Wedding Recap Part 3: Advice

This is the last entry in a 3 part series relating to weddings. The first was a recap of our wedding with pictures and memories; the second was information about vendors we used. This last entry is about wedding advice, answering the questions: what advice would I give someone who is (recently) engaged? What advice would I give to someone planning a wedding?

First, a word to everyone: don’t ask someone who has been engaged for less than a month when and where the wedding will be. Just congratulate them and be excited (maybe ask about the proposal) – and let them enjoy the excitement of being engaged. For those of you engaged – enjoy it and brush off the questions about the wedding. You will have plenty of time to plan the wedding – don’t feel pushed into planning it.

Starting off:

  1. Get the book A Practical Wedding and read it BEFORE you dive head long into crazy wedding planning. Seriously. Get it from the library even. Or tell me and I will order it for you on Amazon right now.  Both partners should read it. The wedding industry is completely insane and this book will help you to be conscious of avoiding falling into traps, or at least make you aware of the traps you might fall into (i.e caring about things you’ve never thought about – who cares what material the tablecloths are made of?). It’s not a guide about how to plan a wedding, but something we found really insightful and read multiple times during the course of our engagement.
  1. Like the book says, do a brainstorm of all the crazy possibilities of what you’d want for a wedding. Think of all the weddings you’ve been to and stuff you liked and didn’t like. Then, figure out what your non-negotiables/must haves are. Then talk to your families and find out what their expectations are/what they really want. Then come up with some compromises. Relatedly, think of what you care about the most and put the effort/money into making that awesome – and let other things go as acceptable but not perfect.
  1. Avoid the wedding-industrial-complex. This is all the bridal magazines and websites that have all the crap of what you “must do”, “must have” etc. There is an overwhelming amount of stuff online and in books. Find one or two you like and use those.

Watch this video. It is nearly 100% true and had us laughing hysterically. Watch it several times throughout the wedding planning process and you will see how true it rings (and when we found ourselves stressed and at each other, we would say “but the table runners need to match with the cumberbunds!!” to bring ourselves back).

  1. Include your partner in everything. It is for the both of you. At the same time, divide and conquer – like one person assigned to researching photographers while the other researches bartending services, then decide together. One person shouldn’t get stuck with everything.
  1. Plan your wedding date knowing that the 6ish weeks leading up to it will most likely be insanely busy and stressful (and if they aren’t, hooray for you!)
  1. Spreadsheets and listmaking are your friends to not get stressed out. Have a list that’s a month by month break down of what you should do when. We also had a shared Master Google spreadsheet (with about 14 tabs on it) that evolved over time.
  1. If an engagement photo shoot is possible, do it. It’s great to get to know your photographer (and they you) and helps you practice getting photographed. It also is like a rehearsal for the wedding and helps knock off some jitters and can be fun. Think of it less about the product you’ll get and more about the experience.

Mantra to repeat: “We will not remember what our wedding looked like. We will remember what it felt like.”

  1. It’s going to be more expensive than you thought – like 2-3 times more (even if you say “I just want something small/simple/not fancy” – see above video). It’s hard to compare across venues and vendors because some include everything and some include nothing. Just know it’s gonna cost more money than you thought possible.
  1. Don’t do any wedding planning or talking in the 45 minutes before you go to bed. It will disrupt your ability to sleep.
  1. Unless you want to spend your every waking moment (and some sleeping) between now and your wedding either doing wedding planning or worrying about wedding planning, try to book stuff that includes more than 1 thing/is a bunch of stuff tied together/is traditional. Our camp wedding was AMAZING and I don’t regret it AT ALL. If you asked me for advice in the months leading up to the wedding, I would have said don’t do it. It turned out perfect, but wasso muchwork (see blog 99 days before wedding).
  1. Along those same lines, DIY seems like a great idea (fun! creative! save money!) but it doesn’t really save money and creates more stress and requires so manydecisions. Pick one or two projects, and that’s it. And/or, farm out projects to people who want to help – and let go caring about it and just trust they’ll do something that works well enough.


From the heart:

The engagement is not just about leaving enough time between getting engaged and the wedding to plan the wedding; it’s also about emotionally preparing for marriage and a huge life transition. Use it as processing time for the transition. Discuss important topics with your partner (self guided/with prompts or formal counseling). Know that it’s totally normal to feel a crazy range of emotions through this whole process that you would have never expected – from anxiety to fear to sadness to excitement. It’s definitely a transition time and you should take the time to embrace, acknowledge, and work through your emotions.

Relatedly, there will be all sorts of family stress (inter and intra) trying to manage everyone’s expectations and needs. Again, more than you would have ever thought. Take a deep breath and remember the cumberbunds.

Other resources:


And that’s it, I think. I’ll walk away from putting wedding things up here..and move on to something else. I started this website about quitting my job and lifestyle design, then it transitioned to a travel blog, then wedding focused. Now, it will probably just be a variety of ruminations.



2 thoughts on “Wedding Recap Part 3: Advice

  1. another great post mrs. duquette norcott! 🙂 i especially like the part about focusing on the emotional aspects and preparing for the major life transition that is marriage. we kept things “simple” (relatively) and had a beautiful day. i don’t remember the tiny details what things looked like but, i remember we felt amazing and (mostly) calm. we enjoyed every moment with our family and with each other. we were prepared, in tune and in love, ready to start the rest of our lives together (corny enough for ya??). might i add, for anyone on the path to parenthood (especially pregnancy and motherhood), keep the same things in mind. its sooo easy to get caught up in having the right gear, the perfect nursery…but, those are mostly just distractions from the major emotional work that needs attention amid a huge life transition. we tend to begin major life transitions with big celebrations and while those are usually good, they are just one day parties at to mark the beginning of a new forever…or something like that…you said it way better 🙂

    1. You know Jocelyn, I was just rereading this blog entry to send to someone and noticed that I never replied to your comment. But, thank you for you insightful and thoughtful comment. If only we could get our whole society and culture in this same mind set 🙂

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