Preparing for a wedding can be stressful. Very stressful. Especially if it’s a typical Chinese wedding in Singapore.
For those who don’t know me, I recently tied the knot on Jul27, 2013. Was a very happy bride and now, a very happy wife :). Honestly, I am very thankful for the wedding process with N despite the seemingly endless tasks, because going through the process brought us closer together. The wedding prep helped us understand each others’ task-processing style further and hence, appreciate each other more, as one of us could do some types of wedding tasks much better than the other. I do not claim to have a perfect process, but some of my close friends who are brides-to-be have requested content on wedding preparation. So this is my list of things I look out for during the wedding preparation:
1) Start your wedding preparations with PRAYER
In fact , we should start everyday with prayer. N and I prayed before running most of our wedding errands but I think we could have prayed even more. Because if truly God is the Lord of our lives, and He brought us together, then surely we must also submit the details of our wedding to Him. Praying will also help put the wedding prep and the wedding day in perspective – Yes, it’s a special day to both of us as a couple, but are we or the day THAT important in the light of eternity? We wouldn’t even have had the chance to be preparing for our wedding if God hadn’t allowed us to meet and develop a friendship over the last nine years. So yes, I encourage you guys out there preparing for your wedding to pray and submit to God everyday, and to pray over the wedding details even more.
And God did bless us in amazing ways when we prayed. From contacts who would tailor my dream gowns at affordable prices, to the bridesmaid gowns shop calling A to pick up their gowns and actually managing to get through (as A’s phone was actually spoilt and unable pick up most other calls); and friends like K who provided us an awesome wedding car totally free, to even providing us with a carpark lot in a very crowded area when we prayed for one after much stressful circling around.
2) Build each up in the wedding preparation process, and not tear each other down
Remembering that the wedding is just ONE DAY, the day that marks the beginning of your lifetime together, definitely helps. Don’t let the memory be scarred by arguments during the prep!! N and I only had 10 months to prepare for the wedding, which is relatively less time than a lot of other Singaporean couples who normally have a few years from the time they start buying a flat. (When we first went to the bridal studios, they all told us we should have gone to them 2-3 years ago!!) But from the onset of the prep, we had a tacit agreement to put God and each other first in every decision, and not to insist on our own – mostly selfish – ways.
It was challenging at times, having to balance work, work travel (I was travelling up to 3 days before our wedding) and the many wedding tasks, and we definitely had our fair share of tension at times. Mostly it was me being impatient because it stressed me to see so many items outstanding. So what was helpful for me, and I would encourage couples to do this, especially the more impatient half like myself, is to consciously decide at every juncture before you lose your cool, to step back and look at the prep from the perspective of eternity and the entire marriage life together. If we cannot get pass the wedding prep building each other up, how will we do that when we have to manage bigger stressful things in life like kids, finances and sicknesses? Yup, so encourage, encourage, encourage and pray for your other half to be patient with you too.
3) Honour your parents in the process
Thankfully for us, we had relatively easy going parents who went along with most of our proposed wedding flow. Given that it took them a few decades to raise us, I think it’s important on the day to also consider what would honor them. Sometimes I think parents do not want to impose their point of view on our prep because they love us, which was what happened in our case, so we tried our best to understand what they really wanted and tried to meet their needs. At first, my parents were not keen on the tea ceremony, but we really wanted to do it for all our family and relatives to thank them for taking care of us through the years, and I think they appreciated the session in the end. At first, we wanted our wedding dinner to only be for the family, but my mum wanted to invite her closest friend from school days. Her friend would be the only non-family but it was significant for my mum to have her friend around, so we invited her. In the end, it’s more important for our parents to be happy on our special day!
We also consciously ran most of the wedding errands on our own so as to not stress our parents out. I know of stories of people who were lax in the planning and in the week leading up to the wedding, the parents were like crazy frantic people running around for the wedding couple, so that the wedding day could proceed as planned. So yes, I would suggest that it’s also honouring to our parents to be independent and organised in the process, so as not stress them out, especially in the last hours leading up to the wedding.
4) Be clear about what both of you want
Wedding preparations in themselves, are already stressful, and they are even more stressful if the couple are not aligned in what their ideal wedding day should be. For example, I initially wanted a usual massive sit-down wedding dinner so we went around short-listing Alkaff Mansion, White Rabbit and other places that could sit many people. After spending all that time, then we realized we didn’t really need or want a massive sit-down dinner; when we ourselves had attended massive wedding lunches and dinners, we did not get to talk much to the bridal couple, and the food isn’t always great, so really all the angpows would go to paying the restaurant. So thankfully, since our parents were cool with having a family-only dinner, which by the way, is already 11 tables, we decided on a cosy intimate wedding dinner instead. But my point is, if we had decided on this earlier, we would have saved time from hunting for large-scale venues that we didn’t use in the end.
It also helps the vendors and helpers when we are more specific in our requests e.g. tiffany blue, fairytale theme, so they also had more time to look for the relevant materials and decorations. Being clear made all the visits to gown shop, meet-ups with caterer and restaurant, liaising with the church faster and more pleasant. By the way, for those who didn’t attend our wedding, we eventually went for 1) church wedding ceremony in the morning followed by a super wide-range gourmet wedding lunch and boutique coffee booth (Nylons ftw!) for everyone we knew, 2) intimate chinese dinner for family only at Jade restaurant , with our favourite yummy soup but that is for another post 😛
Budget is another important item to be clear about. Whatever budget you have in mind, it takes huge discipline for both parties to stick to the budget because wedding purchases are just so price inelastic – we tend to want every detail to be so special. But it is important to have a budget and then be clear with every spending item as to which are the “must-have”s and which are the “nice-to-have”s. Then, a lot for the “must-have”s that are very important to you both as a couple. That decision making principle helped us to stay within budget. For instance, the wedding lunch was a priority for us as we had guests who flew in especially for our church ceremony, and we weren’t having a dinner for them. So I dare say our per head wedding lunch cost is probably 2-3 times the cost of an average wedding lunch. Whereas wedding shoes were a total non-priority for me because I figured nobody would even see them under my gown, so I just wore my old comfortable shoes.
5) Assign tasks to your helpers according to their strengths
I am super thankful for all the helpers we had. Really blessed beyond measure. The wedding wouldn’t have been as beautiful without their involvement. And although I realized our friends were so selfless they did not mind helping in any capacity, we intentionally asked them to help us with tasks that they were naturally interested in and were good at. For example, our best man is super talented with creatives, so he helped us out (among many other things) with our wedding card design and going down to the printer to choose the material to print on. I can’t imagine asking anyone else to help us with that, and it would have been stressful for both us and the person if he/she were not fitted for that specific task.
6) Then, trust your helpers to do it!
After your dear friends and family know exactly what to do, just trust and leave them to do it. I didn’t see my reception design until the actual day… but that didn’t matter for everyone said it was so beautiful, because we had the best person in charge of it 🙂 I’m glad I had so many family and friends I could count on! And even if anything untoward crops up on the actual day stay chill, as no one will even notice!!
7) Involve your friends and family in the wedding process
Kind of self explanatory, but the journey is not just about us but the people God blesses us with to journey with us. We had family and friends join us in our wedding shoot, in gown selection, in food tasting. The photographers, florist, makeup artists were our friends too .. and it made the process so much more enjoyable and memorable!
This has been a long post but I hope it helps those who are currently going through the wedding preparations. Remember to Pray, Plan early, and HAVE FUN! The wedding day will go by so quickly almost in a blur, so you must really enjoy the process and appreciate every day that you have someone willing to go through the process with you.
Ok, my Hubbubu has been making dinner for us the whole time I was writing. I married well.. thank You and you 🙂