Wedding Planning Step One

Align your priorities, not the napkins

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Photo courtesy of Ray J Gadd, @rayjgadd

I’m not even going to pretend to be an expert on weddings. I’ve attended over a dozen as an adult and I’ve had one of my own that I helped plan. That is still a successful marriage, and we’re expecting our first child this fall, so maybe there was something to our method.

Ready? Here it is.

Early on in our planning, before we had a vendor list, and all the trappings of planning a wedding on your own, we each listed the top ten things we wanted to prioritize. This helped my wife and me get on the same page about what WE wanted, long before other influences from family, friends, and vendors got involved.

This alignment of our priorities congealed into a list of “must-have” items around six items long that we agreed was in no particular order.

  1. Each other
  2. Great Party
  3. Great food
  4. Both of us relaxed so able to enjoy the day
  5. Wedding rings

This alignment provided a sort of North Star, a guiding framework for the decisions we made during the planning process.

By aligning ourselves – we were doing it for us, after all – the stress of different expectations and decision making was greatly reduced.

Venue? We live in the Sun Valley (Idaho) area, so let’s get outside. Oh, your folks are going to rent a house? Does it have a yard and a view? Perfect…two birds, one stone.

Tent? Sure, what size for a 12×12′ dancefloor and 100 guests? Yep, folding tables are great…they’re just being covered by tablecloths anyway. Whatever.

Food? That one was easy – we contacted a local food truck that we ate at frequently and each picked one of our favorite dishes for them to make and then delegated the rest to the chef with a budget. We had food we loved and they filled in the rest with more delicious food that would cover all the dietary needs. We did it buffet style so there was less stress having servers bouncing around the room trying to place 20 plates at a time. [A note on food! If you want people to hang out and party and talk and have a good time, think about a “late night” snack or option a few hours after dinner. It helps and can help you, too.]

Photos? There are a ton of styles and options, so find someone you like and commit to it – years from now you’re going to be excited to look back on excellent photos. Even with the memory of the day fresh in your mind a good set of photos will cement those memories for the years of trials, tribulations, and celebrations to come.

Reception/dancing? Well, folks – it’s not rocket science and there’s a very good chance that if you’ve made it long enough to be planning your own wedding you have a good idea of what makes a great party. DO that – it’s a celebration of your relationship, so why not celebrate in your way? Unless tradition is your thing, don’t be afraid to buck it for your own style.

Ultimately – make it yours.

When something doesn’t look the way you imagined it or doesn’t line out on the day-of and you start to get anxious about it – just remember that you are one of only a handful of people out of your whole wedding who knows about that, and nobody else is likely to notice.

Let it go.

An added expense but completely worth it is a wedding planner for the day-of. Delegate that so you and your bridal/grooms party can relax and get ready, taking the time for yourselves so you can present your best self to each other later. Leave the day-of details to someone else who knows what your intent is – and that includes letting them know what you decided was important and what wasn’t.

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