How to Plan Your Wedding Planning

Before you start to plan your wedding, you have something even more important to plan: your planning itself! Unless you’re lucky enough to run a wedding planning business (or you’re getting married for the eighth time), you probably have never planned something this big. Even if you’re a professional event planner, you still have never planned anything like this. (After all, when was the last time every single relative showed up at your event and wanted a personal chat?)

Planning your own wedding is not something to be undertaken lightly. There are details upon details. Things will go wrong. And you have to plan one of the most important celebrations of your life so thoroughly that you can still manage the caterer, the florist, the photographer, and the officiant even with your underage nephew cozying up to the bartender and your great aunt hanging on your arm to offer intimacy advice. In short: start planning your planning now.

Assign Roles

Before you start planning, it’s tempting to envision the process as a fairytale version of your relationship: you’ll just do it together, side by side, in perfect harmony. Real life, however, makes the process a little more difficult. If you wait for a consensus on everything from the flowers to the desserts, you’ll end up wasting a lot of time waiting for each other. Don’t let the perfect florist slip by because your husband hasn’t gotten back to you about baby’s breath vs. fiddlehead ferns. Don’t forget to taste-test your wedding cake because, in all the bustle of wedding planning, you haven’t found a calendar date where the two of you can attend a tasting together.

Instead, find just one time to sit down with a list of wedding planning tasks and read through them together. Assign each item on the list to one or the other of you, depending on who has more enthusiasm. Leave the mandatory “togetherness” items to the ones that absolutely have to be done together–like interviewing wedding officiants. You can still run smaller errands together when you have the time, but as long as one of you takes responsibility for the outing, it won’t have to wait until your schedules coincide.

Make a Disagreement Map

Ironically, few things will test your relationship like planning a wedding together. Since it’s nearly guaranteed that you won’t agree on everything, one of your first steps should be drawing up a disagreement map–a plan for how you’ll handle disagreements. 

How you do this is up to you. You may want to assign each other ultimate decision-making authority on different aspects of the wedding; you get the last say about the music, he gets the last say about the menu, and so on. You may want to leave specifics for later and just concentrate on the style of disagreement, such as: “If we’re both upset, we have to set it aside for at least an hour until we can talk about it calmly.” 

Planning good disagreement resolution is great for wedding planning. However, the best thing about disagreeing well is: you’ve also laid great groundwork for any disagreements that arise in your married life! Don’t be afraid to take your methods with you even after the wedding is over.

Expect the Unexpected

You’ll find plenty of comprehensive lists online and from professional wedding planners about wedding planning essentials. But even more important than the things everyone knows to expect are the things you’ll never expect. From unexpected wedding costs to unexpected beauty costs, putting together a wedding means encountering one budget-busting surprise after another. 

Put together an emergency plan specifically for handling unexpected things. This means leaving untouchable money in the budget, unschedulable hours in the wedding day, and even assigning an “emergency person” you can send on last-minute errands to pick up the wedding rings from across town, or to distract the neighbors’ dogs from barking while you say your vows.

Remember, good planning now keeps stress down later. And you don’t have to do it alone–hiring a professional event or wedding planner will take most of the burden off of your shoulders, leaving you to plan just the fun parts. (Although, of course, you’ll still have to shoulder your great aunt’s intimacy advice on your own.)