Navigating the Noise Around Wedding Planning: How to Focus on What Really Matters

Today's couples are being intentional about placing their own wants and needs first when planning their weddings. Here are some ways to stop others from taking over your wedding planning.

By Shameika Rhymes

How to Focus on What Really Matters When Planning Your Wedding
Photo by Art Photo Soul Photographers

The First Look ✨

Planning a wedding can be exciting—and, at times, stressful—and as a couple, you want your vision for your big day to come to fruition exactly the way that you dreamed of it. However, there can be times when family and friends offer some help, even at times overstepping boundaries, creating a whole other heap of stress on your plate.

It’s the familiar adage of having “too many cooks in the kitchen,” when a group of enthusiastic and sometimes pushy people try to plan anything. Except, this time it’s not a family reunion or a trip to the mountains for the holidays, it’s your wedding. Soon, you and your partner’s vision of your dream wedding is lost in a sea of out-dated tips, suggestions, and arts and crafts; and then your ideal perfect day no longer looks familiar.

In fact, according to Zola’s First Look Report, a survey of 3,309 engaged couples, wedding planning is no longer a one-person job as most are sharing wedding planning responsibilities in some capacity.

While enlisting some help is ideal, 2022 couples are being intentional about placing their own wants and needs first when planning their weddings. However, external pressure and family circumstances can distract couples from focusing on celebrating their love. Here are some ways to stop others from taking over your wedding planning.

Stick to Your Budget

Money can be a tension trigger when it comes to wedding planning. Plan with a firm budget in mind and have a real conversation about what the wedding will look like for you as a couple. How much can you comfortably afford to spend? Seventy percent of couples surveyed said they are spending more than they originally budgeted for. Thirty-three percent of couples said their wedding budget changes were influenced by someone else contributing to the wedding budget, due to family members giving their opinions on how things should be, or parents adding more people to the guest list, and even because of others wanting a certain type of dream wedding. When examining the budget, include how many guests you plan to invite, plus the location. Ensure that you are creating the wedding for you and not trying to have a fantasy wedding for family, friends, or social media.

Choose How to Keep Family Involved in Traditions

Your wedding is a day to celebrate your union, your love, and creating a new family circle. One of the key parts of your wedding may be to find a way to honor you and your partner’s heritage, family, or cultural traditions. Forty-three percent of couples admitted that they felt pressure to incorporate specific traditions, whether customary American, cultural, or otherwise. They mostly felt the pressure from parents, society, their partner, and cultural or religious obligations.

You can choose the traditions, if any, that you want to include, and even put a twist on them to fit your big day. For example, tradition has a wedding party surrounding the couple at the altar. You can have your loved ones, whether it’s your parents, grandparents, or siblings, stand with you. If you are Jewish, you can honor family and roots with a chuppah, a canopy on poles that represents your new home and marriage. You can have guests sign it then attach it to the poles, so that it symbolically has the blessings of loved ones hanging over you.

Music is another way to include traditions without changing the entire structure of your dream wedding. Music has a way of uniting people and raising their spirits, so if you are planning to incorporate music into your ceremony or reception, why not exchange a playlist of song ideas with your loved ones? You can use the music for special dances with family members, including the father-daughter dance, mother-son dance, or even your first dance as a married couple.

Don’t Give into Pressure

It’s your wedding, and you can invite whomever you want. You should never feel obligated to invite anyone, including family members, especially if there's a good reason to leave them off the list. Nearly 75 percent of couples say that they have felt pressured—mostly from parents, in-laws, and their fellow partner—to invite certain guests. There are many couples who choose not to invite family members for various reasons, but it’s especially hard when it’s because of a strained relationship.

Even budget constraints can be delicate, since you still have to be aware of people’s feelings. You’re already dealing with a lot of stress planning the wedding, and having to hurt someone’s feelings only increases it. Still, it’s important to be mindful of your family members' feelings and be aware that they actually wanted to share in your big day, so if they ask why they weren’t invited, try not to be offended and understand that they may simply feel left out. Once invited family members hear that some other family members or family friends weren’t invited, they may threaten not to attend your wedding. This is your wedding and your decision, so they have to respect that. Tell them that you’re sorry that they won’t be attending, but don’t give in to them pushing you to change your mind.

When it comes to co-workers, take a step back and look at the relationship you have with them. Do you hang out outside of work? Are you real friends and super close? Is it your boss? Be mindful that co-workers may also desire a plus one, which shifts your budget if you haven’t allotted for that. Give yourself grace when creating your guest list, and stand by your decision. Don’t invite the people that were left off the guest list because you feel obligated or pressured. Again, it’s your wedding, and with that comes the budget that you have already decided to adhere to, don’t let others push you out of your financial comfort zone when it comes to your wedding.

Have a Plan for Uninvited Wedding Guests

The movie “Wedding Crashers” depicts uninvited wedding guests as fun party-goers that add some spice to a wedding, but, in real life, it’s a whole lot of stress to deal with someone, or a few people that weren’t on the invite list. Twenty-three percent of couples say that they have uninvited guests because the relationship with that individual changed and the couple no longer wanted them to attend the wedding, while other couples had to downsize their guest list, or they discovered that their values didn’t align with the guest.

Make Your Wedding Website Private

Your wedding website is to keep your guests privy to the information that they need to know about your wedding day, from the invitation details, to the registry, RSVPs, and for any updates from you and your partner. Making your website private or password protected means that you’ll be able to keep unwanted people from accessing your personal details. That means that anyone that wasn’t invited won’t be able to see any wedding ceremony information that you don’t want them to know.

Try to Accomodate the Uninvited Guests

More than likely, the uninvited guest is that plus one (or two) that your friends or family forgot to mention or ask if they could invite. If that happens, there’s no need to get upset and ruin your makeup. Instead, be a good host or hostess and ask your wedding planner, caterer, and venue coordinator to accommodate the extra guests, if possible.

Do Think of Other Ways to Include Non-Invited Family Members

If you’re having a smaller, intimate wedding and there are several family members that you weren’t able to invite to your celebration, there are still ways to include them. If you feel bad about not inviting them, have a second reception just for them. That celebration can be in the form of a backyard cookout, a cocktail party, or even a big family dinner. It’s totally up to you and your partner, or invite them to the wedding through a virtual streaming platform.

Have Fun Planning Your Wedding Day

If the wedding planning process is starting to overwhelm you due to the noise from outside forces, try not to let it, but instead focus on what really matters, which is celebrating your love in front of all of your closest family members and friends. Wedding planning is stressful as it is, and planning during a pandemic doesn’t make it any easier. But, couples are feeling more excited than ever. Forty percent say that they are more excited and in love than ever, 42 percent say it’s more meaningful now to be able to celebrate with loved ones, and 28 percent are just ready to party, but a whopping 59 percent said they felt closer to their partner than ever after planning the wedding together.

Focus on your partner and the vision you both have for the day you make it official. Take this time to be present with your partner and focus on what you both want, instead of what everyone else wants. It’s your wedding, and you should have all of the things that you dreamed of and not what everyone says you should have.

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