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Sharon Naylor on Planning a Wedding
Sharon Naylor knows weddings. After all, she’s the award-winning author of more than 30 books on the subject, including The Busy Bride’s Essential Wedding Checklists. Pinpointing the essential elements of proper preparation, she specializes in making the wedding-planning process manageable, affordable and fun. Coincidentally, Naylor is in the process of planning her own wedding for April 2008. She was kind enough to share her top tips on getting through the first 30 days of planning a wedding.
What kinds of fears can one expect to encounter within the first 30 days of planning a wedding?
At first, everyone’s thrilled for you. But they go back to their own lives. When that initial rush goes away—and it goes away pretty quickly—you’re lost because you expected people to be on top of the world with you for a long time. You feel left alone with a giant to-do list and a ton of emotion attached to it. It’s easy to misinterpret these feelings as an implication that you might be making a mistake. Even your groom may be quiet after the initial enthusiasm.
There’s also a lot of fear about how expensive everything seems. The things you’re pricing at this point, such as the reception site, are the most expensive costs and they can leave you wondering if you’ll be able to afford everything you want.
What are some couples feeling and experiencing in the first 30 days of planning a wedding?
There’s a lot of relief and a sense of peace that you’ve landed where you’re supposed to be. You may be feeling tremendous gratitude that you’ve found your partner. You may find yourself reviewing your relationship—the first meeting, the first kiss and all the things that led to this point. There may be celebrations where you get a taste of being the center of attention. There’s a boost to your self-confidence. There’s also a ton of humor—you look back on your exes and think, what was I thinking? And that also comes with some soul-searching—what if I had married the tennis pro? It’s a big, intense mix of emotions. And for anyone who has lost someone close to them, the joy is tinged with sadness. No matter what you do, you have that sense of wishing they were there.
What changes for a couple once they become engaged and begin to plan for the wedding?
Your relationships with your parents change now. The reality of the ring makes them feel like you are finally an adult in a way they may not have acknowledged before. And you’re constantly learning a lot about your partner: Because getting married is a big, emotionally loaded event, it may be the first time you’ve seen each other stressed out to this level.
What should couples do in the first month of preparing for a wedding?
Book your main vendors—your ceremony and reception sites and perhaps your caterer—but leave the creative stuff for later. It will reduce your stress because you’ll know you’ve got your top choices. Also, have a conversation with your partner about presenting a united front. I can’t stress how important it is to promise that neither of you will make plans for the wedding or the future without consulting the other. Agree that neither of you will make plans with your parents without the other knowing. Parents have a way of jumping to the details. If you agree to something, the next thing you know, the wedding is out of your control.
How can couples make sure their wedding planning time is used wisely?
Decide on a game plan—such as you’ll devote only Sunday afternoons to discussing wedding plans—so neither of you becomes scared that there will be incessant wedding talk. When you let your partner know what to expect, his or her fears are mitigated.
During the wedding planning, you are also setting the foundation for your future relationships with your in-laws. People remember what you say during this time and it sets a precedent for the future. Have empathy for people who are having a tough time handling the changes your engagement is bringing about in their own lives.
What can couples do after the first 30 days to make sure that their planning results in a blissful wedding day?
Give each other veto power. Even if you said you’d do planning tasks on Sunday, you still get to say, “I need a day of rest.” There’s a real danger that your partnership could get lost during the planning, so always show appreciation. Keep your date nights going and acknowledge that both of your moods will be all over the map. And don’t neglect your self-care. Exercise, eat well, sleep well and stay hydrated. If you’re feeling lethargic and bloated, you’re not going to be at your best and you’re going to get snappy.
What is the belief you personally go to during times of change?
Change takes courage. I look at it in terms of a big, dark cloud of yuck that you have to walk through to get to the other side; it can feel very uncomfortable. Change is the best thing we have, that’s why it’s guaranteed. We’re not here to stay the same.
The best thing about change is…
…it’s a giant form of self-love. You’re doing it for yourself because you believe you deserve better, and you can be proud of yourself for having the courage to attempt it.
What is the best change you have ever made?
Deciding that I deserved a better place to live, even though it was a little above my budget. Although it was scary, because I had to give up a lot of things, it put me in the right place to meet my fiancé and a bunch of new friends.
For further information on Sharon Naylor, visit www.sharonnaylor.net.