With only 11 weeks to go until the wedding, I’m starting to get very stressed out about things – everything from wedding favours, to whether The Boy will turn up, to if we’re doing enough to make sure everyone has fun.
I was sharing some of my more neurotic fears with my friend Candice, who runs The Makeup Box blog and is one of the calmest, most serene people I have ever met. She recently got married in Singapore, and we were talking about how some parts of wedding planning are universal, while others are probably more specific to the part of the world you’re getting married in. She has kindly put together this post about the most stressful parts of planning her wedding (along with some gorgeous photos for you to enjoy).
Over to you, Candice!
Top 5 Most Stressful Things About Wedding Planning in Singapore
1. It is not your wedding.
For many Asian cultures, a wedding is an occasion for the parents of the bride and groom to celebrate. It’s a milestone and a symbolic pat-on-the-back for having successfully raised their children to adulthood, and it’s not uncommon for a majority of the guests to be guests of the parents, rather than guests of the bride and groom.
Even our invitation cards say “Mr and Mrs XYZ and Mr and Mrs ABC cordially invite you to the wedding of their son and daughter [insert name of bride and groom].”
Which is fine – except for the fact that your family has an opinion about everything. What dishes to serve, whether a venue is appropriate, who sits where, etc.
Don’t wonder why it feels it’s your parents’ wedding celebration and you’re simply the wedding planner handling the logistics.
2. There is no such thing as a simple Chinese wedding.
If it’s simple it probably isn’t a Chinese wedding.
Chinese celebrations are a community affair. This means not just your friends and immediate family, but also distant relatives and old family friends who might have at one point – maybe a few decades ago – been part of the same village slash community slash clan. My husband had to charter a private bus to ferry the extended members of his family to the dinner venue.
I had 260 guests at my wedding dinner. That is by all accounts a “small” wedding. (My parents had 1000 guests at their wedding back in the day.)
This poses unique challenges when it comes to logistics. Most restaurants can’t seat more than 50-100 guests. And flying out to a beach villa in Bali is definitely out.
3. Nobody can agree what the “traditions” are.
We live for “Tradition”. But often every clan and family has a different interpretation of which rituals must be observed for a proper wedding, and there is no consistency in the individual’s experience. The stress is caused by the fact that people can take it very personally if you disregard what is important to them.
A friend of mine bought the wrong type of liquor as a betrothal gift for his bride’s family. Seven years on, people are still bringing it up.
And it’s not just agreeing on the common rituals. Every other day, someone will bring up another ritual we’ve never heard of before. It can feel like an unending series of challenges specifically designed to see when you will crack and lose your cool.
The lead-up to a Chinese wedding is an exercise in patience and high-stakes diplomacy, especially when both sides of the family have different opinions. You can’t win points with one without losing points with the other, and this can create quite a bit of stress between the bride and groom when each takes one side.
One day when we’d finally had enough, my husband suddenly said, “We can’t please everyone – so to be fair, I’m going to put my foot down and offend everyone. ”
4. Money, money, money (aka the “Once In A Lifetime” curse)
The advertisers, magazine editors, movie producers, wedding purveyors and everyone around us will use this “once in a lifetime” liner on us. Suddenly things that don’t mean much start to mean a whole lot more.
And they wonder why some people get into debt and turn into Bridezilla because of their weddings.
Buy that Vera Wang gown you will only wear once? Why not. Once in a lifetime.
Replace lunch with salad and sign up for a gym membership for 3 months to shape up for said wedding gown? Why not. Once in a lifetime.
Get that pair of Louboutin stilettos to go with the Vera Wang gown? Why not. Once in a lifetime.
Take out a personal loan for an expensive photo shoot and a fancy wedding venue? Why not. Once in a lifetime.
Spend $5,000 on floral arrangements? Why not. You’ve already spent $5,000 on the shoot, $12,000 on the dress and $50,000 on the dinner. What’s $5,000 more? (Besides – it’s once in a lifetime.)
Well I’m a bit anti “once-in-a-lifetime”. Technically, everything is once in a lifetime. You didn’t stress for 4 weeks about the once in a lifetime chance to buy cheese at the new grocery store for the first time.
I don’t want to offend the elders, look tacky, or serve my friends and family lousy food at my wedding. It’s just about finding an acceptable middle-ground between what matters to them, and what doesn’t matter to me. I try to remind myself it should be good, but it doesn’t need to be perfect.
5. It’s the ultimate test.
My husband said the other day – “You know why everyone’s so stressed out? It’s like a test – and your friends and family are the examiners. They will remember it for years. Who wants to screw up?”
You want your makeup to be perfect, your dress to be perfect, the décor to be perfect, the food to be perfect, your bridesmaid to not look better than you, and for everything to progress perfectly.
I’m not above caring about that.
After all, this is the chick who dug out 30 red lipsticks, swatched them beside each other and photographed them in high-resolution against my red gown just so I could scrutinize everything on a monitor and pick out the perfect shade. (There is a science to it, I tell ya.)
So I opted to simplify.
I can’t and won’t put in the amount of effort needed to get 100 things perfect. But if I pare it down to 20 of the things I care about, or that mean the most to my loved ones, I daresay I can get most of them as close to 100 as possible.
At the end of the day, we don’t all have the money and resources to have everything be picture perfect.
We all need to breathe, sit back, and ask ourselves if we are stressing about something because we care so much about it personally, or because we just don’t want to be criticized for it.
If it belongs in the latter group, just once – on your wedding day – it’s a once in a lifetime chance to not give a damn.
Candice is absolutely right of course – everything we do in life could be “once in a lifetime”, and I think it’s time for me to stop stressing, let The Boy make jokes about the wedding without wanting to kick him gently in the shins, and start appreciating that even if something goes wrong, it’s not the end of the world.
And, on a less serious note, can we please take a moment to appreciate her shoes?!