Since a few of my friends are now on their way to planning their nuptials, I thought it would be timely to write down some of the learnings I gained through my wedding process. Every wedding is unique and has its own special challenges, but I think there's enough similarities that anyone can relate to these tips and tricks. In no particular order...
Tip #1: Determine your wedding vision
Having a clear vision of what your day looks like is so so important and helps make all the decisions easier. Do you want a big, grand, ballroom type wedding or are you more of a rustic backyard or barn wedding girl? Do you see yourself on a beach, or a garden, or an intimate church? Is a religious ceremony important to you? Who do you see standing beside you or sitting in the audience? Answering all these questions will help put some constraints on you and give you a goal post to align your food, decor, clothing and activities around. Without knowing your vision, you can easily get distracted by the innumerable and equally gorgeous options out there.
|Our initial vision for our ceremony!|
Tip #2: Have an honest conversation with your partner
It's really easy to think the wedding is all about you, but in case you didn't know, there's someone else in this wedding too! A wedding is just one day, but the process of it is your first real test as a couple. You'll experience stress, big decisions, financial strain and heartache during your wedding, so you had better learn to LISTEN and to COMPROMISE. Although your partner likely hasn't been thinking about this day since forever, they will still have a vision in their minds of what they wanted this day to be like. Don't you want to make them happy too? And if your answer is no... well, repeat after me: the wedding is not just about you!
Mr. Artist was happy to let me make all the decisions because he knew I was considering him too. We both knew I was more into the particulars, so he let me obsess over those, but the overall feel of the day... how it was set in nature, cute, a touch silly and not too fussy, was equal parts both of us, and I felt so much happier knowing that his blessing was in every part of it. In turn, he was my rock that held me safe through all the dramas of the past year from work and family on top of the wedding.
Tip #3: Make and stick to your budget!
Seems like a no-brainer, but budgets and vision can often conflict. It's important to start early with a realistic idea of what you need to be working with. Mr. Artist and I worked out our budget right away and a savings plan that we needed to make to get there. Lover of spreadsheets that I am, I made a spreadsheet for our wedding that detailed out everything in related sections (clothing, venue related, trip related costs) with columns for budgeted price, actual price, savings difference and who paid for what with a final summary tab to keep tally of our overall spend. It seems anal, but it really helped me feel organized as it also doubled as a to-do list!
We also tried to be very pessimistic with our budgeting by over-estimating costs. It can be easy to underestimate how much you'll need to spend because the end number is just too shocking to contemplate, but you need to be realistic. Everything to do with weddings is jacked up, so you might as well plan to over-save and then celebrate your extra cash later.
(If you're getting married, email me and I can send you a template of my budget spreadsheet!)
Tip #4: Get yourself a planner
Now, I don't mean a wedding planner (although I had one and she was a godsend!), I mean a planning book. Few things are more satisfying than crossing off a to-do list and this is the biggest to-do list of your life! Organizing can be fun if you splurge on a fancy planner that's so pretty that you actually enjoy using it. I got a big leather-bound planner for myself and broke it out into multiple sections:
- a section with an overall timeline with key dates marked out such as guest rsvp deadline, rehearsal dates, payment due dates, etc.
- a month by month task list
- a list of contact info for everyone in the wedding party and all vendors
- a section for meeting notes with various vendors
Usually you'll have at least a year to plan your wedding and it can be easy to procrastinate. Do not procrastinate! If you break your humongous to-do list into monthly chunks, then it becomes easier to tackle and you won't ever free stressed by leaving everything to the last minute.
Tip #5: Know what is important and let the other things go
Yes, everything to do with the wedding is important, but it's more important to pick your battles. You may think the wedding is about the two of you, but let's be honest - it's not. Odds are at least one of your parents or immediate family members are going to drive you crazy trying to make it about them and they'll definitely try to foist something on you that you "absolutely must do" whether it's some lame family tradition or expense that's necessary to "save face." As tempting as it is to tell those people to go shove their faces up their asses, you can't, so you've got to prioritize. Know the things that you absolutely, positively have to have your way and let the others slide. By giving away small victories to these people, you'll pacify them while you still get the bigger things you want. Lose the battle, win the war my friends!
Tip #6: Don't DIY everything
Lots of brides might think that DIY'ing means instant savings, but that's just not true. Be honest with yourself: are you really that crafty? If you've never opened up a Martha Stewart Living before in your life, what makes you think you can handle a hot glue gun now? Do the words "Pinterest Fails" mean nothing to you?? I knew that my crafting skills peaked at age 7, so I avoided DIY'ing as much as possible. It's just a lot of stress and time that you may not have and you need to preserve your skin for the wedding!
Also, DIY can be expensive. Again, if you don't own a bunch of crafting supplies, you're going to have to buy everything to make anything and that can be just as expensive as renting something pre-made. So what's a better solution? Finding a crafty family member or friend to help you out!
|Tip #3 for DIY - it doesn't always look good! I was considering this paper fan backdrop, but when taken in consideration of my other decor and venue, this whimsical look just didn't fit|
Tip #7: Delegate
People who care for you love to help out. This is your time to take full advantage of people - within reason of course. If you know someone would love to help you out, or you have willing bridesmaids, then delegate small tasks to them so that you have time to focus on more important things. For instance, if you're thinking of a destination wedding, delegate someone to search for hotel deals for your guests; or if you have a foodie friend, ask them to help you figure out a dinner menu for your reception. My mom is a crafting genius, so I asked her to come up with some handmade party favours and decor, while my dad is always on the hunt for flight deals so I asked him to hunt for Hawaii packages.
Whatever you do ask people to do, be very specific about what it is that you're wanting and when you want it by. People may not feel the urgency for things as you will, so it's best to inform them up front. And always, always be very appreciative of anyone who helps you out. I asked Mr. Artist to put together our wedding slideshows and although they didn't turn out exactly to how I would have done it, I kept my mouth shut because he spent weeks working on it. In the end, everyone thought it was great anyways, so I would only have caused stress between us by opening my mouth!
Tip #8: Done is better than perfect
When you work so hard on something, it can be hard to let go. I found myself just going crazy if the slightest thing wasn't working out how I wanted it to, or feeling anxious over whether I chose the best thing, but really I was just causing myself undue stress. You don't have to pick flowers that are the absolute exact blue that is your wedding color. You don't have to have the exact rendition of "your song" played to the exact tempo of your steps as you walk down the aisle. You don't need vintage bone china with scalloped edges and engraved napkins because trust me, on the day of, nobody is going to notice. I barely remember the details of all the things I agonized ages over and made Pinterest odes to. All you and anyone else will remember later is the food, the booze, the music and how happy you and your partner were.
|Simple tablepieces are easier and quicker to put together, look just as elegant and often cost less! Quadruple win!|
Tip #9: Include personal touches
It can be tempting to try to compete for the "best" wedding and just doing things that you think will impress others, but the best weddings are the ones where the day truly encapsulates the couples' personality. Mr. Artist and I chose our venue because Hawaii was a special place for us and we just loved the intimate setting and easy-going Hawaiian culture. Our cake was a naked cake, which matched our no-fuss nature and our ceremony songs included a ukulele take on Adam Sandler's "Grow Old with You" to reflect our silly sense of humour. Our wedding invitations were also designed by Mr. Artist and included our dog, as did our engagement and save the date photos. These were things that nobody else could duplicate and to us, were priceless.
Tip #10: Enjoy the moment
Even in the worst of times, I really enjoyed planning my wedding. I was in love with the idea of having a big celebration with Mr. Artist and everyone we loved. Although it was a shit ton of work and the last month was just a big ball of stress, in the end it really all came together - and I only had 3 or 4 crying breakdowns! The day of, I just felt so relaxed and let everyone else take care of everything. Like a general, I had made my battle plans, deployed my troops and now I just needed to see how it all went down. A wedding isn't everyday, so savor the moment, embrace your loved ones, forget what everyone else thinks and smile your face off!
Now I want to hear from other married ladies! What is the #1 wedding planning tip you wish someone had told you beforehand?
All images via Pinterest