Almost three weeks ago, I married the love of my life. It was a magical day, the weather was sunny and gorgeous, our closest friends and family were there to show their love and support for us, and the entire day I felt as if I was in a dream. The day went by way too fast, as it often does when you spend so long fantasizing about something. My husband and I had a 2 year and 3 month long engagement, so I think we learned a lot about the wedding planning process. While I completely understand that everyone has a different wedding vision, here are some helpful hints for planning a wedding!
1. If you are stressed or overwhelmed easily, a long engagement is a great decision.
I have an obsessive personality, so I knew that I would want plenty of time to plan my wedding in order to make each detail perfect. We were able to book our dream wedding venue and all of the vendors we wanted because we booked everything over a year in advance. This is not always possible with a shorter engagement. Also, the longer the engagement, the more money you are able to save!
2. Weddings are not worth going into debt.
Don’t just pay for it all on a credit card and worry about it later. Nothing is that important. You don’t need a photo booth, a personalized aisle runner, top shelf liquor, or welcome bags for every guest. None of these things will make or break your wedding; in fact, I highly doubt any guests will notice at all.
3. Choose three things that matter the most to you and your fiancé and make those aspects of the wedding your priority.
For my husband and I, we decided immediately that our wedding venue was our top priority, next was the photographer, and third was the food. Because we saved some money in other aspects of the wedding, we were able to spend more money on the things that mattered the most to us.
4. Create a “must have” playlist for the DJ.
Music was also important to us. We both love 80’s music, so we included a lot of popular 80’s love songs. We also added some JT, Frank Sinatra, Blue October, The Killers, U2, and made sure to specify that we did not want any of the stereotypical, choreographed wedding dances (ex: the Cupid Shuffle or Macarena).
5. If you want to break tradition, do it.
I have never liked the idea of the bride being “given away” to the groom by her father. Instead, I decided both of my parents would walk me down the aisle and that there wouldn’t be any lines about being given away. I didn’t do a garter toss because those are just awkward and embarrassing for everyone. There weren’t a bunch of long speeches at the reception. We had an amazing dessert table with an assortment of mini cupcakes, cheesecakes, and cream puffs, instead of some $800 cake that would be half-wasted.
6. No matter how early you set the RSVP date or how convenient you make it, you will still have to chase down some RSVPs when the deadline passes.
This was by far the worst part of wedding planning. When our RSVP deadline passed, we hadn’t heard back from 40 out of 140 people. Some people never responded at all. I will never understand why some people choose not to RSVP on time or to ignore the RSVP request completely. It’s so rude and inconsiderate and puts more stress on the bride and groom when they are trying to create a seating chart and submit meal choices to the caterer before their deadlines.
7. Make your wedding personal.
Weddings are becoming all about the latest Pinterest craze or whatever is popular on Etsy at the moment. Don’t be afraid to make the wedding about you and your fiancé! Each table at our reception had quotes from our favorite authors, we had a memorial table for our grandparents who passed away, and we wrote our own vows. These are all things that made our wedding personalized and special. We wanted everything to be classic, timeless, and elegant, and not to simply follow anyone else’s vision of a wedding.
8. Accept that no matter how meticulously you plan each moment, something will go wrong.
It’s usually the things you can’t plan for because you would never expect them to happen. For example, although it wasn’t the day of the wedding, about an hour before my rehearsal ceremony, I was stung by a jellyfish. I was definitely not prepared for that to happen, but now I have a crazy story about my then fiancé and I running across the beach in a panic to find a lifeguard. Or maybe the DJ won’t play all of the songs you requested. Or the best man will give an impromptu toast. Trust me, it won’t matter what goes wrong because you will be so happy and preoccupied with your new spouse.
9. No matter how much you try to take your guests’ wants and needs into consideration, at least one person will find something to complain about.
Whether someone makes a disparaging comment about how you had a buffet instead of a plated meal, or that there wasn’t an open bar, try not to let it bother you. If your guests aren’t completely ecstatic and excited for you and your new spouse, they probably didn’t deserve to be invited in the first place. Just kidding. But really, your wedding is about the two of you, therefore your opinions are the only ones that matter.
10. Create a shot list for your photographer.
This is especially important if you care a lot about pictures. Any professional photographer knows to get the standard wedding shots, but if you absolutely must have a picture of you and all of your bridesmaids holding their favorite Harry Potter book, you should probably mention it to your photographer so they can make it happen.
11. Sweetheart tables are the best solution for everyone.
The bride and groom are able to actually sit and talk to each other, in between mingling and dancing, and they have a little space that is all their own (at least when people aren’t interrupting them).
Plus, your wedding party will thank you. If you have a table for the bridesmaids and their dates and another table for the groomsmen and their dates, everyone will be so much happier than if they had to sit at separate tables.
12. Enjoy your wedding.
It only happens once, so don’t stress over the small things. The day will be whatever you make of it, so be sure to relax and have fun. After all, you’re committing yourself to a lifetime of love; it should be the happiest day of your life!