In case you didn’t already know, I’m getting married in September in the Pocono Mountains. So wedding planning is now in full swing. I’ve finalized the menu, hired the DJ and found an amazing photographer. While I’m sure this is going to be the most beautiful day of my life, there are things I nailed during the planning process and some things I wish I’d done a little differently. Here’s what I’ve learned so far.
Wedding Cake Tasting: Can you guess which flavor we got?
Don’t look at anything until you have a budget
This is by far the best wedding planning advice I have ever gotten and I’m so glad I listened. There is no point in wasting your time researching and interviewing venues, bands, photographers and more if you don’t know exactly what you can afford. You also run the risk of falling in love with a wedding venue or wedding that’s absolutely out of your budget.
Instead take the time to have those tough conversations about who is contributing, how much they are willing to contribute and to what right after you get engaged. It might not sound fun or romantic because it’s not. But, it will make your wedding planning process a lot more seamless and drama-free. Romance may not be based in reality, but your wedding budget absolutely is. So address it right away and then start planning.
Spend your time and money on things you actually care about
If don’t look at anything until you have your wedding budget was the best piece of advice I got, then spend your time and money on what you actually care about is a close second. This advice I got from Bridesmaid for Hire Jen Glantz and it really set me free. When I go to weddings, the only things I remember are was it open bar or not and who I sat with. At the end of the day, no one is going to care if you had embroidered napkins with everyone’s initials on them. If it means the world to you to have them then do it. But, if it doesn’t it’s just another thing that’s going to drive you insane and cost you an insane amount of money.
Every bride is different and cares about different things. I personally couldn’t care less about flowers or decorations, but having beautiful photos is the top priority for me. I did not upgrade any of my tablecloths, dinner wear or napkins. The basic ones offered by the venue are fine with me. I also plan on having pretty simple centerpieces. But, I am spending time and money on getting baller photos of me, my future husband and our bridal party because that’s what’s most exciting to me.
Pro Tip: One great tip I got on Minted when ordering my Save the Dates was not to use abbreviations when addressing the envelopes. Write out everything. Put Street instead of St. and New York instead of NY. It really looks a million times better in print. They do not currently sponsor my blog, but I highly recommend Minted to anyone getting married. They print the addresses on all of your envelopes at no additional cost and allow you to have a wedding website that perfectly matches your invitations. It’s pretty sweet!
Don’t make shotgun decisions
Emotions run high during the wedding planning process. Even if you’re a pretty level headed person, it’s impossible to plan a wedding and not feel somewhat emotional. That’s why everything for a wedding is so darn expensive. People just aren’t thinking logically.
Do yourself a favor and don’t let your emotions get the best of you. Take your time to find venders and make decisions that you’re really happy with. You’re not having a shotgun wedding or maybe you are – I don’t judge, but either way no one has a gun to your head when it comes to wedding planning decisions. At one point I got scared when I started finding that so many photographers and DJs were already booked. So I quickly booked both. The DJ I booked seems like it’s going to work out, but I ended up falling in love with another photographer who did my engagement photos after I’d already booked one for the wedding. Not only was my engagement photo photographer amazing, she was also available for the wedding. I ended up switching photographers and it worked out, but I shouldn’t have been so quick to book someone because I ended up finding the perfect person later.
You don’t have to spend a boatload of money to get your dream dress
Wedding dress shopping can be stressful. Sometimes you can’t find anything that looks good on you. Sometimes you can’t choose between two or three dresses. And sometimes you fall in love with a dress that’s way outside your price range – see my first piece of advice to make sure this one doesn’t happen to you. I got lucky and found the perfect dress in under two hours.
Before you splurge on a designer dress at a fancy bridal boutique first look at other options. Chances are the dresses at the fancy boutique will always be there if you don’t find anything else. But, since this is something you’re only going to wear once, it’s a good idea to give cheaper and equally beautiful options a chance first. I’m lucky enough to live in New York City where there are tons of sample dresses available. I found my dress at The Bridal Garden where top designers including Vera Wang, Oscar de la Renta, Marchesa and more donate their sample dresses when they are done with them. They can then be purchased for under $1000 and all of the profits go to a school in Brooklyn. There are other places in New York such as Our Story Bridal that do the sample thing. If you don’t have a sample dress shop near you, Nordstorm and BHLDN have beautiful dresses for a number of budgets. Had I not found a beautiful Anna Maier at The Bridal Garden, those would have been my next stops.
Don’t worry about things that may never happen
When I first started planning my wedding, I spent way too much time worrying about rain, getting a stain on my dress, etc. You can’t spend time worrying about things that may never happen or that you can’t control. According to Bridesmaid for Hire Jen Glantz, the more you worry about something the more likely you are to make it happen. So spend your energy picturing the wedding you want and it will happen.