Wedding planning is an exciting whirlwind, and when you start out you’ll probably have a million and one ideas you want to incorporate. But as time marches on, you might find that those amazingly creative ideas are starting to be more hassle than they’re worth.
As Mitch from Modern Family says, the key with wedding planning is “Dream big, then winnow down”. As the wedding approaches, don’t be afraid to ditch anything that’s stressing you out and isn’t totally, utterly, 100% necessary or important to you.
If you listen to Aleisha McCormack’s brilliant Bridechilla podcast (and if you don’t, you should) you’ll know this as ‘the f*ck-it bucket’. In the lead up to my wedding, if anything was causing me or my wedding party undue stress or was taking too much time, I would send out the official order – ‘sack it off’.
Whatever you call it, do it. The great thing about all your amazing ideas is that none of your guests know about them anyway. So, if you make a last-minute decision not to bake those personalised iced biscuits for every guest the day before the wedding – no-one will know! And no-one will miss them.
Your guests are there to see you get married and celebrate with you. Personal details are lovely but they shouldn’t get in the way of you actually enjoying your wedding or the months leading up to it.
Only you can know which details are truly important to you, and which ones can be ditched without a second thought, but here are 6 things to consider ditching if it’s all getting a bit much.
I am a big fan of meaningful favours. I never really understood the sugared almonds thing (does anybody actually eat them?!) but in recent years favours have become a great way to add another personal touch to your wedding. I’m someone who really does notice them and remembers to take them home with me at the end of the night. Some favourites from weddings I’ve attended have been packets of wildflower seeds for bees (I love that idea), homemade miniatures of sloe gin and gorgeous handmade chocolates. At my own wedding, the Tunnock’s Teacakes and miniatures of Edinburgh Gin were a little nod to home that was really important to me (and led to some very questionable attempts by my friends to infuse the marshmallow with gin).
But here’s the thing – they’re a bonus. Yes, people do notice a thoughtful favour – but no-one will notice if you don’t have any. They’re a lovely idea, but favours can be expensive and time consuming. Want to give a miniature of your favourite spirit to each guest? Wonderful, but miniatures cost anything from about £1.50 to £5 each depending on the spirit. If you’ve got 100 guests that’s a quick way to put a sizeable dent in your budget. Prefer to make them yourself? Great, but whether you’re infusing your own chilli oil and decanting into 100 tiny bottles or handwriting each guests’ name on a pretty trinket box, it is going to be a time-consuming process. That’s not a problem if you have plenty of time and it’s really important to you, but should you find yourself with only a few days to go and feeling disproportionately stressed about these tiny details, my advice is simple – sack it off. No-one will notice. And on the day, you won’t care. Ditch it.
This is very similar to the above point. More and more of us are having DIY weddings, which involve a lot of preparation, crafting and usually at least a day’s set-up. The most important piece of advice I can give you about DIY décor is to rope other people in at every stage. Do NOT try to do it all yourself. The second most important piece of advice is if any part of it is causing you undue stress – ditch it. It’s lovely to sew 100m of bunting or make 1000 origami cranes, and if you manage it they will look gorgeous in your marquee or venue. But if the wedding is looming, your to-do list is spiralling out of control and you’re having nightmares about bunting or origami cranes, then it might be time to ask yourself how important they really are to you.
Even during the set-up, don’t be afraid to ditch something that’s causing more hassle than it’s worth. The day before my wedding, I had a small army of family and friends helping me to set up our marquee. My brother was up a ladder for 3 hours wrapping solar powered fairy lights to every tree in sight, while my best friend chopped up a mountain of limes and lemons for the bar. In the months leading up to the wedding, my mum and her best friend had been tasked with making hundreds of white and gold tissue paper pom-poms. The plan was to suspend them from the ceiling of the marquee but, on the day, we realised that this ‘simple’ task would actually take hours and mean that my husband and brother would be out of action for the rest of the afternoon. It was an easy decision – sack it off. That’s not to say there were no pom-poms at all, but we found another, much quicker and easier, way to incorporate them – and in the end I think the marquee looked better than it would have done if we’d stuck to my original plan. That’s the thing – you don’t really know how it’s all going to shape up until you’re doing it anyway, so don’t be afraid to be flexible and if it isn’t working – sack it off.
WRITING YOUR OWN VOWS
Ok, this one is slightly controversial, but bear with me. Writing custom vows has become incredibly popular, and for good reason. Anything that makes a wedding more intimate and personal is alright by me. Personalised vows are a gorgeous way to express your love and share your story with your loved ones.
If you’re lucky, the words will flow and the perfect vows will take mere minutes to craft, perfectly encapsulating your feelings and the promises you want to make to your beloved.
On the other hand, the thought of writing something so sentimental – and then READING IT OUT in front of everyone you know – might just bring you out in a cold sweat. Not to mention, you’ll probably leave it till the last minute and end up spending the night before your wedding sitting in front of a blank Word document wondering whose bloody idea it was to write your own vows (answer – probably yours, mate).
The traditional vows might have fallen out of fashion recently, but actually they are pretty perfect and the great thing about them is they’re ready to use. No muss, no fuss – one less thing to think about. If you’re having a legal ceremony there are certain phrases you have to include, but other than that you can pick and choose the bits you like and drop any bits you don’t (see ya, ‘obey’).
If you want to write your own vows, then please do and I guarantee there won’t be a dry eye in the house, but just don’t feel that it’s something you have to do, or that your wedding will be any less special if you use the traditional vows.
On that note, and no less controversially, are the speeches. I’m not saying ditch them altogether (although if they’re really causing a load of stress, why not?) but don’t feel that you have to conform to the usual line-ups. You can do whatever you want and if giving a speech is really stressing you (or one of your wedding party) out – ask yourself if it’s really, truly necessary.
Recently, lots of brides have been giving speeches as well, something I LOVE. But when it came to my wedding, I didn’t. I like public speaking and as a fairly outspoken feminist I’m pretty sure everyone was expecting me to take to the mic at my own wedding. But, you know what, it was just one more thing to do. My to-do list was long enough and at no point did I feel like adding ‘write a speech’ to it. So I didn’t. And I haven’t regretted it for a second. Doing your wedding, your way, doesn’t mean doing everything.
THE FIRST DANCE
Just like the vows and the speeches, there’s no reason why you have to have a traditional first dance – or a first dance at all. If there’s a song you both love and you’re happy to have a bit of a shuffle and a snog along to it then there’s really nothing to worry about. But if you find yourself panicking about fitting in ballroom dancing classes to your already packed schedule, or trying to master the Thriller routine even though you’ve got four left feet between you, or you’re just feeling a bit shy about the whole thing, then SACK. IT. OFF.
One of the best weddings I’ve ever attended didn’t have a conventional first dance at all. Instead, we were told that every single guest was required on the dancefloor and we kicked off the party as we meant to go on, sharing an epic first dance altogether. No preparation for the couple, no nerves about everyone staring at you – and an amazing first dance they’ll always remember.
When you’re in full wedding-planning mode, it’s easy to get carried away. Wedding days become wedding weekends become wedding weeks. I’m all for stretching out a party but the key is not to let these additional activities take up any more precious time or headspace than they need to. In these instances, you have two options – ditch it or delegate.
A big family meal the night before the wedding is great, but the reality is you’ll spend that day running around trying to get everything set up and squeeze in any final beauty prep you’ve got planned. Why give yourself the additional stress of having to get dolled up for a fancy dinner at a set time? Keep things as relaxed as possible, have some food and a glass of fizz with the people you love whenever you can, and give yourself a break.
Similarly, don’t get your knickers in twist about the day after the wedding. A communal debrief and hair of the dog over a brunch or barbecue is a joyous thing. It’s also a great way to get rid of left over booze and wedding cake if you’re having a DIY wedding. But don’t stress yourself out trying to turn it into another wedding. Keep it simple, plug in an iPod, put some food and booze out on a table and RELAX. Don’t underestimate how tired you will be the day after your wedding - the last thing you need to be doing that morning is setting up for another elaborate party. If you can ask someone else (parent or parent-in-law perhaps) to host then all the better, but whatever you do keep this day as simple and stress-free as possible.
Have you ditched any details from your wedding? We’d love to hear your ideas of easy ways to lighten the wedding planning load, so let us know your thoughts!