Greetings All! I'm officially back to work after two weeks off for my wedding. We had a wonderful wedding weekend--full of love and loved ones. I was a first-time bride over forty and jotted down 10 strategies younger brides might like to know. We will return to regular business-related All-In posts tomorrow.
Top 10 Wedding Success Strategies
From a first-time bride over forty
By Kelly Tyler Byrnes
I usually blog and write
about how people and companies can be All-In and the impact being All-In has on
results. This summer, the All-In philosophy was on my mind as I planned the
wedding weekend for Bob and me. While my husband-to-be was more interested and
involved than some grooms, he appreciated my eagerness to put my planning
skills to good use. I kept the All-In mindset as I planned the weekend and
continued working until two days before the wedding, and it paid off.
I frequently plan meetings
and speak at events, so planning something so personal and fun was exciting.
Bob and I discussed our theme and decided on Simple, Elegant, Joy. We agreed
right away that we would focus on the love we have for each other and for our
guests. We wanted to enjoy the engagement and planning process—we wanted to be
All-In! We wanted to make it as stress-free as possible for both of us, and
focusing on the love made the planning easy.
The planning also was made
easy by paying for all events ourselves, which meant we were not required to
ask for permission or advice from anyone else. My parents were involved in some
of the decisions because we appreciate their perspective, but we had the
freedom to gracefully accept their input then decide ourselves. Consider
including a few very close family members and friends in the planning process
to reduce the pressure of decision-making and to increase the guests’
Younger brides in a
different financial situation might welcome financial and planning input from
their parents. When the parents pay, the wedding is hosted by them and they
reasonably expect to have input into most of the decisions. Accept their
generosity with respect and grace, just as you would any gift. And, expect to
include them in key decisions. Clarifying expectations in advance can reduce
the pressure you feel throughout the process. It also can help reduce tension
caused by different opinions. Anything you can do in advance to make the
process go smoothly is worthwhile.
The third thing that made
planning relatively easy is that I did not have my heart set on certain items.
Unlike most brides, I had not been dreaming of my wedding my whole life. Since
I did not have a wedding pre-planned in my head, I could make decisions easily
without disappointment. For example, I did not have my heart set on a certain
venue. Sure, there were a few places I really liked, but I was fine when they
were deemed inconvenient for our guests or beyond our budget. Brides who want
what they have dreamt of their whole lives set themselves up for disappointment—and
bridezilla personality disorder. If you have a dream wedding, identify your
priorities with your groom, so you can respond effectively when changes to your
dream are required.
Although I did not have a
dream wedding in mind when we were engaged, I had the wedding of my dreams and
enjoyed all of the steps along the route to the altar. Our wedding was the
happiest hour of my whole life, and it began with our engagement.
My beau of five years
proposed to me on December 23, 2011. It was fun seeing friends and
acquaintances over the holidays and answering queries of “What’s new?” with
real news, “I’m engaged!” As a first-time bride over 40, it was fun seeing the
excitement on people’s faces. I started to notice the difference in how people
responded to my engagement versus my younger friends’ engagements within a few
days. The differences became more evident throughout the planning of the
wedding weekend as my groom and I met with various wedding industry
professionals, vendors, and suppliers. Some of them liked me a lot, but others
I suspect those who did not
like me felt that way because I did not buy in to the wedding industry’s
exaggeration of the wedding day into “my one special day.” For one thing, it
was not only “my” day. Secondly, it was not going to be my “one” time to feel
When they started in with
things like, “You should choose whatever flowers you want because it’s your
special day…” or “You should have it at any venue you want because it is your
special day…” or “Everyone in your family will do what you want because it is
your special day!”, I resisted rolling my eyes but dismissed the notion of my
wedding day being my one special day.
I am over 40 years old. I
have had special days before, and I live in such a manner to have many more. My
wedding day was to be another one—not the only
one. The wedding industry puts too much pressure on that one day. They, along
with well-meaning loved ones, make the bride the center of attention and enable
her self-centered attitude. They expect her to be self-centered, so most young
brides go along with it. It’s almost like a woman gets a pass at manners,
courtesy, and respect because she is a bride. I didn’t buy in to that.
The vendors we chose to
work with for our wedding weekend were those who liked us and our mature
mindsets. We worked with wedding industry professionals who believed our
budget, created joy-filled events instead of theatrical productions, and wanted
to have fun throughout the whole journey to the altar and beyond.
We planned a Catholic mass
and hotel dinner-dance reception for Friday, and we hosted a casual BBQ dinner
at our home for Saturday. All events were spectacular!
No dream-defying glitches. No
embarrassing bridezilla-like behavior. No budget overages.
Our wedding weekend was
full of love. Our guests loved us and we loved them—and the feelings remained
strong before, during, and after the wedding weekend.
Since the reaction to this
first-time bride over 40 was so different, I pondered the most important
strategies other brides might want to employ so their weddings are as lovely
and loving as ours. I hope these strategies help brides enjoy the planning of
their weddings, so they are relaxed and ready for their marriages.
the right groom so you are not worried about the marriage or being a wife. I
used to fear that I would have a gut feeling that I was marrying the wrong guy
as I waited in the back of church to walk down the aisle. Several years ago, a
friend told me she had that feeling and knew deep down that she should not be
marrying the man. She went ahead with it because it was her one special day,
and they divorced a few years later when their daughter was a baby. I did not
want to have that feeling, so I made sure in advance of the engagement that Bob
was the man I wanted to be married to. Don’t look for the man you want to have
a wedding with. If you pick the man you want to be your husband, not just your
groom, you’ll remove one possible area of angst for your wedding.
more time planning your marriage than the wedding. Discuss your lives, health,
financials, careers, families, religions, household operations, goals, fears,
and ideals often. Discuss them prior to becoming engaged and during the wedding
planning process. Keep the focus on your marriage and don’t let the wedding
become bigger than the marriage. You might think it’s more fun to talk about
the ring, flowers, music, or cake, but it will be more important to talk about
your lives together. Doing so will eliminate the angst that comes after the
wedding when life gets back to normal.
the day in perspective. I’ve already discussed my belief that a wedding day is
very special, but it is not the one day in your life to be special. Live your
life so you have many special days, and remember to do so during the planning
process. Do not accept the industry’s pass on manners and grace. Do not succumb
to the bridezilla personality disorder. Your wedding day is very special, and
throughout your life you will have many special days, not just one.
the Princess Complex in check. Frankly, if you think you should play the role
of a princess on your wedding day, you might not be mature enough to be a wife
yet. Mature, grown adult women are comfortable in their own skin and with their
real lives, and they do not pretend to be princesses like five-year-old girls.
Even if your loving parents or others call you a princess, remember, you are
not really one, so expect your bridesmaids, vendors, and guests to treat you in
accordance with who you are in real life. This is your wedding, when you are
committing yourself to your husband. It is not Halloween, when you are playing
dress-up with your little friends. Take the pressure off the day, so if there
are glitches, they do not ruin your day. Take the pressure off the day, so you
still have friends throughout the process. Take the pressure off the day, so
you’re not shocked when no one is talking about your wedding 48 hours after it
off-topic…Our deejay asked for a short list of songs that should not be played
at the reception under any circumstances. I felt like my do-not-play list put
her in a tough situation if someone requested one of the songs on it. So, when
I told her a list of songs we dislike, I also told her there was nothing she
could play that would ruin the reception or the day. She remarked that many
brides do not feel the same way and would be in a rage or in tears if she
played a song on the do-not-play list, even if a guest requested it. Take the
pressure off the day, and song choice won’t ruin it.)
a post-wedding letdown. After all the weeks/months planning, the wedding events
go by quickly and within 48 hours everyone’s lives return to normal. You still
have ends to tie up (paying all the vendors, writing thank you notes, putting
away gifts), but no one else does. Sure, it’s okay to ask about their
experiences—it’s fun to hear stories you weren’t aware of—but, don’t expect
them to want to talk about your wedding nonstop.
your guests’ lives, finances, and schedules. Your guests love you, but they
also have lives of their own. Be respectful of them during the planning
process. For example, keep the bridesmaid dresses reasonably priced so they are
not a financial burden on your friends. If they all can easily afford $250
satin, purple-zebra-print one-shoulder gowns with bows on the derrieres, then
by all means, pick a dress like that. If they are of different financial means,
limit your choice to something they can afford easily.
For our wedding, we chose a hotel
ballroom as our reception venue primarily because there were guests who would
appreciate minimal driving in a city new to them and others who would
appreciate going up to their rooms early (with kids or for health reasons). Our
venue’s restaurant is well known as one of Kansas City’s best. Guests raved
about the meal and convenience. They appreciated our consideration of them,
which also might have influenced more of them to attend.
off-topic…Your wedding vendors have lives too. They are not your servants. They
are running businesses and need to be mindful of their finances and schedules,
just as you do. Our photographer called me the night before the ceremony to see
if she could send someone else for the first hour of our allotted time. She was
just given the chance to photograph another event that could lead to additional
business for her, and she hoped I would enable her to work both events. While I
could have stuck to our agreement, it felt better to agree with the new plan.
The substitute person was very professional, fun to work with, and did a great
job. When our photographer arrived, she was happy and ready to take over the
rest of the day. She had a life outside of my wedding, just as the DJ, hotel
point person, chef, servers, church coordinator, and guests do.)
Remember, your guests love you but they
have lives too. Your wedding is important to them but so is what they have
going on in their lives. Be as interested in them during your engagement as you
would like them to be about your wedding.
as many people as possible in the events. We included 36 loved ones in our
wedding mass. We each had just one person stand up with us, and the rest had
various roles during the mass. We also listed the names of the military
veterans present during the prayers of the faithful and had all deceased family
members listed on a prayer card (there were too many to read aloud during the
mass). Including so many people made the wedding very personal to all who
attended, and it made it more special for us. Our wedding was full of love
because our loved ones were in it.
invitations to add more errands to your schedule. Unless you have a lot of free
time or help from others, resist the urge to add errands. Everyone has ideas
for weddings. Since most people go to them and have been in them, they like
offering suggestions. As a busy professional, I did not have time to interview
five deejays, all six florists my friends like, and ten favorite venues across
town. I picked two of each to meet with and made the decisions based on those
two. If there was an opportunity to say “no” to another errand, I took it. For
example, I picked the guest book Hobby Lobby had rather than run to other
stores to see if there was one I liked better. When friends suggested various
guest favors, I resisted the urge to spend hours driving around town to get
items needed and put them together. Our guests were coming to our home the next
day, so favors were not needed. In some circles, guest favors are considered
tacky and unnecessary—I went with that philosophy. Whether you have favors or
not, manage errands efficiently so they don’t waste your time.
off-topic…Be respectful of your mother’s and friends’ time if you’re lucky
enough to have them helping you. Don’t expect them to run all over town on your
whims. If you forget that one, refer back to #4: you are not a princess.
Besides, if you were a princess, that would make your mom the queen. Treat her
respectfully and show your appreciation for her help.)
your wedding priorities in advance. Discuss them with your groom and come to
agreement on everything from the style, theme, budget, approximate guest count,
wedding party count, music style, ceremony style in advance. You’ll fine-tune
as planning proceeds, but agreeing on these items in advance helps ensure the
wedding is in line with your personalities, lives, families, and budgets.
10. Determine a budget and stick with it.
This is your wedding. It is not a reflection of your wealth, your parents’
wealth, or how much your parents love you. Determine a reasonable budget you,
your groom, and all who are paying can manage. Please do not put a financial
burden on your parents. If they manage to live a comfortable life, don’t ruin
that by expecting them to take on $50,000, $25,000, or even $10,000 debt for
your wedding. Even if they say you can do whatever you want, choose wisely. Choose
venues, flowers, attire, music, etc. as if you were paying for it
yourself—after all, if you would not buy it, why should your parents? They will
respect you more if you do not allow them to take on debt for your wedding.
They also will respect you and your groom if you resist the temptation to go in
to debt yourselves for this one day. Your guests are your loved ones. They will
judge you for who you are, not for how much you spent on flowers, cakes,
favors, or a venue with a view. Determine a budget and stick with it,
regardless of what vendors pressure you in to. We did, so I know it can be
off-topic…select vendors who respect your budget. We worked with people who
respected our goal to have a simple, elegant wedding within a certain budget.
Since we chose vendors who respected the budget, we trusted them and saw them
as partners in our events. All of us enjoyed the events because we were in on it
I hope brides who read this
benefit by having weddings full of love, not angst. May all of your marriages
be as successful and full of love as your wedding day.