1.  I will Own the guest list.

It is your wedding, so don’t let others make this list for you.  Know thy guests.  You are to greet and thank each one of these people at your reception and so is your *STBBH (soon-to-be-better half).  It will be a memorable moment, or it might not be …  There will be people you don’t know, but nothing shows more class than knowing people by name, or, at least, giving the impression of name recognition – knowing  cousin Greg drove in from North Carolina or that Shelly graduated college with your STBBH reassures people they were invited for their presence, not their presents.

2.  I will Budget the wedding realistically.

More people are paying for their own weddings, brides and grooms alike, so the budget is given attention.  Doing the research about how much a wedding costs, getting estimates, understanding contractual obligations, and understanding how long it takes to both save up for and pay off a wedding is very adult and responsible.  If you are just winging it all and charging and asking others to pay for everything, then maybe a wedding isn’t in order as much as graduating from high school.  Even if someone else is paying, be involved in the money matters.

3.  I will select a when and a where that is Realistic.

Not only will you pick out a location that is logical for those on your guest list, but you will consider if guests need to stay at a nearby hotel or need special accommodations.  If something is not right, try to make it right for everyone, or at least acknowledge that you have chosen a place or time that would not work for other people.  “I know you just had a baby, so ….”  or “I know you were about to have surgery, and I understand, and I want to send you an invitation anyway because ….”  Sure, there are those that will make it out that they were snubbed, but that doesn’t have to do with you – that is all on them.  But be classy, and acknowledge difficulties and your wish that you could make things more advantageous for everyone so that they could be there, on this special family day.  The inverse  of this is, “I will pick a when and where that suits US and I will not be swayed or guilted by Aunt Kay into a when and where that I will resent till time freezes over.”

4.  I will be Realistic about appearances.

No one will know you ditched the dress that was $—-.00 more or the reception hall or the cake or …. anything really.  Sure, we all know the differences, and we’d like to get the best of the best.  And maybe it would be nice to show someone up.  Sometimes weddings do say, “I’ve arrived.”  But unless your choices say, “I don’t care about my wedding” you shouldn’t exercise too much stress on appearances.  The day should be fun and joyful and memorable.  People will remember your overall theme, but they won’t remember the flowers unless they are strait out of the movie “Little Shop of Horrors.”  They are important as a backdrop or as a mood setter, they say eleghant or sassy, but they don’t say, “I’m the gladiollas from the shade of lavendar from the wedding of the princess of Pea Pods… remember me on your deathbed!”

Wedding planning should be fun and joyful and memorable, and if you set the budget ahead of time, then you know how to choose to get within that budget.  If you are stressing to bust your budget, be realistic.  Even Cameron Russel has said appearances aren’t everything.   Happiness.  Is. Everything.

5.  I will Create a wedding blogif necessary.

Maybe it is generational, but I don’t see the need to have a website or blog for a wedding versus adding updates, videos, and photos to Facebook, unless you don’t have Facebook, then a blog is a nice idea.  It allows you to keep and share memories.  That is a good use for them, and you’ll be doing it later with your kids.

Others say you have to have a blog because (GASP!) you’ll inundate people with TMI….  As if that isn’t already happening.  I’m glad people are so into their hobbies, children, causes, or politics (not), but I’ve learned that I can opt out of the Facebook stream.  I visit people’s pages like websites and blogs – when I want to – and get updates.   Mostly, I just want to look at people’s pictures and get some updates.  Seldom do I need to get their latest pin from Pinterest.   It’s all TMI if you don’t know to use the unfollow features.

So use Facebook, just don’t go negative.  Just ask, “Do I want to keep this memory?”  Then post.

If you are feeling like a fabulous celebrity, get a website.  Some people are rockstars.  Rock away!  They can be a beautiful online scrapbook or photo album that allows you to choose the style and more.  It will last as long as you keep maintaining it.  They can capture your theme and more.

6.  I will be Positive and Optimistic.

If you have anxiety, a wedding is a landmine of triggers that will send you down the paranoid stress-hole of rabbit holes.  All the more reason to plan, Alice.  Let your organization skills flourish.  Then remind yourself that when one thing doesn’t go your way, there are other things that will.  Have backup plans.  Best of all, pick a date far far in advance so you can plan and prep without the extra stress of being under deadline.

7.  I will Thank people for their help and input.

With stress comes the forgetfulness to be polite and kind.  Even if you don’t like someone’s suggestion, thank them for offering it.  I like the phrase, “I’ll consider that,” or the most frosty one “I’ll take it under advisement” if you have to go there.  Being noncommittal yet appreciative will keep feelings from getting bent and family and friendships from getting beat up.  And be advised, if you get in a hurry, your besties or close family could feel snubbed if you forget to spend time with them on your wedding day.  Schedule time to thank them for contributing to your special day and for being there for you.

Appreciation will keep you feeling positive.  Appreciation is like an inoculation against negativity.

8. I will get References for my vendors and then I Will Trust Them.

Your vendors are under work stress, and some float above it better than others, but micromanaging or second guessing them will undercut their creativity and productivity.  If you did your job and got reliable references, checked each vendor out with the better business bureau, and have done your due diligence, release them to do the job you are paying them to do.

The best thing about trusting is you will stress less.

9.  I will make Rational purchases.

Just like with a first baby, weddings have lots of things we think we need but we actually don’t.  A guestbook might be a small and unnecessary expense and a pointless task.  A professional photographer is only worth the money if he or she can produce the pictures you would want to keep.  I had a bad experience with a professional photographer, and believe me, there are family members more capable than some supposed professionals.  A great photographer is worth an investment.  A so-so or bad photographer?  Keep your money, spend it on the cake! and ask a relative to use thier skills to capture the event.  And seriously, do you need to have a garter belt later or shoes you will not see under the dress that fit poorly and will be ruined after one night?  Weigh and measure your decisions  and give yourself time to do it.  I wish I’d wore my boots!  Or I could have bought new ones…  oh… man…

10.  I will give myself the gift of Time.

Haste makes waste, so even if you feel you urgently need to get married, most of us don’t  We can spend time planning and working with a planner.  We can build in time to consider options, check references, and feel confident we are going to have a great event.

I hope this year has you planning the wedding of your lifetime with the love of you life.  Wishing you much happiness and cherishable memories in 2016!

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The author: Dawn Van Ness

Dawn Dickson Van Ness grew up at the beach and has published her work in print and online. With a BA in English and a MS in Mass Communications, she has used writing and multimedia to promote artists, art shows, writers, small businesses, and other self-employed individuals by building websites and maintaining social media pages. She feels most fulfilled when she is helping others achieve their dreams, which includes writing self-help and steps-to-success articles for various websites. It seems a natural fit for this wife and mother of two to write features that help soon-to-be wed couples. For more about Dawn, go to www.dawnvanness.me.