Tuesday, May 13, 2014

5 Tips for Girls in the Throes of Wedding Planning

     The other day, a young woman who used to read my old blog came across Hargraves Home and Hearth (which is great, seeing as how, with not remembering my old password, I couldn’t make a post on my old blog directing my readers to this one!). She mentioned that she is just over 40 days away from getting married. She is in the middle of wedding planning in addition to all the other duties of her daily life, and suggested that I do a post on the topic of wedding planning. I’m so glad she gave me this idea, as one's attitude as you approach wedding planning can greatly make or break the good memories you want to have of your engagement period, as well as greatly impact the first months of your marriage. What follows are a few lessons I learned over the months of our engagement, as well as some I wish I had fully grasped prior to the wedding. May they be a help and encouragement to you as you prepare for this incredibly important time of your life!

  1. Don’t focus so much on all the little details: remember that what is important is the marriage, not the wedding.
We girls all want our wedding to be a fairytale day for us where we feel our most beautiful, are surrounded by the smiling faces of those who are the closest to us, and where, on the day we pledge our love and devotion to the man of our dreams, we have an atmosphere of beautiful trinkets and decorations everywhere. But what makes a great marriage is not the grandness of the wedding ceremony. Yes, the ceremony should be tasteful and sacred and beautiful. It’s a serious occasion! But it’s only the beginning. It’s only the first day of the rest of your life. If we have not been students of the Word and have not immersed ourselves in God’s teachings on marriage and the expectations He holds for husband and wife, it doesn’t matter how perfect or imperfect the wedding day is-the marriage itself will be weak. In a culture where divorce is rampant among even professing Christians, it is of utmost importance that we prepare ourselves well for marriage. One can’t prepare oneself for every little thing that will come up in a marriage or every little circumstance one may face, of course. But if it is our nature to expect our needs to always be met, to place ourselves and our wants first, to get huffy when we don’t get our way, and to indulge our every fancy, not only can this lead to an exceedingly extravagant wedding, but it can lead to disillusionment and bondage in a marriage. The engagement period should not be so much for picking out flowers, bridesmaid dress colors, and cake flavors, but for preparing yourself for the covenant of marriage you will soon be making and for living the rest of your life with the man the Lord handpicked just for you. You will only get one engagement period, so spend it seeking the wise advice of other married couples you know-your parents, your in-laws-to-be, couples in your church, your pastor and his wife, etc. And, of course, immerse yourself in the Scriptures. In the midst of all the hubbub of wedding planning, above all, make sure your head is in the right place. Believe me, this is FAR easier said than done! This is one of those lessons I wish I had grasped more fully before our wedding day. People told me to not focus so much on the little details, but to instead look at the big picture, but when you’re planning the most important day of your life, it can be a little hard to keep the right perspective! ;) In all seriousness, though, ladies, pray and ask the Lord to keep your mind where it should be. The wedding will be over in a matter of moments, but that marriage that follows is to last a lifetime. And that brings me to my next tip…

  1. Don’t get so wrapped up with looking forward to your wedding day that you forget the here and now. 

I know, this seems a little counterintuitive to my last tip, doesn’t it? Hear me out, though. When a bride-to-be is in the middle of wedding planning, her tendency is to get all wrapped up in the details and in looking to the future that she forgets to live out every day with purpose and to live life to the fullest in the here and now. Now, I know that a girl about to be married will have the idea that her purpose in life right now is to plan that awesome wedding and to get married. And while that may be true to a degree, Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 tells us that there is a time for everything under the sun. Likewise, Paul tells us in Philippians 4:11 that in whatsoever state he found himself, he was content therein (as we, too, should be). So, in the midst of planning your beautiful wedding and dreaming of marrying and living with your Prince Charming, take advantage of the here and now, as well. Once you walk down that aisle, you are no longer single. When you choose to marry, you must choose to die to your single years and all that came before. After your wedding, while your family and friends will still remain a big part of your life, nothing will be the same as it was prior to your wedding day. Your family members will all become extended family or relatives, while your new husband will be your family. Your friends, likewise, will still (or at least should be!) very important to you, but the days of being able to have slumber parties or call up a friend on the phone and go meet up for lunch at the drop of a hat, will largely be all but over. You can and should still get together with friends and preserve those relationships after you get married, of course, but the freedom you had as a single girl will largely become but a memory. So, in these, the last weeks and months of your life as a single girl, don’t squander and waste them with the worry and stress that comes from putting wedding planning onto a pedestal it was never designed to be on. Instead, take full advantage of these days. Spend time with your family, making valuable memories you will never forget. Get together with your girlfriends and be silly and giggle as only girls can. Make memories with your sister-friends that will be in your heart forever. Don’t cause yourself to wake up one morning with sadness in your heart as you regret not making the most of days you will never get back. As a side note, this living in the moment should be applied as much as is at all possible when it comes down to your wedding day, as well. Prior to our wedding, so many people told me that the day would be such a blur and that I would look back and remember little to nothing about it. Well, I for one, was intent on not letting that happen! ;) So, while there are, of course, times when I see wedding pictures people took and say, “Wow, I don’t remember posing for that picture!”, by and large, I remember a great deal of that beautiful, unforgettable day. And to this day, nearly two months later, I can talk with my mom, or dear friends, or husband and say, “Hey, you remember when….” That is so precious and those memories are priceless. There are things you will not remember, but as best as you can, be proactive and be open to every moment of your special day rather than just letting it fly by in a crazy blur.

  1. Make a budget for your wedding day and stick to it! 

A big mistake made by so many brides today is that they (or their parents, of course) spend thousands upon thousands of dollars on an event that will only last a few short hours, rather than investing in the marriage and family that will begin during those hours. If your parents (or other family members/guardians standing in place of your parents) are paying for your wedding, sit down with them and ask what they feel comfortable paying and what they feel is a wise amount. Don’t be greedy and excessive in your desires by insisting on a high amount (see tip #1 again! ;) ). Every girl wants a nice wedding, yes, but a nice wedding does not and should not have to cost a boatload. Don’t force your parents into debt just because you want a wedding day to top all others. Pride goes before a fall, anyway (Prov. 16:18) ! Rather, exhibit a thankful heart for all they are willing to shower you with. If you and/or your husband-to-be are the ones paying for the wedding, pray and ask the Lord for wisdom regarding the amount to dedicate to your special day. When determining that amount, remember that any money that goes towards your wedding (which, again, only lasts for a very short time) cannot go towards your honeymoon, a down payment on a house, necessities for your first place, food on the table, or anything else you’ll need to concern yourself with during the course of your marriage. I’m not at all saying to skimp so much on your wedding that you look back regretting that you didn’t make it special or that you didn’t pay for the ability to have it commemorated on film, or what have you. What I am saying is that planning a wedding does not release us from the command to be good stewards. After all, it’s not technically our or our parents’ money, anyway-it’s God’s and has only been entrusted to us for a time. After all, ask yourself the question: at the end of the day, would you be more pleased with the expensive, extravagant, breathtaking diamond-studded details in the decor, or would you be more pleased with all the money you saved by decorating in a tasteful, lovely, yet inexpensive way?

  1. While engaged, remember that you aren’t married and don’t act as if you are. 

This can, in some ways, be the hardest one. The tendency of many couples, even very well-meaning ones, can be to view themselves as already married once they’ve reached the status of engaged. This is so, so easy to do. Trust me! This kind of thinking creeped its way into my mind sometimes, as well, and our wonderful pastor addressed this topic in our own premarital counseling. But, when this thinking creeps in, remember that during that time, you are only engaged to be married. You are not actually married. You may be the closest you’ve ever been to getting married, but you’re not quite there yet. So, make sure, make sure, make sure, that you put into place boundaries in your thinking as well as in practical action that will preserve your heart and mind during this time of your life. These include physical boundaries-preserve your purity for your wedding night and every day thereafter. Save your body for that special man you’re marrying and do what it takes for you to be able to present it to him and him alone as a gift. Not just to him alone, but to him at the right time, as well. Again, Ecclesiastes says there is a time for everything-a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing (Eccles. 3:5). Help your wedding night and honeymoon, and indeed your marriage itself to be all it can be by placing physical boundaries in the here and now. You will regret going too far, but you will never, ever regret keeping all you can for marriage. My husband and I personally made the decision to save our very first kiss for during our wedding ceremony, and we are so very glad we did. It made it so extra special for us. So sit down with your fiancé now and come up with the physical boundaries you yourselves will stick to and do what it takes for you to be able to stick to them. Other boundaries to consider include relational boundaries-this wonderful, wonderful man you are about to marry will soon become the leader of your home and the one to whom you hold allegiance. But you are not called to submit to him or be his helpmeet until you become his wife. So, hard as it may be at times, when you are so head-over-heels in love, keep that in mind, as well. You only have a very short time left to wait, and then that man will be yours for the rest of your life! It's so very worth the wait!

  1. Borrow, bargain-hunt, and barter! ;)

There are literally countless ways to pinch pennies and save money when acquiring the items you will need for your wedding and reception. These include borrowing items that other people already have. If you want mason jar centerpieces at your reception, it may just be that you have a fantastic friend who owns a boatload of mason jars and would be more than happy to let you borrow them (if you’re wondering, yes, we did have mason jars at our reception ;) ). Hunt around and consider what connections you may have not only in those who can let you borrow items, but also those who would like nothing more than to help you in your work of wedding planning and may be crazy gifted in a particular area. The lady  I babysit for, for example, made our wedding programs. She did a fantastic job at a fraction of the cost. Don’t be a one woman show! Accept help. You and your spouse-to-be will be all the better for it! You will be less stressed and will make precious memories along the way (not to mention, you’ll make those people who have been dying to help very happy!). Also, when acquiring the items you’ve chosen to have at your wedding and reception, consider whether or not it truly is cheaper to rent rather than buy. For example, my mom and I looked into renting tablecloths for the reception, but found that doing so would have been far more expensive than simply ordering them online. The quality we got was fantastic, and now Mama has 20 tablecloths she can use again whenever she wants! Or, you know, she can let someone else borrow them for their reception! ;) Also, you would be surprised just what great wedding and reception decor items you can find even at the dollar store! And, if you’re wondering, yes, our reception tables were indeed graced with lovely vases found at the dollar store (and apart from those friends and family members now reading this blog post, our guests were none the wiser. ;) ). Keep pinterest in mind, as well! DIY projects are your friend when it comes to wedding planning-you can make things yourself at a much reduced rate and can incorporate your own interests and personality into the day. Just don't get too many such projects on your plate that you start wanting to pull your hair out. ;) Again, remember the first tip! 

Whew! I guess I didn’t quite know what all I was getting into when I set out to write this article, huh? It may be longer than I anticipated, but I’m so grateful that the commenter on a previous post took the time to suggest just such a post as this. One’s engagement period can make or break the first days, weeks, and months of a marriage, so it shouldn’t be taken lightly. It is a special time in the life of a couple and should be treasured and used wisely. I pray this article has proven to be a blessing to you, and if any of you have any other suggestions, further questions, or words of wisdom to share, by all means, do so in the comment section. God bless!

~Mrs. Rebekah Ann Hargraves

Oh, and one last note-in accordance with tip #1, remember that even if all does not go perfectly well on your wedding day, it really is ok! Your goal is not (or at least shouldn’t be!) to have the world’s most amazing wedding and reception. The goal of your day is to marry the man God has for you. Even if your dress gets stained, the flower girl gets sick, and the cake falls over (ok, take a deep breath-I’m totally exaggerating here, this many mishaps very, very rarely -if ever-happen in one wedding! ;) ), at the end of the day, you are married, girl! And that is all that matters. Not only that, but it is really those things that you will look back on and laugh about. It will be those little memories that you and your husband will reminisce over perhaps the most, and will be those shared memories which cement the two of you together even more. So, rest easy! It really will all be ok in the end, no matter what! :) 


  1. Awww, thank you so much for this post, Rebekah! You made a lot of good points to keep in mind, especially not acting married until you actually are. I've definitely been a little guilty of that at times!

    PS - I'd love to see pics of how your big day turned out! Is it ok if I friend you on Facebook? :)

    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed the article. :)

      You're certainly not alone in that; as mentioned, I was guilty of it at times, too. But it helps when we're aware of something-then we can address it better.

      Absolutely! :) Go right ahead.