Engagement, Planning a wedding

The Step to Planning Your Wedding That Nobody Talks About…

guiding-principles
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….is actually the first step.

Venue or date? Budget or guest list? Theme or venue?

Where do you begin in planning your wedding?

If you pick the venue first, it may not match your theme, budget, or fit the number of people you plan on inviting.

If you work on your budget first, how do you know what to budget for?

If you pick a theme first, you might end up frustrated if your budget isn’t enough to execute the idea you have in mind.

Oh! What a headache! Does it really need to be this difficult?

When we were planning our wedding, we received all kinds of advice from our married friends on how to get started. But amidst all the how-to’s, we heard something resonate in all of them.

Many of them have shared what a grueling process it was to agree on the hundreds of details they had to deal with. On hindsight, they all shared how they wished they had more discussions that dealt with how they really felt about all these big and small details before getting so close to each and every deadline.

The first crucial step that no one really talks about when planning their wedding is the establishment of your guiding principles. My then-fiancé-now-husband Mike and I distilled what our friends were saying, and came to the conclusion that what they hoped they had to start with were some set of these principles.

 

 

Guiding principles are a set of rules, agreements, or philosophies to help you make better and smarter choices together.

These are elaborations of what you, as a couple, believe in - which are pretty much affected by your faith and preferences. Your vision for your wedding day will likewise define your guiding principles.

They are ideally talked about and written before jumping into logistical planning, so your planning could be easily determined by what you’ve already agreed on.

We only really fully realised the benefits of having these guiding principles after our wedding day, and we could even say that these enabled us to actually enjoy planning our wedding!

That’s why I’d like to share with you these 5 things that you can have Guiding Principles for.

 

1.  How you’d like your fiancé to feel after the wedding day

When the dust settles, what will your fiancé remember you by the way you treated him during the engagement period up until the wedding day?

I remember when I went ahead and printed out our wedding programmes without getting my fiancé’s inputs, which made him feel disrespected. I remember when he overhauled the content I wrote for our wedding website, which made me feel insulted. We both just wanted to be helpful, but we couldn't make sense of our own good intentions because we weren't communicating enough!

On a brighter note, I felt really supported by him when he prioritised me over his family. He definitely treated my in-laws very well, but he had to make careful decisions as to who gets time first when we were all in the same town days before our wedding. And that was even with the premise that he only sees his parents a few times a year! I believe my in-laws exemplified it well to him that his future wife would be priority over the family, and he was already practicing this during our engagement.

This will help determine:

  • How you’ll spend time with your fiancé when you’re planning and when you’re not planning for the wedding
  • How you’ll both communicate during this season
  • How you’ll prioritise things

 

2.  How you’d like your guests to feel after attending your wedding

I couldn’t have agreed more with Maya Angelou when she said,

“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Our friends Angel and Abiel Pascual wrote each of their 100+ guests personalised handwritten letters. That really made my husband and I feel that they value us as part of their life.

This will help determine:

  • The guest list
  • The programme
  • The gifts for your guests (if applicable)
  • The welcome and send-off logistics of your guests

 

Participating in 40+ weddings have taught us a lot! And I'm glad this blog allows me to share them with you.

 

3.  How you’d like your marital finances to look the day after your wedding

With the social pressures of pulling off an extravagant, most Pinterest-worthy wedding--which include but are not limited to an extraordinary prenup pictorial, the highest quality same-day-edit video, the most exotic location, and the most pompous menu--couples throw most, if not all, financial boundaries out the window.

The common justification is that it just happens once in a lifetime (ideally), and that the money can be recovered later on.

But what happens in overspending for a single day of fairytale wedding bliss is the exchange for many months or years of indebtedness and financial insecurity.

No couple in history has ever regretted being on the healthy side of finances after the wedding day, so there must be enormous benefits to making wise financial decisions while planning.

This will help determine:

  • Where your funds will come from
  • Your budget for each item
  • Your choice of vendors

(I write more about how you can plan and commit to a wiser wedding through sound financial strategies here.)

 

4.  How you’ll use this season to learn

The wedding is going to be your first ‘big project’ together as a couple. Your partnership in making decisions will be put to the test. The strengths and weaknesses of your characters will be most transparent.

Whatever you or your fiancé discover about each other during the process will be what you'll have to accept in marriage (or say ‘no’ to if there are serious red flags).

An openness to learn from each other and from what you’ll experience will bring you closer to one another.

This will help determine:

  • How you’ll respond to conflicts
  • How you’ll respond to stressors
  • How you’ll communicate

 

During our engagement period, I learned about how important it is to Mike to have regular breaks to have fun!

 

5.  How you’d like to honour God during your engagement and on your wedding day

The spiritual depth of a wedding can be easily taken for granted when the road leading to it gets very bumpy. That’s why it’s important to stay focused on its true purpose.

You and your groom are going to stand before the Lord and your witnesses to enter into a covenant. Your wedding day is a mirror of how both of you as believers and members of His church unite with Him.

As glorious as that sounds, often times, God is neglected altogether months leading up to the wedding day - because of stress, busyness, and fixation on the less essential parts of getting married. Couples go back to communicating with Him again when wedding planning has reached its conclusion.

But truth is, God deserves honour during the entire process of preparing for your marriage. He is the reason why you’re getting married after all!

This will help determine:

  • How long your engagement will be (to read more on this, check out this article )
  • How you’ll spend time with your fiancé during your engagement
  • How you’ll prioritise things
  • How you’ll respond to stressors
  • How you’ll make financial decisions for your wedding (here's my blog series on 'Weddings & Money').
  • How you’ll relate with people

 

Click the image to get all these questions as a printable PDF!

Conversation Question Cards for Engaged Couples

 

There you go!

I recommend you pray about these things, then schedule a date night with your fiancé to discuss about them. Encourage and show your appreciation to one another every time you both agree on each point.

Can't yet decide on something together? Take a break and pray individually whenever you disagree on certain things. Consult a married couple you both trust to help you navigate through tough discussions if you need to.

Do you need more help with going through these 5 ideas? I made a list of related yet more specific questions you can ask each other! Find them here.

Have fun during this season!

 

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The first step to planning your wedding that nobody talks about the asian mrs blanding

 

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