That gloomy day on the cliffs of the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk where Patrick asked me one of the biggest questions life has to offer is exactly one year ago to that day. The past year has been an absolute whirlwind of the highs and lows of excitement, stress and everything in between. Looking back at this year it somehow feels like it has gone by in the blink of an eye, but then again, so many things have happened this past year that they could easily fill up three years.
Although we took our time to announce our engagement here on the blog (it was important to us to tell our families and friends in person and not via social media), we had a date picked for our “big day” quite quickly. You’re wondering why I’m writing “big day” in quotation marks? I tell you why: Because to us it’s just a day that officially and legally brings together what we know belongs together anyways. A day that we want to spend with the people we love most, hopefully the sun will be shining and everyone will just have a fabulous time – good food, good music, lots of laughter and joy… living our best life, you know. At least that’s how we envision it (fingers crossed, especially for the weather!).
The past couple of months I got to wonder quite often if something is “wrong” with me… If you’re engaged already you’ll probably know what I’m talking about, for all other fiancées-to-be out there, let me tell you what happens once your future husband proposed: The floodgates open and you’re swamped with questions like “How was the proposal? Did he get down on one knee?” Yes, but does it matter? “Did you pick a date?” Not yet. “What’s the color palette?” Haven’t decided. “Can I wear white?” Um, no?
Let me warn you right away: Once you have a ring on your finger, people expect you to know every single wedding detail. Oh, and talking about that ring: Be prepared for random people to ask you about your engagement ring and grab your hand to examine your ring very closely. (As if this is the one and only thing that matters when you’re getting engaged…)
Anyways – I know some of you have been very eager to know more about our wedding and some of you have even been sending me questions about it (so great to know there are fellow brides-to-be out there who can relate to this whole wedding madness! #weareallinthistogther). To break the tension right away and to answer your question: YES, I will be taking you with me on this wild rollercoaster of wedding preparations and I’ll share bits and pieces of our wedding here (of course, duh!).
However, it took me some time to figure out that I’m probably just different than
most some brides and I came to the conclusion (with the help of some of my awesome girlfriends who thankfully have been in this situation before – big thank you to Bernie, Gabi & Kathi) that’s totally okay. So I’ll do this whole wedding topic my way. What you can expect are honest insights and thoughts of a bride to be, who is still finding it super weird to call her boyfriend fiancé (please tell me I’m not the only one!?) and who does not think that the wedding day per se will be the best day of her life.
In case you’re wondering how far along in the planning process we are: Our invitations are not out yet, but we have our hashtag ready (talking about priorities, right?). Right! Welcome to #ninaxpatrick
Here are 11 things no one really warns you about when being engaged:
Be prepared for lots of questions. Like A LOT.
Patrick and me kept our engagement to ourselves and our very close circle of family and friends for 3 months. We just wanted to enjoy this little bubble we were in for a little while… and would I have known the amount of questions that was rolling towards us once we announced the engagement, we would have probably kept it a secret for way longer. The minute you tell everyone around that you’re engaged, you’ll be flooded with well wishes – which is totally heartwarming and cute! But as my Dad always says: “10% of people care, 90% are just curious.” So be prepared for messages like these: “CONGRATULATIONS!! OMG wow I’m so happy for the two of you! But do you have a date yet? Where will you be getting married? How many people will you invite? Did you look for a dress yet? Oh and show me your ring!”
I mean, if you know me, I’m a rather organized person and love to write to-do lists… but at that point we hadn’t even really thought about a wedding date yet – so yeah, thanks for initiating a full on panic attack.
Be prepared for lots of unsolicited advice.
Turns out, you’re all of sudden surrounded by many self-claimed wedding experts who all feel the urge to share their thoughts and experiences with you (even those who didn’t even get married yet). The good, the bad and the ugly. Over the past few months Patrick and me got allergic to the words should and shouldn’t. “Oh, you should have sent out your invitations by now!”, “Oh, you shouldn’t invite kids to your wedding.”, “Oh, you should definitely have a candy bar at your wedding.” Should have, would have, could have.. blaaah! There isn’t really anything you can do to avoid those comments. What helps me in those moments is to just take a deep breath and remember to see the good in people: They all just want to help you and give you their best advice. Take it into consideration. If you agree, great. If not, just nod, smile and do it your way no matter what other people say.
Be prepared for one of the hardest tasks of your life: Picking out a maid of honor and / or bridesmaids.
The decision that has caused me the most stress during the past couple of months definitely was picking out a maid of honor / bridesmaids. As someone who only has a hand full of very close friends, all my girl friends are like sisters to me. Some of them I’ve known basically all my life, we literally went through thick and thin and know each others darkest secrets. Needless to say, I need those girls next to me as I say “I do”. Picking only one of my friends to be my maid of honor would have been an impossible task, and it felt especially hard to me because I absolutely dread the thought of hurting anyone’s feelings (especially those of my very best friends). In fact, I even played with the thought of asking my Mom to be my maid of honor, but that didn’t feel right in the end either. So I just decided to have more than one maid of honor who will stand by my side on that day (and what matters even more: for the rest of my life.)
Be prepared for the fact that your Pinterest wedding board gave you unrealistic ideas about your wedding.
Admit it. You have a secret (or not so secret?) Pinterest wedding board ready as a place to save wedding inspiration that you stumble upon? I sure did! However, between all those matching bridesmaid dresses, cute photo booth ideas, lush flower arrangements and ginormous wedding cakes, there is one thing my perfect Pinterest board didn’t take into consideration: Our budget. The moment I started researching how much a floor-to-ceiling wall of flowers will cost us, and also how hard it is to get blush pink peonies in September, I was quickly brought back to reality. Also, all those cute DIY wedding ideas you can find on Pinterest are much easier pinned than done. Trust me. Been there, tried that. So be prepared to kiss your perfect Pinterest wedding board good-bye!
Be prepared for a reality check when it comes to costs.
Talking about budget, here’s a little rule of thumb: Roughly calculate how much you think your wedding will cost – and multiply it by two. I’m sure you’ve probably heard (or even experienced it yourself!) that weddings are expensive. But they are like crazy expensive. Trust me, we’ve been going back and forth with our ideas trying to figure out which way would be the best value for money. But it’s quite frustrating: No matter how we turned it, it would still be expensive.
In all honesty, I do understand every couple who elopes and gets married alone or with a super duper tiny and exclusive circle of people.
What helped Patrick and me during the decision making process of picking our guest list and location was sitting down and openly chat about a) the budget we want to spend on our wedding, b) the people we really want to have with us on that day, and c) both of us were allowed to pick 2 priorities we’d spend more money on.
Be prepared to make decisions.
Initially, I would have loved to get married somewhere in Italy (I guess that has always been a little dream of mine), but when it came down to making decisions, we quickly realized that getting married in Italy just caused unnecessary stress. Answering the following questions helped us make the final decision about our location – think big picture: Will most guests attending be local – or will they have to travel anyways? Will your guests need to book a hotel? Will your guests need a car / taxi / shuttle to get to your location? Is there accommodation close to your location? Are you okay if some of your friends won’t attend your wedding because they can’t foot the bill because you decide to get married somewhere far way? What’s more important to you: Having all the people you love at your wedding, or the picture perfect ambiance, landscape, and venue?
I think you get where I’m going with this. At the end of the day, of course it’s a special day in our lives and we want to make it one to remember. But for us it is also clear that there’s no need to spend our first year as newlyweds in debt just to throw an epic party for our family and friends to show them how awesome we are.
Be prepared to not be able to please everyone.
Fellow people pleasers out there, raise your hand! This is a tough one. As I mentioned before, you’ll quickly realize how many people around you feel the urge to share their opinion with you (also if no one asks them for it.) I just recently talked about this phenomenon with one of my friends who is a Mom already, and she just smiled and said “Wait until you have a baby!” Oh dear. Whether it be a close family member, a friend, or someone you barely know, everyone is trying to convey their own wedding preferences at the expense of yours. I was very overwhelmed by all the advice I’ve gotten the past few months, and frankly, sometimes I was close to freaking out. No matter if it’s parents who tell you certain people have to be included on your guest list, friends who tell you that a band is way better than a DJ, or random people telling you all the things that went wrong at their own wedding… The only advice I can give you so far is to remember that this is YOUR DAY – as in yours and your partner’s. The only two people you should please on this day is the two of you. If you put too much pressure on yourself thinking what everyone else said, you can quickly loose sight of what you two really want. At the end of the day, your wedding should be what you and your significant other want it to be. If that’s in casual attire, with a yourself as DJ, no matching bridesmaid dresses, and going cheap on save-the-dates – so be it (we didn’t even send out save-the-dates btw).
Be prepared to eventually need help from others.
One thing I had to learn the hard way this past year was that I can’t do everything on my own. No matter if it’s business or wedding related, outsourcing things you can’t handle alone is a crucial task to do. Although I have amazing (girl)friends who offered their help right away, there simply are tasks you’ll need help with that are a) too much to ask for of your friends and family, and b) require someone with experience.
During the past two years, I was able to accompany Patrick to some of the weddings he was hired as a photographer for. One thing I learned from these weddings was that those planned together with a wedding planner just ran a whole lot smoother, and also the couples seemed much more relaxed when they had the help of someone during that day. Think big picture again: Let’s say you’re really good at planning, you know all the vendors and you’ve basically been looking forward to plan your wedding your whole life. So planning your wedding alone is a piece of cake for you! Still, at your wedding day you don’t want to be the one responsible to make sure everything is in place, do you? Imagine your phone is ringing all the time because of emergencies like a wedding cake that’s melting in the sun, a florist who is running late or your grandma not being sure where to go. As far as I am concerned, the last thing I want to have on my wedding day is a meltdown because of annoying things like these. The day will go by way too quickly anyways, so Patrick and me wanted to make sure we’ll be able to enjoy it as much as we can. I know that the thought of hiring a wedding planner can be quite daunting, and of course it’s also a matter of budget, but as far as I am concerned I can just tell you: it’s so worth it!
Be prepared for all dem feels.
Now, this point is something people generally avoid talking about. Everybody is happily sharing all the great feelings that come with being engaged, but it’s not always rainbows and butterflies. Being engaged also brings a whole lot of emotions with it that I didn’t experience in my life so far. At some point it hits you that this step you’re going to take is a really big one, and you’re likely to get cold feet. You’re likely to ask yourself questions like “did I make the right decision” and “what if I made the wrong choice?”. Especially when everyone around you tells you that this should be the happiest time of your life, it feels really odd to me that I experience a feeling of sadness and confusion from time to time. First I didn’t want to talk about it with anyone, but one day Patrick and me had a very deep and meaningful hear to heart conversation, in which we both opened up to each other. Conclusion of our talk: We both had similar feelings and thoughts, which was such a relief to hear! I wasn’t sure if I should mention those feelings here, but I am pretty sure there are a lot of girls (and also guys!) out there who can relate. Being engaged brings up topics you’ve very likely not talked about yet with your future spouse (even though you two know each other by heart already!). Maybe your engagement period is different than you’ve always imagined it, or maybe you’re struggling with the thought of giving up your last name…
Just let me tell you: You’re not alone. Talk honestly with your partner. My advice is also to talk to your closest friends and family about those feelings, and I’m pretty sure you’ll be surprised how many people have experienced all those feelings and thoughts, too…
Be prepared for fighting a lot more than you used to.
Admittedly, Patrick and me hardly ever fight. I have my moments when I’m behaving like a stubborn only child and annoy him; he has his moments when he doesn’t tell me what annoys him but I can clearly feel something annoys him, which then annoys me even more… but other than that I think it’s safe to say we’re a very calm and harmonic couple that manages to have mediocre adult discussions that (mostly) lead to consent.
However, we have not had as many discussion as we did these past couple of months. Sometimes there is so much tension in the air and we don’t even know why. Sometimes all wedding related topics feel like such a burden, and sometimes we’ve been playing around with the thought of just eloping and getting married somewhere far, far away.
I think what bothers us most is the fact that a whole lot of conversations (and a big bunch of our free time) is revolving around the wedding. Which on the one hand is very exciting, of course, but on the other hand just because we’re engaged it doesn’t mean we’re different people. Sure, there is a ring on my finger, but we already live together, work together, have a dog together and share a household bank account (hello adulating!), so if we’re honest: There’s not much that will change with the act of getting married. We are still the same couple and the same individuals, who love binge-watching Netflix series, who have the weirdest inside-jokes and who agree that our dog knows what we’re saying.
So the biggest advice I can give anyone out there who is in the same position of planning a wedding: Just chill. Not everything has to be done immediately, take your time, do it your way, and eventually everything will fall into place. Just focus on your relationship and don’t forget WHY you want to get married at all. Because that’s what this is all really about – you and your partner’s happily ever after.
And finally, be prepared for a really exciting time in your life!
In your big scheme of life, a wedding is a freaking huge milestone for you, your partner and also your parents and everyone who loves you! While working on our wedding invitations or researching vendors for the wedding I sometimes catch myself realizing that it’s actually OUR wedding I’m prepping right now. Although we’ve been engaged for a year, it sometimes just hits me that we’re actually getting married in a couple of months… and above all the stress, weird feelings and frustration it can cause from time to time, one feeling is prevailing: Excitement! It’s those butterflies I have felt during our first kiss all over again. It’s a feeling that makes you want to put your favorite song on and just dance around. I dare saying it’s one of the best feelings ever!
Of course we’re nervous. Simply because neither Patrick nor me have done this before. But then again, what is there really to be nervous about if you’re marrying the right person and everyone you love is there to cheer for you on this day? To us, this wedding is a huge celebration with our loved ones in honor of finding and spending the rest of our lives together. It’s a celebration dedicated to love, and the best excuse for all of our friends and family to get together and have a splendid time.
Knowing us, we can’t wait to walk down that aisle, tell each other how much we love each other and then get the party started! Just like we do every single day. The whole wedding planning process is a big deal and (in the best case) a once in a lifetime thing. Nevertheless, at the end of the day, for Patrick and me it’s not our final destination and also not the very best day of our lives. It’s more like the official kick-off of OUR life together and all the ups and downs and sensational moments that come with it. We see our wedding like a teaser for the movie called life we’re going to produce together. So there is nothing wrong with making this teaser an exceptional one, right?
Photos taken in Bondi Beach – Coogee Coastal Walk, Australia. A place that will forever have a special spot in our hearts.