I knew planning a wedding would be tough, but I didn’t realize just how hard it would be. I’m a fairly organized person who is pretty good at event planning. I thought having lots of checklists would be fun! I was really wrong. So much thought goes into planning a wedding, and so much of it feels out of your control. It can feel endless and make you regret getting engaged in the first place. But I do believe there is a way to hold onto some semblance of sanity during the process. Based on my experience so far, here’s my advice.

So much thought goes into planning a wedding, and so much of it feels out of your control. It can feel endless and make you regret getting engaged in the first place.

Set Expectations

I mentioned this last week, but it’s important to set expectations early on. This is especially true when it comes to family. Sit down with each set of parents (if they are around and/or involved) and ask them what they would most like to see included in the wedding. Make it clear that you’re just collecting opinions, and nothing will be set in stone.

This can be a difficult conversation, like if your parents want you to have a religious ceremony, but you don’t. Or it can be easy, like a parent asking for a non-religious blessing from the guests at the end of the ceremony. Regardless, you want to make it clear what you will and will not be doing for your wedding. Some stakeholders might not be happy, but it’s better to be up front and clear from the bat.

Before you have this conversation, of course, you have to get on the same page with your partner. You must set expectations between the two of you. Compromise on costs, traditions, guests, and everything else involved in a wedding. Not only will both of you be better off, but you’ll also be a united front when you talk to your families.

Keep Track of Your Budget

Wedding spending can get out of control fast. There are always costs you didn’t necessarily plan for. So it’s important that you stay on top of your spending throughout the process. Once you create your wedding budget, make sure you’re tracking your actual costs. Specify your budget for each item, and then track how much you’re actually going to spend on it once you choose a vendor.

A Practical Wedding has a great spreadsheet that lets you compare your budget versus actual numbers. Check in with this spreadsheet every time you hire a new vendor or buy an item. If you see that your spending is getting higher than you expected, take a minute to reflect. Ask yourself:

Once you answer these questions for yourself, you can decide what you have to do moving forward. You don’t want to get close to your wedding day and suddenly realize that you can’t afford to pay all of your vendors. So stay fully informed about your spending throughout the process. And make sure your partner is dialed in too!

Ask for Help

I’m actually struggling with this part. I’m a control freak and a perfectionist, so of course I want to do everything myself and make sure it’s getting done properly. The problem is that it’s impossible to do everything alone! Nor should you do everything by yourself. I assume that you still have other life things going on while you’re planning your wedding. There’s work, relationships to maintain, and everything else that comes with day-to-day life. It can be tough to fit wedding planning in there. So ask for help where you can.

I’ve had a lot of friends get married and I’ve also had a lot of friends who are in weddings. So I’ve heard many complaints and resentments related to weddings. This has made me anxious about asking my family and friends to help with certain things. I’m worried that my bridal party won’t want to help plan my bridal shower or bachelorette party. Did they tell me they don’t want to do those things? No. I’m making assumptions and putting more pressure on myself.

Stay Attuned to Your Values

One of the most important parts of wedding planning is keeping in mind what is most important to you and your partner. (You really should check out the first activity in the A Practical Wedding Planner and walk through it right away.) Once you’ve identified the things that matter most, keep those in mind throughout the process.

This week, I was reading part of A Practical Wedding Planner and it said: “As we say on APW, #lazygirl decorations are the best kind of decorations. If it’s easy? Do it. if you don’t feel like decorating in the first place? Skip it.” That felt so freeing! I don’t want to buy extra decorations for my wedding. I don’t want to spend a bunch of money on stuff we’re going to throw away the next day. I also don’t want to add another thing to worry about. So we’re just going to take advantage of the decorations that come with our venue and only focus on the centerpieces. I feel pretty great about that!

So try to make sure your wedding decisions line up with what you truly want for your wedding day. Even when you’re overwhelmed, you can comfort yourself by remembering that everything you’re doing is aligned with what you know you want.

Use a Checklist

If you’ve never planned a wedding before, you need a checklist to guide you. There are many things I would never have thought of if I hadn’t done some research first. There are plenty of websites and books out there to help you with this.

I highly recommend Zola for this function. Zola started off as a registry website only, but now it has expanded to include guest lists, RSVPs, wedding websites, and a check list. The best part about the checklist is that it gives you due dates based on your wedding date. It also lets you specify the types of tasks you’ll have based on the type of wedding you’ll have. For example, if you’re going to have a religious wedding, you can indicate that, and you’ll get extra tasks that apply.

If you use my link to sign up for Zola, we’ll both get $50 to spend on registry items!

Get Your Partner Involved

I will never understand how one person in a couple can do all the wedding planning while the other person sits it out. Traditionally, we hear stories about the bride doing all the planning (and caring) and the groom just shows up on the wedding day. No thanks! That’s a recipe for disaster, resentment, and burnout. So make sure your partner is actively involved in the wedding planning process. This will be a good way to practice how to be a team during big moments in life.

My fiance, Dan, is super involved in our wedding planning. In fact, he wants to get way more hands-on with some things than I do. He’s making our centerpiece vessels, he designed our save-the-dates, and he will be designing our invitations and ketubah.

When we first got started with our wedding planning, Dan handled all conversations with one of the potential caterers. Because they were so expensive, I knew I would get angry on the phone. He’s also handling getting quotes from printers for our invitations, because he is more familiar with that industry. Identify the strengths and weaknesses of you and your partner and allocate responsibilities accordingly.

How have you maintained your sanity during wedding planning? Or did you lose it once or twice? Share in the comments!