BIG NEWS. I got married last month :), which is why I have been far far away from this blog for months. I personally had no idea how much planning, time and STRESS went into a wedding. I really didn’t. I thought I did, but I had no idea.
As it got closer and closer to the big day I found myself reading many a blog about wedding planning. Naturally, I should have started with this method but my excitement overtook me and I jumped in without really thinking.
There are so many great ideas out there but after surviving my HUGE wedding I felt like I need to share my do’s and don’ts as well. So here are my top 8 (because I didn’t have 10) wedding planning tips for all those lucky ladies out there.
1. Picture your day.
I mean really picture it. What do you see? How do you feel? Who is there? All of that should be your first step in wedding planning. I sort of skipped this one and went right to Pinterest. The problem with Pinterest is it’s too BIG and you can easily get lost in ideas with nothing to connect them. If I could go back I would have sat down and thought about what I really wanted. What time of year, what type of atmosphere, intimate or large-scale? All of these things are important to the final look and feel of your perfect day.
2. My Top 3.
This is something I actually followed through with and I’m very glad. Weddings can get extremely expensive, especially if you or your soon to be hubby has a large family. Early on in the wedding process my mom and I sat down and chose the top 3 things that we felt were most important at the wedding. For me, I wanted a classically elegant wedding that was still relaxed and most of all FUN. We decided that the photographer, a live band, and the reception location were the most important things for us and that is where we decided to spend most of our money. If you don’t prioritize you will never be able to stick to a budget. In this case, flowers were not in my top 3 and in today’s world flowers make or break a wedding. I did not have very many flowers at my wedding or reception and yet I still had the time of my life. You need to make sure you pick what matters to you.
Best reception location, EVER! Ashley got some beautiful sunset pictures overlooking the water.
3. Choose Wisely
This one I saw on many a blog posting about wedding tips and tricks. Choose your vendors wisely. Sites like weddingwire.com and theknot.com really are helpful in deciding on your vendors because they have real reviews out there from real brides. Another one of the best ways to find local vendors was bridal shows. If you have the chance to attend one, I definitely advise it. I also think it’s sort of similar to finding your hubby, when you know, you know. If you immediately connect with a particular photographer that’s a pretty good sign you will enjoy them and feel confident in their abilities throughout the process. I also felt that vendors who used actual written contracts, with names, dates, prices, and detailed descriptions of their plans for your wedding were the BEST to work with. These people were experienced and it showed in their final product.
4. The List.
Okay this is a biggie. The dreaded guest list….. dun dun dun. I don’t know if most people know but making a guest list is by far one of the MOST difficult parts in planning a wedding. It’s so hard to find that perfect line in the sand between friends of 2014 and friends forever. It’s best to tackle this head on and early because you’ll need to know how many people you expect before you can pick a venue or set a budget. Also, try not get upset with your parents, especially if they are paying for most of the wedding. I was so frustrated with my mom who wanted to invite all of their besties but in the end it worked out and we got lots of great gifts :). My last bit of guest list advice is HUGE. I heard from everyone and read this everywhere and it did not ring true for us at all. Several wedding advice articles advise that only about 75% of the guest list will actually attend which can encourage you to invite more people. In our case, almost everyone we invited sent back yes on our RSVP and we ended up having to add a couple of extra tables last-minute. Super stressful when you’re in bride mode.
5. DIY Disaster
I am all about crafting. I love it and it seriously makes me happy. BUT I send this out as a warning…. Don’t overdue yourself. Sometimes it ends up being more expensive to make everything yourself than just hiring someone to do it for you. It can also become very stressful if something isn’t turning out the way you thought or desired. Weddings are already so stressful. Do you really want to add more by trying to Pinterest everything you see? I say pick one or two things you want to make and put all your efforts into those. Let the professionals handle everything else.
Of course I had some DIY Pinterest inspiration with the little coffee favor goodie bags.
A view of the entire thank you gift table.
6. Your Man
SEE YOUR MAN BEFORE. I was sooo completely against this before I got engaged. I really wanted to hold onto tradition like my parents before me but I can honestly say this was the BEST decision I made. My photographer really encouraged me to see Tyler before to get more pictures and ease our minds. I woke up so nervous the morning of the wedding, I couldn’t relax to even eat a cookie dough filled doughnut from Dunkin (now that’s a problem). As soon as I saw Tyler all of my nerves went away and I got full-fledged excited! Walking down the aisle was still just as special and I really was able to enjoy myself.
We had our first look in the sanctuary of the church. Very special moment.
This was difficult for me as my wedding day approached. I had already made almost all of the big decisions and yet I faced a whole lot of anxiety concerning whether or not the wedding was going to be good enough. The thing about it is… I loved the way my wedding turned out and it was a perfect day for my husband and I. I really do feel like it reflected our personalities and that our guests had fun. The problem is that while planning a wedding you get 10000000000’s of opinions and it’s very easy to let these opinions make you second guess yourself and feel pretty lousy especially when they are coming from friends and family who you love and care. The key is to have confidence in what you want and the decisions you made. People will just have to respect your ideas and your DAY and if they don’t well they either had their wedding day or the will and they can do everything just the way they want.
I really did have an amazing time and from these pictures it looks like our friends and family did as well.
8. Planner, planner, planner
I leave you with my final tip and that is to hire a wedding planner if you can. Wedding planners can be super expensive and are in my opinion an added bonus. I did not have a planner and my wedding was fabulous. I will say that I feel like the last month before the wedding would have so much smoother if I had a planner. They are basically in charge and responsible for making your day everything you dreamed and it would have been awesome to have someone to call on when the venue was asking if you preferred Swedish meatballs or Sweet and Sour. (who even knows?) They are also extremely useful on the day of the wedding to make sure all the vendors do their part and to keep you and the groom on schedule. You don’t want to miss out on cake cutting or throwing the bouquet because you’re caught up in a convo with long lost aunt betty 🙂 If there’s room in the budget it’s worth it! Second thought, we did have a day-of coordinator that was a family friend. This is a great way to have someone who will be in charge but not break the bank.
And then best of all, you get to run away with the love of your life!
Vendors that I loved….And you would too 🙂
Photographer – www.ashleycochrane.com
Band – www.bluedenimband.com
Cake – www.justthinkcake.com
Photobooth – www.mopixphotobooth.com