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11 Things No One Tells You About Wedding Planning

Wedding planning surprises (not all the good kind) -- and how to stay one step ahead of them.

Photo: Justin De Mutiis Photography

When it comes to planning your day, at least a few surprises are, well, straight-
up unavoidable. Of course, it pays to be prepared, but know that even the most
meticulous preparation won't make you completely curveball-exempt.

1. Throwing a casual wedding is just as much work as throwing a fancy one.

Whether the napkins you'll use are made of paper or of silk flown in from France that was handwoven by master craftsmen, you've still got to pick those suckers. And whether you'll serve French fries or filet, wear couture or a simple vintage frock, the same holds true.
Solved: Though this realization tends to hit brides-to-be like the proverbial ton of bricks, the realization alone is half the battle. The second half? Allotting a generous portion of time in which to plan -- sans panic. No matter your style, a year is typically just about right.

2. You're talking wedding way, way more than you think.

Have you busted your bestie rolling her eyes when she thought you were too busy expanding on the virtues of fondant vs. buttercream to see? Did your mom start to glaze over the last time you tried to show her pictures of bouquets? Yeah, you're guilty.
Solved: First, accept that you might not actually be able to press pause on the compulsive wedding chatter. Hey, you're excited, and that's cool! But expecting one or two people to listen to all of it? Too much. Share the love. Spread the obsessing out over a wider circle of friends (that's what cubemates are for, right?) and space it out, so you can spare them all, including your fiance, from bride (that would be you) burnout.

3. Words like "classic" are highly subjective. Highly.

Your definition of the word "classic" may mean preppy yellow and blue at a yacht club, but to your planner, it could mean black-tie ballroom with ornate décor, and to your florist, it might mean a tented affair with a romantic look -- leaving you with a confused aesthetic that doesn't fit anyone's vision.
Solved: No matter what detail you're planning, a picture is worth a thousand words. Show your vendors what "classic" means to you by bringing them examples of what you want, lest you waste precious time (or budget) wandering down the road to so-not-what-you-wanted town.

4. You will randomly stress-cry over something, be it tablecloths, invites or the dress your mom has chosen.

Your florist tells you pink peonies won't be in-season, and you burst into tears. No matter that you don't even like peonies -- or pink. Your mom is mad that your fiance's stepmom chose the same color dress, and suddenly, you're bawling that your marriage is doomed.
Solved: Let 'em flow, but then let it go. Think of it as a sign you need a wedding planning break.

5. You will randomly happy-cry over something, be it tablecloths, invites or the dress your mom has chosen.

As you mail your invites, you can barely choke back the tears long enough to say "hand stamp." Your mom shows you the muumuu she plans to wear, and you tear up over how pretty she looks.
Solved: Savor it. As cliché as it sounds, these are the moments you'll remember forever.

6. At least one not-so-minor unexpected expense will pop up.

Whether it's weather (gotta rent a tent 'cause it looks like rain) or whimsy (gotta get a backup gown 'cause I can't make up my mind), something that wasn't in your budget will materialize.
Solved: Even the tightest budget needs a little wiggle room. Build in a buffer (5 percent of the overall budget) from the start, so you won't have to worry every time the wind blows.

7. Idiot spats will happen.

You feel deeply betrayed over his dislike of fondant. He claims you "don't get who he really is" after you nix all Metallica songs from the reception playlist. Um, who are you?
Solved: Because the stakes (one day, one chance to get it right) feel so high, nerves fray, and flare-ups happen fast. It's easy to forget that you're on the same team. Scheduling in regular romantic time will help -- as will lots of kissing and making up when you (inevitably) slip up.

8. The groom-to-be won't care about things you thought he would.

From planning the menu (shrug) to picking the music (yawn), your guy's uninterested reactions even to the "fun stuff" might catch you off guard and bum you out. After all, these are the things you were sure he'd enjoy -- so what will this mean for all the not-so-fun details?
Solved: Ask him what he wants to do and then listen. He may not be as disinterested as he's acting. It's possible that you've overridden his opinions one too many times and his pride is hurting. Of course, he may just have no interest in wedding planning at all. Can you make peace with it, temper your expectations and give him a few to-dos? Or can you live with him just handling the honeymoon and the music? Remember, you're marrying this guy. He needs to be a good husband -- not a good wedding planner.

9. The groom-to-be will care about things you never dreamed he would.

Whether it's the color of paper stock for the invites or a preference for a certain species of peony, your man will give you at least one case of the what-the-what's by expressing strong feelings about something totally unexpected and out of character. Even cooler? His new interest might be a shock to him too!
Solved: As the saying goes, if it ain't broke.... Why not raise a glass to a lifetime of more quirky little surprises from your man? That said, if he's venturing into groomzilla territory (it happens), divvy up the decision-making tasks so you can each be master of your own domains.

10. Everyone (and we do mean everyone) has an opinion.

"Whatever you do," says a random coworker, "don't hire a band." Too bad you just did. "Hope you're not wearing white...it's so boring," says your teenage cousin. Too bad you totally are. "You know what's the worst?" says the checkout lady at the grocery store. "Wedding cake." Too bad that lady was insane.
Solved: While people will likely keep spouting opinions about every detail the second they hear you're aisle-bound, it's okay to remind them (and yourself) that they can put their opinions to good use at their own weddings...and pretty much nowhere else. Stick to your guns and rely on your team of pros for solid, unbiased advice. This is where it pays to remember it's your day.

11. You (yes, you) will probably have at least one 'zilla moment.

It might be a quick blip, or it may last for weeks, but there will come a time when you temporarily cross over to the dark side of the aisle. While you're there, you may truly believe that a pink chocolate fountain, a rose-petal cannon and a Cinderella coach pulled by horses dressed as unicorns are just basic wedding essentials every bride deserves.
Solved: Since 'zilla outbreaks are tricky to self-diagnose, it's time to call up your most truth-telling friend and run your new, big plans past her. If she utters any iteration of the words, "Have you lost your mind?" a time-out is in order. Or just run the idea by any of the major bill footers to see how they react. Fidgeting, fumbling and fuming are all good indications that what you're saying is crazy talk. (Or way outside your budget.) The good news is, it happens to the best of brides. And after a brief break from wedding planning, most brides report a return to sane thinking -- followed by a good, long WTF?!?! laugh with their fiance.


Get more help dealing with the unexpected at TheKnot.com/planning

-- Hallie Goodman