Carley Roney became frustrated by the dizzying choices and lack of reliable information while planning her own wedding. So in 1996, this media veteran was inspired to create a no-nonsense, modern guide to weddings in the form of TheKnot.com, which she co-founded with her husband, David Liu. More than 10 years later, it has become the number one online destination for wedding planning. In addition, Roney has published Knot-related books and magazines, and answered countless questions in her syndicated news column. We spoke to her about the exciting, yet tricky business of planning a wedding.
Trying to figure out where to begin is very overwhelming. Everything about the process is new, and as soon as you start to think about it, you realize that you have a lot of big decisions to make. Another big concern that quickly dawns on people is money. Couples ask themselves: “Do we have enough?” “Who else will be contributing?” “If they contribute, does it mean they get to make the decisions?” While you’re dealing with these emotions you’re also reckoning with everyone else’s expectations—including your parents and in-laws—and they all have ideas about what your wedding should be. This can cause a lot of tension.
The best thing you can do is to get organized by making a to-do list or finding one online. Once you can see the list, you just have to approach it one task at a time. Begin to figure out your priorities, as this helps you focus on where you’ll spend your attention and your money. I also recommend finding an outlet for your excitement; plan an engagement party to kick things off, whether it’s a barbeque for family and friends or meeting in a bar. It gives you something upon which to focus your energy and keeps you from spinning out of control.
You need to make some general decisions about the invite list to determine the size of the wedding. Ask yourself: “Will the guest list be 250 people or 50?” “How many do you get to invite and how many people do your parents get to invite?” Also, pick your bridal party, because then you’ll know who’s in your inner circle and who you can talk to about the planning and your feelings. You should also find a home base resource, such as TheKnot.com, another wedding web site or a book. This will help you do your research and get planning tools, such as checklists and budget trackers. Web sites provide a community of people to talk to; as much as your bridal party loves you, they don’t really want to talk about your wedding constantly for the next 12 months.
As a couple, these are the first inklings of how you’re going to work together. If you handle family poorly in the beginning, it will cause a lot more stress for you later because people will get offended and they will carry that feeling around with them. The more you clarify your goals for the wedding, the more enjoyable the rest of the process will be.
Begin to delegate: Figure out who your trusted sources are going to be, whether it’s a friend or your mom or a wedding planner. Have your mind set from the beginning that you’re going to include other people in the process so it doesn’t become overwhelming. Also, get yourself some sort of device—such as a folder, a basket or a binder—where you keep all things wedding related in one spot and you don’t have little pieces of paper flying everywhere. A lot of inspiration will be coming from all over and you want to be able to access it easily.
Some brides are shocked by the proposal and need a couple of days to shake it off, but most people move right into a tremendous high. They’re excited and on top of the world, feeling like the luckiest people on earth. Everyone wants to see your ring and hear the story of the proposal. But, very quickly, you can get overwhelmed—people will have 500 questions for you and you often feel like you want everyone to back off. People will try to tell you what you should and shouldn’t do and they’ll question your choices. You can start to feel territorial. But unlike other life transitions, the first 30 days of being engaged are extremely positive, generally.
As you move into managing the wedding, you want to make key decisions relatively quickly. There’s an intense phase of booking key vendors, such as your reception site and the caterer. You can’t get much further without making these key choices. After those are in place, you can kick back a little bit, particularly if you’re having the typical yearlong engagement. Then you can slowly look for the secondary elements of the wedding, whether it’s the dress, the florist, the videographer or the cake maker. Also you don’t want to go crazy with the process, none of these decisions are life and death. The only life and death thing is that you maintain a positive relationship with your spouse and your family throughout. It’s really the days after the wedding that you should be the most focused on.
My life is one of constant change. I always take the approach that change is exciting and good—and you can always change back if you don’t like it. You can’t be afraid to take risks.
It keeps things exciting.
Ironically, it was getting married. It made life twice as interesting. I gained a day-to-day teammate, someone whose bolstering at every turn made me more confident. Getting married opens you up to a whole new world, whether it’s their family or their culture or their interests. It enriches your life twofold.
For more information about Carley Roney, visit www.TheKnot.com.