What I’ve Learned About Wedding Planning

As of today, Tim and I have been engaged for 3 months. And within those three months, we’ve been able to book just about everything. The only really big thing we have left to book is the florist, but that’s because I’m waiting for one last proposal to show up in my email. Two semi-big things left to book is ceremony music and transportation for the wedding party, but most vendors in those two categories don’t like/allow booking more than a year out so I have to wait a couple more months.

Now I’m sure there will be additional parts to this post. I mean, we have 14 months left before we get married and I’m sure there’s a lot more to be discovered about planning. But for now, I’ve learned plenty so here’s my list.

Weddings cost way more than you ever thought.
It’s stupid how expensive weddings can be. I’ve compared planning a wedding to Christmas—if you’re not careful you’re going to forget the real meaning of the day and you’ll spend too much money getting caught up in the details. I read an article that said most people spend 10–20% more than their original budget.  This is not hard to believe, and that’s exactly what’s happening to Tim and myself. However, part of this is partially our fault and it could have been avoided. We never set a budget in stone, it was always a loose budget because we weren’t sure of starting price points of things. Since I’m the more budget conscience one of us, I am always thinking of how the price and importance of something fits within the whole picture and what it’s actually worth to us. Photography is one thing I wasn’t willing to compromise on, but I am with the flowers.

My advice on planning your budget: When you first start hashing out a wedding budget, come up with two budgets. The first budget is the absolute top amount you’re willing to spend on the wedding. The second budget is smaller than the first, whether that be $1000 or $10,000. Plan your wedding according to that smaller budget—that way if you do go over the smaller budget you still have the little bit of extra set aside.

There are tons of ways to save money when planning a wedding, but that deserves a blog post by itself. Just consider a few things: DIY as much as you can; a destination wedding [they really are cheaper]; a very small, intimate wedding; and buying used decorations [like mason jars or cake stands] from wedding resale sites.

Do your research and meet with no less than 3 vendors in each category.
The research part seems pretty obvious, but I can’t even begin to tell you how important it is to research anything and everything wedding related. It gives you your first glance at the final product and the price of that final product. Meeting with at least three vendors not only allows you to have three solid price points, but it also allows you compare every detail and how each vendor would handle a certain request/situation. With reception sites, I made a list of at least a dozen reception sites that could possibly fit within our budget, contacted all them, and made appointments with the places we thought would fit the bill.

My advice with vendors: Ask each vendor the same questions and possible wants/needs/expectations, and take notes [mental or written] of their answers. Planning books have great questions/suggestions to consider. Also, don’t be afraid to talk to a fourth vendor in each category that you know will be way out of your budget—florists, for example. The super expensive florist may have some great ideas/suggestions you hadn’t thought of. Remember those ideas/suggestions and take them with you to a less expensive florist who you trust to do a great job.

A lot of people (mainly family) are going to want to: be involved/offer up advice/plan the whole thing.
This was one I wasn’t quite sure how to handle when planning first started. It seemed like everyone had their own two cents to throw in about your planning—whether that be “you should check out this bakery” or “you really need to consider ____” or “Well, what if it rains? You realize you’re having an outdoor ceremony in October, right?” I’m going to admit, it was a bit overwhelming, and almost frustrating. There were even some hurt feelings when Tim and I announced we weren’t going to have a Catholic wedding (I’m not Catholic and Tim doesn’t want a Catholic wedding), but instead a nondenominational, outdoor wedding. The nice thing about our situation is that Tim and I are paying for everything, so we’re the ones calling all of the shots—not one other person. We’re making our day the way we want it, and just hope everyone else will enjoy it as much as we do.

My advice about others wanting to give advice: Sure, we ask for opinions, and I’ve okayed a lot of stuff with my family since everyone will be traveling a good distance, but in the end it’s about what we want. If you think it will offend someone who offers up their advice/opinion, just politely thank them and say something like “I’ll have to look into that” or “Oh, I never thought of that, thanks for the advice.” What you do with their two cents after that is up to you. Sometimes it’s just not worth the hassle to explain your real plans and have a heated discussion start up.

If the person/family member is really stuck on you doing something in particular, but you don’t want to/agree with it, once again be polite and explain to them that you have already made up your mind and that decision was based on what the two of you want for your day. Thanks mom for not being one of those people :)

Once you’ve made up your mind about something, move onto the next thing.
When it comes to planning a wedding, it’s so easy to get carried away with looking in magazines and at online blogs for ideas. I honestly think my head would explode if I tried to incorporate every little thing I have ever liked in a magazine or blog into my own wedding. It would just be too much. Not to mention, not all of those ideas would cohesively fit together. Tim and I will have been engaged for 17 months [whoa] by the time we get married, and in those 17 months I could change my mind about one thing a million times. Try changing your mind a million times about 100 different things. I seriously don’t think it’s possible. Actually, I’m sure it’s been done. Wouldn’t want to be that person.

My advice about making decisions: Once you’ve found something you really like, stick with it and move on. Like my bridesmaid’s dresses, for example. I found what I wanted early on, made sure all of my girls liked the dress and moved on. Don’t even continue looking at that particular item in the future. I ignore all bridesmaid’s dress ads I see now because I’m happy with my decision and I have bigger and more important things to worry about.

I’m already thinking about other things to include that I’ve learned about planning a wedding, but I feel like this post is a bit lengthy so I’ll save the others for a Part II. :)

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