This blog post was first written to be listened to. Listen here:
Hi there, this is Emma Natter and I’m a wedding designer and merriment curator. I say merriment curator because I am invested in yours and your guests’ meaningful experiences at the wedding in addition to the visual beauty. In this blog post, I’m going to talk about the single most important part of the entire wedding-planning process that pretty much everyone skips because they jump straight into colors, venues, spreadsheets, Pinterest boards, and checklists. It’s really tempting to jump into those because it feels like if you can just put everything in order, find everything you like, if you can just have every address, order everything in the right colors, fill every empty box in the spreadsheet, check off every to-do, that your wedding will come together exactly how you want it to.
Plus, you’ll go crazy.
Okay, eventually those organizing tools can really help things go smoothly. But now is not that time. Right now, you need a road map. And luckily, I’m here to be that road map for you.
Before we get to discovery, have you stopped to think about why this is so overwhelming when there are thousands of blog posts with free tips on every detail you can imagine about how to plan weddings. So you would think that you should just be able to combine all of these blog posts into a neat binder and be able to synthesize them into the perfect wedding. It. doesn’t. happen. When my clients meet with me, they feel completely, utterly overwhelmed. They don’t feel like they can express their vision succinctly to the pros their working with. They tell me, sometimes months before the wedding, “I am ready to be done with all of this and just be married already,” to which I always laugh sympathetically but feel my heart breaking a little inside. Planning a day that will change your life forever can be stressful, but it should be fun, meaningful, and special. So if we can’t start with the tips or the spreadsheets, where do we start?
Okay, so here’s the step almost everyone skips before they start planning: discovery. You have to look inside, that’s right, I’m talking about introspection, to discover the unique, beautiful experience you and your love can create that no one else can. So get ready for some introspection, conversation, maybe a milkshake if you’ve got the ingredients on hand… Find some quiet space in a clean room with no distractions and a mug of…milkshake, obviously. Quiet space on a mountain top with wind wisping your bangs into your mouth and you squint at the horizon and pull out a bottle of…milkshake, of course. All milkshakes aside, I want to remind you that this introspection and conversation needs to be primarily with yourself and with the love of your life.
The first question isn’t what should your wedding look like or even be like, but why do you want a wedding? You can get married without having a wedding, so what’s important to you about the wedding? Is it the merriment? The ritual (which isn’t necessarily just religious or legal. This would include rituals like walking down the aisle, wearing the “right” attire, having a wedding party, etc.)? Spending time with family? Having beautiful pictures to remember the day? Because your family expects a big party? There isn’t a right or wrong answer to any of these questions. Just take some time to think about it. Pause this now for a moment and take a few notes.
Make sure your other half thinks about these questions too even if she/he isn’t listening with you at the moment. Then once you both have really thought about it, talk about what’s important to both of you. You will probably disagree on some things…that’s okay! Right now, find where you overlap and highlight some of the very very most important things to you as a couple and as individuals.
Okay, now we are getting to the fun part. This is the part where merriment comes in and, well, magic. I’m going to invite you into your imagination/ask you a series of questions. I want you to close your eyes if you’re not somewhere embarrassing, and allow yourself to really sink into this vision like when I sat down on a couch at Restoration Hardware a few weeks ago and I literally sank for seconds into that couch. It was that fluffy and comfortable.
First, Take a few breaths and set aside your wedding for a moment. Instead, I want you to think about sitting down at a table to dinner. You have been very excited about this dinner for months because everyone already seated are your favorite people and you are in a place that makes you breathe in deeply every time you look around (or whatever you do when somewhere makes you feel so wonderful it catches you off guard). Your companions understand you, find you hilarious but capable, and think you have wonderful things to contribute to life in general. Or at least they think a few of these things about you. Who are they? What are you all doing? What does the dinner conversation revolve around? Recent books read? The latest episode of your favorite reality TV show? Tales from people’s latest traveling mishaps? Rehashes of old college shenanigans? Are you inside our outside? Does it feel cozy or open? What time of day is it? What is the season? Where are you? Are you at a beach? Mountain? In an old stone cottage? A loft with exposed brick? A rooftop? Your grandparents’ backyard? What elements of the earth do you see or feel or smell? Are there vines wisping their way up the walls? Are you drinking from metal? Wood? Ceramic? Glass? Are there trees or flowers you can see? What does your food smell like? Are you passing dishes around or were you served your dinner? It’s okay if you don’t know the answers to all of these questions. Some people do and some people don’t and that’s okay.
What I’m trying to get at is to help you envision the mood and the atmosphere that embody what feels good, right, beautiful, and comfortable to you. Because no one tells you this, but the goal of your wedding is to recreate that beautiful, special feeling of what is good in the world for every single person that comes to your wedding. Because here’s the truth: your friends and family are there to support you no matter how awesome or lame your wedding is. But besides all of the other good things you want, there is something about a wedding that feels important on almost a cosmic level and here it is: in the face of what sometimes feels like imminent despair because of all of the tragedy and suffering and abuse in the world, your wedding is a vote for hope when hopelessness can feel inevitable; it is adding another glorious drop of goodness into a sea of anger, discontentment, and abuse; your vows are a declaration that we haven’t yet lost our humanity because we choose to build relationships, savor them, love them, not ignore them, abuse them, or tear them down. And what rings louder than anything else in every element of your wedding, is that despite how we sometimes feel when hopelessness presses in on us, Love. Is. Real. There is still good in this world. There is still merriment. That’s what I want you to remember from this. Start your wedding planning there.
Okay, before you lose your vision and the feelings you have, write down everything you can remember and come back to that often. Share your vision with your other half and compare notes again. It’s okay if you have different ideas! Your differences are what make your relationship beautiful. Now you know where you should be headed and I’m so happy because you can never unknow that. You are at a far better place to begin your planning than when we started. When you start to feel overwhelmed, picture that vision you had again and ask yourself what the most essential parts of that vision and focus on that. Now you’re ready.
I’m Emma Natter, a path-to-success paver and art-trained business coach who first shattered her own career expectations by selling out of handmade styling goods from her little NYC apartment. Now as a strategist to thousands of creatives, I teach you to harness your passion so you can do the same.
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