Once again (or it never really stopped), it seems like everyone is getting married. If they're not getting married, their relatives are pressuring them to get married. If they are already married, they are related to or friends with someone who is getting married. Life is weddings. I'm very glad my Year of The Wedding is over, but I've recently talked to many young women who are in their own Year of the Wedding, so I may as well share some thoughts. Well, first read the posts I already wrote - Seven Things I Have Learned about Wedding Planning, The Secret to a Peaceful Bride and When Your Facebook Feed Explodes with Weddings. Oh, and a couple of cool wedding dress stories - God Designed My Wedding Dress and The Tale of the Free Wedding Dress.
A wedding is literally just one day in your life.
Okay for some people, it's a week or more of events, but my point is, it really is not everything it's hyped up to be. It really doesn't have to be a perfect day, or the most beautiful day of your life, or everything you've ever dreamed of. (Maybe you need other dreams?) Don't set yourself up for disappointment. That way, if it's a fun, happy day, you'll be pleasantly surprised, and if everything goes wrong and everyone is mad at you for different reasons, you can shrug your shoulders and say, "Oh well, it will soon be just a distant memory."
Be a rebel when it comes to choosing your marriage partner and the details of your life together, but be ready for compromise when it comes to the wedding details.
A marriage is for a lifetime, the wedding is just for a day. It doesn't matter if the wedding is less than perfect when you are happy with your choice of marriage partner. On the other hand, the most perfect wedding cannot make up for a spouse you are unsure of, uncomfortable with, or unhappy about marrying. Social approval will not make or break your marriage, so don't get married for the wrong reasons. In India, many young people are pressured to choose a marriage partner after just a few meetings. You need to rebel! This is not a wise way to make the biggest decision of your life! You need to push back, and demand enough time to really get to know the person and be sure that you want to marry him or her. The wedding details on the other hand are really not that big a deal. Don't sweat the small stuff.
A wedding is a good time to learn how to set boundaries.
Yes, I've promised a boundaries post that I haven't written yet. But here is how that might work during a wedding - together with your spouse, decide what you want to insist on, and what you are willing to compromise on. Communicate those things clearly and kindly with your family members. Don't let people manipulate you and pressure you. Don't let 'But what will people say?' influence all your decisions. You might compromise on some things because they are important to your parents or in-laws, but you do not need to make all your decisions based on every single family member's opinions. Not everyone has equal weight in decision-making. (Whoever is paying for the wedding will have a little more weight.) And if people get unreasonably mad at you, don't let their emotions control yours. Tell them, "I'm sorry you feel that way, and it was not my intention to hurt your feelings, but it is my wedding and perhaps we need to agree to disagree." Make sure they know you value the relationship, and then let it go.
If possible, try to have an eco-friendly wedding.
I didn't want thermocol confetti at my wedding. Thermocol is horrible for the environment, and yet is remains a prominent part of many Indian Catholic weddings and events from the confetti to the backdrop. We used shredded marigolds instead, which is apparently not unusual in India. I would suggest rose petals instead though, because the marigolds hit a little too hard, got into my hair, dress and mouth and was not the most pleasant of confetti experiences. One of my cousins did bubbles which was very pretty too. I also requested that we did not have little plastic bottles of water for every guest - what an unnecessary and excessive usage of plastic. I hoped for big water dispensers where people could fill up when they wanted water instead, but in the end our wedding was so chaotic I don't even know if there was water available. Fire crackers are just painful to the ears and create air pollution, so that's another tradition that needs to go. Check with your venue and caterers what eco-friendly options they have in place.
You don't need to spend all your money on a wedding.
You definitely don't need to get into debt for a wedding. Figure out how much money you both have to spend on the wedding, and budget accordingly. Find ways to save money. Not all traditions need to carry on. Instead of buying outfits for every extended family member, get a small meaningful gift and card instead (unless it's immediate family members and they can't afford a new outfit, and you have the money). Dowry or expected 'gifts' needs to be a thing of the past! Put your foot down! Trousseau shopping can be expensive too - get what your need, not fifteen sarees you're rarely going to wear. Why does getting married mean yo have to be decked out in fancy clothes for the next year? A neighbour told my mum that she has huge quantities of silk sarees from her wedding she never wears now.
You don't need lavish innovations at the reception to make your wedding memorable. Be creative, and find ways to create your own decorations or cake or centrepieces. For my sister's wedding, we made paper lanterns to hang everywhere. For my other sister's wedding, with a Wedding at Cana theme, my brother and sister-in-law created a chuppah to hang over the cake - inexpensive and beautiful. You don't have to invite the whole village, or every person you have ever met or who wishes you well. You don't have to have a lavish buffet. Choose nice over lavish.
A honeymoon doesn't have to be at an exotic location.
It's not about the sights or the adventures. A honeymoon is about the two of you, and a chance to be together, alone! You don't need o go abroad or spend huge amounts of money on a honeymoon you can tell people about. We were perfectly happy with our honeymoon in Coonoor - the weather, the food and the natural beauty were perfect, and we did our own thing, moved at our own pace, rented a bike to explore, and enjoyed our honeymoon a hundred times more than our wedding.
Don't forget to get photos with the important people.
Although a wedding shouldn't revolve around the photographer, it is nice to have memories especially of people who traveled far to be there for your wedding, or of your whole extended family who may not always get together except at weddings. That is one regret I had from my wedding, that we didn't manage to get photos with the whole family, and many of my friends who I only manged to meet very briefly.
Assign someone to feed the bride and groom.
In India, the bride and groom and their families eat last, after everyone else has eaten and even left. But I learned the hard way that when you don't eat, everything else gets a lot harder. Towards the end of the reception, I was exhausted and I did't realize it, but I was also hungry. I burst into tears, and told Joel I was done and I wanted to leave and go to sleep. But he pointed at the tables that were set out for the family to eat, and told me we couldn't leave yet. "I don't want to eat. I'm too tired to care about food."Yet, I had to sit. He was hungry, and I nibbled at the food, which turned out to be really tasty (one thing that didn't go wrong). After getting some food into my stomach, I suddenly felt better and realized the world wasn't such a terrible place and perhaps I could last another half an hour.
If you are a relative or friend of the bride and groom, be merciful and let go of your expectations.
I was extremely grateful for all my family and guests who traveled to a new place for the wedding, had to make plenty of adjustments, hardly got to see or talk to me at all, and still extended nothing but love towards me. They realized how stressful the day must be for the bride and groom, and didn't place any expectations on us at all. In fact, no one even told me when things were going wrong, but they just took care of any problems that came up, socialized and had fun with each other, and came willing to be pleased. I can only hope that I will be that gracious at all weddings I go to. Too many people in India think that the wedding is about them, and that they need to be honoured or paid attention to. Blessed are those who do not take offence easily!
Plan a few little elements of your wedding that are just for you and your new spouse.
Bring aware that you are going to have to compromise on a lot, and a lot of things are going to go wrong, if you can, reserve a few small elements that you know will give you joy. One of mine was choosing the 'Stars on 45' track as our wedding march song - a song my dad used to regularly play for us when we were kids, and was a familiar and beloved tune in the midst of an unfamiliar and crazy day. The other thing was planning a small party after the wedding where dancing was the centre of the evening as Joel and I love to jive together, and we knew it wouldn't be a major element of our actual reception.
Alright guys, that's all! Do you have any wedding tips for people beginning to stress out about their upcoming weddings?