My engagement was very sweet. My fiancé proposed during our annual trip to the Christmas tree farm with our dogs. It was beyond picturesque! There was a fresh dusting of white snow on the ground, and rows and rows of beautiful evergreens surrounded us. There was even a carriage ride drawn by big beautiful clydesdales with jingle bells. He was sure I knew it was coming, but I was completely surprised!
It was definitely a magical experience and I was so excited he popped the question! But within 24 hours of our engagement the inevitable when and where are you getting married questions started to flood us. Cue panic now. It began to sink in that we were now expected to get cracking on planning a ceremony and reception. But where does one start? And what do you do when you are flooded with Pinterest perfect images and family expectations? Here are my wedding planning tips that I learned along the way that helped take the stress out of the big day.
1. Figure out your budget before you go shopping, first
Looking at venues and dresses is a lot of fun! Especially right after you get engaged. But don’t go setting up venue appointments before you know your budget. Shopping before you know what you and your fiancé can reasonably afford could potentially leave you with a lot of heartache and regret. So as uncomfortable as the money talk can be, it is important. Set budgets for venue, wedding bands, tuxes and dresses, and catering. Have a serious talk about who will contribute financially and how much.
2. Know what you are willing to coordinate
I knew out the gate that coordinating with a bunch of vendors was not something that I wanted to do. I found the very idea of working with a venue, separate caterer, bartenders, florist, musicians or DJ, stylists, hotels and more to be too much for me. So I chose a venue that included catering, bartending, valet and clean up. I may not have gotten the best deal price wise, but peace of mind was worth a lot to me. Also I had the benefit of having siblings who were frank with me about their own planning experiences. One of my sisters saved a lot on her venue, but got stuck with clean up after all the guests left.
3. Manage Family Expectations
Family can have a lot of expectations surrounding your wedding, which can be a great source of stress to many couples. It is so important to remember that these come from a place of love and wanting to be included in the planning process. You are not the only two people excited about your wedding. So take a deep breath before responding or reacting. Know there might be areas of friction around changing traditions and plan for it. Find ways to make everyone feel included! That can be as simple as inviting them to tastings, the venue walk through or even the craft store! Give family members something they can put their own stamp on. Maybe that is the ceremony music, cocktail napkins, or centerpieces.
4. When to DIY, and when to buy
I read maybe a zillion articles on how I could save money by making some wedding item or another. I seriously considered some of those ideas, and then I remembered who I am and who my family is. We are not crafters. My craft box lives on a shelf in my basement. It has not been opened since I moved into my house two years ago. I also work full time and place a high value on getting eight hours of sleep a night. If this sounds like you I highly recommend you by pass the DIY. Things to think about if you do decide to DIY:
- How long will it take to make 1?
- How many do you need to make?
- Do you need to buy a lot of supplies to make it?
I fall firmly in the buy camp.
5. Every family has that one relative….
Listen there is always a wild card family member or friend who is invited. Your love for them is not in question, but what they might do the day of the wedding is! So what are you to do? You want to enjoy your day free of worry! And you should! It might sound strange, but assign someone to them. Ask someone else to keep an eye on them. This person will be in charge of swooping in and taking control of the situation so you and your new hubby can dance the night away in wedded bliss.
Planning a wedding definitely has its ups and downs, but my experience was mainly ups!