There are a few things that happen when you get engaged.

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When I got engaged, my life suddenly became very different. I belonged to a new family now, my fiance was my new family. I suppose that the effects of becoming engaged vary depending on who you ask and what order they did life in (kids, buy house together, engaged?). That kind of thing isn’t unusual these days, my mother met her husband when I was three, had a kid with him when I was six and married him when I was fifteen, long after they bought a house. There are a few things that are pretty universal when you get engaged though, and by the time you actually get married, you’re mostly wondering why you didn’t just do it in front of a judge.

People you haven’t spoken to in years are suddenly your best friends.

I will never understand it, but for some reason when you become a bride, people are obsessed with being your bridesmaid. I’ve never been a bridesmaid, but I will admit that I was one of those people. When my friends got engaged, I would have loved to be in their bridal party.

It’s different now, I’m planning a wedding of my own and I know exactly what it’s like to have to talk to vendors, plan parties, meet with florists and celebrants. Honestly, I’d rather wear my best dress to your party and eat for free. I think I didn’t really understand exactly what being a bridesmaid involved, and it’s a lot of work. Your bridesmaids are your closest friends or family, but they are basically slaves – with only the promise of getting to be seen walking down an aisle seconds before you arrive and steal the limelight as a potential pay off.

It just doesn’t make sense to me. Who would want to volunteer to spend all of that money (seriously, the bride chooses everything and you just pay for your dress, hair, make up, shoes, her hen’s night, buy her a gift for the bridal shower and basically make sure she doesn’t have a meltdown for a year and a half) for two seconds of having to walk down an aisle in an ugly dress? And the dresses are always ugly.

Everyone is a wedding expert.

I’m not kidding. Every single person I come into contact with has some advice that I didn’t ask for. Get a videographer, wear your hair up, spend at least this much money on alcohol, do your own flowers, you have to invite this person. Sadly enough, they kind of have a point, your wedding isn’t about you. Your marriage is. If your wedding was all about you, you wouldn’t have 150 guests, you aren’t close to 150 people.

But you also don’t have that kind of money. Weddings are expensive and the industry is ridiculous. As soon as the word ‘wedding’ comes into it, prices jump into the stratosphere. Hey, if they are willing to pay, you’ll include a petting zoo and jumping castle, right?

The more choices you have, the less you know what you want.

I’m going to admit a little thing I did here, amidst talking about how expensive weddings are, I’m going to tell you that I bought two dresses. I guess my mistake – and one that is a lesson learned – I bought my first dress online. I’m not talking about going to stillwhite.com and buying a second hand dress. I had mine custom made, online, from China. But I kept looking. I kept finding prettier dresses that I wanted more.

It’s a beautiful dress, and it’s perfect, but it’s just not for me. As it turns out, I had to have it altered anyway, which was going to cost me 2.5 times what I actually spent on it. In the end I bought a Mia Solano for $1000, after I spent a whole day at a bridal store trying on dress after dress. I came out of the room smiling, it was so perfect.

But this kind of thing doesn’t just happen to dresses. This will happen to everything you do. Your venue will be booked for a decent 10 months before you find a new place on a whim and die to get married there instead. You will paw through pictures and scour the internet for ideas on how to set your centrepieces, or what kind of bouquet to design, and you’ll become less and less sure of what you want.

You will have to repeat your wedding date to the same people, constantly.

Possibly your own parents. More than once. You’ll have to repeat your wedding date so many times that you’ll start lying just to see if they actually do remember or not. The reality is that they are just asking to be nice, they don’t actually care. Which brings me to my next point.

No one cares about your wedding as much as you do.

And why should they? It’s natural to want everyone to be happy for you, and for a time they will be. For various reasons. Engagements tend to be contagious and when one couple gets engaged, at least one of their friends will get engaged before they get married, so some women hope that they will be next. Some people are excited because they haven’t attended a wedding before.

I guess the reason isn’t important, because the point is that people quickly get tired of hearing about your wedding. Nobody actually cares that you found your bridesmaids dresses, no one is interested in your cake, or your venue. I’m guilty of that myself. I have friends who are getting married before me, and I actually don’t care that you attended a bridal fair or got your ring cleaned. Keep it away from Facebook, because people will slowly stop talking to you if it’s all you post about.

You learn to say ‘no’.

Weddings are supposed to be a celebration of the couple. Not just the bride. So, you have to compromise with your husband-to-be on some aspects. Early on, I sat down and decided about the things that were absolutely non-negotiable to me, and the things I didn’t feel strongly about one way or the other, which has worked out well. Not only because the things I didn’t really care about coincided with the things he did care about, but also because I was able to include him in the planning of our wedding, which is extremely important to me. But it’s important to remember that everyone is an expert on weddings.

Your parents always know a guy who is a photographer, who will do it for free (And with photography, you really get what you pay for, and if you want to splurge on anything, it’s the photography). Sometimes, these things can be useful though, every girl knows a hairdresser or make up artist and paying for hair and make up for the bride is expensive enough without having to add mother of the bride, mother of the groom, sisters, grandmothers and bridesmaids into the mix. You can ask everyone to pay for their own, or you can find a friend who will do it cheap. Of course, if you have the skills to do your own makeup and hair, do it yourself. Always do it yourself. The hairdresser might be good, but there’s no guarantee that what she produces is what you want.

So, learn to say no. Say it loudly and say it often. The second you sign up for a website to help you plan, vendors start calling or emailing you, relentlessly. I don’t know how it isn’t considered harassment.

People give you gifts, congratulate you and give you discounts all of the time.

This part is fantastic. You can be engaged for over a year already and someone will show up with a bottle of champagne because they feel bad for not coming to your engagement party.

People find out I’m engaged and still congratulate me, when store owners find out I’m engaged, they give me small discounts all the time. It does make you feel like a little bit of a freeloader, and not all discounts are actual discounts. I paid $1000 for my dress, and I got a $700 discount on it. Feels like a great discount right? No, prices on wedding paraphernalia are inflated ridiculously. The price was $1000, but she told me it was $1700 to make it look like a better discount.

But you can look at it like this. Wedding vendors are easy to manipulate if you look like you might say no, or walk away. They are prepared to throw things into a deal – we got a three tier cake and night in a hotel from our venue because we were still unsure after viewing it. Sometimes though, things are just too expensive and you need to know what’s important.

 

After all, the most important thing about this wedding is who you are marrying.

 

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