My name is Carolyn and I am a bride-to-be from Canada. My fiancé Mike and I are getting hitched in about 9 months and we are PUMPED! We live in Toronto, Ontario but our wedding is going to be in Hubbards, Nova Scotia, close to where Mike grew up.
Planning from afar has come with its own set of challenges, but we are trying to take it all in stride and enjoy the process.
Let me tell you the story of how we went rogue with our wedding planning before we even got engaged. How, you might ask?
Bridechilla Carolyn dancing to the song, “Kung Fu Fighting” at her friend's wedding!
Several months before we got engaged.
I’ll pause to let that all sink in.
A bit of background: Neither one of us is really the rule-breaking type. I suppose we both have a mildly stubborn streak that doesn’t take kindly to being told to do something just because it’s been done that way in the past, but we are also cautious, indecisive, and risk-averse by nature. At the time of our fateful venue selection, we had been living together for close to a year and had long since set our sights on a future together. At the same time, we were enjoying life in our little bubble and didn’t particularly want to start investing our time in planning a wedding.
About 6 months before we got engaged, we were in the midst of making breakfast on a lazy Sunday when the topic of our eventual wedding location came up. Being from different provinces, we both knew that one (or both) sides of the family would have to travel a significant distance to join us for the wedding. I had my heart set on a barn venue and decided to poke around online to see what was available. Lo and behold, the perfect venue appeared before our eyes.
All of the other options evaporated in an instant: this was our venue!
Before long, our excitement turned to dread. What if they ran out of dates for the following summer before we were ready to book? I decided that there wouldn’t be any harm in e-mailing the venue, just to confirm that they had a multitude of dates left to choose from.
We soon learned that there were only a few dates left that fit with what we wanted. Within days, we had committed to a wedding date and venue without actually visiting the venue in person. We swore ourselves to secrecy and put all other thoughts of wedding planning aside until the eventual engagement.
Not long after we got engaged, we had a chance to go and see the location in person and it was even better than what the pictures showed online! Emboldened by our success, we had soon booked our photographer, day-of-coordinator, and caterer without stepping outside the comfort of our home.
Even if you are getting hitched in the same city that you live in, I think there’s something to be said about allowing yourself to make some choices, big and small, without torturing yourself. I’ve seen wedding checklists that suggest meeting with at least three photographers before making a final decision. By all means, if that is a step you need to take to know that you are making the right choice, go for it! We all have our own process. However, don’t let a checklist dictate how you should be making your choices. There is no one right way to plan a wedding. If you are thinking of skirting a rule or two, it is important that you don’t go in blindly. For that reason, I have compiled some tips for all of you rogue Bridechillas out there who are thinking of bending or breaking some wedding planning rules.
How to Get Away With Being a Rogue Bridechilla
The consequences of making rash or uninformed decisions in the wedding planning process can be emotionally and financially catastrophic. As unconventional as our decision may have been, we did our homework before jumping in. This also wasn’t my first rodeo – as someone who has been a bridesmaid/MOH many times over, I went in with a solid understanding of what questions to ask and what to be cautious of. We spent a very tedious day fleshing out a potential budget and researching typical cost breakdowns to make sure that this exciting step forward wasn’t the first step towards the edge of a plank. We read the contract as if we were signing our lives away. Be bold, not cavalier.
Yes, choosing a venue without seeing it in person (or choosing any vendor from afar) can be risky. We mitigated our risks seeking out photos from other weddings that took place at our venue. I scoured Pinterest and local photographers’ websites to find wedding albums and ended up with about a dozen to draw from - by the time we booked, I knew every nook and cranny. A few of the albums I found had been featured in wedding blogs, complete with cost breakdowns that gave us extra confidence that the venue would fit within our budget.
Early on in our planning process, we considered using a food truck to cater our wedding. We spoke with a local food truck owner who gave us an impassioned speech about how he’d be able to feed our entire group for a fraction of the cost and how the other caterers were just trying to rip us off. He turned out to be as flaky as the delicious pastries he said he could make for our wedding. We rightfully got spooked and jumped ship before making any sort of financial commitment. We are thrilled with the caterer we eventually chose (Certainly Cinnamon) and are happy to spend the extra cash for the peace of mind of knowing that we can rely on them. We also learned our lesson. In the time since, we’ve made sure to set clear expectations early on and move on as soon as we get bad vibes.
For the love of god, please do not suggest booking a wedding venue before you get engaged unless you are 100% sure that your partner will be on board with the idea. We spent almost a year in advance of choosing our venue talking about how excited we were to eventually get married. He had asked for my ring preferences and we had jointly decided on having our wedding in the summer of 2017. Heck, we were practically engaged already, minus the down-on-one-knee part. One of Mike’s work colleagues told him later that I must’ve wanted to speed along the engagement, hence my suggestion to book the venue before the engagement. While this wasn’t true in our case, I can see that taking a step like this could be more trouble than it’s worth for some couples. Proceed with caution. The same goes for all non-traditional decisions. Make sure you can both live with the worst-case scenario.
One unexpected benefit of having a venue chosen already was that we had an answer to the first question everyone asks when you first get engaged! It sure helped us to stay relaxed and in the moment as we told everyone about our engagement.
Good luck all of you rule-breakers!