I Never Dreamed About My Wedding Day — So How Do I Even Begin to Plan It?

First: don't panic.

As a journalist, I’ve covered the lifestyle and wedding industry for a long time. Over the years, I’ve also attended my fair share of weddings and bridal events, and been a bridesmaid a few times, too. However, even through all of the wedding-centric time I spent in my twenties, I never really got thinking about what my own wedding day would look like. Except now, it’s time to plan it.

(Planning a wedding? Head to our wedding vendor directory to find all the experts you need to round out your Big Day.) 

I grew up wanting to travel the world, meet people, have a career I was passionate about, and sure, eventually, probably settle down with somebody — but no guarantee we would actually get married. As a kid with divorced parents — plus lots of other divorced adults in my life — a big wedding (or any wedding) just wasn’t something on the top of my goals list. The whole marriage thing seemed like a gamble: it was a maybe at best.

And yet, here I am, at age 30, engaged to an incredible guy who makes me laugh every day, supports my career (and has his own), and proposed to me on a beach in Tulum, Mexico after we traveled all over India the same year. So, check, check, check for my little kid goals — I’m doing everything I wanted to do, but it turns out, I really do like it best when I do it with someone else. And, I found the someone else who makes me feel like marriage is actually a wonderful idea, instead of a lukewarm, half-baked one. Apparently, this means that I’m officially Getting Married. Which means I need to plan a wedding.

Planning a wedding to me sounds as terrifying as walking across hot coals, sticking my head in a tiger’s mouth, or trying to get rid of a centipede in my shower (though, I did successfully do that once.) I’m excited to get married, and I want to celebrate that marriage. However, “planning a wedding” feels like it is loaded with endless, impossible unknowns and questions to satisfy: Do we want a big or small wedding? Do we just want to do a destination? Do we go rustic barn venue or urban chic bar? Do we hold an intimate ceremony and then a big party later? Are people going to be offended if they’re not invited? Do we just have one in the backyard? How are we supposed to buy a wedding and a house? Should we buy a house? How many bedrooms do we need, anyway? Why am I thinking about this? Why is everything so expensive? Can I run away and hide now?

My fiancé, a scientist who is ever the more level-headed of the two of us, has been researching these questions too, but not quite at my frantic pace. He’s willing to do whatever I think is best — he just wants us to be happy. Yup, that’s right: zero help.

I know eventually we will figure out exactly what feels right for us — and I do know that us being happy with how we decide to get hitched is, actually, all that matters. But that doesn’t make getting there any easier. I can’t help but feel like I need to do all the research, visit all the venues, eliminate all options before I decide on what’s right. My inner perfectionist is going haywire. And as a gal who never thought anything about what her wedding day would look like, I’m learning that I’m surprised by how very much I do care about every detail of what it looks like.

I don’t have the answers yet, but I think I’m learning that the best thing I can do as a bride-to-be is to just let go enough of my concerns about my own expectations — and other people’s expectations — and just be myself. Which is so simple it sounds dumb, of course, but is also true. I won’t know what I want until I can take about ten steps backward, breathe in, and think about what I’m excited about: finding someone who makes me feel both fully alive and completely at home, and committing to want to spend the rest of our lives together.

Ultimately, I need to let my search for the Right Answer or Perfect Venue go for at least a little while. I’ll figure it out (probably with a little help from my friends in the wedding industry) all in good time. But sometimes — especially at the beginning — it’s best to enjoy the simple delight of being really happy, and not having a damn idea what happens next.

Get more great content from Philadelphia Wedding: 

Getting married? Start and end your wedding planning journey with Philadelphia Weddings' guide to the best wedding vendors in the city.