Your wedding is around the corner (maybe it’s a big, 18-months sized corner or it’s literally right there. Either way, it’s approaching). 

Whether you’re the kind of person who has dreamed of this day since you were young or it’s something that has become exciting in the planning of it, you will definitely have some expectations of your day. Don’t even dare say you don’t. Nobody is that chill. 

And these expectations, while healthy and normal, can also be the source of great misery when plans go awry on or around the wedding day. I have seen this happen many times in my years as a marriage celebrant. I’m here, talking to you through your screen, to help you maximise your wedding day joy by helping you minimise the weight of expectations on you – whether from your oldies, your besties, society or yourself. 

Let’s start with other people’s expectations. There are some proactive things you can do to manage everyone’s expectations of your wedding. Honestly, though, typing that feels weird because we all should just turn up as wedding guests with love and joy, not needless pressure and expectation. But! I digress. 

Are you having a small wedding? 

If you are having a small wedding let that be known as early as possible. Kindly reach out to people who might have expected an invitation and tell them you’re opting for a small wedding.

Do this with love and the knowledge that the news may sting a little. You can remind them that they matter to you but that your dream wedding doesn’t have a big guest list. Tell them you’ll share all the beautiful photos later so they can see how damned gorgeous you both looked!

Child-free wedding?

This can be a marvellous way to celebrate but it can be hard for your guests to wrangle. If any of your guests are parents, tell them as soon as you can – even before the invites go out – so they can make plans. It isn’t always easy to find care for young kids, especially if they’re traveling for your wedding. 

Going against the grain?

Aren’t we all, these days? But you’d be surprised at how many older folk come and chat with me post-ceremony and remark on what I think is an unremarkable thing. “Wasn’t it different to have them say such personal vows?” or “I was surprised to see him walk down the aisle, too!” or “I haven’t ever heard a ceremony be so personal to them” – and it stops me in my tracks. There are still plenty of people coming to weddings who haven’t seen a modern celebration. Do not change a thing about your non-traditional wedding just because Glenda from next door thinks you should.

Stand strong in your choices but amp them up for how beautiful it will be. “Heck yes, Glenda, we are having a cheese table instead of a cake because we both loathe desserts. Doesn’t this just feel so much more like us?” “That’s right, Bob. We will be walking down the aisle together because it will calm our nerves and make us happy.

“We can’t wait to see you there when we walk in!” You can address and quell any external fears around your “shock” modern choices but still be kind to those who are a little slower to get hip, all the while remaining steadfast in your commitment to a celebration that feels so very you.

But what about the stuff I cannot control?

There are things you cannot plan for or which contradict your goals. For example, you might be eloping because that truly is the very best version of getting married that you can fathom. Just you and your boo? Maybe your kids and the photographer? Beautiful. But then, at the end of the day, you’ll want to tell your closest people. And they may not react very well to the news. I’ve seen it happen, with heartbreaking effect.

How do you plan for that shattering of expectations? You thought they would be overjoyed for you, that they would understand your choices and be happy to celebrate the post-marriage with you. But, against all expectation, they did not react this way. How do you manage this? Inner work, inner peace. You remind yourself 100 times daily that you did the right thing; you made the best choice for you and the reactions of others are both out of your control and not your responsibility. You look at your photos, rewatch your video and read each other your vows. You remind yourself that you honoured your desires and bloody loved the experience. You stay in that bubble. 

As for your own expectations?

Well, expectations will always be there, won’t they? You’re human, after all. But if you can aim, right from the start, to have a wedding which is a collection of joyful moments rather than a perfectly-executed production, your happiness index will rise.

And remember, just as you are human, so are your guests. Expect a bit of frustration, and you’ll likely be pleasantly surprised when I, the author, am completely wrong and all your guests are amazing and all your expectations are not only met but exceeded. That’s the real hack. 

From Yolande:

Attached are some gorgeous snaps from Codey and Steve’s micro wedding last year. They are the perfect couple to have accompany this article because they really did things their own way, having realistic and low-key expectations of the day. Their daughter’s name is Nora and they just had immediate family in attendance. After their ceremony, I got to announce their second bubba as they entered the reception. Very special. It was beautiful!
Photographer: Shot from the Heart – Ell (she’s a gem!)
Celebrant: Yours truly – Better Together Celebrations

About Yolande Szery: Yolande marries people for a living, which is just about the most joyful thing to do with one’s time. She loves trash talking with guests before the ceremony starts, never doesn’t have a lump in her throat when that special person (or couple) walks down the aisle and will always teach guests how to toss that confetti properly.  She writes love stories that celebrate love and togetherness, making sure to include and welcome every person present – whether that’s 100 legends or just 5. She lives in north-east Victoria with her husband, sons, dogs, chickens and sheep!