I have been meaning to write this blog for some time now, but being a newlywed and jumping back into school has been hectic. This is mainly because I chose to still compete in moot court this year. Yeah…wouldn’t recommend doing that right after a wedding. I debated about how to approach this. Should I write about what I have learned in my first month of marriage or discuss the planning process? I decided to go with the planning process because that’s what most people said they wanted to hear about.
I would first like to thank my #ThreadFam for coming to the wedding in such depthness (made it up, rock with it). I was so happy to see all of you and ya’ll definitely helped to keep the party going!! LOVE.
Alright, so here is the backstory. My husband and I spent about 2 months confirming the date because we really wanted to do it at a good time. We soon found that there was no good time, so we went with our hearts. We also wanted to do the entire wedding with no debt, even though we are both law students and knew we would be shouldering most of the financial burden. Around the time we were really ramping up the planning (i.e. starting to pay for stuff), my boss told me that he didn’t need a law clerk anymore. So, yeah. That’s where the hard part came in because we also didn’t want to miss out on people because of the cost. Although, our original guest list was 500, so we had to do some cutting anyway. Also, we had to choose cheaper food, so that we could invite who we wanted. Hence, serving BBQ at a January wedding (took me at least 4 months to say yes to this). Meager funds + Large Guest List + Family and Friends Support + God=Miracle!
So here are the TOP 10 THINGS I LEARNED:
10. I know that a lot of people do pre-marital counseling, but we actually chose pre-engagement instead. It’s the exact same material as pre-marital, but it helped us to know if we should even be continuing a relationship at all. Our counselors told us that they had decided to have this because they found that people would do pre-marital after they were already engaged, had paid for stuff and their family was involved. People might find huge red flags, but continue anyway. Then, they would be seeking counseling through a divorce a few years later. Pre-engagement gives you the opportunity to just break up. We also joined a marriage group at our church after we were engaged, which helped tremendously!! There were couples ranging from 1 month of marriage to 20+ years in that group. We learned and grew so much and we still go every other Friday. This is probably already obvious, but we took marriage very very seriously and although people say “you’re never really ready”, we wanted to be as ready as possible.
9. Venues are FUN-snatchers!! I think this is extremely egregious given the fact that venues charge $2-5K just to use their 4 walls for 6-8 hours. For example, I really wanted to have a smore’s bar like the one in the picture below. My venue wouldn’t let me because of the open flame. BOOOO!!! So I had to turn all the smores we bought into party favors. So anti-climatic (see 2nd pic below).
8. Traditions only matter if you let them. We did a lot of traditional stuff like jumping the broom, my dad walked me down the aisle and we had a first dance. However, we did other things that weren’t traditional, but were a big part of who were are. For example, we wanted to find a way to give back on our wedding day, so we wore TOMs. My husband also didn’t wear a tuxedo. He wore grey suit pants and a two tone grey blazer, which I loved. Quite simply, DO YOU!!
7. DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT, pay full price for ANYTHING. NOTHING. We did not have one thing at the wedding that we did not get a discount on. Now, my husband has no problem asking for discounts and I hate doing it. Therefore, he handled most of the contracts. It was amazing to me to see how people would easily come down if they thought you would walk away. We literally got at least 25% off everything including my wedding dress (My dress was not on sale. I simply asked if it could be.).
6. Non-negotiables are important and they don’t have to make sense. For example, my non-negotiable was that I wanted navy tablecloths. I cut money from other stuff to have them and I am so glad I did!! It mattered to me, so I didn’t care if it made sense. After cutting other stuff (i.e. the candy bar, grooms cake (he didn’t want one), cheaper flowers), my tablecloths were Navy.
5. Deciding on the wedding party can be a lifechanging event if you have 5 best friends and 4 sisters. Yeah, it was quite difficult and took me about 6 months. There’s that. I chose to have people who represented different stages in my life and I explained to the others why I had to go with a certain number. Real friends won’t care…plus they save money. Being a bridesmaid isn’t cheap.
4. Crying over sticking to the budget during the planning process will bring lots of smiles later. I have to give huge props to my husband on this one. We both agreed to do this wedding with no debt. Then, I lost my will and wanted to put stuff on credit cards that I just absolutely NEEDED (I blame pinterest). He stuck to his guns though and the week after the wedding I appreciated it so much. There was nothing to pay, we were married and the wedding was beautiful!! Imagine that!
3. DIY helped me utilize my creative juices (law school tried to snuff them out) and personalize things by making them more “us”. I actually designed our invitations, programs, the frosted glasses and thank yous that were on every table. That was one of the funnest parts of the planning process for me!
2. Despite what all the reports may say about marriage, people still believe in it and love and wanted to help. The hardest part for me was letting them…humility grew a lot during this time. People were more good to us than we ever thought possible or deserved. Seriously, we were blessed to both live with separate families rent free (we chose not to live together), people flat out covered certain parts completely (like the rehearsal dinner, tablecloths and a lot of the accessories were gifted to us) and people cut checks. Frankly, the day would not have happened without other people’s help. Amazing!!
1. We ENJOYED each other! I hear so many people say that they hate each other in the planning process. I wanted to be very intentional about enjoying the process. I think you have to try really hard not to get so bogged down in the details that you forget the big picture. We had so many memories from seeing a rat at a potential wedding venue (crossed that one off the list) to dancing on the stage of the one we eventually picked to attending the Bridal Extravaganza and watching my husband display his master negotiation skills to praying for a way to pay for it all! In the times when it was stressful, I tried very hard (sometimes to no avail) to stay focused on love.
REGRETS: I really wish we had gone with the hor’ dourves while the room was being flipped. The room flip had to happen because the ceremony and reception happened in the same room. I wish we had stuck with our first mind and offered something during that period, but we were under the impression that it would only take 20 minutes and there wouldn’t be time for that. I think it would have been more enjoyable for our guests.
I also wish I had gotten more pictures with my family and spent more time on the dance floor. I actually didn’t even know how much dancing took place until I saw the pictures. Those are things that cannot be recreated, so I wish I had been sure to do those 2 things.
In my first month of marriage I have learned a great deal! My favorite part is the coming together as one. It just kind of happened organically, but the connection is deep and evident. We laugh a lot, say what the other is thinking, pray together and say tons without saying anything. I know that sounds like a cheesy romantic comedy starring Jennifer Aniston, but it’s real life. I cannot describe it as anything other than a spiritual connection that makes everything else matter a whole lot less. No matter what happens in my day or how bleak things look, I feel immensely secure in the fact that I’m doing life with someone who will be there no matter what. It’s quite simple actually. Love, period. Everything else is just details.