Becoming Bride: 5 Ways To Simplify The Wedding Planning Process

If you have your wedding at a restaurant, the food is the star. Image: Thinkstock.

If you have your wedding at a restaurant, the food is the star. Image: Thinkstock.

The truth is, when it comes to weddings, you don’t “have” to do  anything.

Real talk: Wedding planning sucks.

At least it has for me, so far.

I wrote about my little freak-out over cupcakes, and how our engagement party was a lot of work.

What I haven’t really talked about is how my fiancé and I have been fighting, almost non-stop, since the moment we got engaged.

Most, if not all, of the bickering has been over the wedding. When something scares me, I rush headfirst. The more frightened I feel, the more determined I am to make something happen, and fast; whereas when Arran feels anxious about something, he’s more the type to procrastinate.

Engagements being the universally stressful occasions that they are, what this has meant is that I’m constantly pushing my fiancé to make wedding-related decisions, and he is constantly having to ask me (nicely and less-nicely) to give it a rest.

It all came to a head this past weekend. After a month of persistent calls and emails, our dream venue finally got back to us. Their quote for a bare-bones Sunday wedding for 50 people? $35,000.

Not exactly the $5,000 my dear fiancé and I had decided to spend.

This meant that the wedding of my dreams — the venue I had spent at least the last year secretly envisioning — was impossible.

My strategy for dealing with this setback was to immediately start talking the two of us into some kind of Plan B. Arran gently suggested we put the wedding off until the following summer, to give us more time.

Cue the fight to end all fights.

Picture last week’s Game of Thrones: except instead of horses caught in the crossfire of arrows, sub in our two very naughty dogs, Lily and Spud, caught in the crossfire of unfortunate words.


Ultimately, what I thought was “second best” now sounds so much better, for so many reasons. And isn’t this usually the case — not just when it comes to weddings, but life in general?


For me, postponing the wedding wasn’t an option. That meant we needed to act fast. I needed for us to come to some decisions.

Arran needed us to keep it easy. “After all,” he reminded me, “this was supposed to be fun!”

He was right.

If we were going to survive our engagement, we both needed to start listening to each other, respecting one another’s needs, and working as a team.

Here are 5 things my fiancé and I are doing to simplify the wedding planning process:

1. We chose a restaurant as our venue.

Sure, starting with a raw space is a great way to hold a truly unique event.

But if you really don’t want to sweat the every detail, a restaurant is an easy choice.

What kind of tables do you want? How about chairs? Linens? Dishes? Forks? This is the kind of minutia that is taken care of if you hold your reception at a restaurant.

Arran and I chose a chic venue in an iconic part of town — a place that was already tastefully decorated and that I trust knows how to accommodate a large crowd.

One downside with the venue we chose is that there couldn’t be dancing, as is the case with most NYC restaurants due to some ridiculous old law. Sort of a bummer, but whatever: You’re talking to someone who goes to social events and stations themselves by the buffet.

If you have your wedding at a restaurant, the food is the star.

I mean, you are also important. But it’s mostly all about the food.

Fine by me.

2. We’re sending digital invites over paper invitations.

Once we confirmed with a venue, we could settle on a date. Mark your calendars, family, friends and total strangers: Our big day is Sunday, September 4th. Less than three months away.

Given our timeline and the fact that a lot of Arran’s family lives overseas, we knew the quickest and most effective way to communicate information with our guests would be digitally.

When it comes to paperless wedding invitations, there are probably tons of options. We went with Paperless Post. There are literally hundreds, maybe even thousands of designs to choose from. The John Derian line — which is available online only — was totally my style.

E-invites save paper and hassle. Plus, if we have to update something or communicate with our guests for any reason, it’s easy.

I’m probably one of the last people on Earth who still writes letters. Even so, the decision to forgo traditional paper invitations was clear.

3. We’re not doing anything we don’t ‘have’ to do.

Here is where I reveal that I am from the Midwest, Ohio.

I am from Polish weddings held at the Veteran’s Hall. I am from the Chicken Dance and the Electric Slide, throwing bouquets, and grooms removing garters from their brides’ thighs with their teeth. When I comes to weddings, I am from a whole lot of traditions — things I’ve subconsciously learned you “have” to do.

I think it started with me trying to pick out colors, so that we could coordinate the invites to the bridesmaids dresses to the flowers, which would have to coordinate just so with the venue’s decor.

“Wedding colors?” Arran looked at me in this way that he sometimes looks at me, like he is willing to give me the benefit of a doubt, but like what I’m saying makes absolutely no sense.

This is someone, mind you, with impeccable aesthetic taste. If he thought color-coordinating everything was unnecessary, maybe he was right.

The truth is, when it comes to weddings, you don’t “have” to do anything.

If you think you need to have receiving line, or a cellist playing when you walk down the aisle, or a big buttercream wedding cake, or some kind of party favor waiting for guests as they depart, think again.

In fact, these are all things you can decide to do — or not. There’s nothing less fun than doing something only because you have to.

Conversely, there’s nothing more liberating than taking something totally unnecessary off your list of things to do.

4. We’ve got a system to stay organized.

Speaking of to-do lists, Arran and I are using To Doist to keep track of it all.

Again, there are probably other options out there; this just happens to be the one that Arran was most familiar with, and he introduced the application to me.

To Doist allows us to divvy up tasks and keep track together of what’s been done, when and by whom. We can check in on any computer, as well as on our phones.

Whatever your system, my suggestion is to have one.

5. We’re keeping it in perspective.

Notice how I just glossed over the fact that I didn’t get my way when it came to my dream venue?

A younger, less-reasonable version of myself would have been on the phone, begging the space to alter their proposal and/or somehow finagling together thirty-five thousand bucks.

Instead, I accepted my circumstances and moved on.

Call it a gift of sobriety.

Ultimately, what I thought was “second best” now sounds so much better, for so many reasons. And isn’t this usually the case — not just when it comes to weddings, but life in general?

I could make a list of things I “settled” on after my original plan didn’t work out: everything from my career to my apartment. Hell, even my fiancé — because, let’s face it, Arran was not the first guy I’d pegged as “the one.”

Yet, these are all things that I came to love, just as I imagine I’ll love our wedding in the city instead of the beach (we’ll save that for our honeymoon).

And hey, now that we’ve made some decisions, I’m starting to actually feel excited again!

This week, things are definitely looking up. 

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