Wedding Planning 101: Keep the YOU in Your Wedding

How many times has the average wedding planner heard brides-to-be say things like “I’d do X if it weren’t for Y.” Usually, the X is something like “wear a wedding dress that shows off my killer tattoos” or “serve a gluten-free vegan reception dinner” or “hire a bouncy castle for my adults-only wedding.” The Y is often “my family,” though it is occasionally “society’s expectations” or “tradition”.

Every bride-to-be and groom-to-be… okay, almost every bride and groom… pays tribute to the conventions laid out by culture and religion and familial wedding traditions, even if they don’t realize it. Social expectations are like advertising — we’re exposed to them our entire lives, in the conversations we hear and the media we see and the stories we’re told. Unless someone lives the extremely examined life, it can be difficult to know where societal conventions end and where one’s own wants begin.

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There are two ways to get around this. The first is to ask yourself why you want what you want. Here’s the disclaimer: there’s nothing wrong with wanting the big white princess dress for your wedding ceremony any more than there’s anything wrong with wanting to wear a neon green sailor suit. But whether you want to wear the gown or the suit, consider your motivations. Maybe you’re leaning toward the gown because you’ve been told your whole life that brides wear wedding gowns. Maybe you’re leaning toward the suit because you want to prove to everyone how really anti-establishment you are. White dresses or sailor suits might turn out to be your thing or you may discover that your true tastes lie somewhere in between. Lime green wedding gown, anyone?

The second way to get around the influence of convention is to seriously consider the random ideas that pop into your head when planning your wedding. Let’s say your brain says “How about a groom’s ‘cake’ made of your fiancé’s favorite candy bars!” Before you write that idea off as silly, consider whether it might be a fun addition to your dessert bar. Maybe your brain says something like “I want to do the hokey-pokey as my first dance!” Think about it — do you really? If you do, stop worrying that your wedding guests will think it’s weird. First dances can be pretty boring, honestly, and I’d love it if the bride and groom started shaking it all about on the dance floor.

We’ve seen a Halo-themed wedding, an all-black pagan wedding, and musical underwear for brides-to-be shipped all the way from Syria. There have been sushi wedding cakes and cheese wedding cakes (not cheesecake). There are blue-haired brides, seriously tattooed brides, and brides on bikes (motor and otherwise). All brides and grooms face at least some opposition to their choices, whether in the form of outright disapproval or headshakes from well-meaning relatives thinking “But she’s so pretty, if only she would…”

But if she (i.e., the bride-to-be) is so pretty anyway, she’s still going to be pretty whether she decides to drive a tractor to the ceremony or dye her hair to match her shockingly pink bridesmaids’ dresses. Keep that in mind if you’re planning your wedding and you’ve found yourself thinking “I’d do X if it weren’t for Y.” Heck, keep it in mind for the rest of your life! Sometimes doing X just isn’t feasible, but sometimes the only thing keeping you from doing X is that pesky Y.

Want to keep more YOU in YOUR wedding? Remember that when it comes to choosing a wedding dress or ceremony accessories or vows or reception venue or transportation or most of the other stuff associated with weddings, it’s more often than not perfectly reasonable to say “I respect your opinion Y, but I’m still going to X.”

Christa Terry is a wedding expert