I’ll start right off by promising to be honest with you. Know that I am NOT telling you what to do! These are little tips and tricks I learned while planning a wedding, but I am not saying that the way we did things is the only way. As my mom says, each wedding needs to be tailored for the unique couple. I am also not going to be misleading or make you think that wedding planning will go perfectly “if you only follow these 57 simple steps”…! ;) Weddings are just plain a big deal. They’re time-consuming, and if you let it, your wedding will basically take over your life from your engagement till you say “I do.”
I had a 10-month long engagement, and during those 10 months I learned so much. I was crazy enough to plan our wedding AND get married during my first year of teaching (which is a difficult time anyway), so it was crucial that I was super organized and on top of things. Also, anyone who knows me knows that I research my options like crazy when I have an important decision to make! I thrive off of researching and organizing and planning. It seriously energizes me!
The point is, if I’ve done hours and hours and hours of research, I want it to benefit someone else! My hope is that you’ll find some useful advice here, coming from someone who only recently emerged from the (beautiful but seriously expensive!) throes of wedding magazines and food tastings and dress fittings and confirmation e-mails… :) Happy planning!
Ask people to be involved early on! I asked my bridesmaids and flower girl with homemade cards and notes, about 8 months in advance. The cards took me a long time, but they were so worth it!! They were so cute I wanted to keep one for myself! :) To learn about how to make these cards, click HERE.
Consider an “off-season” wedding. I mean it. For us, it was just the fact that March worked best. But over time, we realized just how great it was to have a March wedding! Getting married outside of the May-August window can have great financial benefits, among other things. We saved over a thousand dollars having our wedding reception at my dream venue but during March.
Non-summer weddings can also give you flexible and creative opportunities to work with other beautiful seasons God gives us. (I always thought it’d be wonderful to have an autumn wedding, but that’s not ideal for a teacher!) My best friend got married during the month of December, and their outdoor couple portraits are some of the most stunning scenes I’ve seen! The winter sunlight and the snow behind them made for uniquely beautiful pictures.
It’s his day too. I get a bit peeved when I hear people say, “Well, it’s the bride’s day – she gets whatever she wants!” What is she, the queen? Who’s (most likely) paying for this day? It would be the bride’s day if the groom did not show up. Then it is all hers. But if your groom is planning on showing up on that day, then yes, he gets to have a say in things. Work together, in communication with both of your families, to plan a day that is perfectly unique for the two of you. If you truly are meant to be together, then having discussions about what both of you want should not blow up into serious arguments. You’ll be living together for the rest of your life; now is a great time to learn how to communicate and compromise!
Practice saying “No.” Since I’m sticking with honesty here, let me say that the wedding industry, is, in fact, an industry. The wedding industry WANTS YOUR MONEY. Now, that’s not a very romantic concept, but you MUST be aware of this going in. If you and your man skip all sappy-eyed into every vendor and store, holding hands and saying, “Oh, wouldn’t that be just lovely to do?” say goodbye to your (or your parents’ ??) fun money for quite some time. Things I personally said “No” to, although the sappy part of me wanted to say “Yes, please!”: tulle and twinkle lights on the ceiling of our reception room (instead, I just did them on one back wall), fancy (fancier) linens on the table, a lovely pair of shoes (which would ship from another country)…the list goes on. Now, I am not always great at saying “No” to purchases (Bjorn would nod enthusiastically here, haha), but during wedding planning, I actually developed a perceptive eye as I learned that you don’t always need to flip to the page with the most expensive decorations or do the most deluxe reception package to have a lovely day!!
Do use Pinterest for wedding inspiration! Now, I say this with a bit of caution. A woman at the wedding dress shop I worked with called Pinterest “the land of things that don’t exist!” Her point was that we often see something we love on Pinterest and we want that EXACT thing in our wedding…but it may be just a picture with no link, or silly expensive, or in Australia only… What Pinterest really helped me with was narrowing down the style of things I liked. So, if you feel like going on a pinning-frenzy one evening, go for it! Then you can scroll through your board later and spot trends and themes you wouldn’t have been able to articulate before (i.e. maybe all the pictures you LOVE on Pinterest have twinkle lights, or farmhouse wooden tables at the reception, or those cute pennant banners hung everywhere…) You may not be able to find/make the exact same thing you saw on Pinterest, you can always try to replicate it or borrow parts of that look! For me, Pinterest really helped me hone in on what I wanted for our flowers and our cake!
Hopefully you’ve got some new ideas to think about now, as you plan for your own happy day!! :) Keep an eye out for Part 2!