The great-great-granddaughter of Emily Post provides insight on the moments leading up to your wedding.
As I sit down to write, I am less than two weeks from my wedding. I’ve never come anywhere close to running a marathon, but I imagine that the mental component of running 26.2 miles must be akin to planning a wedding. These last weeks I’ve hit some decision fatigue, even though they are lovely decisions to make. This weekend I was lucky enough to attend not one, but two, very different weddings, and it was a wonderful opportunity to see what all this hard work will create. It also gave me a shot of inspiration for planning the ceremony, something that I’ll admit I was avoiding a bit. With so many critical choices, the ceremony details involve deadlines that can often be pushed. But therein lies the rub: Who hasn’t heard about couples writing their vows the morning of the wedding?
The final weeks of wedding planning come down to two categories: “must be done” and “would be nice.” The trick, I am learning, is keeping the two straight. Minor particulars that have been put off – such as confirming refrigeration for the many small cakes I will have at the reception – become more important. Other elements that were planned months ago – such as creating round tags to tie onto the jars of strawberry jam my mom and I made back in June – feel imperative as they were part of the master plan, and yet really aren’t essential. This distinction may seem obvious to you, but when the wedding is 13 days away, what you hope will be accomplished can easily blur with what must be accomplished.
What does this have to do with etiquette exactly? Good etiquette isn’t just about knowing how to word a wedding invitation, write a thank-you note, or plan a receiving line. It’s about the “how”: how you interact with the people around you, from vendors, to family, to friends, to guests – not to mention your other half. The wedding day will arrive and most, if not all, of the tasks will be done. But how do you want to get there: on speaking terms or ready to wash your hands of the whole affair?
As the day approaches, everyone will be looking to you for answers, and many will be voicing opinions. Staying focused regarding priorities will help you navigate these interactions – and etiquette is all about the way we communicate with others. Stress is one of the biggest contributors to being curt and short-tempered. Unfortunately, it is practically inevitable during the final weeks, but minimizing any unnecessary anxiety will go a long way toward maintaining smooth relationships with your parents, parents-to-be, siblings, wedding party, and, not least of all, future spouse.
This afternoon I will sit down to write two lists: the musts and the would-be-nice items. Then I’ll begin to relinquish tasks. Having seen spreads of beautiful celebrations and writing about weddings as part of my job for so many years, I’ve had fairly clear ideas about what I’ve wanted (choice of all things dress-related aside… I love my look, but I went in circles on that one!). Letting go of items on my list isn’t just about not being a control freak – I simply can’t do all of it. I am sure my mother is rolling her eyes at that statement of the obvious, but thanks to glossy magazines and endless pictures on the web, brides and grooms these days often have very specific concepts of what they want. So, unless you are throwing a wedding for ten people, you won’t be able to do it alone.
I heard some great advice when I began planning: “Give your professionals your vision, and trust in them to do their jobs.” I took those words to heart and it has taken off a lot of pressure; but I need to remember to do that with my nearest and dearest, too. I haven’t held back assigning them tasks because I don’t think they’ll do a good job; I’ve just been so excited to have my hands in it all. But now it’s time to let go of everything except what I truly must do myself – like writing those vows!
Opening photo by Carrie Rodman Photography