Wedding Planning 101 (Part 1): Relational learnings
Nearly eight months after getting married, I finally had the chance to sort through thousands of our wedding reception pictures. Doing so gave me great nostalgia, and led me to write this entry as I haven’t really given “advice” from my experience on planning a wedding. To my fellow brides, I hope you’ll find little nuggets from this piece that you can apply on your big day. :)
Here are my tips, in no particular order or significance :) This entry, part one, focuses on the relational learnings I gained.
The wedding date - Decide on a date, stick to it, and work your schedules around it. Your wedding is a one-time major life event and you would want to prepare for it as best as you could. Joey and I had eleven months to prepare for the wedding. When he proposed, I wanted to get married within that same year (forgive the excitement), but there were hindrances to that wish, and rightly so! Had I insisted on what I wanted, we would have had shorter preparation time and I would have been ngarag trying to fit everything in. Family members wouldn’t have been complete and our joy wouldn’t have been the same.
First key learning: As soon as you get engaged, it will be practice time for you and your groom to be “one”. All decisions henceforth will be done jointly; you both will have to consult each other, respect each other’s choices, and learn how to compromise. As St. Paul famously says in his book to the Ephesians: wives, submit to your husbands, husbands, love your wives. Sa wedding planning pa lang, kung mai-practice na ‘to, mas dadali yung proseso.
Second learning: It is better to have a longer engagement period than to have a short one. There will be a lot of unforeseen changes along the way (the videographer you want isn’t available, etc) and you will find that you will have to make a lot of adjustments. To do so with a lot of lead time definitely takes out a lot of stress. With longer preparations too, you will have the luxury of finding out for yourselves exactly the kind of wedding you want, pair that with the current realities, and arrive at your choices. Mas enjoy at mas maayos ang planning kung hindi minamadali. (And you’ll have more time to get into tiptop bridal shape, too!)
Your wedding will be your first major project with your soon-to-be-husband. It will reflect both your tastes and sensibilities. A lot of grooms delegate the whole planning to their brides and understandably so - most of them walang alam dun, haha! - but to my fellow brides please keep in mind that it is not just your wedding (as in ikaw lang) but your and the future hubby’s. Again, dito pa lang, practice na on how two would become one. Lalabas kasi lahat yun sa table setting, gowns, etc. Our grooms love us and will allow us to plan for what we want (according to a set budget), but we must never take advantage of this kindness, and we must also always consider what they would like and prefer, because again, this is their wedding, too.
First key learning: The wedding will be a result of your first team effort as husband and wife. Be warned though, that this phrase and its execution means differently to the man and woman. The bride at some point might say, “This is supposed to be a team effort but I’m doing all the work!”. The groom, who set aside time for all the meetings and fittings and food tasting, is wont to cast a bewildered look at his betrothed because in his mind, he is putting in team effort. Truthfully, there will be more pressure on the bride than the groom (is it a crime to want everything to be perfect? :p), but be assured that in his own way, your betrothed is putting in effort in the way he knows how - by showing up at appointments and working hard to pay for the wedding.
Dearest grooms, every time you see your brides nearing their stressed boiling points, please hug and reassure them that you are both in this together. Hugs and kisses can really go a long way. Ooh, and perhaps try to ask for tasks you know is within your capacity - and deliver.
Second learning: There are bound to be many disagreements during this stage, and so how you both handle the friction will test your commitment to always fix, maintain, and progress the relationship. Be thankful though as with each argument, you will only get to learn more about your partner; hence, you will know which buttons to not push and (small) issues to not bring up. I have heard stories of a lot of couples wanting to break up because of wedding planning stress - but take heart, they have overcome and continue to grow stronger as a couple with each argument resolved. As do Joey and I. Conflicts can only bring refinement if both parties are willing to put in the work and arrive at resolution every single time.
Invest time in the Pre Cana / engagement seminars. The best pre-gift you and future hubby can give yourselves. I highly recommend Discovery Weekend as its program serves a good foundation for communication. You and your husband will get to talk - as in, really talk - about anything and everything important to your marriage: how many kids you both desire, how you would both handle money, in-laws, disciplining the kids, etc. Plus, being in the company of fellow engaged couples while learning from the more experienced ones is a lot of fun.
Engagement seminars offered by Christian churches are more scriptural in approach, and as such is tremendously vital as you both start married life. Ours were given by our officiating pastor from GCF, Ptr. BJ Sebastian. For four Thursday nights he and his wife, Tita Bebet, walked us through important bible passages and God’s clear directives on marriage. These are foundational truths you would go back to every now and then, lights unto your paths. Very, very, very important.
Join a couples discipleship group. Admittedly, being born and raised a Catholic, I am new to the whole discipleship / small group thing. At the time of our engagement, my husband was invited by one of his good friends to join a “D group” that meets Wednesday nights in our subdivision. They were all married couples and we were the only still engaged ones, but meeting with them, sharing the word, learning from each other’s experiences, and above all, praying for each other, has become an invaluable source of guidance which i believe is vital to any marriage. Husbands and wives seeking to grow together in faith and in their relationships - we all lovingly and laughingly still meet regularly.
Play to your strengths and delegate. The guaranteed advice on how not to become a bridezilla, haha! If you’re not good at planning anything, then leave it to the coordinator. If you’re not good at deciding which flowers to use, leave the decision-making to someone who can, like your maid-of-honor or your future mother-in-law. Chances are your friends and family will be more than happy to help out in any way they can - they’re extremely happy you’re getting married! - so don’t be shy and ask for help.
After setting the date, deciding on the number of guests (and who those will be) was for me one of the most difficult and stressful tasks in wedding planning. I wanted a small wedding, but I have a big family, Joey has a big family too, and Joey has a LOT of friends, haha. And we all wanted them to be there to share in our joy, so we ended up having a big celebration. (I still got my initial desire though, as our Catholic ceremony was an intimate one with guests not more than 50.) I would say that the rule of thumb here is, decide on who couldn’t not be there, yung mga hindi pwedeng wala, while bearing in mind that the more guests you have, the higher will be the cost of the wedding.
May mga hindi kayo mai-invite, at maraming magtatampo, so you’ll just have to pray that they will understand your choice eventually. Planning a wedding is difficult enough without people imposing their wills on you. Who do you want to bear witness to your union? Invite them.
This is also the most variable item in your wedding. At our wedding, there were last minute cancellations and people who weren’t invited who attended, so don’t stress about it. Most caterers usually add a considerable amount of food, a buffer, to the pre-agreed number, so it is better to slightly underestimate than to overpay, hehe.
Hope this list helps! In part two, I will be covering wedding suppliers :) have a blessed week, everyone!