I’ve always marched to the beat of my own drum. Whether it’s what I write about, the clothes I wear, or the choices I’ve made in my career, I’m not one to do things a certain way just because that’s how everyone else does it.

But even I surprised myself when my fiance and I decided to get married and picked a date just five weeks away.

Let me explain: Kale is Australian. I’m American. I  have lived in New York City for the better part of 12 years. He took a yearlong sabbatical from his office job in Australia one year ago to come to NYC and pursue standup comedy. Boy met girl. Boy and girl fell in love. Month passed. Boy and girl realized, “Fuck, I don’t want to live my life without you!”

So we’re getting married. And we’re getting married soon. My therapist joked to me that five weeks is more like an “extended elopement.” A little more than a month is not a lot of time to plan a wedding, even a City Hall ceremony like ours. I’ve never been the girl who daydreamed about her wedding colors and  her poofy white dress — but even I’ll admit this timeline is kind of crazy.

I’ve never planned a wedding before, or even thrown a really big party before, so it’s really trial by fire. Without further ado, here’s everything I know about how to plan a wedding — in only slightly more time than the gestation period of a rabbit — without going insane. Well … only going a little insane. I hope it applies to brides with more normal wedding planning time frames as well.

1. You have to be really, really, really sure this is what you want to be doing. This is true for any bride, regardless of whether she’s pressed for time. I would say it’s especially true for a bride doing it quickly. Anyone who has planned a wedding will tell you that no one obsesses over napkin rings for fun and that goes triple when your obsession is compressed into one month. Keep a clear head and be honest with yourself. There is undeniably something romantic about getting hitched on the quick — heck, Vegas has built an entire industry around it! But getting married, in my opinion, should be less about how romantic it looks to other people on the outside and more about how it feels for the people who are doing it. I want to get married — incidentally, quickly — because I can’t imagine my life without this other person in it. That’s what keeps me going when I want to murder someone. With a napkin ring.

2. Prepare yourself that other people’s weird personal issues with marriage, commitment and intimacy are going to come out of nowhere. People usually talk about marriage in terms of their own intimacy/commitment issues. Since my engagement, I have had the exact opposite experience: I feel like a human Rorschach test onto which everyone else projects their own opinions about marriage. And oh my, do people have opinions! Kale and my choices are simply our choices and we’re not advocating them for anyone else. So it has been a really weird experience to tell folks that I’m engaged and hear them start nattering on two minutes later about divorce. Smile and nod, folks. Smile and nod.

3. And prepare yourself to be pleasantly surprised and/or disappointed by people. Planning a wedding has been bittersweet. I’ve been bowled over by the loving, generous support from loved ones — especially when it has come from unlikely places. But I’ve also come to see certain friends and family members in a new, unflattering light because of the ways true colors have been coming out. Some people will try to make your wedding all about what they want. Others will be inconsiderate or downright rude. This is heavy stuff to deal with when you’re already busy planning a wedding, but having good friends to vent to really helps.

4. Decide what is really important to you, what you’re willing to compromise on, and what you straight up don’t care about. I’m not Khloe Kardashian and I don’t have an army of personal assistants to plan a huge wedding on short notice. And even if we did have seven extra pairs of hands, we don’t have the budget for chocolate fountains, anyway.  Neither Kale nor I are particularly traditional, though, so we don’t have a problem choosing the aspects of a wedding that we want to embrace and the ones we’re willing to drop. For example, it was really important to me that we celebrate with a yummy lunch with our families after City Hall. Less important to me was spending a lot of money on my bouquet, veil, or shoes. If we had more time (and I had more mental energy), I’m sure I’d put more of an effort into my attire. Instead I bought my wedding heels in one quick shopping trip to DSW and I’m perfectly happy with them. So don’t pay attention to endless grand wedding schmaltz on Pinterest — although some of those tablescapes are gorgeous — and focus on a few small things that will really make you happy.

5. Be reasonable of what you are asking people to do on such short notice. With only five weeks notice, I don’t expect everyone to drop what they’re doing with their lives just because Kale and I getting married. (Well, maybe my parents … but they’re my parents.)  People have lives that predated our decision to get hitched. One of my best friends has a press trip to Peru over my wedding day. A couple of my sisters may not be able to take off work to come to City Hall. I’m not going to be a dick about any of this, because I love these people and I know they’d be there if they could. A wedding day is just one day of my life. These ladies are always there for me in the rest of it. Plus, his parents are flying over from Australia — and that’s pretty goddamn amazing and something for which I’m very grateful.

6. Give your overbearing grandma/sister/future MIL some project to work on so they stay out of your hair. This is, I’ve been told, an old trick from brides-to-be way back. When one of your relatives starts driving you crazy (and there will be at least one of them) with their own running commentary and criticism about your wedding-related choices, give them something to do. The key is that it’s something you don’t care about but which makes them feel really involved. That way, this person will have their own little nuptial fiefdom to control! Hopefully then they’ll leave you alone about what color pen you should use to write the thank you cards.

7. Forgive yourself if you have a bridal freakout.  This shit is stressful, y’all. I’ve been a longtime guilty-pleasure watcher of “Bridezillas.” My favorite is the lady who walked down the aisle holding her pet rat. Anyway. I have a bit more empathy for the bridezillas of “Bridezillas” now. Last weekend I had my one (and only, I hope) bridal freakout in the paper plate aisle at Party City. I yelled at Kale about napkins. Napkins, people. (I apologized and we bought the napkins.) It wasn’t the end of the world.

8. Pinterest boards and Google Drive are your best friends. Pinterest boards are an amazing resource for bridal beauty ideas and recipes for the wedding celebration we’re having at our house the next day with our friends. And without the various lists my dude and I have been keeping in Google Drive (thank you cards to write, which guests are bringing what to the party, etc.), I would be a scatterbrained mess. Yes, you and your groom are juggling 37 balls in the air at the same time … but you can do this, I promise.

9. It takes a village to plan a wedding in five weeks. Your friends and family want to help you. Graciously accept their generosity. I’m very, very lucky to have my family and friends teaming up to make this wedding happen on the cheap. The Frisky’s very own Sophie is lending me a white cocktail dress from her own closet for me to wear; ex-Frisky staffer Simcha (aka the nail artist Miss Pop) is giving me a pre-wedding manicure; and my good friend Sara offered to buy me an adorable pair of panda flats from ModCloth so I have “something panda” on my big day. Kale’s parents and my parents are splitting the cost of our wedding day lunch and my mom is making my bouquet. Just listing all that stuff brings water to my eyes.  See, I’m the type of person to never feel like I am deserving of nice things happening to me and to feel guilty when they do. But I had to get real with myself! Now is not the time to feel guilty, it’s the time to be gracious. These people are my loved ones. They want to help. So say “thank you” and accept it.

Is there anything I forgot about? Share your tips in the comments! And cross your fingers for me … only one week until the big day!

Original by Jessica Wakeman


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