Tying the Knot in a Meaningful and Memorable Way (Without Losing Our Savings or Sanity)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Q & A: Wedding Indecision

Reader Question: I have been reading your wedding blog for 10 months now. I was never one of those people who dreamed about my wedding when I was a little girl. At one point, when I was 10, I remember wanting to dress up like an 80's Barbie--jeans, a white silk (extra flowy) blouse and white Barbie-ish pumps, but that was the extent of my wedding fantasizing. So when my boyfriend proposed last May I went to Google and typed in "budget weddings" and your blog popped up. I absolutely loved reading about your own $2000 wedding.

The point of my email though is that we're having a lot of trouble just deciding what kind of wedding we actually want. I am cursed with indecision about all aspects of my life and my fiance is pretty indecisive too. I love reading your suggestions. How exactly did you even know what you wanted in a wedding? I'm totally lost about all of this (to be honest I've never even been to a wedding) and to make matters worse we've "decided" at least 2 billion times (more or less) about what we actually want to do with this wedding only to change our minds a few days later.

Do you have any suggestions about how to actually figure out what you want in the first place? Big, small, destination, court house, elopement, etc. etc?

P.S. I'm only assuming that you get a lot of emails like this. I could be wrong, but do you ever feel like Dear Abby?

Thank you for the laugh! I loved the mental movie of the extra flowy white blouse (although I'm laughing at the context--I totally support the idea if you decide to run with it!). As for the P.S., I love getting questions from kindred spirits. It makes me feel more connected--I just hope my advice is useful and I hope everyone else enjoys reading it (I should do a survey sometime...).

As for the indecision, I hear you. I experience indecision in nearly every aspect of my life. Should we decorate our house with mid-century modern or farmhouse rustic? Should we have one dog or two? One kid or two? An eco-friendly car or a roomier, more family-friendly car? Where should we go for our summer vacation? What do I want to do with my one, precious life? What city should we settle in? What should I be for Halloween? What restaurant should we go to tonight?

Egad. I'm getting knots in my stomach just thinking about it.

I have a few suggestions for dealing with indecision:
  1. Collect ideas and dwell in possibility. Instead of becoming overwhelmed by how many options are out there, celebrate it. I suggest finding a centralized location to start collecting and developing ideas. I use a notebook. By "collecting" ideas, I simply mean making a list of anything that comes to mind. During the brainstorming stage, everything is fair game. Don't censor yourself or your partner. Even an asinine idea might lead to the most wonderful idea of all. Be crazy. Be inventive. Be bold. Truly dwell in possibility!
  2. Develop ideas. The more ideas you collect, the more you'll hopefully start to notice one or two of them tugging at you. Ideally, you and your partner will get tugged on by at least one common idea. Start with that one. Pull it out from the list and start brainstorming all aspects of that one idea (either in a list form or as a web, for example). Ask and answer as many questions as you can. If that idea doesn't seem to work, then pull another one off the list and try the same thing over again.
  3. Remember you have a lifetime of parties ahead of you. Yes, it's true you only have one wedding (knock on wood), but you have lots and lots of parties/vacations/weekend getaways/get-togethers ahead of you. If more than one idea resonates with you, save your list and go back to it for an anniversary or a vow renewal or a birthday party. (Or throw two weddings for yourself if you feel like it!)
  4. Once you've made the decision, don't covet other people's choices. Oh, the wedding porn. On the one hand, it inspires and guides you. On the other hand, it makes you insecure, uncertain, and unstable. Be very, very careful with it.
P.S. The fact that you've never been to a wedding gives you a huge leg-up! It can be very, very difficult to deviate from the "wedding formula." Definitely talk to folks to see which aspects of the formula resonate with you, but have the courage to go your own way!

2000dollarwedding kindred spirits, do you have experience with this conundrum? Any other thoughts to add?

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Sarah said...

Once you start planning and thinking about budget, timeframe, and your guests' needs, your options will begin to narrow themselves down. So jump right in! And congratulations!

miss fancy pants (the bride) said...

Honestly, I say wait. Brainstorm, but wait to make the major decisions. We've been engaged for a year and a half and almost everything about our wedding has changed since then. I have a folder on my computer of wedding porn and inspiration, and every few months I would look at it and think "oh my, what the hell was I thinking back in September? I hate that now."
So we had to make a conscious choice to put off final decisions on things like flowers, decor, and attire. Otherwise, we could have easily wasted money by making decisions early in the planning process and changing them 3 months before the wedding. Bigger things, obviously, need to be done in advance, so you really need to be sure about those. The venue, photographer etc. I'd say that's what Sara's notebook idea would be good for. Take a few weeks early in the engagement to mull things over and hopefully the right decision will come to you. Good luck!

Boiling It Down said...

Thanks for the tips Sara!

I find myself in the same kind of indecision, perhaps because I could see myself happy with a number of different kinds of weddings, and like this reader, haven't been planning my wedding since I was a little girl.

One of my biggest challenges is trying to decide if I will have regrets later. I love your 2000 dollar wedding, and in alot of ways think that would be just perfect for us, but I wonder if 20 years down the line, having gone to many other weddings, if I will have felt like I missed out on something.

Have you had any regrets, disappointments, or reservations regarding your own decisions?

liz said...

i think blogs present "types" of weddings- making us feel like we need to choose a style of wedding in the way it was compared to the style of decorating a living room.

but my favorite living rooms have a mix of eras, styles, looks. it makes it more personal.

same goes for weddings. you dont need to decide "big" or "small" or "fairy tale" or "vintage" or "rustic." your wedding doesn't need to have FEEL or a THEME.

make a list of people who you want to be there. that will help you decide big or small.

from there, make choices the way you would about anything else in life- look until you find an invitation that you like and that you can afford. same goes for the rest. it's true- you have a LIFETIME of parties ahead, so it doesn't have to be THE invitation or THE dress. just something you like. and like others have said, wait to drop the cash. once you seperate yourself from this idea that it needs to be THE (fill in the blank) and it needs to reflect your personalities PERFECTLY, you'll be able to pick things that, in actuality do reflect you!

Heidi said...

This post and all of your comments are perfect! I too am struggling with what I want or think I want and you all have just given me a much needed boost of self confidence. Thanks!!

Anonymous said...

I totally understand about indecision myself! In planning our wedding, I have had multiple visions at multiple times. The one thing that I think should be decided upon first (and it can help you weed many other options out) is how many people do you want to invite? I toyed with the idea of having a small wedding at my favorite upscale restaurant, but when I counted up all of the people we couldn't not invite, it ended up being too large for the venue. We ended up deciding to invite a large number of people, and so that limited our options. Once you do this, it might be fun to just shop around with no pressure to make decisions. Who knows, you might be struck by something, and deciding will be effortless!

One other thought I often have when trying to make the small decisions (like paper plates vs. rental plates vs. vintage plates we buy at the salvation army and then return after the wedding...) I ask myself,"will the result of this decision really matter after the wedding is over?" If the answer is no (and for me, it often is) I don't sweat it. I have realized (both for this wedding planning and also in live) if I don't have a strong feeling about a decision I am trying to make, most likely many options will make me happy. I just pick something and move on, leaving the stress of "deciding" behind. This got long winded, but I hope it helps!

Alaina said...

I am getting ready for my April 24th wedding, I am so excited to be this close to done! I too never dreamed about my big day and am also very indecisive. I tried to gather as many ideas as possible and go from there -- that was way too overwhelming! What worked best for me was to pick one thing that matters a whole lot (mine was the type of church) make a decision, book it and do not, for any reason, look back. Then I went to the next thing (flowers) and picked out what I liked and tried to make it fit with my first choice. For me it was way too much to try to think about the whole wedding at once. Small steps worked way better!

A-L, said...

Well, add me to the chorus of those who have experienced indecision in regards to the overall idea of their wedding. In fact, I'm still going through some, though it is beginning to get clear.

Sarah touched on the budget, and I think that's a great place to start. Sara's shown that a smaller budget can be more flexible than a lot of wedding mags would suggest, but it does have limitations. If you want 300 people to come to your wedding, then it would be hard to do much more than a cake and punch type service.

So I would look at the people you want to be there (and think that will make it) as well as your budget, and see where those two things connect. You can choose anything that is within that pricepoint (or less), but you know that you can't go over it (without changing the budget or the invite list). Once you have possibilities that would work with your budget and guest list then I would start doing the process that Sara described. Because frankly, there's no use falling in love with the idea of a formal seated dinner for 300 at the Plaza Hotel if your budget just won't be able to handle it.

The Abides said...

I agree with AL and Liz. Start with who you absolutely want to be there and how much you can spend; find a place to have it that works with the two of those and something will come along that inspires you. Im getting married May 1st and yes, I have changed my mind many times, and yes, there are aspects of my wedding that looking back, I would do differently. But really, Im getting married to the best man in the world (as far as Im concerned), so do I really care if the centerpieces are not EXACTLY what I pictured in my head? NO. (except maybe a couple times late at night when I got a bit too obsessive for my own good...) Sink into it, enjoy it, don't think so much about it that you start questioning your own and your partner's (perfectly wonderful) instincts.

Kate Wells said...

Will you have regrets about certain decisions? Probably. Will you care all that much about it once you're married. Probably not.

We started off planning by thinking about weddings we'd been to as guests. What did we like? What did we hate? What seemed like it could've been better thought out? Was there a certain vibe we connected to most? That actually was the easiest way for us to identify what we did & didn't want.

Then we figured out a budget. From that we were able to figure out the details of how what we envisioned fit with what we could afford. It all sort of worked itself out from that point on.

I can tell you that some of the things we spent a lot of time planning and organizing for didn't happen at the last minute. Really all due to weather. We planned an outside wedding and ended up with unseasonably bad weather and had to scrap several of the things I'd counted on (ceremony outside on an island, open tent, croquet, photo booth). Was I disappointed? Definitely. Did it actually matter when I was saying my vows or spending time with loved ones? Definitely not.

Unknown said...

We spent ages angsting over this as well, it boiled down to a really simply concept though - what's one of our favourite things to do/ways to eat out/places to go. Which for us was feeding ducks (I guess birds could be called our theme), picnics or cafe's and the old stables building in the forrest near our house. It all melded really nicely together!

As to size, it's really is as simple as inviting the people you'll truely regret not inviting... not the people you'll feel guilty about not inviting. The smaller it is, the more time you'll actually have to talk to those people.

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