For me, preparing for my July 3, 2011, wedding to Kevin Keller was one of the most enjoyable experiences of my life to date. This came as a complete surprise, and I was delighted that the process was exhilarating rather than daunting.
I had never been excited to plan a wedding. I wasn’t one of those girls who’d had her wedding dress picked out by age 5 or was always on the hunt for the ideal venue. I hadn’t even really read a wedding magazine (actually, I still haven’t really read a wedding magazine). Certainly, I’d thought about marriage, and about a wedding in broad strokes, but the thought of planning a wedding sounded, to be honest, rather terrible. (I know, I know — I’m missing some crucial girl gene or something.)
But, despite my initial dread, here’s why the experience ended up being so incredibly positive:
- First and foremost, we have amazingly wonderful families. It’s kind of unfair, in fact, how incredible they are. Even better, everyone likes each other (how lucky am I to adore my in-laws?) and so getting together to plan often turned into long, laughter-filled evenings around my parents’ kitchen table.
- Kevin and I both lived in Atlanta, we were planning a wedding in Atlanta, and his parents and mine were all in Atlanta as well. That was a huge plus.
- Kevin and I were equally involved in the planning. Seriously! And it was so much fun! We made virtually every decision together (minus picking out my dress and my bridesmaids’ dresses) and so the wedding was completely representative of both of us. Many people told us, “Your wedding felt just like you two!” and that was truly the biggest compliment we could have received.
- Google docs. For real. We would have been lost without them. We were able to share guest lists, vendor spreadsheets, wedding “scripts,” gift inventories, and more with both our moms, and everyone was able to add to the documents to keep things updated and stay in the loop. I highly recommend this approach.
- The Real Simple Ultimate Wedding Planning Checklist is a lifesaver, and helped me know what elements we should be focusing on throughout the months of planning.
- In addition to our families, we surrounded ourselves with positive people. Our vendors (well, almost all of them) were accommodating, friendly, and oh-so-helpful, which made a huge difference. We didn’t feel pressured or intimidated, and felt like everyone listened to us and their work reflected our goals for the event. Everyone from the minister to the ushers to the flower girls to the readers were absolutely perfect choices. Our wedding party was stellar as well — so supportive and encouraging. It was important to us to include people in our party who we knew would be a part of our lives for years to come, and we found a wonderful group of people who fit that description.
- We were planning a huge party, and got to invite everyone we cared most about. Once that realization set it, things got even more exciting. We’d never planned such a large event, nor had we ever been expected to make final decisions for such a large-scale project, and, though that was overwhelming at first, it soon became empowering. This really was going to be our day!
- We thought about what would help make our guests’ experiences as positive as possible, and that made the detail-y stuff fun. Coming up with Atlanta guides for out of town guests, making goody bags for the hotel rooms (thanks again, Mom and Cathy!), and negotiating rehearsal dinner logistics became enjoyable once we began to think from our guests’ perspectives.
And so, thanks to these and countless other factors, planning our wedding became one of the happiest memories of my life. I never would have guessed it!
Thanks to everyone who helped make that day — and the months leading up to it — so very magical.