How to have a happily ever before
What’s the real trick to enjoying wedding planning? Amy Spencer, author of The Happy Life Checklist, says that it’s all to do with your perspective. “Whenever you get anxious or lost along the planning journey, turn to that vibe to find your way back.”
If you were a guest at my wedding in Mexico eight years ago, you might have thought that it all went perfectly. My hubby and gleefully shared our vows barefoot in the sand, and then paraded down the street to our reception with a full mariachi band and 75 loving family members and friends. But what no one saw was six months of weddingplanning bumps and breakdowns. We had so many small disasters that by the time our wedding day arrived, I’d become an expert in learning to look at things from a brighter perspective. I’d figured out that it’s not what happened during your wedding planning that matters, it’s how you react to it.
In the hopes that these lessons might help you, I’m sharing ways to view frustrations through rosier glasses. I wrote the book – The Happy Life Checklist (Penguin; R463) – on how seeing your situation from a more positive perspective can make you happier. Do that and whatever happens, you’re going to have fun.
Turn a setback into a leap forward
I started out like the warrior princess of wedding planning: I sent out our save-the-dates six months ahead and ordered invitations. Yet, three months before the wedding – then two – those invites still hadn’t shown up. When I woke up in a panicked sweat at 4am five weeks before our event, I found an online company that shipped postcards overnight, and created one that read, “Our invites never arrived… but we hope you still can!” We mailed them off with bougainvillea petals in the envelopes to fancy them up, and our guests loved how the ‘emergency’ invites reflected our informal personalities in a refreshing way.
So when you face a planning crisis, find a way to look at your champagne flute as not just half full, but overflowing. If those cases of wine you ordered taste less awesome than you remembered, turn them into custom wedding sangria. And if the ribbon you bought for your DIY decor isn’t the quality you expected, well, you have the perfect start to a kids’ craft corner.
Add a wedding vibe
We all choose a colour scheme for our wedding, but here’s an idea that can serve you just as well: pick a vibe. Ask yourself, “How do I want us all to feel throughout the day?” Then, whenever you get anxious or lost along the planning journey, turn to that vibe to find your way back.
Our fun family fiesta vibe saved the day when we were about to confirm our reception at the only available open-air restaurant on the sand. I was checking how late our mariachi band was allowed to play, when our planners
said, “Oh. This spot doesn’t allow live music.” Disappointment shot through me when I realised that if we wanted a mariachi band, we’d have to hole up in a smaller spot in town. After a few requisite stress tears, I needed to make a decision, so I turned to our vibe – and what kind of fun family fiesta would it be without a mariachi band? We changed venues; downtown it was.
Your cosy sweet-chic vibe may help you choose comfy stuffed chairs over hard wooden ones, and a gorgeous, goofy event might mean adding humour to vows, song mix and table names so that the day feels like you.
Remember that your guests won’t know what they’re missing It’s easy to get so attached to a picture in your mind that if it changes, you fall into a spiral of depression. It wasn’t the plan, but nobody else knows that!
I told myself this when we hit a glitch shipping boxes of wedding items to our villa in Mexico. We’d wanted to send straw beach bags for the guest goodie bags, along with turquoise towels. Weeks before the wedding, the box of straw bags was rejected by customs, and we were told no other shipments would get through. I took a deep breath and reminded myself that our guests weren’t expecting goodie bags. So I bought turquoise paper bags that fit flat in my suitcase, then brainstormed how to get those beach towels there.
Run the small details
past your future self
can induce craziness. So if you find yourself cracking under the pressure, imagine the future you sitting beside your spouse a decade from now, and ask them: What do they remember about the flavour of the cake and the colour of the serviettes? What did they cherish the most? Chances are, it was laughing with family and dancing with their partner that put the cherry on top of their day. The linen colour? Meh.
The disasters become your favourite stories I’d finally hit on how to get those guest gift towels to Mexico: my sister and maid of honour Liz and her girlfriend would pack two extra suitcases full of them, and check them with their luggage. It seemed like a good idea… until Liz was stopped by customs and accused of running an importedtowel sales ring! She did get the towels through, and we still laugh about it.
The point is, while people will enjoy hearing what went right at your wedding, they will far prefer hearing about what went wrong. Gobble up the disastrous details – you’re going to get major story mileage later.
Relish the surprises
At some point on your wedding day, you’ll face a crossroads that, despite all of your careful planning, you simply couldn’t have foreseen.
For us, it was that our wedding planner failed to mention until we arrived at the reception that other restaurant patrons would be dining at tables right next to ours! I fumed when I found out – but seeing our happy guests shaking maracas to the music, I realised that as long as we were all together, a few strangers rounding out our group only made it more of a fiesta. So much so that an hour later, caught up in the energy, my husband and I hopped onto the restaurant’s delivery tricycle and rode it up and down the cobblestone street. I still smile when I think about the warm wind on our faces, the hooting of our guests as we pedalled past, and the feeling that this unplanned moment was a sign of the fun we would have in our life together.
That’s the best lesson of all: the most magical moments of your wedding day will be the ones that you probably didn’t plan, either – the nervous hand squeeze from your partner at the top of the aisle, the cute blunder in your perfect vows, the awkward laugh when you can’t find the knife to cut the cake. As much as you plan, also allow your wedding day to surprise you with spontaneous moments that will give you happy memories forever.
What you’ll need The how-to To make the raspberry chia jam, mash the raspberries with a fork in a medium-sized bowl. Add 1 tsp icing sugar, a small squeeze of lemon juice and the chia seeds to the bowl, mix thoroughly and let it stand for 30 minutes at room temperature. Add some water if the mixture is too thick.
Melt half of the chocolate chips in a glass bowl over a water bath, making sure that you don’t overheat them. The bowl must sit tightly on top of the pot so that the steam doesn’t coagulate the chocolate. When the chocolate is melted, place a tablespoonful into a muffin case and push it up the sides with a small teaspoon or a pastry brush. You can also swirl the chocolate around so that it goes up the sides. Try to get the sides even. Fill eight cases and place in the freezer for 10 minutes.
To make the peanut butter filling, whisk together the peanut butter, coconut milk, additional icing sugar and a pinch of salt. The mixture should be slightly runny – add more coconut milk if necessary. Taste and add more sugar or salt if necessary.
Take the chocolate shells out of the freezer, and fill each of them with 1 tbsp peanut butter and 1 tbsp raspberry chia jam on top, spreading it out evenly. Melt the rest of the chocolate and spoon it over the cups so the filling is covered. Place them in the freezer for 15 minutes, until set. Keep in the fridge before serving.
Who is Anett Velsberg?
A self-proclaimed ‘all-natural’ food blogger, photographer and stylist, Anett follows the maxim that healthy eating leads to a happier life. Visit her blog, anettvelsberg.com, or follow @anettvelsberg on Instagram for mouthwatering food inspiration that will leave you desperate for more!