What I Learned About Life After Planning A Wedding For A Year
Our wedding day has come and gone, and while I’m still floating high on nostalgia and amazing memories from that night, I’m also feeling a mountain of relief. The whole day was beautiful and though it had its fair share of hiccups, J and I loved every second of it. It was everything we hoped for and more, but I am definitely glad it’s over
The process of wedding planning was far from easy. J and I run a business together and we’ve organized many large-scale events together, but we never fought as much as we did during our wedding (granted, most of it was instigated by me). I can handle logistics and details and last-minute complications. I was not ready, however, for the emotional baggage that came with every single decision, and second guessing how friends and family would react to everything we did.
Looking back on the past year though, I’m thankful for everything we’ve learned. The day after our wedding, J and I looked at each other with so much love. Despite the stress, the craziness, the tears and arguments and drama the past year brought us, it felt almost like a rite of passage, as weird as that sounds. Someone asked me after we got married, “Don’t you feel more complete?” I thought it was a silly thing to say at the time, but I realize it’s true.
J and I have always been committed to each other, but our wedding was also a way to commit to our friends and family in a way we never have before. I feel so much closer to the people in my life, and I know J does as well.
So here are some of the big takeaways I’ve learned throughout this whole weird, crazy, and sometimes ridiculous process. Maybe you’ll learn something from what I learned, but mostly, I don’t want to forget the lessons this experience has brought.
1. Pour your heart and soul into what’s most important to you. The rest are just details.
If I could re-do anything about the planning phase, I would spend less time worrying about stupid things like decor, where the balloons should go, etc. We planned everything down to the last detail, and a lot of small things got messed up in the craziness of the day. But here’s the lesson: none of it made any difference at all.
What was important? J and I wanted a beautiful ceremony where people could understand us better as a couple. We wanted a big party where everyone danced and talked and had amazing food and LOTS of drinks. We wanted everyone who attended to be people we cared about, and we wanted our guests to know how important they are to us. J and I spent a lot of time and energy finding ways to involve our friends and family into our wedding, from our friend Alex being the DJ, to my mom making my bouquet and our friends handcrafting our decor and gift tags. So many people came up to us on our wedding night and shared how honoured they were to have been invited. J and I thought that was crazy, because we were so honoured to have people come all the way out for us.
Throughout the planning, many people (aka. family) questioned our decisions. We made concessions where we could, but stuck to the things that mattered most. And in the end, even our biggest doubters came and told us how beautiful our wedding was and that they understood why we chose to do things our way. I realize it’s important to focus on the big picture, and people will naturally buy into your vision if you do what you love.
2. It’s okay to celebrate yourself.
J and I are both not used to being the center of attention, and even on our wedding day, part of me felt guilty for getting so much attention and talking about myself all the time. I also felt guilty about having my siblings do so much work to prepare for the wedding, and all the guilt made me stressed out.
My sister finally talked some sense into me. “You’ve been there for my wedding and everyone else’s wedding. It’s our turn to pay you back. We WANT to do whatever it takes for you to have the best day, so stop worrying about us.” After she told me this, I realized that it’s okay to congratulate yourself, to be in the spotlight, and to just soak up all the love you’re receiving. Then pay it back tenfold.
3. Ask for help. People want to be part of your life.
Related to above, J and I both felt guilty asking so much of our friends and family. When it came to reaching out for advice or a helping hand, both of us are pretty hesitant people, so this was the source of our biggest wedding stress for sure. But it was also our biggest source of learning.
I realized that people want to help you. If they really care about you, they want to be involved in your life. They want to know what you’re going through and find out how to be part of it and make your life easier. I also have very generous friends and family, which I’ve always known, but the wedding really made it feel more concrete.
I really sucked at asking for help early on during the wedding planning phase, so my friends took the initiative to volunteer themselves for things. You need signage? I’ll make it for you. You can’t find ceremony decor? I researched all these ideas for you. You’ve got a lot on your plate. I’ll show up five hours early to the wedding and help you out. I was honestly floored by how generous my friends and family were, and they taught me how I can be more generous myself.
J also had a hard time with this, especially being a dude with very dude friends. What was beautiful though is that I got to see J go outside of his comfort zone and put himself out there to tell his friends what was important to him, and I loved how everyone rallied to make it happen. When you put yourself out there and are willing to be vulnerable, people will respond in kind. That was also a really touching moment, and both of us will always remember that.
4. Be unafraid to be yourself.
With my business with J, sometimes it feels like no one is really paying attention to what we’re doing. There are days it feels like no one really gives a shit and our friends have no clue what our business is even about (in some cases, that is true). But during the wedding speeches, I was honestly touched by how many of our friends and family talked about our business and shared how much they admired our work. My dad described me as “bold and opinionated” or something like that, which he and my mom often chastised me for growing up (ie. ‘walang hiya!’ in Filipino), but it was interesting to hear him say it as a compliment. I was a little surprised.
I was also surprised at how my siblings and friends shared how they admired J and I for our strong ethics. One of my best friends said in her speech how she felt inspired to question her impact on the world and her own lifestyle, and I was really touched. Around friends and family, I feel sometimes I have to tone down my opinions or keep quiet because I don’t want to be “that girl” who lectures everyone, and sometimes I feel that there are parts of me that I can’t always be open about, especially with family. But I was touched that a part of me I thought I had to hide away was still bright and visible, and that the people I loved really saw me for who I am.
These are all lessons I’ve learned about weddings, but they’re really life lessons. I’m thankful for the life J and I have, and the amazing people who have made us who we are today.