We got married this week two years ago. Our wedding was what we had hoped it would be – a fun and meaningful day with the people we cared about most. This year and last year, we looked through our photos together from the day and reminisced on how much warmth and love our wedding brought.
Looking through our photos also reminded me of just how many creative projects I attempted with our wedding. From a creative standpoint, I’ve spent some time thinking about what worked and what didn’t. I think those lessons apply to event-planning and creative projects in general, so I thought I’d document them here!
Pick and choose what’s important to you
We had a wedding party, bouquets, toasts, a first dance and my dad walked me down the aisle. But we also had postcard invitations, cupcakes, wrote our own vows, and discarded the garter/bouquet toss. By being selective, the day felt like a lovely ritual that held real meaning for us.
Be realistic about what you can and want to accomplish
Planning arts and crafts projects is where I lost all sense of discernment: I thought I would design my own invitations, make my own dress, build a photobooth, create a picture slideshow, craft decorations, arrange bouquets, create my own thumbprint guestbook (more on that later)… In reality, I was only able to finish the invitations, the guestbook and some of the decorations. Weddings tend to be accompanied by a lot of other time commitments, and I found myself with less crafting time than I would have had normally.
Go for maximum crafting impact
The decorations I did manage to create were paper flowers for table centerpieces. I spent dozens of hours making tiny paper flowers, and I still had lots of help. It took a lot of those labor-intensive little flowers to look like a real table centerpiece! Later that year, I helped a friend who was getting married make jumbo paper fiesta flowers and we were done before we could finish a second glass of wine. I loved my delicate paper flowers but given how many I had to make, bigger flowers would have been a good idea!
Let people help
Since I started more projects than I could have possibly completed, I can’t imagine what would have happened if my friends and family hadn’t stepped in. Casey made my dress, Elizabeth stepped in as a coordinator, Kristin and Dudley made our amazing photobooth, my sister took our portraits (and let me cry on her throughout the wedding planning process), Nathan made the slideshow, Nathan’s mom helped with paper flowers and made party favors, my mom thrifted almost a hundred vases for my paper flowers, Katherine created a decoration plan, Jen schooled herself in the floral arts and made the bridesmaid bouquets, Nathan’s aunt made flower girl dresses, Jacob helped figure out the venue sound system and advised us on our slideshow, my cousin-in-law made our scrumptious cupcakes… None of these projects would have been as fantastic (or completed at all) without them.
We also had a crew of people helping to set up the venue. They strung lights, put out flowers, seated elderly guests, ran last minute errands. Guests that came early started helping, too. Part of me wanted to have everything completely ready by the time guests arrived, but our rental started a few hours before our wedding ceremony. So many people pitched in and Nathan and I were both touched.
Decide to enjoy yourself!
By the time the day of the wedding rolled around, I decided there was nothing more I could do and just floated. A sense of calm came over me; we’d prepared as well as we could and whatever was going to happen was going to happen. I enjoyed the whole event immensely! Only a few things went “wrong”, and they’re funny. The balloons we were going to put at the door flew out of my friend’s car. I forgot my birdcage veil, sent Nathan back to the hotel for it, and he forgot it too. Our slideshow was set to a song that was louder than the rest of our music and gave our guests a nice jolt when it started playing.
And, the aforementioned thumbprint guestbook turned into this explosion of color:
There won’t be many times in your life that all of the important people in your life are together, so savor it instead of, for instance, monitoring thumbprint placement.
A wedding is generally a major undertaking, with lots of emotional peaks and valleys. My lowest lows were caused by stretching myself too thin and overcommitting to projects, and my highest highs were feeling so supported by friends and family, and actually getting married. I didn’t think too much about the ceremony itself during our planning phase, but it ended up being one of my favorite parts of the wedding. There’s a dizzying amount of wedding inspiration out there – would I have stretched myself so thin without the aid of Pinterest? – but the day of our wedding put everything back into perspective.
What was your biggest lesson from planning a wedding or a big event? Are you planning one right now?