The AOW A-Z of Getting Married is a resource for brides (and grooms) to be. It’s a welcome piece of sanity in an industry-saturated world where people are bombarded with what weddings they should have, what they should act like, and how a bride should feel. Created by the team behind Any Other Woman, this A-Z is the first collaboration of its kind, bringing together posts from readers across the AOW community filled with advice, wisdom and experience from sane, smart, real women, many of whom have been there. From wedding planning to family trials to breaking taboos, no topic is out of bounds. We are honoured and excited to run each and every post, and we learn from each and every one of our readers.
To help the A-Z become an even better resource, please leave your tips, advice and comments below.
Y is for Your Way by Fee
Your way. These two words have become the motto of the wedding industry. It probably won’t come as a surprise that with this being AOW, my advice is about how to have ‘your way’ at the same time as making sure people will still be speaking to you after the big day. As I’m chipping in at the tail end of the alphabet, much of my advice has been touched on but I’ll try to throw in a couple of surprises. If not, you can at least enjoy the gratuitous shots of my own wedding. Are you ready? Here we go!
1. Your way? Your choice.
One of the less desirable criticisms of weddings now is that certain things are so overdone. Now, who even cares if something has been done before? ‘Your way’ should be the things you love and if anyone says otherwise, tie them to a tree with bunting and pelt them with the accompaniments from your cheese table.
When you’re planning your big day, you become immersed in the current wedding trends. However, the vast majority of the population (including your guests) will not have spent the last few months reading six wedding blogs every day in their lunch hour. There are many other issues that all and sundry feel entitled to comment on from your dress to your budget to your reception. This could fill a whole other post but if you have a £100,000 budget, your dress is hand embroidered by hobbits kidnapped from The Shire and you’ve invited The Krankies to provide your evening entertainment, that’s your business. Also, if you are doing all of these things, please can I be invited?
2. Pick Your Battles
I think we’ve all been in this situation, usually with family. Whether it’s over the guest list, the bridal party or the food, an argument can often develop into a pre-nuptial nightmare.
It is incredibly hard not to just scream ‘It’s my wedding!’ at the top of your lungs but think about which things you are most willing to fight for. Allowing your parents to invite the neighbours may soften the blow of your justified decision not to have your little cousin as a flower girl. In an ideal world, we could all have exactly what we want but some things just aren’t worth fighting over. Think about how you will feel after you have got married. Think about whether you would still be willing to fight your corner on the relevant topic in six months time. If the answer is yes, push for what you want. If the answer is no, swallow your witty yet cutting response and scream into a pillow. Or hit the person you’re arguing with over the head with said pillow. Either is fine.
‘It’s my day!’ is like the war cry of the bride to be. And indeed it is but some things require some give and take. For example, bridesmaids. We must remember how it would feel being forced into a dress we were vastly uncomfortable in. I think a bridesmaid does need to suck it up to an extent if it’s a question of disliking the colour or similar but as the bride, being non-negotiable and disregarding their body shape is not cool. Is it worth causing your best girls to not enjoy your wedding and even worse potentially damaging your friendship to get your way? I had a definite idea of what I wanted and we pounded the high street trying on dresses that I loved but they weren’t comfortable in before finally finding the perfect compromise – they all loved it & it had a petticoat perfect for twirling in. Hooray!
The perfect compromise
Babies are another example – if you decide not to invite them to your wedding, that’s totally your call. However, you have to accept their parents might not come as they quite simply may not be comfortable leaving their baby at home. This may be wrong or it may be right but it is how it is. Similarly, not inviting plus ones is absolutely your decision but if you are getting married far away, a single traveler may not be able to afford the travel costs alone. So if there are people you can’t imagine getting married without, you may need to bend the rules. No-one will ever know. Hopefully.
4. Don’t let people ‘should’ all over you
You really should have a florist do the flowers. You should have a three course meal. We usually recommend that you should have a top table. You should really allow at least an hour for photos after the ceremony. You should allow two hours for the band to set up.
This a list of example ‘shoulds’ that left me unable to see how we could have what we wanted within our budget and without our guests spending the entire day standing around waiting for things to happen. Then I started questioning these points (mainly with our venue) and it became apparent that several things would make things easier for them but were by no means non-negotiable.
I felt briefly felt like a demanding foot stamper but then I realized that ‘my way’ wasn’t unreasonable, it was just a bit different to what they were used to. Especially the several spreadsheets and a powerpoint presentation of the table plan. Which were really just good sense.
5. Remember what ‘your way’ means to you
If you find yourself at the point of explosion about conflicting opinions or endless advice – stop. Take a breath. Imagine you are standing in the middle of your wedding. New spouse aside, what is making your heart sing? What does your day, your way really mean for you? If this makes you realise that you absolutely do not want to invite your cousin Gary, so be it! If this makes you realise that you actually want to elope, go for it! If this makes you realise you actually find aforementioned spouse grossly unattractive… I’m afraid I can’t help you.
Using this method I discovered a variety of things including that having a florist do the flowers wasn’t necessary for us and I wasn’t really bothered about my shoes (gasp!) BUT a live band was a must and I definitely wanted a long pouffy veil, never mind the cost. Yes, pouffy is a word – just ask Penny.
I have been married for a whole 15 months (practically a professional) and in my experience, by your first anniversary you probably won’t remember that your cousin wore a white skirt or that your friend was two weeks late with her RSVP*. Whilst your wedding is quite rightly the biggest thing in your life at the moment, the most important thing you will remember afterwards is how it felt to vow to love your husband/wife for the rest of your days, no matter what. Being lucky enough to make those promises and have them made back to you by the one you have chosen to be with is the very epitome of having your day ‘your way’.
*Well, you will probably remember but you’ll be less likely to want to poke them in the eye with a sharp stick.