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 It was a really interesting interview with a woman talking about how her and her partner disregarded the “outdated” and “sexist” wedding traditions.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. ūüôā 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!

Wedding Observations

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I know some of these observations are probably a big “DUH” for most people, but not having experienced the behind-the-scenes planning that goes into weddings until now, I was totally in the dark. I was a bridesmaid in my brother’s wedding but I wasn’t involved in any of the planning or nitty-gritty. I just had my own drama with the bridesmaid dress! I was the maid of honor in my best friend Rachel’s wedding but she had a very short engagement (one month!) and did most of the planning on her own. She also lucked out in that it was a small wedding and most of it could be DIY.

The internet is full of wedding stuff! From planning guides to DIY obsession websites, to real life stories…you can find anything.¬†This was an interesting article:¬†The Eight Truths About Weddings (That No One Ever Tells You). Also, if you’re planning a wedding, DO NOT google wedding horror stories. You’ll give yourself nightmares.

So now for a few of my observations, and there might be a few rants in there.

Observations

1. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the planning. Having a guide book in conjunction with an iPhone app reminder for planning was a lifesaver. The app was cool because I plugged in our date and it figured out my timeline for everything. No work for me! The only downside of the app was that apparently I am perpetually about a month behind on all planning. Who in their right mind has the venue and dress on day 2 of being engaged?!

2. You know all those picture perfect people on wedding websites and Pinterest? I’m pretty sure they are all models and the whole thing is staged. There is NO WAY a normal wedding looks that flawless. These people look perfect and once I realized that, I stopped expecting my own wedding to look perfectly!

Rants

1. Boy is it impossible to get a straight answer/quote from anyone. I found this to be the most frustrating part of the wedding planning process. I understand that vendors can’t be 100% correct but an estimate should be pretty close. And not thousands of dollars off, you know?

Where I found this the most was reviewing caterers. None of the websites had estimates of cost on their sample menus. The range was absurd, too. It could be from $25-50 per person. The variables were so abstract I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. Not only that, the ones that DID include costs for all the services were really overwhelming. And again, no bottom line. I’m a bottom line kind of person.

2. Weddings are definitely a business. I already kind of knew this but finally witnesses the up-selling that goes on, I just had to shake my head. The wedding industry wants you to go broke on things you just DO NOT NEED.

One of the things I crossed off the list immediately was favors. No offense, but I cannot remember a single wedding where the favors were something I wanted/needed/or even took home. My brother’s wedding was beautiful but most people didn’t even know that there were favors so they were stuck with a 100 leftover favors after the wedding. Waste of money!

3. Is anyone else feeling like they are being blackmailed or harassed by a loan shark while planning a wedding? What makes me the most mental about this whole thing is the ridiculousness of it all. Seriously. The same flowers I like are suddenly 3x more expensive when I utter the word “wedding.” The caterers want to charge $10/bottle for corking fees?? This wine probably cost me $10! ¬†It really does feel like highway robbery when faced with the astounding costs of things that NORMALLY wouldn’t be that expensive. I’d be lying if there weren’t a few times during the planning that I thought,¬†We should have eloped in Vegas…

Lessons Learned Along the Way

1. I am positive that this wedding is here to teach me how to be PATIENT. I am so not patient. About anything. In fact, I am probably the most impatient person ever. But I have to wait on a lot of people to make decisions and to get back to me and I’m slowly learning that it’s okay if it takes a few days, or a week….

2. This kind of goes along the lines of being patient: WAITING. This is probably the most important thing I’ve forced myself to do. The initial excitement of the engagement, wanting to get started right away on planning, too much time on Etsy and Pinterest…there have been several times where I was tempted to start ordering things. I AM SO GLAD I WAITED. Wait wait wait. Seriously. The first few months of planning everything is fun and it’s easy to get overly excited and not think things through. Or make frivolous choices.

3. What Michael and I want is what is important, not what we “should” do. A lot of people were shocked (or concerned) that we weren’t having a wedding cake. I’ve never had a wedding cake that tasted good. I think they are beautiful but unnecessary and way too expensive. For years we’ve been talking about doing Krispie Kreme donuts, brownies or cupcakes. I know cupcakes are the new fad, but basically I want anything BUT wedding cake! Whenever people balk that I’m not having wedding cake, I want to say, “Don’t worry. There will be dessert. You know me! Have I ever passed up dessert?!”

4. Go with my gut. There were a lot of vendors I corresponded with and some of them just gave me a bad vibe. I’m glad I went with my gut. If I’m spending a lot of money for a big event, I don’t want to hire someone who is unreliable for flaky. For example: one caterer I contacted was so disorganized I finally just said no thanks. She tried to email me menus as an attached four times and they were only attached twice. One of the times she attached the wrong invoice. Then there were two different people responding to my emails, but no email signature, no explanation as to who they were, the email address wasn’t from a professional site (it was like “butterflykisses@msn.com” or something weird). The whole thing just rubbed me the wrong way! Seriously, if someone can’t handle emails, how can they coordinate an event for more than 100 people!??!

Finally

Despite the sticker shock and the occasional frustrations, I’m still enjoying the process. I love being engaged. It’s a fun time and I think the longer we take to make decisions on things, the better. After the initial excitement of things, most of the frivolous stuff seems unnecessary and easy to say “no” to.

We have plenty of time for planning and I’m not too worried. I think things will just fall together as they should.

QUESTION: What are your wedding rants/observations/lessons learned? Any words of wisdom?