Approximately a month ago today, my husband and I got married. It was a traditional Gujarati Indian wedding held in an outdoor setting in Auckland New Zealand followed by a reception in a grand ballroom in Malaysia two weeks after. For the both of us, it was the happiest day / month / week of our lives but not before we assumed the weight of the world was on our shoulders.
We started planning for our wedding slightly more than a year in advance. Wedding books and articles on the internet prompted early planning creating an air of anxiety between the two of us. You see, I am a bit of a perfectionist and when it came to pulling off the biggest day of our lives, I wanted it to match the ideas that we had in our minds.
But as the year went by and the planning took its course bit by bit, we began to realize that there were too many beautiful moments to appreciate in the months leading up to the wedding. And when we let the technical details get to us it was easy to miss those moments.
So from one perfectionist to another, here are some wonderful tips that will hopefully help you focus on the journey of planning a wedding and make it less of an anxiety attack.
- Draw up a Wedding Budget early on but make way for some unexpected expenditure
In the early days of planning we were quick to draw up a budget but later discovered that with the multiple days that Indian weddings comprised of, there were a number of unexpected expenditure that we had overlooked in the beginning of the process.
Lucky for us, we spent a year saving up for the wedding and had a spare stash in the bank just in case the unexpected rared its ugly head.
Most sources will tell you to write down a wedding budget and stick to it. But the reality is, unless you go into total Hitler mode, there are a few things you will overlook before the spending begins. In those situations, would it not be lovely to have an aha! I gotcha before you got me moment?
That said, there are a couple of ways to save you the misery of having to expand the budget if you are completely zapped for funds, read on!
- If you are paying a wedding planner, you don’t necessarily need one.
We both had absolutely no clue or experience when it came to planning weddings but we didn’t need to. This was our wedding which meant we had the freedom of it living up to our expectations and no one else’s which was why deciding to go without an expensive wedding planner from the get go was an easy decision.
Sure wedding planners might have access to some of the best vendors and some of the best deals in town but with a little persuasive skills on my end, connections and with the help of my mother who is almost the most persuasive person in the world, we managed to set everything up ourselves and were pleasantly happy with the outcome.
This zapped any wedding planner / coordinator fees right out of our budget.
- Establish the details that are more important to both of you as a couple early on
Photography? Glamorous decoration to meet a specific theme? Indulgent food? A once in a lifetime princess like wedding gown?
There will seem like there is wayyyy too much to decide on in the beginning that it gets overwhelming almost to the point of suffocating.
Although difficult at first, we got past this by constantly asking ourselves what was important to us as a couple and what we could do without. Usually the first few things that come to your mind when you start picturing your wedding day are the details that are important to you.
We knew from day one that we wanted a traditional Indian wedding ceremony in an outdoor setting and that did not only make the search for the wedding venue simpler but also set the pace for our budget.
There will always be a couple of things that you would be able to give up on in place of something more important. For instance, we didn’t think it would make a huge impact if we had a lavish wedding car after the ceremony and so we decided to forego that and spend a little more on our photographer and videographer which was one of the most important details to me. No regrets there!
Every time I look at my wedding photos and video I know we will still be able to resurface the emotions that overcame us on our big day by looking at them years from today.
- Make your ceremony interesting
Indian weddings can be a drag. Not many people understand what’s happening most of the time and more likely than not, if you’re not the ones getting married then you’re the one getting lost in your own little world.
I decided to print program booklets to supplement our wedding favors on the wedding day which took our guests through each stage of our ceremony. A friend of mine had introduced a dummy proof design software to me earlier on in the year which allowed me to use easy templates to create a simple program booklet which we printed out at home.
Along with this, our priest turned out to be the hero of the day when he decided to surprise us and explain the process to our guests every step of the way making the ceremony less perplexing especially for our multicultural friends.
- You don’t need wedding favors
Our wedding favors were a bargain when we got them from India and Thailand for the respective ceremonies. Although they seemed like a wonderful thought at first, truth to be told you don’t even need them. Most of the time, people leave them behind. If you wish to offer momentos of your big day, you can choose to keep it simple.
- Happily accept all the help and favors you can get
We must admit, we have wonderful friends and family who were always willing to help us throughout the process of planning and even on our wedding day. I cannot imagine how we would have pulled through without the help of our family and friends which is why I would highly recommend not turning down a favour when an offer is made.
Most of these favors helped with the budget and even more so allowed us to appreciate a few extra moments with those closest to our hearts.
We had a friend who designed our wedding card for us as a wedding gift and we could not think of a better wedding gift to be honest! My sister agreed to be our wedding coordinator on the night of our reception. Our bridesmaids and groomsmen were sporting enough to participate in Bollywood numbers to make up our wedding day program. And we did not have to pay for wedding vehicles because our friends and family were happy to offer to dress up their cars a little and become our chauffeurs for the day.
So although the courteous thing to do would be to politely decline help, we could not have been happier to have accepted all the little things that people did for us to put huge smiles on our faces.
You don’t have to be a DIY whiz to DIY. You also don’t have to DIY your entire wedding. Certain things about our wedding were more special and lived up to our expectations because we decided to do it ourselves.
Things like photobooth props which my wonderful mum helped to create, photo spots, stage backdrops and ceiling decorations could save you a lot of money if you choose to do them yourselves rather than hire them from the venue.
One of our venues were going to charge us $400 odd dollars for ceiling fairy lights which we could purchase for a much cheaper price and install them ourselves. Yes, doing it yourself will take up more time and effort but if you have an eye for detail and a creative mind then why not?
We started off with a board on Pinterest and as soon as we had a vision in our mind of what each venue needed to look like, there was no stopping the ebbing flow of creative energy. We knew exactly what to shop for and on the day of the event we knew what we had to do to recreate the vision with the help of friends and family.
This was also a surefire way to not set ourselves up for disappointment.
- It’s OK to be Selfish, it’s YOUR day
Expect some things to not go as planned. There will be drama. There will be disagreements over details. You can’t make everyone happy all the time. But it’s ok for you to be selfish with your reactions and feelings of the little things that are happening around the both of you.
On the day of our wedding I could not believe how happy I was. I usually am a person who is sensitive to everything that goes on around me but I remember so clearly on the day that I seemingly had a shield on for any negative energy. It just dropped off my radar and the relief was liberating.
My heart sang and my smile displayed the radiating happiness that I felt. When I reached the mandap (altar), I really tried to take in as much as possible from the smiling faces of our guests and how amazing our setup looked. It truly was the happiest day of my life and I did not care if everyone else absolutely hated everything about it.
- The journey counts more than the destination!
Keep in mind that as a couple you will be spending months anticipating, planning and imagining your big day so make the journey count as much as the destination.
Some of our favorite moments were being able to spend more time getting to know one another’s families. Being tourists in our respective countries. Spending extra time with our friends. And, my personal favorite, getting to know each other a little better.