Weddings are special events where the bride and groom publicly express their love and commit to a life together. It is a day for friends and family to celebrate this joyous occasion with you. While weddings are wonderful, getting ready for them can be challenging. Personally, I found it great fun, but there were days I wanted to pull my hair out. I thought it helpful to share with others what I learned during my year of planning. And please forward to any friends who are in the middle of planning their own special day.
Top Ten Words of Wisdom for Wedding Planning
- Establish your wedding positioning statement. Up front, the bride and groom should discuss what they want their wedding to be about and use that as a guide when those tough-to-make decisions come up. This statement includes the look and feel of your wedding, which will help you decide the colors, flowers, music, dress, and even the guests you should invite or not. I like to equate this to how brands market their products. Think of Nike. We all know Nike and what it does and does not stand for. When their marketers have millions of ideas being thrown at them, they are rationally able to chose what “to do” versus “not to do” because of their brand’s positioning statement. If you do this for your wedding up front, trust me, your decisions will be easier to make!
- Prioritize your list. The bill for weddings adds up quickly, and no matter how well you plan and budget, last minute things will come up. Thus, prioritize up front that which is most important to you. For instance, if music is most important, spend the money here, but that means your budget may not allow for the pricey photographer. However, if you agree on this priority list early on, before you are emotionally tied to every details, decisions will be much easier to make.
- Book the things that matter now. It is quite shocking to see how quickly one must book venues, photographers, and cakes even – one to two years in advance! Whatever you have at the top of your priority list must be booked first. You would hate to have your heart set on a band or a venue only to find it is booked and your date is not flexible.
- Once you have made a decision, move on. You will receive many emails from Martha Stewart about creative ideas, magazine subscriptions coming to your door with more ideas, and advice from loving friends and family. Even after you’ve made decisions, more ideas and information will come your way. The amount of decisions that need to be made can be overwhelming, especially because of the emotions at stake. Thus, to save yourself, once you have made a decision, move on to the next one. For example, once you buy your dress, stop looking at other dresses! You will make yourself crazy.
- Build a website and use it as the center of communication. While this is a very special day for you, I can promise you there will be guests who start to make special requests that are quite unbelievable. There may be many reasons for this but at the end of the day, if you have dozens or hundreds of guests to take care of, imagine what it is like when you are two months away from your big day with a list of 200 tasks that need to be completed and you are being asked questions every week about your wedding details. Post a website. Add all the details. Tell your guests about it and when they email you, point them to the website. Train them now! If they point out something not on your website, add it, and send an email to all guests letting them know about the additional information and thank the person who asked the question.
- Acknowledge now that something will go wrong and when it does, let it go. No matter how well you plan, something will happen. However, in most cases, the only person who will notice is you. In my case, I had several things happen that I did not plan on, but they created their own story. One was that the flower on the cake topper I made fell off. The cake topper was an actual silhouette of me and my husband where he was leaning over to give me a flower. While we were silhouettes, the flowers were a miniature silk bouquet. The caterer knocked it off and never told me. I only realized it once I saw the photos. I was furious, but I also know that I was the only one to notice.
- Ask for help. There may be times where you feel others are being too helpful, but there may be times when you really do need help. First, remember that those who are seemingly too helpful have your best interest at heart. Thank them and perhaps direct them to the places you really do need help. I did not have family close by to help so I had girlfriends come over to put favors together. It turned out to be a huge benefit because a few mishaps occurred as we were putting them together which I would never have been able to fix on my own.
- Assign tasks to your husband-to-be. This is a big day for the bride and groom, however, the groom may not know what to do because he wants to help instead of make things more difficult, so he may avoid helping at all. Let him help, but give him guidance. This will help you avoid feeling as though the wedding is all on you and to ensure he feels involved. Just give him specific tasks! For example, I know my husband is great with music so he was in charge of the orchestra for the ceremony and DJ for the reception. He was also in charge of getting the car, answering questions on his side of the family, and the men’s tuxedos.
- Create a planning calendar. Whether you are the ultimate project planner that creates Excel spreadsheets or someone who makes task lists, create a plan early. No matter how well you plan, the last two weeks are insane. To make those last two weeks manageable, do what you can in advance. This will help you, your groom, the family, and friends.
- Make sure you eat regularly. My friend warned me about the last two weeks being crazy and the fact that she lost so much weight that her dress was too big. I heard her and I thought I listened. I really did think I was eating and drinking enough fluids while planning those last two weeks. Looking back, though, I remember my husband and I would often look at the clock realizing it was 5 PM and we never ate that day. Don’t do this to yourself. Yes, you want to be thin, but you don’t want to be anorexic and have swim in your dress.
- The Knot: Their online budget tool and guest tracker was great!
- The Wedding Book: Written by Mindy Weiss, wedding planner to the stars, this book is the “wedding planning bible.”
- MarthaStewartWeddings.com: A great resource for creative ideas.
- Real Simple Weddings: Updated for each season, this book contains great ideas and helpful information to keep you on task.