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When I first met my husband, I knew pretty early on that I wanted to marry him. But no matter how many wedding dresses or DIY decorations I saved on Pinterest (even before he proposed), there were still a few things I was very much unprepared to deal with.

For both my partner and myself, planning our wedding was beautiful and challenging. The days leading up to it were full of giddiness and contentment as well as anxiety and stress. And since I had no past experience organizing one — especially without a wedding planner — I felt like I was walking into this blindfolded.

Now don’t get me wrong, the wedding day was beautiful. But there are just a couple of things I wish I had known earlier to help ease the journey. Though I can’t go back in time to redo anything, perhaps you or someone you know can benefit from my experience instead. So here’s everything I wish I knew long before I started planning my wedding:

You’re going to consider eloping at least once

You have no idea how many times I pictured my husband and I standing in our wedding attire on a beautiful beach with no one else around. Yes, tying the knot in another place, away from everything and everyone, will be incredibly tempting. But the thought of depriving family and friends from experiencing it will probably be enough to convince you to wait it out. Just remember: you’ll have your whole lives to enjoy peace and quiet once the wedding’s out of the way.

The wedding industry is an absolute scam

Dresses, photography and catered food are expensive enough when it comes to hosting a regular party, but as soon as you throw the word ‘wedding’ into the mix, prices seriously start to soar. So unless you’ve got the budget to make that special day a million-dollar affair, you’re going to have to pick and choose what you really care about.

For me, the dress and venue were the parts I wanted to spend a bit extra on. But there were still a million things to consider — food, liquor, photography, music, day-of coordinator, officiant, decorations, linens, flowers and invitations. So start thinking about how you want to cut down on costs ASAP. One easy way to save a bit of money (and a couple trees) is to use free e-invites. Paperless Post, for instance, will let you send out free invitations, and will also help you track RSVPs (it’ll show you who’s opened the invitations, whose emails bounced and special dietary requests from your guests). You can also send out RSVP reminders whenever you want.

Everyone’s going to want a say in everything

Whether you expect them to or not, most parents or parental figures will try to take control of whatever they can. And it makes sense — you’re their baby, after all, (no matter how old you are) and getting married is a monumental life experience. But you might also have very distant relatives telling you where to seat them or how to act, and you’re going to have to find a way to navigate it all without damaging any relationships.

You can’t make everyone happy

If you’re okay with following someone else’s rules to a T, then great. But this really is your day, and the most important thing is that you and your soon-to-be spouse are happy. So you do you… as long as that doesn’t turn you into a monster along the way.

You’re going to need an outlet for your stress

Wedding planning can be stressful, but it’s also an exciting time that you’ll (hopefully) only ever go through once. Try going to the gym or a spa regularly to get all that stress out so you’re able to actually enjoy the process. Because you don’t want to look back and only remember your engagement period as a stressful time.

Seriously consider hiring a day-of wedding coordinator

No matter how much you plan for the big day, you’re going to want to focus on your partner — not worrying about how to usher everyone around, or dealing with little, unexpected mishaps. If you can spare the expense, it’s definitely worth it in the end.

Prepare yourself for some not-so-nice comments about your weight

For the most part, I like being in my own skin. But there’s nothing like a snide comment from the seamstress or a bridal shop employee asking me how much weight I plan on gaining before the wedding to shake up all my insecurities. If anyone comments on your weight — and when you’re dress shopping, it’s bound to happen — don’t be afraid to tell them that you know you look beautiful. Because you do, whether you’re in a wedding dress or a potato sack. And no one should ever make you feel otherwise.

It’ll all be worth it in the end

At the end of the day, it isn’t about having the perfect wedding; it’s about being with the perfect person. And hey, even if there a few bumps during the big day, you can still look forward to the honeymoon, right?

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