I have a wedding planning tip that I doubt you'll read about in other blog posts, or hear about on social media. It's a little out there, a bit strange to comprehend at first, but bear with me - this is an absolute game changer when it comes to actually enjoying your wedding day - and the planning process, too!
The key is: REFLECTION.
Incorporating reflection into your wedding planning process allows you and your partner to consolidate your interests, pick your priorities, save money, and actually enjoy a stress-free wedding day.
I told ya - this is different, it's a bit unusual, but trust me on this one, reflection is your friend.
First, let me give you a little backstory about my deep appreciation and fondness for the act of reflecting.
You may or may not be aware that I studied Outdoor Education (now recognized as Outdoor Leadership and Management) at the University of New Hampshire. I had a passion for the outdoors, a passion for sustainability, and I wanted to make everyday feel like summer camp - heck, I still do! That was my ultimate goal when I was 18. Through my studies, I developed a deeper appreciation for experiential therapy in outdoor settings, and a lot of those practices included reflection - in fact, some of them relied upon it. I learned more about this tool, and how powerful it is for growth, connection, and understanding (three really great aspects in marriage, too, but I'll get into that soon).
Throughout my courses, I gained insight into different types of reflection and how they can be used to deepen my clients' understanding of the lessons they had learned - basically, bringing their subconscious knowledge to the forefront of their minds so that they could actually recognize and retain their learning through the help of metaphors. Ultimately, this would help my clients' therapy and progress stick in their mind more easily. It was, therefore, engrained in my studies to save time at the end of an activity - or even sometimes the start of the activity - to encourage my clients to reflect on their experience.
I have since become a HUGE advocate for reflection in everything I do, which is why I now include reflection as a part of the experience I provide to the couples I work with, AND I encourage them to engage in this process BEFORE their wedding day.
Now, you might be thinking, Christy, what on Earth are you talking about? How do you do incorporate reflection before the big day? And how the heck does it help?!
Well, let's dive into the Wedding Planning Tip You Need to Know.
TOP 3 PRIORITIES
Like rock climbing, or trekking on a backpacking trip, your wedding day is an experience, and it's really the first day you and your partner are embarking on a new adventure together. It's one that means a lot to you both because it's personal, and holds so much value for the two of you. The planning of a wedding is also an experience in itself, one that will most likely put you and your partner into challenging situations that you'll be required to navigate, with the help of the skills you have learned and developed in your relationship thus far. This experience is one that is incredibly beautiful, special, exciting, AND, realistically, can also sometimes be a bit stressful, overwhelming, and confusing.
Reflection can be utilized to help you and your partner make effective and appropriate choices throughout your wedding planning process, both in the times of smooth sailing and when the waters get rough. While it could be incredibly useful to debrief your wedding, and the planning process, after the big day, I find that it's far more useful to reflect and debrief before you set sail, as it creates a North Star of sorts to help guide you along your way. Through all of the overwhelm and excitement, having something steady that you two can focus on will help make your journey more enjoyable, no matter what you encounter along the way.
The most impactful, yet tangible, way I encourage you to achieve this is inviting you to think about, share, and write down your Top 3 Priorities together with your partner.
What's entailed? I'd love to explain.
A good way to connect with your partner, and engage in some inter and intra-personal exploration, before your wedding is by list making. This is something I help the couples I work with accomplish. Today, I'm opening up and providing this exercise for you to work on your partner for your wedding day.
I invite you and your partner to independently come up with each of your own Top 3 Priorities for your wedding day. I think this is best achieved by physically writing them down on a piece of paper, as it helps these items stick in your head more easily. I find a lot of importance and value in encouraging each of you to come up with 3 priorities, as it is a guaranteed way of getting both partners involved in the thinking, dreaming, and planning process, which is vital when planning such an important day dedicated to both of you.
Once you and your partner have each written down your own Top 3 Priorities, that's when I encourage you to share your points with one another. Often times, couples will have a similar priority or two on their list, which makes it super easy to move on to the next step. Other times, however, couples will discover that they each value different aspects of their wedding day. It's important to note that no idea is labeled as 'good' or 'bad,' they are simply allowed to just be different. If/when this occurs during your experience of writing and sharing your Top 3 Priorities, it's crucial that you and your partner discuss your differing priorities, and explain why it's so important to you to include on/for your wedding day.
This ends up being great practice for marriage, as you will need to compromise to move on to the next step. So, be open minded during this exercise, listen to your partner, and remember that this day is, ultimately, about the two of you. You're on the same team here, and I believe that you two will come up with the best, most suitable priorities for you as a couple.
Once all six priorities have been read aloud and discussed, you will be ready to move onto the next step, which is creating a master list of your Top 3 Priorities. Since the list can only have 3 priorities, it means that, together as a couple, you will need to agree on only 3 priorities to move forward with. Remember, these Top 3 Priorities will act as your North Star throughout your wedding planning process, so it really is important that you both are on the same page with these priorities. If you're having a tough time narrowing all your points down to just three, I encourage you to take your time and keep discussing them to come up with a compromise. However, if you both absolutely LOVE 4 points, then, of course, you are more than welcome to bend the rules as you see fit. This is supposed to help rather than hinder :)
Once you have agreed upon your Top 3 Priorities together, that's when you can write them down as the final list (I provide my couples with a template to make this easier, but you can literally just write it down on a piece of paper). I encourage you to hang this list up on your fridge, tuck it into your wedding planning journal, or to create a shared note on your phones - however you store and/or display it, it's important that your Top 3 Priorities can be easily accessed by both you and your partner. The reason for this is because you're going to want to refer back to this list. When you're faced with options during your wedding planning that you're torn between, looking at your list can often help decision making to seem much easier as you have a clear, decisive North Start guiding you.
When things come up and you need to prioritize how much you're spending and on what, refer back to your Top 3 Priorities list! It will remind you of what is MOST important to you and your partner, and, therefore, will illuminate the areas that are worth spending on, and which ones may not be as crucial to you two and your particular wedding day.
This idea of coming up with Top 3 Priorities stemmed from me and my husband, Tre, planning our own wedding. We had originally been so set on a venue and vibe for our wedding weekend - like, for YEARS! Unfortunately, things didn't work out how we had hoped with that venue, which meant we had to start our wedding planning all over again essentially. It was a huge downer for us, but we both agreed that a venue was not going to be the make-or-break aspect of our special day, because our day meant so much more to us than just where the wedding would take place.
We kept talking about things that we were looking forward to, and wanted, for our wedding day, but we were also so overwhelmed and confused by all these new options and wedding planning aspects we now had to consider. So, in an effort to calm us down and keep us grounded, I came up with the idea for each of us to come up with our own priorities, share them, and create a master list of our Top 3 Priorities. It was a GAME CHANGER! There were so many times during our wedding planning process when our plans got rearranged, or even completely scrapped, and we felt like we had to start over numerous times. Wedding planning continued to be stressful and overwhelming for us honestly, so we referred back to our Top 3 Priorities list A LOT. Each new decision felt a little easier to us because we kept being brought back to what was MOST important to us, and remembering what was going to truly matter to us on our wedding day. We knew that, if all else went horribly wrong on the big day, as long as we could accomplish our Top 3 Priorities, we would be happy, our friends + family would be happy, and it would all be okay.
If you're curious, our Top 3 Priorities were:
1. Our families and friends coming together and having a great time. This was our number one priority because our families and friends lived in different countries (Tre's from London, England, I'm from New Hampshire, but we were both living in London at the time and planning our wedding in New Hampshire). There were MANY times when we wanted to just skip the big wedding altogether, but when we'd refer back to our Priorities list, we quickly realized that we had an opportunity to get our friends + family in one place for the first time ever, and probably the last time ever. That opportunity felt so incredibly special and important to us that we continued to choose our wedding day time and time again. Ultimately, this point to us meant that we wouldn't let ourselves cancel the wedding and run off and have an epic elopement somewhere hahaha! Trust me when I say that we referred back to this priority A LOT.
2. Good food, but nothing too fancy. We had always been excited about the idea of having burgers or pizza or something like that at our wedding day. We ended up ordering pizzas, salads, and baklava from a local pizza shop, and we even got a custom pizza made and called it the Dill Pickle, which was named after our pup in London who couldn't attend the wedding in America. We also had autumnal pies, and my mum made the wedding cake which was simple yet delicious. Oh, and booze, lots and lots of booze :) Everyone LOVED the food, and it fueled us up for a night of dancing!
3. Hiring a kick-ass wedding photographer to document it all!! Photography was incredibly important to Tre and me, so this point seemed like a no-brainer. Honestly, at the time, we weren't making a ton of money or anything, so this was definitely something we had to really budget for, but we found the perfect photographers for our day, and did everything we could to make it work! Our thought process was that if we were having all of our favorite people in one place for the first and probably last time ever, then we might as well have siiiiiiiick photos from it all! We felt excited to invest in our wedding photographers because we had made it a priority, which gave us permission to spend our money in this way on something really mattered.
Now, a Top 3 Priority list may seem simple...because it is! It's not ground breaking by any means, yet it's something that easily gets overlooked in the wedding planning process. However, talking from my own experience planning a wedding, as well as the feedback I've received from past couples who have utilized this method in their planning process, it makes a HUGE difference.
Taking the time to reflect on what is most important to you and your partner will set the foundations in place for a successful wedding. It will help guide you through the many choices you and your partner will have to make during your wedding planning process, and it will help save you TONS of money because you will find it easier to make conscious, intentional decisions about decor, seating options, napkins, etc. It will relieve a lot of spending guilt you may have by giving you permission to invest in what's truly important and valuable to you and your partner for your big day, AND it will feel really good knowing that you and your boo are on the same freaking page during this process.
All of this combined will allow you and your partner to feel less-stressed on your actual wedding day because you will know that, no matter what happens, your Top 3 Priorities will be taken care of, and that's all that will truly matter at the end of your wedding day.
I hope you find this step in planning your wedding incredibly helpful! I'd love to know what your Top 3 Priorities for your wedding day are!
Thanks so much, and speak soon,
The Francis Frames