Everyone knows that planning a wedding is work. But these days, with the absurd and ridiculous expectations set by relatives and too much time on social media—not to mention the state of the world—weddings can also be extremely taxing on your relationship.
Thankfully, Jamie Lee, star of Netflix's The Wedding Coach is here to help. Planning her own wedding was so draining that she even wrote a book about it: Weddiculous: An Unfiltered Guide to Being a Bride. “There was sort of like a lack of resources that were just kind of honest and funny about how hard it is to get married,” Lee tells Brides. “I started writing the book while I was engaged, so I was actually writing in real time, documenting what was going on. A lot of it was really hard. There were some really tough conversations. I was fighting with my fiancé a lot. There was family struggle.”
She continues, “It was just the hardest time of my life, personally, and it's funny because everyone had warned me, ‘Get ready, it's going to be stressful.’ And I didn't really know what that meant.” She’s not the only who feels this way. Her book was so successful with former and current brides-to-be that she has landed a Netflix series, out April 7, to help coach couples whose wedding is putting their relationship through the wringer.
The show follows Lee on her quest to help ease the burden of wedding planning for struggling couples. Each episode, Lee recruits the help of one of her comedian friends—including Fortune Feimster, Matteo Lane, Punkie Johnson—to expel ridiculous expectations of “Big Bridal” (as she likes to call it), cut out unnecessary stressors, and assist couples putting the final touches on their big day.
“Some of [the struggles] are fun—decorations and venue-related—but then some people are really dealing with bigger family issues,” says Lee. “The show [will] help prepare people for everything they're going through and let them know they're not alone.”
Finding a diverse cast was a priority for Lee. Every culture has their own wedding traditions, and Lee wanted to showcase a variety of unique and diverse wedding traditions and perspectives. “It's so interesting and important to understand weddings from different cultures,” she tells Brides. “I think that it [would have been] a real missed opportunity to not have a [diverse] cast. [The show] represents all different types of people and their experiences—the experiences are diverse, the people are diverse.”
In honor of the show’s premiere today (April 7) on Netflix, we asked Lee for her top survival rules to make it through the wedding planning process and down the aisle.
Put Your Relationship Before the Wedding
Your wedding is one day—marriage is a lifetime. Lee tells us that the stress of her wedding almost tore her relationship apart. So, she always stresses the importance of putting your relationship above all else to engaged couples.
“Make sure that you are putting your relationship first and your wedding second,” says Lee. "The wedding will come and go, but the relationship has to last. Protect the two of you and that autonomy whatever that takes. Whether it's scaling back, deciding to go a different direction, or full-on canceling something, you have to give yourself the freedom to do whatever it takes to preserve your relationship. Establish that you guys are unit and what you guys want to do is what matters most.”
Your Wedding is Really Just a Big Party — So Treat it Like one
Lee says people really lose sight of what weddings really are: a party. “The ceremony is a wedding. The reception is exactly that, it's a reception,” says Lee. “If you just had a house party, people would be psyched, and it's really about the people who are there who make it fun anyway.”
And remember, unless you’re a professional party planner, the planning process most likely won’t come natural to you. So Lee recommends cutting yourself some slack — not everything is going to be perfect.
Make Sure Guests Have Plenty to Eat
Lee recommends cutting back on a lot of extra costs, but if you’re going to spend money on anything she says make sure it’s the food. If guests get bored, don’t know a lot of other people, or have social anxiety, they’re going to want to munch on something to alleviate any awkward spaces of time. Plus, food brings people together. “I know when I'm socially anxious, I just want to eat because it's an activity,” says Lee. “So just make sure you're putting out a lot of options.”
Make Sure the Wedding Is Still Your Wedding
If you or someone you know has ever planned a wedding, you know that family can sometimes insert themselves a little too much. Lee recounted how family weighing in on her wedding made her feel like it no longer belonged to her.
“I did love my wedding, but, and people always say like, ‘Oh, it's worth it in the end.’” say Lee. “I actually don't feel that way. I don't regret anything, but I definitely don't think it was worth the strain that it put on my relationship at the time.” She added, “You can't let family weigh in to such an extreme degree.”
Assign Someone to Babysit Unruly Guests
If you’re expecting to have a few guests—or 10—who might get out of hand, Lee recommends assigning watch duty to a good friend or bridal party member in order to keep party animals in check. “Have them sort of do a recon mission, and maybe they have to communicate with the bartender to stop serving that person [alcohol],” she says. “I think that is the best way when you don't want to have to be worrying about that.”
Manage Your Expectations for Your Bridal Party
Yes, your bridal party is technically there to support you on your big day, but they’re still human. Meaning, your wedding may not be their top priority at all times. Your friends’ lives don’t stop on your wedding day. “People are dealing with different things in their life,” says Lee. “And I think having unreasonable expectations of your friends is only going to set you up for disappointment. I think you have to set the bar really low. That way, if they do anything correct, you're like, ‘Wow!”
Cut Unnecessary Upcharges
Listen, weddings are expensive. No matter how you plan it, spin it, or budget, it’s going to cost a decent amount of money. But Lee says there are some things that you don’t need to spend extra on because most likely no one would even notice if you did. For example, Lee says you don’t need to upgrade to nicer wine glasses or comfier chairs with bows tied to the back. If there is a white flower that looks like an orchid for cheaper — great! Ditch the Orchids.
“To me, it almost signals maturity. It almost snaps you back to reality,” she says. “No, I'm not going to completely submit to this bracket that is wedding planning. I am going to take the control.”
Understand That You Might Not Be Blown Away By Your Own Wedding
Yes, you want your wedding day to be magical, but at the end of the day, it’s a wedding. If you’ve been to a wedding before, you probably sort of know how everything goes down. Lee tells us that she wasn’t all that surprised at her big day.
“Your wedding is going to be really fun because it's yours. You get to see everybody you love, and there's attention on you that maybe you don't have on a daily basis,“ says Lee. “But if you've been to a wedding, you're not going to be shocked at the experience. I think it's okay to prepare yourself for that. Some of it is going to feel a little routine.”
She adds that you’re also probably going to get pretty tired at your wedding, and that is okay, too. After all, it’s a very long day of making small talk with a room full of people, some of which you may not have seen in years. She likens it to a workday — a very long one that you need a treat (or maybe a cocktail) after.
Also, sometimes you’re not going to want to do everything you’re told you have to do. “It's okay to get tired at your own wedding. It’s okay to not want to have sex the night of your wedding,” says Lee. “All those things you're told you have to—it's a production, it's a really exhausting day.”
The Wedding Coach is available to stream now on Netflix.