Every once in a great while, I hear about engaged couples who have the exact same vision for their wedding. For them, planning just means getting all the vendors booked (no small task in itself). And then there’s the rest of us.
Wedding planning, in my experience, is a giant series of compromises.
I now pronounce thee overwhelmed
My husband and I think about almost everything in exact opposite terms. We’re on the same page for all the really important stuff — what we want out of life, what joy we find in new adventures, whether we want kids, and how much Netflix is too much Netflix (answer: no amount). Generally, it’s something we both enjoy about our relationship, but the wedding brought into focus how much we could differ on really simple questions. Here’s a partial list:
Big or small wedding?
Long or short ceremony?
Religious or non-denominational?
Get married inside or outside?
Should we have a first dance?
Should we see each other before the ceremony?
Do we want flowers as centerpieces?
Are we fine with the black folding chairs the venue provides or should we rent different ones?
Write our own vows or not?
How many people in the wedding party?
And here’s the complete list of things we agreed on right off the bat:
Do we want cake? (Yep.)
How many flavors of cake? (Three.)
Cake tasting was definitely our strong point in the whole process.
But outside of dessert, we knew right away we’d need to have a lot of long, emotional conversations about everything in the wedding. Around the point that we got to “wow, we both have really strong feelings about chairs,” I was so. Done.
How to compromise when you both have strong opinions
Our saving grace as we moved through the wedding was this question: Who cares most about this?
He cared most about chairs. I cared most about centerpieces. Sometimes the small details meant the most to our families; my mom definitely cared most about whether or not I walked down a traditional aisle, and his cared the most about having a brunch the day after the wedding.
It didn’t mean we were suddenly able to relinquish the things with grace and let someone else handle it since it clearly held more meaning for them, but it got easier with time, and eventually, it even felt great to let go of some stuff, and to give myself permission to let someone else care about certain details instead.
But sometimes, the simple truth was that we both cared exactly the same amount.
“And” instead of “or”
I’m not religious. My husband is.
I tried really, really hard to get comfortable having a religious ceremony because it was important to him.
But about six months before the wedding, I realized I was never going to be okay with it. I felt like I wasn’t being represented, because even though I don’t have religious beliefs, I still have beliefs about our life together and our relationship, and I wanted those to be discussed, too.
So when it became clear that I’d be unhappy having a religious ceremony and he’d be unhappy not having a religious ceremony, we just…decided to have both.
A lot of couples in our situation wind up having two ceremonies, usually accompanied by a break between them and an outfit change. But we had this vision of one ceremony with two officiants, combining everything that was important to us. That’s actually how I first met Vow Muse, and we sat down with them for a couple hours outlining everything we needed to have happen. They worked with our religious officiant to blend things together seamlessly. When I first read the ceremony draft they’d created, a weight lifted off me. I felt so much better, and so much more represented, and overall our ceremony just really felt like us.
It went so well, we wondered why we hadn’t just been doing what we both wanted all along. Though, admittedly, I’m not sure this strategy would have worked as well with the chairs situation. Overall for us, it meant a less traditional wedding, but also a way more personal one, and in the end, that’s what really mattered to us: that we felt like ourselves.
What are the big compromises you’re making or have made? Was anyone else really surprised that their partner cared so much about chairs? (I just really didn’t see that coming, guys.) Give us your best tips!