Wedding Planning | 10 Tips From My Own Wedding Planning Experience
After nearly a year of planning, on September 30th, I went from Miss to Mrs., and while wedding planning can be a stressful and exhausting experience, it doesn't have to be! As the first post in a series from my big day, here are 10 tips from my own wedding to help decrease the stress and increase the laughter during your planning process and on your wedding day itself! (All photography by Taylor Kaderly Photography)
1. Avoid getting too wrapped up in Pinterest
After I announced that I was engaged, and the congratulations had all been wished, the next thing people started saying to me was, "now you can make your wedding Pinterest board public." Um, oops. Was that something I was supposed to be working on for the last five years? I immediately set to work pinning furiously to figure out my reception style, how I should wear my hair and what dress fashions were in, because that's what I was supposed to do.
But when it came down to it, all of those barnyard chic pins went to waste, and the dress I chose looked nothing like the ones I thought I wanted. Things developed organically as I matched the reception decor to the venue we chose and the woman at the dress shop asked me that fateful question: "How do you feel about sparkle?" Don't spend too much time trying to recreate a pinned wedding. Gather a few bits and of inspiration, then create your own.
2. Do things other than wedding plan
Yes, you're preparing for a big day, but you don't want to lose a year of your life in the process. Invitations need to be sent, but your best friend needs you to come to her birthday party, too. Meetings with vendors need to be scheduled, but so does a lunch date with your mom. Your reception venue might feel like the center of your universe, but you need to make time to get away on a road trip and regain a little perspective. Probably most difficult of all, you need to find ways to continue having fun with your future husband. It can't all be thank you notes and invitation lists if you want your relationship to continue to flourish.
3. Choose vendors for personality as much as for their work
You might think a florist is the most talented, well-priced choice in town, but if they are rude, disorganized or inflexible, grab your The Knot Wedding Planner & Organizer and be on your way. Your week-before-wedding self will thank you. There are several wedding cake vendors we did not choose because of how frazzled they seemed on our first meeting, and if my florist hadn't been literally the most kind and flexible group of people alive, I may have lost my mind.
Especially when it comes to your DJ, personality matters! Your DJ sets the tone for your entire reception, so choose one with a personality to match your ideal reception. Ramsey Coates, from AnyDayDJ, brought not just the perfect late 2000's prom feel that we so wanted for our reception, he also brought us our first drinks of the night! Your vendors should make your life easier, not harder, and with an approaching wedding, you need to be surrounded by as many people who are willing to do that as possible.
4. Be honest and speak up
Don't let the bridezilla stereotype stop you from asking for what you want. Your wedding day is one of the biggest days of your life on which you are spending ungodly amounts of time, energy and bucks. If you've made an agreement with a vendor and they try to alter the plan or talk you into something you don't want, don't be bullied. Speak up!
A week and a half before my wedding, the ceremony venue wanted to make a big change to the schedule of our wedding day. I felt bad insisting that they follow through with what we had agreed to months and months before but not as badly as I would have felt on the day of my wedding had I gone along with their new plan. Your vendors are here to serve you, not the other way around.
5. Select vendors who care (or who act like they care) as much about your wedding as you do
While your wedding day is the most important in your life to date, it may be the 127th wedding for a particular vendor. I'm sure it demands great effort on their part, but they should present the illusion that yours is their one and only. From my first meeting with my photographer, I knew we were in good hands. As we sipped coffee together (which she bought for me), we planned the next 11 months of engagement shoots, day of schedule making and ceremony venue guidelines. Everything seemed perfect. But halfway through the planning process, she called to tell me (before she even formally announced it) that she was pregnant with her first child and due the week before my wedding. What a complex mix of emotions flooded through me in that instant! I was equal parts excited for this sweet human and nervous as she explained that she would find me backup photographers for the day of but still do all the editing.
Flash forward to noon on my wedding day, as my one-week-overdue photographer walked through the salon doors and said she still wanted to photograph the wedding with the other photographers as support. Can you imagine! My mind was further blown when she presented a slideshow of some of the edited bridal portraits before the reception had even ended. To add the most absurd cherry on top, her adorable son was born the very next afternoon! Not all vendors can show such extreme love and care for their brides, but let this be a gold standard for what well-chosen vendors can do.
6. Anticipate delays and late arrivals
A bridesmaid or groomsman is going to be late. Hair is going to take longer than you planned. Something will probably go wrong, changing the timeline of your wedding day. But planning in cushion time can ease the strain of late arrivals and delays, removing a big chunk of stress from your shoulders. If you think you need four hours for hair and makeup, plan for five. If the first major thing the groomsmen need to be at is the ceremony, plan a groomsmen breakfast so they have something less important to be late to. When everyone is on time and looking sharp at the ceremony, you will be grateful you did.
7. Personalize your day
Traditions are wonderful but can only take you so far. If you want your wedding to feel uniquely your own, you have to feel free to make it that way. If you're crafty, put those skills to work! If you love superheroes and Star Wars, find a way to work those things in. If you've had close friends or family pass away recently, work memories of them into the day in some way.
A friend of my husband who would have been a groomsman, passed away last year, so through a special ribbon on the matron-of-honor's bouquet and an empty space at the bridal party table, we felt his presence with us. This day is yours, so it should feel that way.
8. Splurge for a coordinator
Even if it's just for the day of, a coordinator is an invaluable resource and worth every penny. It was important to us that our parents and bridal party were in our wedding to be celebrated, not to be put to work, so we decided to get a day of coordinator through our reception venue who would be responsible for set up and making sure everyone and everything was where they were supposed to be on time.
To my delight and surprise, our coordinator Dawn, with Weddings by Lydia, not only did that perfectly, but she went, at least in my estimation, far above and beyond, calling each vendor to confirm contracts two weeks before our wedding and finding holes in the planning that we had forgotten to fill. Finding an organized and kind coordinator can ease pre-wedding tensions to a remarkable degree.
9. Spend some time planning for the morning of your wedding
Brides can spend so much time on the wedding and reception that the hours spent getting ready can become just another cog in the wheel, but planning a fun getting-ready morning can set the tone for the entire day.
I chose to get ready at the hair salon I've been going to for two years because the stylists know me there, and they are the kind of people I enjoy spending time around. I also chose this particular salon because it is three blocks from the ceremony venue and surrounded by restaurants meaning that we didn't ever feel rushed and no one went hungry. The atmosphere of the salon itself is laid back and easy going, which helped me to relax during those pre-wedding hours. They supplied the mimosas and we brought the macarons, making for a lighthearted, pampered experience.
10. Have fun!
During the planning process, and most especially on the day of the wedding, don't forget to have fun! This is a season of your life on which you want to look back fondly. Don't let the stress of planning multiple events for 100+ guests ruin the joy that comes with having found the love of your life.
I can't even count the number of times I walked through the door of my parents' house, only to have my mom immediately hand me a glass of wine, and the girl's nights spent country line dancing with friends are some of my favorite memories of the last year. Planning shouldn't be miserable, so let yourself enjoy every moment of it. Happy planning!