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How to get married without losing your mind (or your marriage)

Summer is the season for weddings.  Love and marriage.  Happily ever after.  You may now kiss the bride time of year.
The process of preparing for your wedding is extremely stressful, as if the universe wants to test every strand of strength in your future marriage.
josie+lloyd-970To give credit to my husband, I put him through just about every challenge possible in planning our wedding.  I was the bride that wanted everything, was the easiest sell on ‘add-ons’ because I got caught up in Disney-like fairytale that is getting married.  Let’s be honest, there is serious money to be made in the wedding industry, it is a business.  So where does all this stress come from?  Decisions that lead to spending more or less time and money.
Looking back, I would do a few things differently.   Here is my list, what I should have done.

  1. Electronic Invitations.  Save some serious money by an electronic save the date and formal invitation that is connected to your wedding website.
  2. Wedding dress.  While I still adore my dress, I am embarrassed how much it cost.  The designer was in the store the day I tried it on, which is basically crack for future brides. And keep in my the cost of the dress is only the start, alteration costs are like property taxes on houses.   I think I could have found something still fabulous for half the cost.
  3. Forgo the wedding album.  The one we had made was amazing, almost art museum worthy.  But we only open it on very rare occasions.  With so many online album options, self-made albums are extremely doable, affordable and realistic.
  4. Let the bridesmaids choose their dresses.  I had eight bridesmaids, all living in different areas of the country with every shape and size.  Two were even pregnant.  One of the most stressful decisions was picking a dress that could have a flattering fit and affordability for my girls.  If it would do it again, I would tell them the color and dress length so they could pick their own.
  5. Nixs the slideshow.  If you really want it, play it in the background during dinner.  Use that time to dance.

But there were also things I am very grateful we invested in.

  1. josie+lloyd-487Photography.  To clarify, we did not want the type of photographer that would have us posing every other minute, or spending two hours in groups line-ups.  We wanted moments to be captured.  Images of our families, friends and the ambiance of the night to remember forever.  It was worth every penny, plus more.
  2. Honeymoon.  The stress and busy months leading up to the wedding can leave couples on edge.  Taking off for a honeymoon soon after the wedding became near requirement for our marriage.  I highly encourage taking even mini-moon following the wedding.  Trust me, you’ll need it.
  3.  Next day brunch.  This one could be negotiable, based upon circumstances.  For us, we had a number of family and friends from out-of-town who we wanted to spend more time with the day after the wedding.  Because we were all staying at the same location as the wedding, having the brunch on site the next day was both convenient and a low stress time to say thank you’s and goodbyes.
  4. Personalized ceremony.  We wrote our own vows and even parts of our ceremony.  We followed many traditional elements of a christian wedding, but our personalities and purpose as a couple were very obvious.
  5. Day of coordinator.  Having an extra set of eyes and hands the day of the wedding was priceless.  Ensuring my parents would not be the only people at the end of the night cleaning was a relief.  Did the day go perfectly?  No.  But I didn’t have to worry or think twice if the vendors were doing their jobs, the wedding party was in place or venue was set up properly.  It allowed me to do what a bride should be doing on her wedding day, be fully present and having fun.

So how could decisions like these help you stay sane during your wedding planning process?  Many really.  A. Save Money  B. Move on to other Decisions C. Simplicity  D. Save Time
Congrats to all the newlyweds out there (you did it!), now the real celebrating begins!  Also, my best wishes to those whom are engaged; enthusiastically preparing for their weddings in the next couple years.  It will be the fastest day you will desperately want to remember.  Make sure you and your partner maintain solid lines of communication during the planning process, so when you do arrive to your big day you are stronger than ever.

About Josie

I’m Dr. Josie Ahlquist—a digital engagement and leadership consultant, researcher, educator, and author. I’m passionate about helping people and organizations find purposeful ways to connect, engage, and tell their unique story. I provide consulting, executive coaching, and training for campuses, companies, and organizations that want to learn how to humanize technology tools and build effective and authentic online communities.

My blog and podcast have been recognized by EdTech Magazine, Inside Higher Ed and the Chronicle of Higher Education. My book, Digital Leadership in Higher Education, was published in 2020 and was listed as a #1 new release for college and university student life. I have been growing my consultancy since 2013 and am based in Los Angeles. When I’m not helping clients lead online, you might find me training for a triathlon, spoiling my nieces and nephews, or exploring with my husband and our rescue dogs in our new RV called Lady Hawk.

I’d love to connect! Find me on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

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