On Saturday 29th June 2019, after 14 months of wedding planning and a bunch of sleepless nights, Aníbal and I got married! It was the most amazing day, surrounded by our nearest and dearest and we honestly wouldn’t change a thing!

If I had a penny for every time I was told to try and enjoy the wedding preparation process or our wedding day, I’d be RICH! It’s the most frequently offered piece of wedding advice, and I can honestly say that now that I’m on the other side, it’s the first piece of advice I’d pass on to any bride to be.

There’s no doubt about it, preparing for a wedding is intense and you put so much of your time, effort and money into something that often results in stress and sleepless nights! BUT your wedding is intended to be a once-in-a-lifetime event that marks something pretty amazing, why not try to make it just that?

So, how does one actually go about putting the above advice into practice? In this post I’m sharing 10 practical tips on how to enjoy the process of becoming a bride, featuring my favourite photos of our big day.

1. Prepare for a marriage more than a wedding

I had to start with this. Although there is so much to do to get ready for the big day, you have to remember that your wedding day is just day 1 of a very long journey – marriage. How you prepare for your marriage will vary for every couple but can include attending classes, seeking advice, moving houses etc.

Remember to keep perspective and use this process as an opportunity to work on developing your relationship too – maybe you can improve your communication skills or learn to become better at compromising? Whatever it is, just remember it’s about so much more than lace and frills.

2. There’s no such thing as the ‘right way’ but there is such a thing as the ‘right time

Maybe a bit controversial? I do believe that your wedding should be what you want it to be. What I don’t believe is that a wedding should be a major financial setback for you as a couple. Timing is everything!

Let’s be real, weddings can be expensive but by budgeting and saving, you can ensure that you’re still in a financially stable (and therefore less stressful) place after your big day. Set yourself a realistic budget, give yourself sufficient time to save towards that and stick to it. You want to have saved enough that you’re still in a comfortable position after it’s all done, even if that means a longer engagement.

3. Think hard about what you can DIY

DIY tasks are great for saving money and can also be used as an opportunity to do something social and enjoyable with your partner, family or bridal party. Examples of things we DIY’d with friends included folding and sealing our own wedding invitations and packaging our own confetti bags. Some music, a few drinks, snacks and you’ve got yourselves a lovely, memorable evening.

4. Do your research first

Our wedding venue hunt is a prime example of when this worked well for us. We had planned to attend a friend’s wedding in Portugal approximately 12 months ahead of our big day. So in the lead up to that, we looked at inspo to help us decide on the kind of venues we wanted to visit, came up with a ‘must have’ list, searched online for suitable options, selected 5, arranged visits for during our trip and came armed with a list of questions for each.

This made the venue viewings such a positive experience! We were able to steer conversations as we knew what we wanted and there was no feeling of being overwhelmed or confused.

5. Learn from those who have gone before you

Listen to the experts, their advice is priceless! Luckily my sister and one of my closest friends had recently gotten married. They were able to give me guidance on what needed to be done, what we shouldn’t waste our time on vs what we should pay more attention to, where we could save money and were both constant reminders that we should enjoy the process!

6. Surround yourself with a real support network

No matter how much you plan and prepare, there will no doubt be moments when you feel overwhelmed. You need people you can talk to during these times that will listen to you, help you to problem solve and alleviate those stresses, whether that’s your partner, sibling, parent or friend.

Now let be real with you – you need to be realistic in choosing that network. Don’t set your expectations of others too high or assume that everyone will be on hand ready to help you with anything and everything. Choose wisely and you’ll avoid unnecessary hurt and disappointment.

7. Turn wedding tasks into social events (or holidays!)

As we got married abroad, we were lucky enough to be able to enjoy 4 short trips as part of our wedding prep process. 3 of these I did with Anibal, 1 with one of my closest girls for my makeup and hair trial. It was so so nice to be able to get away, take a break and relax on the days on either side of our wedding tasks.

If you’re not having a destination wedding then you can still go for dinner with your maid of honour after wedding dress shopping, for drinks with your bridesmaids after accessory shopping, a massage with your mum after a dress fitting or a weekend trip away with your partner after venue hunting.

8. Don’t get lost in the sauce!

Will it matter a day, month, year after the wedding? My now husband Aníbal, was great at reminding me to consider this throughout the process. It can be so easy to get carried away and so tempting to say yes to things that you don’t need and are outside of your budget. Vendors are great at selling things to you! And it’s not only vendors – social media can be deadly. Don’t let comparison have you wanting more, stay focussed on what you had planned and can afford.

9. Have an amazing hen do!

No matter what you do or where you go, just make sure you have a good time! With only a few weeks to go until my big day, going away with my girls for the weekend was exactly what I needed. My maid of honour did the most amazing job planning our trip, which included a private chef, games, a private pool, outdoor yoga, a full body massage… the list goes on! I fully switched off from all things wedding planning during our stay and returned from the trip feeling so much more relaxed.

10. Let go on the big day

Finally, when your big day arrives, let go and enjoy. If things aren’t going to plan, let somebody else deal with it! Focus on yourself, your partner, and enjoying every moment. Look around and take it in, remember how hard you worked for this moment and don’t let anyone or anything take that away from you.

Well that’s it folks! I hope you found this post useful whether you’re planning a wedding or supporting a bride or groom-to-be with their wedding preparations.

Like, comment, follow xo

Rianna Mara

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