Tips for New Brides

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Aww wedding planning. An overwhelming, stressful, sometimes fun, sometimes annoying process. I kind of went into this whole thing with a naive outlook and I’ve learned so many things along the way that I wish I had known before I started planning.

I was listening to this podcast (Bridal Rebellion Podcast) recently and t he topic was “Why questioning wedding traditions can lead to a greater bridal impact”. It was a really interesting interview with a woman talking about how her and her partner disregarded the “outdated” and “sexist” wedding traditions. They had a “non-public engagement” meaning no one knew about the engagement unless they got an invitation and they asked guests not to mention it on social media anywhere.

It was a really interesting interview reflecting on just how absurd and expensive weddings are now these days. They discussed how Pinterest has changed the wedding industry and made everything so cookie-cutter.

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One of the suggestions was to make a “must haves list.” I knew going into our wedding planning that there were going to be frivolous things I didn’t want to do. For example, I knew we didn’t need favors. They are unnecessary and a cost that can easily be cut without impacting the wedding in any way. Another thing: I didn’t want to do the garter removal thing (I think it’s creepy) and the garter toss (what is the point)?

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I wanted to share one tip that I read early on in the wedding planning process that was a brilliant life-saver. Number the RSVP cards you send out so you match them up to the person when you get it back. I kid you not, I got several RSVP cards back without names on them or completely illegible. A few of them I recognized the handwriting and knew who they were, but the ones I had zero clue about, that number saved me. Exhibit A:

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Thank goodness I numbered the RSVPs!!!

I wanted to pass on some tips and lessons I learned to other brides because I really wish someone had told me some of these things. You go into a big event like this thinking everything will run smoothly and it really doesn’t. Before we got engaged and throughout the engagement I subscribed to various wedding websites and read the articles in Feedly and some of the tips I read a long the way were great! But there was also a lot of stuff no one mentioned…

What I’d Do Differently

Because my family is so big, I knew that having an intimate wedding was out of the question. For years when I pictured my wedding day I imagined it would be in a forest or park somewhere–very casual, very “earthy.” But when the time came to book a venue and such, I found myself drifting away from what I originally wanted. It happened for a number of reasons: the comfort of the guests and the possible weather issues (that I knew would stress me out)…But when it comes down to it, the wedding is supposed to be about the bride and groom, so don’t dismiss what you REALLY want because you get caught up in the excitement of planning. Things can get out of hand quick!

I would reconsider the destination wedding. Seriously. Michael and I had both considered doing a destination wedding with just immediate family on a beach in Hawaii or in Vegas. Then have a party later with the rest of the family and friends. Unfortunately we did the math and realized it would cost the same as a regular wedding to do that. During all the planning I considered a few times changing my mind. 🙂 The idea of a destination, low-key, quiet wedding sounded so nice when I was dealing with the stress of finances and annoying wedding vendors and unnecessary drama.

Venue. All-Inclusive. I thought we were saving money by choosing a venue where we could bring in our own booze and vendors. What I would do differently is to consider a venue that was inclusive (the food, alcohol, etc). Everything adds up so fast and suddenly you aren’t really saving any money by trying to do it yourself. Don’t get me wrong, I love our venue–but I wish we had chosen a place that didn’t have a list of “preferred vendors” we had to choose from. Having the freedom to figure out the catering on our own would have been nice (and probably would have saved some money.)

Avoid Pinterest. Pinterest kind of took over my life for a short bit. I finally had to cut the cord and stop looking at wedding websites and pinterest boards. So much of it is UNnecessary and adds up fast. So many things I thought I “had to have” wasn’t really needed. Thankfully I didn’t actually purchase anything I saw on my pinterest board and I’m glad I waited to buy stuff. After the initial rush of getting engaged and excited to start planning, I think I was a little dazed. It was a good idea to WAIT to buy stuff!

In the end, Pinterest started to just annoy me. Type in “Wedding” and you will see all the same looks, same dang pictures and fads and I just got sick of seeing it. It definitely cured me of wanting to do something I saw on Pinterest.

Careful what you DIY. Man oh man, did I regret doing DIY on this one. The save the dates were kind of a nightmare. If I had known I would NOT have done postcards. BRIDES PAY ATTENTION TO THIS. Sure it’s a cute idea, and you THINK you’re going to save money by doing postcards but you really don’t. I could not find postcard paper that was thick enough. I searched everywhere–in paper stores, online, everywhere. What I ended up buying was the thickest I could find and it still wasn’t thick enough. As a result, they got kind of beaten up (some tore in the post office) and I regret not just doing something I mailed in an envelope. Lesson learned.

The invitations were DIY and while I’m happy with how they turned out, it was a humongous pain in the ass and had I known, I would have just ordered them from a professional printing service.

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I hope some of my lessons can help other brides avoid certain annoyances that made this process less fun. I don’t want to complain because there have been some things that were kind of fun during this process…but I have to admit, I went into the whole thing with a very naive pair of glasses. I thought it was be endless fun! So much fun and something Michael and I could do together and…did I mention fun?

Yeah, most of it wasn’t fun. It doesn’t take long to feel completely overwhelmed and burned out on making decisions. That was the harshest reality. I was so tired of making decisions I found myself freezing up in simple situations–something as simple as “what restaurant should we go to dinner at?” And suddenly I couldn’t decide on ANYTHING. That was hard. I mean really, that’s not a life or death situation, why can’t I make a decision? I’m usually a very organized, very decisive person that doesn’t waffle when making decisions. What happened to her?!

In a few weeks Michael and I will be walking down the aisle together…there are still a lot of pending things on our to-do list and more decisions to make (like what our first song will be) but I’m starting to get excited and despite the many (many) times I wanted to cancel and elope…I am truly happy that we stayed the course. So many friends and family are traveling from afar (Arizona, Pennsylvania, Texas, California…) to come and I cannot wait to spend my day with them!

Down the Rabbit Hole of Pinterest and Etsy

Someone needs to take Pinterest and Etsy away from me.

I saw something similar to this on Pinterest a long time ago; the bride “popping the question” to her bridesmaids with a cute card and one of those fake rings made out of candy. I liked the idea but wanted to make it my own. I did a little research and found a local bakery that could make me some sugar cookies in the shape of a dress.

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When I called Le Cookie Monkey and put in the order I said I didn’t have a preference for the icing colors. I said the wedding was fall and that a light red and orange would probably be good. I left it up to them and I’m really happy with how they turned out.

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Le Cookie Monkey also delivered! They dropped off two boxes of cookies at my office (which was awesome and saved me so much time) in pizza boxes.

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Their minimum order was a dozen cookies, so that’s what I got. I stopped at Joann’s Fabrics to pick up treat boxes and some ribbon and spent one evening putting them together.

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Since I was mailing them to my potential bridesmaids, I wanted to get it done asap so the cookies were fresh and I also had to use a lot of padding so they wouldn’t get broken in transit. I used red, white and purple tissue paper, sealed the boxes and then decorated with a ribbon.

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It was so much fun! It took me hours but I had good music on, Fat Kitty was lording over the mailing boxes making sure he tested them out. 🙂 I was so focused I forgot to eat. Michael got home around 8pm and then we ate dinner. I’m shocked that *I* forgot to eat!

I remember when I lived alone and was struggling with losing weight and mindless eating. One of the things that helped me a lot was not having idle hands. If I was watching TV I kept busy with crafts instead of food. I sewed, I quilted, I painted treasure boxes and bird feeders, I scrapbooked, etc. It’s a good tip if nighttime boredom eating is a problem for you!

I also bought some cards on Etsy asking my friends to be bridesmaids and I included that in the boxes. Everyone was super excited to get the packages and loved the cookies! It was a fun little thing I could do and it didn’t cost much.

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That night Michael and I split one of the broken cookies for dessert. Holy cow were those cookies amazing! I ordered the lavender sugar cookie flavor and it was so freshly baked it was soft like butter. The frosting was good and not too sweet or too thick. I wanted to order another dozen just for me. 🙂

I probably could have made the cookies myself, but I’m glad I went through Le Cookie Monkey. There’s no way mine would have been as delicious as their cookies!