Tuesday, April 30, 2013

10 Things I Learned From Planning My Wedding

I got married to the love of my life on September 16, 2012. As the first one out of my friends to get married, I learned a few things along the way and thought it would be nice to share my top 10 wedding tips that I learned from planning my big day.
10. It doesn’t necessarily take a year to plan a beautiful wedding.
I remember when we first got engaged people asked us two questions right off the bat – where and when would be having our wedding. “You have to book your venue right away! It’s only 11 months until you want to get married!” Umm... 11 months is still a lot of time. I remember feeling this immediate pressure to start planning when all we wanted to do was take some time to enjoy the feeling of being newly engaged and admire my pretty new ring. As we went through our wedding planning process, and since then as some of my friends have gotten engaged, I realized that there’s way more flexibility in venue availability (for example, choosing to get married on a Sunday) than we initially thought. Since there are so many factors to consider I would really recommend taking your time, enjoying the planning process, and looking into contract specifics before locking down a venue.
9. The wedding is about the couple, but it’s not only about the couple.
Weddings are family celebrations. Yes the main focus is on the couple, but most of the time weddings are a big deal for the families involved. We are very fortunate to have extremely understanding family and friends who were so considerate about what kind of wedding we wanted, but even then there were a few things that we had to compromise on to best suit everyone’s needs.  Unless you are eloping (and even then, there will most likely be hurt feelings!), it’s not just two people joining together, but two families as well. 
8. Etsy.com is one of the most valuable websites you’ll find throughout the planning process.
Wondering where to buy those cute props you see in all those engagement photos? How about where to pick up cake toppers? Bridal hair accessories? Stationary? You’ll find it all on Etsy, trust me. Best of all, this website is a marketplace where small businesses and craftsmanship are valued and promoted. It’s truly a community and a wonderful resource. When the invitation templates we kept seeing around seemed a little too cookie-cutter for our taste, a friend recommended searching on Etsy. We got our invitations through a wonderful little shop called Love In Writing and couldn’t have asked for better service. In fact, we went right back and ordered our programs, menus, and table numbers and were blown away by the quality of our stationary. Etsy should not be overlooked!

Photo copyright of daveandcharlotte.com
 7. Creating a wedding timeline is a great way to help plan your day and keep things running on time.
I created a simple spreadsheet in excel that had columns for the description, time, and duration of each activity on our wedding day. I distributed it to the wedding party and our vendors so each person knew where they were supposed to be and who they could get a hold of in case things were running late. It might not be the perfect wedding planning guide, but it was still a great tool that listed out all of our details and helped us from forgetting all the little things.
6. No matter how much planning you do, be prepared for everything to run late.
Despite everything I said above, no matter how much you plan, shit will run late. Maybe if you’re Monica from Friends everything will be on time, but let’s be realistic. With so many people involved and all those appointments to coordinate, it’s just not gonna happen. Accept that no matter how much planning you do some things will be out of your control, but if you’re lucky enough to have a kick-ass bridal party they’ll make sure to oversee the details, keep that champagne flowing, and keep the bride stress free. C’est la vie!
5. Hire a coordinator for the day of the wedding.
I cannot stress this tip enough! Think you can take care of coordinating all the details yourself? Think again. As the bride you’re busy getting dolled up, taking pictures, and if you’re a super procrastinator like me, finishing up your thank you speech as you’re getting ready (oops). What if you don't have access to your venue until the day of your wedding - who’s taking care of overseeing the centerpieces? How about setting up the aisle markers and seating chart? We couldn’t afford to hire a wedding planner, and though our venue came with an onsite coordinator (who was lovely), she only showed up an hour before the wedding and as I found out the week before, it was not “in her job description” to set up the items that weren’t provided by the venue (ie: place settings, floral arrangements, cake and cake toppers, seating chart, programs, etc.). What an absolute headache! My bridesmaids were getting ready with me so they couldn’t help either. Thankfully I have the best friends in the world and with some added muscle from the groomsmen they were able to put everything together in the knick of time. I hope you learn from my oversight and save yourself the stress – hire a coordinator!
4. Things will go wrong. Guaranteed. Some people may notice, most will not.
I found this super fun idea in lieu of the typical seating chart. In actuality, despite using heavyweight paper, it was a disaster and those chairs were toppled over within an hour. By the time I saw it later in the evening, what could I do? But let me tell you, I did not receive one single comment about our failed attempt and when it came time for dinner all of our guests ended up finding their assigned seat. No matter how much planning you do, sometimes you just have to roll with the punches and let the little things go.
3. Photography is expensive but absolutely worth it.
It’s going to be expensive for a high quality photographer and you’ll pay for their experience (yes we’re talking a few thousand), but this is one area where you do not want to skimp. Make sure you’re on the same page and you vibe with your photographer so you know that you feel comfortable together (trust me, it shows in the pictures!). Before our wedding, I totally thought engagement shoots were overrated but in reality ours was a great way to get to know our photographer, and his style of photography and direction, before the big day. We worked with Dave Biesse of DaveandCharlotte.com and I couldn’t recommend anyone better. Worth every single penny.
2. People say one thing but do another.
The week before our wedding, three of our guests cancelled their RSVPS, but if that wasn’t enough, the day of our rehearsal ceremony (two days prior to our wedding), one of Matthew’s groomsmen bailed. In fact, he didn’t even tell us directly, but instead told his wife, who passed along the message to Matthew’s sister, who let us know during our rehearsal dinner. This “friend” lied about booking his airfare and to this day he hasn’t had the balls to call Matthew directly and explain what went on. Isn’t that ridiculous? I’m sure you can imagine how hurt my husband was and how furious I was. It was two days before our wedding – what could we do? As I said in tip #4, you just gotta roll with it and realize in the grand scheme of things we were surrounded by our nearest and dearest and that’s all that mattered.
1. Take the time to soak it all in.
I’m sure you’ve heard this tip before but that is because it is so true! Oh-em-gee how quickly your wedding day passes by. Do your best to take it all in. Don’t be overly concerned about whether things are running exactly as you planned them. You’ve created your wedding timeline (#7). People know where they’re supposed to be. Things will go wrong (#4) and everything will most likely run a bit late (#6). But you know what? It happens all the time. Wedding coordinators are used to it. Let them deal with the details and instead choose to be present in the moment. Steal some time away with your new hubby and soak it all in. Try to be a guest at your own wedding and enjoy the massive celebration that you spent all those months planning! The day really does pass by that quickly.

Our first dance as captured by Dave Biesse of daveandcharlotte.com

Starting tomorrow, Wednesday May 1st, I will be running a 5 week series called Wedding Wednesday (yes I'm super clever). It will be a styling series for all the ladies who might want a little bit of inspiration on getting dressed for their pre-wedding events. First up - what to wear for your engagement photo shoot (and a glimpse at my own pictures). Join me tomorrow, won't you?

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  1. Great post!
    Loved every single tip, and will try to keep these things in mind for my own wedding (someday! LOL)

    Looking forward to wedding Wednesdays!!!!!

    1. Someday in the not-so-distant future ;) Thanks for your support Aimee!

  2. Agree with so much of what you said:
    photography is sooo important. we did not do a video but spent a lot on photos which i think are easier to pull out. i look at mine each year on our anniversary.

    it also took me a minute to figure out that the day was NOT just about the two of us. it's about two families coming together. it was tough to compromise with my opinionated in laws, especially since i paid for a large portion of the wedding myself. i was 34 and could not ask my mom to pay for it so i saved as much as i could and paid for about 75% of it myself. i figured my husband splurged on the ring & honeymoon ....

    wish etsy exisited when i got married. or at least it wasn't what it is today.

    the coordinator i hired was worth EVERY penny and i was so relaxed day of, because she was running the show.

    celebrating 6 years on may 12th


    1. Thank you for your thoughtful comment Julie! We chose to forgo spending money on videographers as well which helped us to justify the cost of the photographer. In the end my friends offered to record and edit a beautiful video so were able to get the best of both worlds, but were originally prepared for the sacrifice. I definitely agree with what you said about learning to compromise - especially when money is involved! It's a lot harder to say no when someone is helping with a financial contribution.

      Just a few days away from your anniversary - hope you and your hubby have a wonderful time celebrating and reminiscing!

  3. very helpful post, i could use it one day perhaps for my daughter

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    1. I hope so! I'm sure wedding planning will continue to evolve (ex: Etsy) but I tried to include timeless tips as well. Thanks for stopping by Lala!

  4. LOVE that last shot :) Thankfully my mom did everything for me when it came to my wedding!! haha

    1. Thanks Alycia! That's awesome that your mom was able to be such a help. It's great to have that kind of support system :)

  5. Awesome post! I was "Hells yeah!" - ing to most of it... especially the photography stuff....were planning ours in 8 months....plenty of time! Also, thanks for the tip about the wedding timeline and the designated coordinator!

    1. hahaha thanks Gosia!! Looks like you two are only a couple months away - how exciting! :D Where are you getting married? BTW love your site redesign of rogophotography.com

  6. Great advice, I will keep this bookmarked for my lucky lady to see one day and use as a reference haha.

    xx Donald

    1. I hope so Donald ;) oh man you are going to be one stylish groom ;)

  7. Beautiful! I love that last picture :) And very good tips!!


    1. Thanks Michelle! I know it's a bit further along in the wedding process than you were talking about in yesterday's post, but figured it'd be good for reference for when you get that ring on your finger one day ;)


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