The Five REAL DEAL Truths Of Planning A Wedding, From The Wedding Insiders®

The following is an excerpt from Edna Dratch-Parker & Jeri Solomon’s new book, “Guide to Smart Wedding Planning. Wedding season is in full swing for another year. With over 30 years in the industry, Edna Dratch-Parker and Jeri Solomon, the Real Deal Wedding Insiders® and authors of GUIDE TO SMART WEDDING PLANNING, have seen all the mistakes couples make on their wedding day. In their new book, Edna and Jeri talk about the most common mistakes and how couples can avoid them to make sure they have the best day possible. 

1. Weddings Bring Out the “Zilla” In Everyone 

Brides get a bad rap. Maybe it’s Hollywood or reality TV shows, but the tired cliché of the demanding “Bridezilla” is widespread in our culture. Sure, some brides can be incredibly difficult, but the “Bridezilla” mentality is not limited to the bride. “Zillas” are gender-neutral and come in all shapes and sizes. No one is immune. 

You’ll quickly learn (maybe you already have) that everyone has opinions and ideas about what’s best for you. You’ll want to stay focused on what is right for you and your partner. 

Planning is not going to be a smooth process. For instance, you may think you’re arguing about flowers but at the root of the fight are some unresolved issues that have been plaguing your family for years. Weddings bring out both the best and worst in people because weddings are emotional—really emotional—and many long-dormant issues can suddenly resurface. 

Maybe you’re thinking, But I’m not like that. I would never get that emotional. Some couples manage to keep the drama at a minimum. But it’s always easier to watch—and judge—from afar. When it’s your wedding at stake, it’s a whole different ball game. Often people you thought you knew intimately start acting like strangers, behaving in ways you never saw coming. Nothing about wedding planning is as simple or straightforward as you believed it would be. 

Luckily, if you keep a cool head and try to see others’ perspectives, you can avoid the pitfalls of the overzealous Zilla—even your own inner Zilla! 

2. It Will Test Your Marriage And Relationships 

Wedding planning is a true test of your future marriage. You’re packing a lifetime of experiences into an engagement period that lasts an average of 16 months.1 So many skeletons come out of the closet, you’ll think it’s Halloween—hidden agendas, financial worries, sibling rivalries, jealous friends, ancient family dramas, and more. 

You’re confronted with combining families that have possibly never met as well as dealing with others’ constraints and expectations—issues you may have never noticed before. Differences between you and your future spouse’s family, whether they’re cultural, socioeconomic, religious, or political, can affect many wedding planning decisions. If you fail to take these sensitivities into account, people will be unhappy. When you merge two lives and families, conflicts can come up. Wedding planning packs it all into a compressed timeframe—the good, the bad, and the . . . well . . . ugly. 

You may discover what you want in a wedding is very different from what your family or partner wants. You may dream of an intimate wedding with your closest family and friends, but your partner has a large extended family who wants to party till dawn at a blowout event. Perhaps you’re more reserved and don’t relish the spotlight, while your spouse- to-be is devising a grand plan for a funny dance routine with his fraternity brothers. These are not insignificant issues. Everything about you and your future spouse—your personalities, values, family dynamics—comes into play during the wedding planning process and it matters. 

While there may not be a way to avoid conflicts entirely, you can limit the fallout by staying in constant communication with your partner, your family, your friends, and your vendors. Remember to not only voice your needs and wants, but to take others’ into account as well. A little compromise can go a long way in these circumstances. 

3. More Options = More Stress

A generation ago, getting married wasn’t as complicated. In previous generations, couples got the venue, ordered some flowers, decided on chicken or beef as the entrée, and hired a band or DJ. 

In the last 25 years, the wedding industry has undergone a major renaissance due to the internet and social media. It’s never been easier to peer into the lives of others. Their vacations, parties, and weddings are broadcast, pinned, tagged, shared, and followed through every possible channel. Reality TV has given us an inside view into celebrity lifestyles, which for better or worse, has influenced everything in our culture, including weddings. While most of us can’t afford a celebrity-style wedding, that doesn’t stop the images we see from leading to higher expectations for our own weddings. The wedding industry has evolved to satisfy our increasingly high demands. 

From signature cocktails to wedding websites, hashtags, custom logos, and multimedia entertainment, weddings are more personalized and complex than ever. The sheer number of choices involved is enough to make even the most ambitious and organized couple feel overwhelmed. The good news is that at weddings, your guests get a unique experience that reflects you and your partner’s personalities. The bad news is that all this uniqueness comes at a price—more decisions mean more stress. 

4. It’s A Lot More Work Than You Think It Will Be 

You may have organized dozens of successful birthday and anniversary parties, and your multitasking skills duly impress your friends. But planning a wedding is on a whole different level. 

For one, it’s more emotional. A wedding is one of the most important milestones in your life. You want it to be perfect. At the same time, you’re dealing with other people’s expectations and desires. This requires tough compromises and decisions along the way. 

Also, weddings are no longer a one-day, once-and-done event. They 

can last several days, with different celebrations occurring that encompass more than just the wedding ceremony and reception. It’s also an opportunity for a couple to show who they are to their family and friends, as well as whoever might be watching via social media. 

Lastly, the stakes for a wedding are much higher than any other event. This is THE day, the one you’ll document, photograph, and share with your children and grandchildren. There’s no do-over here. It’s not like burning the turkey at Thanksgiving, when you have the chance to make another one next year. It’s one day you’ll relive for years to come. You want to make certain it’s a memorable one—for the right reasons. No one wants to be the couple who falls into the pool, memorialized on YouTube forever. 

The average couple will work with 10 vendors and spend 12 hours a week planning their wedding2, and that’s not including any unique touches. And while your friends may rave about this photographer or that band, we still recommend researching an average of three vendors in each category before hiring one (more on that process in chapters 5 and 6). All this is in addition to time spent browsing online and getting recommendations before narrowing down your choices. 

5. It’s Going To Cost More Than You Think 

This one is a toughie. Nothing makes people more uncomfortable than talking about money. Everyone knows weddings are expensive, but couples seem to have blinders on when it comes to planning their own. 

When you become engaged, you get introduced to an industry you may have been completely unfamiliar with previously. Couples get sticker shock when they find out how much flowers, invitations, specialized lighting, transportation, and entertainment cost. It’s incredibly easy to blow your budget if you don’t factor everything in from the start. 

Edna Dratch-Parker is the founder and creative director of EFD Creative—Event Planning & Design and partner of 4LUXURE – Premium Wedding Planner Collective®, and has been planning weddings for the past decade. Edna has received a number of industry honors, including “Wedding of the Year” from NACE National, the “Spirit Award” from the Boston Wedding Group, “Social Event Planner of the Year” from BizBash, “Trendsetter of the Year” from Wedding Planner magazine, and “New England Wedding of the Year 2012” from NACE Boston. She has won The Knot’s Best of Weddings Award every year since 2014. Edna’s work has been published nationally in magazines and blogs.

After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, Jeri Solomon parlayed her entrepreneurial spirit with her first love of flowers into a business – Jeri Solomon Floral Design, that has allowed her to be creative and thrive in the Boston wedding industry for over 25 years. Jeri’s motto is “Weddings are stressful; flowers shouldn’t be.” Her work has been featured in numerous publications including: Boston Weddings, Flower magazine, The Knot, Modern Luxury Weddings: Boston, and Grace Ormonde Wedding Style. Jeri is also one of the founding members of the prestigious Boston Wedding Group.

[This excerpt was reprinted with permission from Real Deal Wedding Insiders®.]