiny details on the reception tables.
But is all of this fun for women? Surely not! After all, it takes two to set the wheels for a wedding in motion. While so much of the wedding industry is designed around grabbing the attention of the bride and is in competition for her wedding dollar, there are many areas of the wedding planning and preparation which require thoughtful and committed decisions from the groom. Marriage only works with great communication and strong partnership, and planning a wedding together is an ideal training ground for making sure the relationship has what it needs to go the distance.
Ok, men, we’ll be honest. While your suits are classy and there’s definitely some pressure on you to look great for the big day, nothing comes close when it comes to the importance of picking the right wedding dress. For some women, this is a shopping excursion they may have been dreaming about since they were a little girl, and they might already have a clear idea of exactly the kind of look and style they’re aiming for.
For others, shopping for a wedding dress is a daunting process. There’s a huge range of styles to choose from, taking into account shape, cut, colors, fabric, and silhouette.
A great way to begin is by taking a look online at the current wedding dress trends and saving pictures that stand out to you as dresses you’d like to try on. This will help you to begin to narrow down the styles that immediately catch your eye and the kinds of dresses you’d never wear down the aisle in a million years. Once you’ve spent some time researching like this, it’s time to begin shopping.
Book an appointment with the wedding dress specialists in your area (the boutique stores require appointments so you have enough time and space to examine their dresses without being too crowded). By booking an appointment early in the morning, it’s likely to be less crowded, and the bridal store staff will be fresh and energetic when it comes to helping you try on their range. Bridal store consultants often have years of experience in this area and can listen to your initial feedback as to the kinds of dresses you’d like to explore shape, color and style wise, while guiding you away from dresses which won’t be the most flattering for your body type (which is definitely a consideration most women are making when it comes to what they’ll wear on their wedding day!).
Before you get too excited by the colors and materials available for you to choose from, focus on the silhouette. Although details are important, the difference between a wedding dress that looks good on you and a wedding dress that’s going to look breathtaking is your choice of the silhouette. This is also where it’s important to ignore the latest trends, and instead, focus on what’s most flattering for you.
The next area of importance is the top of your wedding dress. Many women get overwhelmed with excitement at the thought of a delicate, trailing hem, but it’s the top of your dress which will be both most noticeable and also will turn up in the majority of your wedding photos.
The irony of wedding dress shopping is the fresh looks and styles which are released every season when in fact, shopping for a wedding dress should have a goal of timelessness in mind. Just take a flip through your parents’ wedding album to see that ‘trendy’ wedding dresses do not stand the test of time. Instead of wearing the latest look to hit glossy magazine pages, focus on finding a dress that makes you feel elegant, sexy, and glamorous. Mix it up with both modern and traditional elements to guarantee yourself a dress your future children won’t cringe at when they look back at your own photos in another twenty years.
When shopping for a wedding dress, there’s a few things you need to bring with you: versatile and flattering underwear (so you can get an idea of the dress’s true strengths without worrying about unsightly bra straps), a camera, and a friend with honest and helpful feedback. Some wedding boutiques won’t allow photos to be taken, but if you’re getting serious about a dress, they’ll begin to relax this rule. The reason this is important is because mirrors can be manipulated with all kinds of flattering angles and lighting, but a camera doesn’t lie. Getting a look at how you’ll appear in photos is of crucial importance when it comes to a wedding dress, as thousands will be taken of you on the day!
Now, how do you know how many dresses is enough when it comes to how many to try on? This is a tricky area - you want to give yourself plenty of options and truly test a variety of shapes and silhouettes on your body, but you also want to make sure you don’t overwhelm yourself. Wedding dress shopping is a lot like picking a husband - often, you’ll need to rely on your gut. There’s something special about the dress which you’ll end up taking home with you, and often you can feel it subconsciously when you first try it on. Don’t stress about trying to try on every gown in the world and make sure you’ve hunted through every corner. When you feel like you’ve found your dress, be confident in making the decision.
Finally, make sure not to get scared about wedding dress sizing. Bridal gowns run two to three times larger than your regular size, so it’s important to pay attention to the way the dress looks, not the size on the label. This is an area where a well-trained bridal consultant can make all the difference in both your experience and your purchase.
Once you have your dress, give yourself a pat on the back and pour yourself a glass of champagne! Planning a wedding can be stressful, and it’s important to remember that the process is not meant to be so - instead, it should be fun and enjoyable. Let yourself celebrate these moments of progress as your dream day turns into more of a reality.
Now, this is a choice which will stay with you forever, as you’ll wear your wedding rings for the rest of your life. Choosing a wedding ring that works for both husband and wife is a process that requires a lot of time, thought, research and consideration. There are many questions to answer to find the right style for both yourself and your partner, and of course, it’s a style you want to love forever.
By this stage, you’ll have an engagement ring to work with, so for the woman, some style is already set in stone (quite literally). Some couples choose to have matching bands for both man and woman, while other couples will pick a different style of ring for each. It’s up to you as to what you feel comfortable with and which option will best suit yourself and your partner.
The first step is to narrow down your choices. Diamonds, gemstones, silver, platinum or gold - there’s a whole wide world of wedding rings available to choose from, and the choices can feel overwhelming rather than helpful. Start with the style - are you picturing a very simple band or a band with more details and embellishments? Do you want your wedding band to match the metal in your engagement ring? Answering these questions can help to narrow the window of opportunities so that by the time you begin shopping, the choices don’t feel so overwhelming.
Some people also opt to buy the wedding band at the same time as the engagement ring in order to ensure access to the right kind of fit. If you’ve got a unique, statement-making engagement ring, it may be your choice to opt for a more simple band to complement it. Alternately, a simple engagement ring may go best with a band with some diamond sparkles in the mix. It’s important to think of how the rings fit together and also whether you plan on wearing them side by side all the time, or whether you’d like a wedding ring that you can wear on its own on a day to day basis, in which case you may want a band that looks beautiful all on its own.
If you find your partner is attracted to one kind of metal and you prefer another, don’t be afraid to mix it up. There’s nothing that says your rings must match exactly and choosing rings which reflect both of your styles and personalities is better than one person wearing a yellow gold which they’ve always hated for every day for the rest of their lives.
When it comes to setting a budget for ring shopping, one figure that’s cited is an estimated 3% of your entire wedding budget. Depending on the retailer, a very simple, straightforward 14-karat gold or platinum wedding band can cost up to $1,000. Embellishments such as diamonds will add to this cost and see the overall figure rise. Make sure you and your partner have clearly communicated around your budget and your ability to commit to a price you’ll both be comfortable with before you begin shopping, as falling in love with a ring outside of your budget is only setting yourself up for disappointment.
Keep an open mind and try on different styles to the ones you automatically go for. Just like when shopping for a wedding dress, you might find yourself attracted to a ring which you would never have looked twice at online or in the store’s display! Try wearing the ring around the store for a few minutes to see how it looks and fits and get an idea of how it would work for you in an everyday life setting. It’s foolish to commit to a ring which does not reflect your lifestyle - if you work with your hands, the last thing you want is a dainty ring which easily snags or catches on things or is easily scratched or damaged, so instead, you’d need to choose something like a platinum or titanium steel metal.Before you make your final decision, check the rings for quality. Quality control applies to all rings and the rings should reflect this with two marks inside the band - one which is a manufacturer’s trademark, and the quality mark, i.e. 24K or PLAT, which proves the metal quality is what the retailer says it is.
It’s key to begin your ring search early. Too many people put this off until the last minute, citing other things to do on their list as being more important. Give yourself a minimum of two to three months before the wedding to ring shop together, since you’ll need this time to browse, compare prices and ultimately make a final decision. You’ll also find both bride and groom get busier and busier as the wedding approaches and everything needs to be done at the last minute, so plan early, spend some time ring shopping together and enjoy the peace and quiet before the party hits!
Wedding invitations are an area where you can afford to have a little more fun and be as creative as you like - after all, you’re not marrying your invitations! The right kind of invitation is going to be extremely different and vary from couple to couple, as no two couples are alike. Wedding invitations should reflect their personality, their love, and the style of the ceremony and reception, as well as providing all necessary details required for guests to attend your wedding smoothly.
This is another area where setting a budget beforehand and remaining committed to sticking to it is highly important. The wedding invitation industry is huge and has many ways of convincing you to spend an extra few dollars per invitation. When you add this up across the 100+ invitations you’ll be sending out, this starts to get expensive! The good news is this is also an area where you can use some DIY talent and creativity to create invitations that look and feel expensive and beautiful in the style you’re after, without losing too much money (and therefore too much sleep).
The internet is a great asset for researching different designs and gathering invitation ideas. Spend some time on Pinterest and searching the web for keywords that match your wedding style - i.e. beach wedding invitation, black tie wedding invitation, bohemian wedding invitation. The invitation style will begin to set the tone for your guests and give them an idea of what to expect, so consider the invitation as a little taste test of the party to come and treat it accordingly.
The first step is pretty obvious - you need to define your wedding style. Is it classic and elegant, relaxed and casual, outrageous and exciting, bohemian and whimsical? Make sure you’ve nailed down your wedding theme and your basic outline for design ideas so you can incorporate this into your wedding invitations.
You’ll also need to be confident with your color scheme. By incorporating your wedding color hues into your wedding invitation, you can then carry this look into the rest of your wedding paper (such as menus and ceremony programs) to create a cohesive look. It’s also important to keep readability in mind when choosing your colors and any patterns or designs.
One of the trickier parts of creating your wedding invitations is the wedding! There are some traditional etiquette rules and guidelines for how to word this invitation, but at the same time, it’s important to go with what feels best for you and not worry if that falls outside of the lines of tradition. For example, it’s traditional to list whoever is hosting first on the invitation, but many couples opt to put their own names first rather than that of their parents, which can feel a little old-fashioned and out of date. However, be careful not to offend anyone by accident who may have assumed they’ll be included as the host, so check this with your parents and your future in-laws to ensure there’s clarity around how these invitations will present.
Some forward planning goes a long way in the invitation world! Start early by sending your save-the-dates out six to eight months before the wedding. These don’t necessarily have to match your invites, but again, this is an opportunity for you to create a cohesive look and feel which then carries through to your ceremony. As for your actual invitations, you’ll want to send these out six to eight weeks before the wedding, so if you’re ordering these from a stationery store or making them yourself, make sure you’ve allowed for this time so you’re not scrambling to get invitations out a month before the wedding.
It’s the little details that make all the difference when it comes to the finished look of the invitations. While every change and addition can add to the final cost when ordering from a stationer, there’s some easy ways to up the elegance factor of your invitation without upping the budget at the same time. For example, it’s traditional for the address of the invitee to be hand-written. Unless you’ve got amazing handwriting, enlisting the services of a calligrapher at a per-envelope fee is a great way to make a stunning first impression when that envelope lands in the letterboxes of your friends and family. A cost-saving solution is to hunt for that talented friend who’s always had a flourish for handwritten letters and ask them to help you out. It may take them some time to get through all of the envelopes, so just as with any other area of wedding planning, plan early and you’ll reap the cost and stress saving benefits! Another option is to purchase clear address labels and pick a font which applies to the theme of your wedding, type up labels for each invitation and then make sure you print them on a laser printer to avoid smudging. This option could prove to be an even less expensive solution.
Wedding invitation shopping or designing is a fun process that’s also a great opportunity for couples to work together to make decisions on style, design and function. Rather than making these decisions in isolation, ask your future spouse what they had envisioned and any ideas they have for the look and feel of the invitations. If you’re making them yourself, there’s a great opportunity for a date night. Grab your wedding invitation making supplies, a bottle of wine, and settle in together to get through the dozens and dozens of invitations that need to go out to close friends, old high school social circles, grandparents, aunts, uncles, long lost relatives and the random who you’re never quite sure why they actually got invited to the party in the first place!One final note on invitations - too many couples have committed to the printing of a large batch of invitations only to find they’ve forgotten to include a crucial detail… like the address of the ceremony. Before you go ahead with any printing or final orders, triple check the proof, and then check it again. Get fresh eyes, other than your own, to look it over to make sure it’s conveying all of the necessary information for the ceremony and reception, such as date, time, address, dress code, location, parking notes, and details for registry services. The last thing you want is to call up 100 of your friends and family and let them know the date on your wedding invitation is wrong!
Of course, one of the must fun ways to involve both bride and groom in the wedding planning process is in the choice of theme. This is an area where compromise is important - while some girls have a ‘dream theme’ and have been picturing this day for years, you want to ensure that the groom is comfortable with the theme as well, and it’s reflective of both of your personalities.
Choosing a theme can be an overwhelming process. There are hundreds to choose from, and further variations once you choose a theme - colours, decorations, layout, any special activities… the list goes on and on!
The first thing to remember when picking a wedding theme is this: don’t try to impress anyone but yourselves. Too often people fall into the wedding craze and find themselves spending exorbitant amounts of wedding dollars they don’t really have on decorations and venues just to look like they live a certain kind of life. The important part of the day is your love for each other and the commitment you’ve just made to live the rest of your lives, as one, and no theme should overshadow this. Why cause drama in the lead up to what will be one of the most special days of your life? Instead, set a realistic budget, have honest conversations with your partner and find a way to make both of you happy while throwing a great party your friends and family will enjoy and you’ll all remember with fond memories for years to come.
One area to spend some time is in researching! Again, Pinterest is an amazing source of wedding inspiration, with thousands of photos of real weddings to pick from. This is a great way to test your taste, as you’ll immediately see what you’re attracted to and what you couldn’t care less about. You may find again that you’re surprised by your taste in this area - perhaps you’d considered a less formal wedding, and then a beautiful image of classic red roses against a white tabletop may sway your opinion.
It’s hard to begin to plan your wedding in great detail until you’ve picked a venue. The venue that you choose will most likely be a reflection of the style you and your partner already warm towards. While some couples go for a traditional banquet hall, others love beautiful restaurants by the water, and still others like to look for farmsteads or sprawling properties. By picking a venue, you can then look at themes which will fit best into that venue - for example, a rustic country style may look out of place in an urban city restaurant.
The next step is to consider how you’d like your wedding to ‘feel’. Do you want an elaborate sit-down dinner with black tie outfits? Or are you looking for something that feels more like a great big party where people kick off their shoes and roll up their sleeves? This will differ from couple to couple and again has a major impact on the theme that will be most suitable for your own wedding. There’s no point decking a hall out with sky-high floral bouquets and imposing silver candles if you’re looking for a relaxed, throw-down feel. Considering the tone of your wedding will help you to make all big decisions around not just the theme, but on how your day will run and the elements it will include.
This is a great way to play with different colours, themes and styles before spending a cent. There’s nothing worse than choosing a theme and buying decorations only to completely change your mind the next time you see another beautiful wedding online, so make your decisions wisely - and then STOP researching!
The wedding theme and decorations is another place where it’s good to draw on the helping hands of family and friends. Sure, you can hire a wedding planner and bring in outside vendors, and many people will choose to use professionals for every aspect of their day. However, weddings are expensive, and family and friends come free! if you’re organized and have planned the decorations well in advance, see if you’re able to access your reception venue the day before the wedding in order to set everything up and walk away knowing you’re entirely happy about the look you’ve achieved. This is also a fun way for you and your partner to let the excitement grow as you physically work on creating your wedding together. What a beautiful way to spend some time together before the big day!
One more note - this is an area where other people’s advice is helpful, but only to a point. If you open your theme up to too many opinions, you may find you’re paralyzed by indecision. The last thing you want is a bossy bridesmaid taking charge and making decoration decisions for you, because you’ll quickly find they reflect her taste far more than they actually reflect yours. Pull in outside help when you need it, and enjoy the research and brainstorming stage with your close friends, but make sure you’re confident in your theme decisions and that it’s a theme which accurately reflects yourself and your partner, rather than the wishes of the people around you.
Most Importantly - Enjoy the Process!
The excitement and anticipation of a wedding is meant to be a sweet and intimate time between you and your loved one. Don’t let the decisions to be made or jobs to be done overwhelm that process. Be intentional about going on the wedding planning journey together, work together to achieve your wedding planning goals, and respect each others opinion as you create the day you’ve always dreamed of. Most of all, have fun! You’re about to marry the love of your life, and no table decoration or even wedding dress choice can overshadow that beautiful decision.