I have bad news. If you already feel like at any given moment, there is some semblance of wedding content in your field of vision… it’s about to get much worse. You’re probably well aware of this if you’re planning a wedding and have already dealt with vendors as panic-stricken as Kris Jenner must have been after Kim Kardashian’s first public sighting with Pete Davidson, but experts are forecasting that 2022 is probably going to be “the biggest year in the wedding industry.” Your social calendar is about to be as packed as the front of your refrigerator is with save the dates and “we changed the date!” cards.
According to Brides, the average length of an engagement is between 12 and 18 months… but obviously, that’s not the case when you have to move your wedding due to a global pandemic, or can’t find a venue in your budget that can accommodate a date within a year of your engagement because we’re living in the middle of the most chaotic time for weddings. Although a longer engagement gives you more time to save up for the big day (and finally craft the perfect answer to unsolicited wedding advice), it’s also kind of the perfect storm for anyone who’s a little indecisive or hoping to have a really unique wedding. If you only have a year to get your shit together, you probably don’t have time to replan the elements that you’ve seen on someone else’s Instagram just so it doesn’t look like you’re having the same wedding as everyone else. But if you have two years or more… it can easily start to get messy. When you’re working with a longer engagement, there’s a very real struggle between wanting to jump on wedding planning so you can really utilize that time well and holding off in case trends change, you get bored of the choices you’ve made, or you happen to see some girl from high school post sweetheart table decor that looks exactly like what you wanted, and now you have to start the whole thing from scratch.
It’s kind of like how if you find yourself with some extra time to get ready before going out, you should get TF out of the bathroom as soon as you’re finished with your makeup. You know if you stay in there too long, you’re going to end up with winged eyeliner fit for an Amy Winehouse Halloween costume. With unlimited access to more wedding inspo than anyone could ever need and a timeline long enough to plan an Olympic opening ceremony, it’s easy to go overboard. So how do you plan a wedding with a long lead time without spending tens of thousands of dollars on stuff that will likely be deemed cheugy by the time you walk down the aisle? Step away from the toxic bridal Facebook groups you’re addicted to, because I tapped some experts for some actually helpful advice.
Know Which Traditional Planning Advice To Ditch
The internet is full of traditional wedding planning timelines and advice that has been used for decades, but there’s really no reason to get hung up on that if it just straight up does not work for you. For example, typical etiquette suggests sending out your save the dates six to eight months ahead of your ceremony, but it might help to get them out sooner. Jen Campbell, the Editor and Creative Director of Green Wedding Shoes, says it’s now best to send them out as soon as you can. “With so many weddings happening in 2022 (over 2.5 million weddings are expected next year!), you want to make sure your guests will be able to say yes to your date.”
Grill Your Vendors
JK, JK. Be nice to your vendors! But before you set anything in stone, make sure you’re really aware of what you’re signing up for, and ask important questions upfront. “I definitely recommend finding out the cancelation policy,” says Campbell. “This is one big thing we all learned in 2020… make sure you understand the contract!”
Beyond cancelation, it’s also helpful to know what your vendors will have planned for the day of. “At this point, we have so many more protocols in place to safely gather. Plus, finding available wedding dates, venues, and vendors is significantly harder to come by, so once you’ve locked in your wedding date and venue, do your best to keep it!” explains Julie Lindenman Jervis of Julie Lindenman Events. (Yup, the creative genius behind the gorgeous nuptials of Kyle Cooke and Amanda Batula from Summer House.) “Ask vendors what COVID clauses are in their contract and what their cancelation policies are. Read your contracts thoroughly! In terms of food and beverage, ask what health protocols are being followed during live events for your guests. The safer everyone feels, the bigger the party!”
Take A Little Break
I don’t know who needs to hear this… but you don’t have to be doing something wedding-related at every waking moment in the time leading up to your wedding. (It’s me. I, a girl who is still trying to lock down a venue but can’t stop scrolling through bridal gowns, need to hear this.)
“If planning with a longer lead time, lock in all of your important vendors early, and then take a breather if needed,” says Lindenman Jervis. “Planning straight for two years is a lot, that’s why one-year engagements were the norm for so long!”
If you’re feeling antsy and just can’t wait to get married, you can also tie the knot before the big day. “I’ve also heard from lots of couples that eloping or getting married beforehand eased a lot of their stress and worry. If that’s your style, head to city hall and make it official before throwing a party! It might relieve some pressure and remind you why you’re doing this to begin with.”
Add A Little Spice To Trends You Love
Here’s the thing: if it’s all over Pinterest… it’s probably already overdone. Sorry about it. “If you still love that trend, still go for it! It’s your day, so you should have a day you love. But try to put your own spin on the trend so it feels like the two of you, and like something your guests haven’t seen before,” suggests Campbell. So no, you don’t have to let go of your neon sign obsession just because every wedding on your timeline has had one. Maybe instead of lighting up your new last name, you can switch it up with a saying or lyrics that are special to you.
“If you still love that trend, who cares?! It’s your day and you should plan a wedding you both love!” Campbell continues. “I always recommend finding inspiration on social media, but make sure your wedding speaks to the both of you. If you love giant dried palms, and that is the trend now, go for it! It’s your day.”
Have A Few Seating Options Ready To Go
Ah, the dreaded guest list. With venue capacities, guests getting invited to literally millions of weddings, and the COVID uncertainty of it all… it’s probably a good idea to gear up for the mess that will be creating a seating plan.
“Couples seem to revisit their guest list more than usual now. We’re still dealing with so many unknowns, so it’s much harder to predict response rates before those RSVPs roll in,” says Lindenman Jervis. “As a result, seating can be more challenging. Plan for your ideal scenario and have a few back ups ready with your planner.”
Say Yes (And Then No Thank You) To The Dress
If you’ve spoken to any brides who have seemingly been planning since Vine was still around, you probably know that something that happens when you’ve been working on your wedding for the gestational period of an elephant is that you may start to get tired of your dress. There’s so much pressure to know that the gown you’ve chosen is *the one*, but according to Campbell, it’s not that deep.
“If you aren’t truly loving your dress, I would recommend getting a new one,” she says. “You can sell the dress you didn’t wear on a resale site and hopefully get most of the money back. You should LOVE what you wear for your wedding day.”
If reselling isn’t something you’d like to take on (if you’ve ever gone through the fresh hell of selling something on Poshmark, I see you and I hear you), there are other options. “Can you alter it to make it something you love? I also love the trend of a second reception dress,” added Campbell.
Whatever happens, try to remember that the point of wedding planning is to… plan a wedding. Not to outdo every wedding that has gone down in the history of the world. Obviously, it’s never great to feel lame, but if you still go hard for middle parts and skinny jeans, you can probably live with the knowledge that your wedding was full of stuff you love (even if it wasn’t totally innovative).
Image: Brooke Cagle / Unsplash