Hindsight is a marvellous thing especially when you are all done and dusted planning your wedding, like my super organized guest Bridechillla Graduate Christine. Christine shares some of the most frustrating parts of their wedding planning, in particular, the lack of communication surrounding some vendors, with costs & timeframes, she also speaks candidly about how tough and un-fun wedding planning can be, in particular with family feedback and involvement, which as we all know, can get heavy fast.
Listen to Christine's episode of The Bridechilla Podcast
Since I have been to a total of 2 weddings in my life, one of them being my own, I am by no means a wedding expert. I quite possible may be an expert in anxiety, type A-ness & frugalness, though! So, with 14 months of wedding planning behind me, I want to pass on some tips that I never heard but I wish I had:
1. Pause before you make big decisions
It may seem premature, but decide on your day of week, number of hours & MAX guest list before you start anything else because this is where 50% or more of your expenses will come from and changes to these things will cause HUGE fluctuations in your budget.
2. Think of your goals & priorities and make sure all of your decisions match up
If you want it to be a crazy, dance party, you may want to splurge for the Open Bar. If you want to it to be a comfy, laid back, family vibe have it start early, and get a few games so older family can enjoy themselves, too. Our wedding was carnival themed because we wanted our day to be all about having fun so we have games & snacks that matched that. Similarly, the items you purchase in bulk for your wedding don't have to be artisan, hand crafted, organic, kissed by angels items. They have to last for 4 to 8 hours, so save your budget! Yes, some things are certainly important (and I strongly believe in buying locally) but when it comes to signage, centerpieces and other items that will likely be garbage by 11PM, don't splurge. This logic also helps when you're torn about decisions. Ask yourself, does this line up with your wedding goal? If not... don't do it.
3. Once you come up with a budget, add 20%
Seriously. I know you're thinking... how could we possibly go 20% over budget? Gratuities, something goes missing & needs to be replaced, you need an extra set of chairs, etc. The worst case scenario is you plan for the extra 20% and end up not needing it!
4. Be strategic about hiring friends & family.
If your family or friends unreliable, but want to help, don't give them important roles. Of course, you should invite them, but if you know that Aunt Sue makes flowers but Aunt Sue also has a habit of showing up 3 hours late to everything, have Aunt Sue make the rehearsal dinner flowers instead of the wedding day.
5. Plan multiple days of events
You don't have to pay for all (or any) but especially if you're having a large wedding you'll never have time to spend with everyone if you don't. I calculated it and if I had spent 5 minutes talking to everyone at my wedding, I would have spent twice the amount of time as the length of the wedding! So we had 4 days of events.
6. Your wedding day should be yours
If you're running into clashes with tradition, guest list, etc. let other people organize the events they want. Looking back, the biggest regret I have is that we should have chosen the wedding in the location, in the size & with the people we wanted and then let my family organize the larger event they wanted, separately, instead of trying to compromise and no one actually getting what they wanted.
7. People will be mad
Personally, I think the best course of action is to cater to those that wouldn't be mad, regardless. For example, given the choice of having high chairs at the wedding taking up table space, some people said, "they will understand if you make them have their babies on their lap." To which I said, "that's exactly why we will have them." I wasn't willing to inconvenience people I loved for people for people I didn't know.
8. On a similar note, you will get mad at people
People asked to bring extra guests to our $104 per plate wedding, people used their phones during the ceremony though we ask multiple times not to, people said they were coming to events & didn't, about a third of our guest list didn't give us even a congratulatory card, people showed up to events uninvited, etc. etc. etc. You have to remember that your wedding is not nearly as important to you as it is to other people, so don't expect people to behave exactly how you’d want them to.
9. It’s okay to not be thrilled to be planning your wedding
When people asked me how it was going, I told them the truth: I have multiple degrees and nothing in my life has been harder. I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy. That being said, if something stresses you out to the point of tears, stop doing it--when I found myself screaming at a UPS guy, I realized I should have taken this advice. Hire someone, cancel it, ask a friend, etc. Also, at a certain point, you just have to let the chips fall where they may. My hairdresser was an hour late, it rained all day (the ceremony was planned outdoors), all of my jewelry went missing, the ring bearers pants & bubble wand disappeared but I just had to let it all go. It was out of my control. It helped that I gave my cell phone to my best woman & directed everyone to my now husband & wedding planner pretty early in the process.
10. Oh and... read your contracts
Vet your vendors, hire at least a day of coordinator, do some premarital counseling even if you're not religious, really think about the ceremony (not just the reception), wear comfy shoes for dancing, don't make your wedding party your slaves, don't make them buy outfits that cost more than their rent, send your thank you notes to everyone within a few weeks, write vendor reviews, don't go on your honeymoon the day after your wedding, don't skimp on the photography, try not to go into debt, have back up plans, ask for help when you need it, ask for help when you don't think you need it, and of course, try to RELAX!
No matter what you do, not everyone will be happy with your choices, so at the end of the day, just make sure you are. There is nothing you HAVE to do. I spent all night on the dance floor, we had no real flowers, no engagement party, no garter belt, no bouquet toss, no bridal shower, my bridesmaids had pink & purple hair, I ate breakfast with my husband the day of the wedding and our grand exit was running under a parachute. Make it your own! All that matters, in the end, is you & your spouse! The people that love you will love your regardless (so try not to be THE WORST) and the people that don’t probably shouldn’t be there, anyway.
Read Christine's very thorough recap, including vendor links here.
Photography | Marlayna Photography | Venue Maryland Historical Society | Planning by Virginia Michele | Catering & Cake by Chef's Expressions | Editing Life Videography | Hair and Make up by Ricka Williams and Merha | Bridal gown by OLEG Cassini from Love & Lace Bridal Consignment and Boutique with tulle added by the Mother of the Groom | Suits from Men's Wearhouse | Invitations designed by Monique Evans and printed by Cards & Pockets | Paper flower bouquet by My Woolly Mammoth |