April 28th, 2018 is a day I’ll never forget. It’s the day I married my sweet, loving husband, Jake. It was also the culmination of one stressful, yet amazing year. The thing is, I’m not a natural when it comes to event planning, nor is it something I’m particularly drawn to. While planning a wedding had its moments of absolute joy and excitement, I was also completely out of my comfort zone. When the big day finally came, I was both relieved and sad it would soon be over.
Now that it is over, I wanted to share five things I learned about planning and making the most of a wedding. My hope is that this advice will be helpful to anyone else who, like me, finds the experience to be a challenge, although the loveliest gift of a challenge one could ask for.
Before I get into my tips, I want to give a major shout out to Meg from Meg Johnson Images, who captured my wedding more beautifully than I ever could have imagined! All images featured in this blog post where taken by Meg. I also want to highlight the following vendors:
- Venue: The Watermark at Shully’s
- Catering: Shully’s Cuisine & Events
- DJ: Sound by Design
- Balloons: Wisconsin Balloon Decor
- Flowers: Floral Acres
So, without further ado, here are my tips for making the most of a wedding:
1. Research, research, and more research!
Jake and I ended up hiring some amazing vendors for our wedding. While there’s certainly an element of luck to it, I believe one of the main reasons for this is that we thoroughly researched each vendor before reaching out to them. Planning a wedding is stressful and time-consuming, and nobody has time to meet in person with several DJs–let alone every other vendor–before settling on one. Read as many reviews as possible in advance, and you’ll set yourself up for a quicker, more enjoyable search.
Pro Tip: Photographers will often feature blog posts on their websites from weddings they’ve photographed. Search for one such post that includes particular vendors or venues you may be interested in. I perused a number of blogs that featured the venue I ended up choosing to get an idea of how it looked all decked out for a real wedding. Very helpful!
For an example of what I’m talking about, my photographer published her own blog post on my wedding, here.
2. Limit or avoid use of bridal magazines and Pinterest
I know, this one is a bummer. Who doesn’t love to daydream about future life events over the glossy pages of a fresh magazine or the gorgeous imagery on Pinterest? I know I certainly love to. But, weddings are expensive and achieving the level of decor portrayed through these mediums is usually unobtainable for the average person. True, one could simply gain inspiration from magazines and Pinterest without having unrealistic expectations; but trust me, that’s hard to do when in the middle of planning a wedding.
Pro Tip: To avoid feeling bummed out about what you can’t have, focus on what you can. Choose one type of decoration you’re willing to invest in and search for that specific item on Pinterest rather than looking up entire wedding themes. For instance, I knew I wanted balloons in some capacity and spent time looking up that type of decoration by itself.
3. Don’t sweat the small stuff
The seemingly endless stream of decisions that must be made when planning a wedding makes this one more difficult than it should be. It was so tempting to get lost in all the finer details. Don’t get me wrong, those tiny details are part of the fun, but they’re also not worth stressing over. If for some reason you never get around to putting together a picture board for the guest sign-in table (I’m looking at myself), it’s not the end of the world.
Pro Tip: The real secret to a successful night is getting your guests to have a good time. Most guests will ultimately not care how flawlessly you pull off your color scheme or what font the escort cards are in. What they will care about is the food, beverages, music, and the pacing and flow of the night. These are the things to pay attention to, and everything else is just the icing on the cake.
4. Listen to your vendors
If you’ve done your research, met with potential vendors, and selected the best according to your needs and budget, then there’s only one more thing to do: lean on their expertise. A good vendor will be interested in learning about and helping to realize your vision for the big day, but they will also know when to interject if something is not such a great idea. They’ll also have a whole stockpile of past experiences to draw from that can be so helpful when planning. True, it can be hard to give up control, especially for such an important life event. But, again, if you’ve chosen good vendors (see tip number one), they are going to honor your vision.
Pro Tip: When communicating with vendors, make sure to describe not just the details of the wedding (e.g., music, decor, activities, etc.) but also the overall feel you hope to achieve. They just may know how to achieve that even better than you do, and as tip number three shows, the vibe of the wedding is everything.
5. Take it all in
If you’re currently planning a wedding, you’ve probably already heard this a dozen times. Everyone told me this, yet it was still the most difficult thing to remember. As the bride or groom, you’ll likely be whisked away from one place to the next, and before you know it, the night is over. It’s important to really drill this tip into your head, right until the moment you walk down the aisle.
Pro Tip: Ask your photographer to pull you away randomly at some point during the reception for an evening photograph. Our photographer actually suggested that we do this, and it was perfect. Not only does this mean you’ll have a beautiful nighttime photo, but getting away from it all for just a moment is a great reminder about the true meaning of the day. Walking back into my reception after taking that photo was magical and allowed me to see it all from a different perspective.
Hope these tips were helpful! If you have specific questions about planning a wedding, let me know in the comments. I’m happy to share my advice and experiences!
(P.S., Notice I didn’t mention anything about hair, makeup, the dress, and all the beauty-related fun a wedding brings? Stay tuned for part two of my wedding review to learn how I developed my bridal style!)
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