Setting Expectations

There are all kinds of stress that come up in wedding planning. There’s decision stress (What does my wedding look like? Where do I have my reception?) There’s financial stress (It costs how much? We need to save that much?) There’s guest list stress (I’ve never even meet your coworker’s cousin. If everyone says yes they’ll have nowhere to sit.)

But for me the toughest has been the stress wedding plan can put on relationships with the people you care about most.


We have wonderful, loving family & friends, many of whom have been so generous with offers of help, both financial and otherwise. (Hi Mom thanks for doing one million wedding projects.)

Which is why its really important to set expectations, as early on and clearly as possible.

For us, we ran into some trouble with both friendors and actual vendors not meeting the timelines we thought were clear. (Silly us!) So while they were thinking there was plenty of time, we were left wondering and waiting.

Luckily, most of our vendors AND our friends and family were great to work with. And for the ones that were not-so-great? Well, I learned some valuable lessons. (In my professional life I’m very detail oriented and for whatever reason this still did not occur to me.) I know I’m not the only one who ended up in a stressful situation waiting for things you can’t control. I know how much it sucks when its a vendor that won’t get back to you, but add in worry over losing or damaging a friendship and anxiety over the fact that you may not have a back up plan and the situation is even worse.

So what would I have done differently? (And with anyone, not just a friendor, because we had this issue with some people we paid a lot of money!)

Two big things:

1. Lay out exactly what I want. “Hey Mom, want to help me with my place cards?” isn’t nearly as clear as “I need help folding 200 cards.” Be specific about exactly what you are and are not hoping to get help with. (Except in my case place cards was waaay more complicated)


2. Give a clear timeline.

“Hey Mom, I’ll need the leaves cut for the place cards by June 1 so I can start writing names on them.” Even if its really obvious, it can’t hurt to make expectations know. It also makes it infinitely easier to follow up. Otherwise I’m stuck listening to my mom tell me the place cards will be ready for me in time while I’m freaking out because I wanted them yesterday and when exactly is “in time” but now it’s too late to say something.

Also, inflate your timeline. That way if things are running a little late, you’re still ok. And even if you have all the time in the world because you don’t even get married til next year…it will not hurt. And it might really, really help. Especially with people you aren’t as close to–it’s a lot easier to tell your mom you’re upset and needed that done asap and when on earth will she do it than to ask your second cousin when, exactly, your invitation proof will be done.

Bonus: Money is a tricky subject–its definitely easier to follow up when there’s money involved, but if Friend Crafty tells me she’d be happy to make me a necklace to wear, or my mom says she’ll handle the place cards…it could be weird to say I’ll pay them. Just decide how you feel about it in advance. (But it might be weird to pay your mom…)

Do you have awesome people helping you? Have you set timelines for your projects?


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