Friday, 14 July 2017

What I've Learned While Planning A Wedding (So Far)

Pete and I have now been engaged for a little over six months. Because I'm an incurable keeno, the vast majority of our wedding planning is now done - in fact, most of it was done within two months of getting engaged. The ceremony is booked, the venue is agreed, the food is decided on, the photographer is secured, and the dress - the beautiful dress, that I had no intention of buying so soon but found by sheer chance - is shrouded in an expensive-looking garment bag and tucked safely into the back of my wardrobe.

And I've learned a lot. Too much, in fact. I thought I was prepared for wedding planning. I was wrong. So, without further ado, just a few of the things I've learned while planning a wedding (so far)...

1. You know more people than you think you do.

"I only want a small wedding," I said, on numerous occasions, both before and after we got engaged. Of course, prior to actually sitting down and hammering out a rough guest list, I had never counted up the number of people we actually know. Turns out, it's a lot. Aunts, uncles, cousins, school friends, uni friends, work friends, family friends...before I knew it I had filled my mental '40 person guest list' (and then some) all by myself and poor Pete was going to be flying solo. Not ideal. 

So, we re-evaluated. The guest list grew. Then it grew again. We're currently hovering somewhere around the 90 mark. Yes, really.

2. All those people you know...they've all got an opinion. And they're probably not afraid to share it.

This is something I was actually prepared for, to a certain degree. I knew some of our decisions would be controversial. We've chosen not to invite children, for example, which went down like a sack of excrement with some family members - and boy did they make sure I knew it!

What I wasn't prepared for, was the passing of comment on every.single.detail. Don't get me wrong, quite often those comments have been 'OMG that sounds amazing', but there's also been plenty of 'you can't do that', 'you can't not have this', 'what do you mean, there won't be a (insert random wedding related object/tradition here)'. The worst offender for this, by far has been my mother. I didn't realise quite how traditional she is until I started planning a wedding and she was horrified by the idea of anything that wasn't a church ceremony followed by a Rolls Royce ride to a fancy hotel for a three course sit-down meal. Don't get me wrong, if that's your wedding dream then fantastic - you do you. But it wasn't what we had imagined for our day, so poor old Mumma Jones has had to settle for one of out three. (I'm pretty sure she'll survive.)

3. Money loses all meaning.

Before we started wedding planning, I would deliberate endlessly over spending pretty much any money at all. Unless it was on food, obviously. Or the dog. £16 for a t-shirt!? Bit steep. £120 for new tyres!???! Do I really need them?

Then I started planning a wedding, and gradually my sense of what 'a lot' of money is was eroded. Completely. It no longer exists. Once upon a time I couldn't even begin to imagine spending more than £500 on anything other than a house or a car. These days, I find myself looking at £600 cakes on Pinterest and thinking 'well, that's not too bad...'.

4. There's more than meets the eye. Much more.

I realise now how naive I was before we got engaged. I would always (secretly) roll my eyes at those brides losing their minds over table plans and canapes and complaining that there was I mean hard can it be to plan a party?

As it turns out, there really is quite a lot to think about. Who the hell knew!? Urm....any woman who has ever got married, probably. Wedding stationary, reception drinks, corkage, wedding insurance and banns are just a few of the things I had never heard of prior to planning my own wedding. I'm still not the type to burst into tears over the canapes, but it's early days yet.

5. People will assume that the groom doesn't care about the wedding.

Now this one really did surprise me. From random people on Facebook pages asserting that an uninterested groom is 'just a man thing' to friends and family (wrongly) assuming that all Pete wants to know about the wedding is what time he needs to get there.

Now, I know that some grooms really aren't all that interested. And I know that some brides have been planning their big day since they were old enough to say cathedral veil - and some just before. And if that works for you guys then that is absolutely fine. Sometimes I wish Pete was a bit less interested, and I could plan the Harry Potter themed wedding of my dreams. But he is very interested. I've definitely done more of the research, but he's been involved in every big decision bar the dress. And as much as I wish I could serve our guests pumpkin pasties and fizzy whizbees and send everyone home with magic wand wedding favours, I also couldn't imagine planning our day without his input and ideas.

So no, if your groom doesn't care about the wedding it isn't a 'man thing'. It's a personality thing. And that's ok.

6. If you thought body shaming was bad before, wait until people (and Facebook ads) know you're engaged.

As someone who has been on a diet for pretty much her entire adult life, I'm probably the wrong person to pass comment on this. But I have been astounded by the amount of bridal body shaming I've seen in the last six months.

Do I want to lose a bit of weight before I get married? Yes. Do I want to lose weight specifically for my wedding? No. No I don't. I want to lose it for confidence and for health for my entire lift, not just the 12 hours that I'm in a big white dress. So no, to those people who have asked, I'm not on a 'wedding dress diet' (right now I'm not on a diet at all, and am instead eating everything that isn't nailed down, but that's hardly the point). And no, I don't need some 'shredding for the wedding' gym leggings or a 'slimming down for the gown' food diary or any of the other shit that's on the market that is designed specifically to make women feel as though they are not good enough. If someone wants to lose weight for their health or confidence then fantastic, good for them, I know first hand the positive effect it can have on your life. But if someone - particularly someone who has never felt that they have an issue with their weight before they get engaged - suddenly feels as though they need to hit the gym and eat nothing but green smoothies just because Brides magazine tells them you can only get married if you're a size 8 then I'm sorry, but that's bullshit.

Sorry, had to get on my high horse there for a minute. I'm off now.

So, there you have it - just a few of the things I've learned in the six months we've been planning a wedding. Given that we don't get married for another 15 months, I'm sure there will be plenty more lessons to learn along the way...