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Five Things I’m Glad I Did While We Were Engaged

Our wedding is exactly one month away. Eek! This year has flown by like a whirlwind. From what seemed like an eternity, now feels like it’s approaching at warp speed.

Through the craziness of last minute wedding preparations, I’ve been allowing myself some time of reflection. I came to realize that there have been a few things I am so glad we did this past year.

Here are the top five things I am happy we did during our engagement:

1. Have an Engagement Party

As soon as we got engaged, I felt like we were inundated with questions about our plan for the wedding. When was the date? Where would it be? What were our colors? Not only did I have no clue about any of this, but the dust had hardly settled on the idea that Matt was now my fiancé. Having an engagement party helped to redirect the focus. It pushed pause on the questions I didn’t have answers to and gave us a chance to celebrate the engagement itself.

2. Read up on Marriage Both Matt and I have made a conscious effort to prepare for marriage and not spend too much time focused on the wedding. It’s really easy to get caught up in planning an amazing party. But what happens after the big day? I didn’t want this year just to be focused on a 12 hour period, but on the life that Matt and I are building together after it. The wedding is just day 1. What comes next is the real journey. We've been digging into some recommended books and resources. It's given us some perspective on marriage and many talking points to discuss as we figure out how we would like to live out our marriage.

(Top recommendations: The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller and the blog Beating 50 Percent)

3. Taste the Catering Menu My thoughts on this have less to do with “Did we choose the right entrée options for the reception?” and more to do with the fact that Matt and I will most likely not remember eating our reception dinner (if we even get to eat it at all). The reality is, dinner is a perfect time to mingle around the room. I have a feeling we’ll be busy chatting with our guests instead of savoring the seasonal roasted root vegetables we chose as a side. I'm glad we set aside an evening last spring to taste test our caterer's dinner choices and truly appreciate the food.

4. Use a Budget Tracker

We, like many couples out there, are working on a strict budget for the wedding. We have multiple parties contributing varying amounts to the day. Early on, we took these gifts and our contributions into consideration and created what we thought was a doable budget. Once that number was set, I was determined not to exceed it. There are so many random expenses that go into weddings. It's easy to loose track of how much is being spent. Using a budget tracker, I have been able to allocate funds for an initial plan and adjust amounts in different categories as things were chosen. When items were more expensive than we had budgeted, that meant sacrificing from another category instead of adding to the overall amount. To date, we are only $500 over the original budget.

I recommend using the Wedding Wire Budget Tracker. It does all the hard work for you!

5. Take Dance Classes

We decided to give our four left feet some help before the big dance. Taking lessons together not only taught us a few new moves, but it forced us to step out of our comfort zones, and learn something new. We also had to trouble shoot as a team when we messed up and together figure out how to fix it. The classes ended up being more of a physical lesson in partnership and trust than learning the foxtrot.

<BONUS> As I put these top five things together, a sixth point has been nagging at me:

6. Stick to Your Guns. There are no shortages of opinions when it comes to weddings. Everybody will have one, and most will offer it unsolicited. I like to do follow up meetings with my clients after their wedding. I love to hear about the day from their perspective. What they remember most, their favorite part, surprises, etc. I also ask them, if they could do something different, what it would be? More times than not, it’s that they wished they had stuck to their guns about something… but their aunt, mom, officiant, caterer talked them out of it. I found myself in this very situation last week. My alterations lady doesn’t want to hem my monster of a skirt. It’s just barely too long. Instead of taking on this task, she advised that I find new shoes that are platforms, showing me an example of a wedge with a 5” heel on it. Wedding shoes are already a sensitive topic with me. I felt defeated that not only could I not use the shoes I had finally chosen, but now I needed to search again. I didn’t like the idea of wearing such a high heel, nor did I really want to wear a wedge or a platform (these are more of an outdoor summer shoe, not a black tie option). There are a lot of petite people in the family and I don’t want to tower over them. Not to mention, I’ve been known to face plant in shoes that were too high, and this is while I wasn’t navigating in a huge dress. I thought about it and talked to Matt. The decision was clear, being comfortable and having my outfit exactly how I want it was more important than saving some money on a hem. My seamstress wasn’t happy about the decision, but at the end of the day, I have to wear the shoes and the dress, not her.

In the little and big things, trust your gut when it comes to your wedding. Believe me, you will be thankful you did!

Photo: Matthew Land Studios

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