So you just got engaged an hour ago, and everyone is flooding you with DM’s asking about a date, location, and guest lists. The bottle of champagne is still on ice, and you can already feel the pressure of expectation building. “Wait, I thought this was supposed to be one of the happiest moments of my life?” – don’t worry it still can be! Something that most people overlook when speaking to couples that are recently engaged is the profound stress outsiders can project onto the couple. In this post, I want to get real about this, what you might encounter, and ways you can avoid stress and enjoy the process! In order to do this, the first thing we need to unveil is the source of expectation.
Our media-based culture has already programmed your brain to think that if your man didn’t propose on top of the Eifel tower, with fireworks bursting in the distance, he did it wrong. Movies, books and social media place a high value on a perfect day, with the excellent story and the perfect ending. Romance sells, but we are living in reality, things happen, families are messy, and people are rude. In today’s overwhelmingly edited culture couples often fall into the trap of expectations without even knowing they did. This happens because of misinformation and the lack of experience. Think about it; you know how to shop for clothes or respond to an email – you’ve done it most of your adult life but have you ever been engaged? For some of you, the answer is yes, more than once, and that’s okay! Most of you have not, it’s your first time, and you’re looking outward for help. Well, who can you trust, this person says one thing and this friend says another. Your friend last year had a horrible planner but paid top dollar, and the Knot has a three-page document that explains everything you need to know about weddings. The wedding industry can seem like the wild wild west, and in many cases, it is. Mass platforms like the Knot “lead” people through the statistics of weddings but only account for their users which falsely portrays the wedding market on many levels. Once parents become involved things can become even more complicated because of the unspoken expectations from the gift giver to the recipient. So you wind up feeling overwhelmed in a sea of misinformation, romantic fantasy and expectations. Don’t be! You can still enjoy being engaged, celebrate the season and have your dream wedding if you take charge and become intentional about it.
The first step is to realize all the bullshit out there, hype, fantasy, old-school sales tactics and people that don’t know what the hell they are talking about. The second step is to be transparent with everyone involved – if your parents or grandparents are financing the wedding have an open conversation about it. Explain that you are grateful for the gift, and share your vision and then remind them that it’s your first time, so you’re educating yourself about the process. Figure out the budget that works for you and your family then seek a planner. Finding a great planner is one of the best ways to mitigate stress and expectations. Great planners will actively listen to you, seek out your dream team, hold therapy sessions if needed, laugh, cry and celebrate with you along the way. Great planners will become family, and you should count your blessings when you have one on your side!
The planner will have a wealth of information about things you otherwise would never know; they will silence the misinformed and lay out the facts. Lastly, remind yourself that you are blessed, you have found someone to do life with. Not everyone in this world gets that chance. Remind yourself that you are healthy, able, and deeply in love with another person. Remind yourself that you only get so many trips around the sun and not to waste a journey in worry but to live out the adventure in joy and love. Remind yourself you are getting married and starting a life with someone else. Remind yourself that love never fails. I always encourage every couple I have the privilege to photograph to set aside expectation. Don’t allow the pressure of the hyper-edited world to dictate your expectations. Free yourself, be present, and accept the beauty of your day as it comes. Roll with the unexpected and release the reservoir of expectations set by someone else.
I am your biggest fan in this season of life – I wish you the very best in this process and if there is anything I might be able to do for you don’t hesitate to ask! Congratulations on your engagement! Enjoy it!