Anyone planning a wedding is bound to get a ton of advice. Some of it about budgeting, traditions, what to do, what not to do, flowers, band vs. dj, cake flavors, cake designs, dress styles, hair styles, makeup, details, details, and more stinking details. Some of it is great, some not so great. My feeling throughout the process was, I was open to hearing all advice, but had the authority to take it or leave it. Here is some advice that I took to heart and truly believe it made a difference:
- Kim gave me some advice that truly helped me from day one. Do not settle for any vendor. There are tons of vendors out there and do not be pressured to book them just because they encourage you to do it quickly. At first this was hard for me - I'd find someone I liked a lot and think, I need to book them now, NOW! Omigosh what if someone else books them before me - I will DIE to not have this vendor - they're the best I can get! Okay - that's how crazy the thought process goes. Take a deep breath - you always have time. I planned our wedding in 8 months and as you can see from my reviews, I loved the majority of my vendors. So, keep shopping. Even if you think you've found the right vendor, go to one more, compare prices, and get reviews of that vendor from at least a couple people. Then go for it. But calm yourself down and don't buy into the idea that you have to rush and book someone.
- Bargain! Staying on budget was imperative for us. I refused to go over - my feeling was, we had a very good budget and no matter what, we'd make it work. I accomplished that (and have a bit of money leftover!) simply by bargaining and not settling. You can always get more for your money, or get them to throw in some deals. And if I wasn't happy with a price, I walked away and explained to the vendor that I couldn't do that. More often than not, the vendor will try to work it out with you - they want your business. That gives you a lot of power - you hold the power!
- Pick your top 3-4 priorities for the wedding with your fiance. Our top priorities were: photography, location, music and my dress. These were things that we were willing to go over the budget on. If you don't pick your priorities, it becomes very easy to think that every single part of your wedding has to be "perfect" or the "best". For us, setting those few priorities made us compromise in other areas. We went with the best priced videographer we could find because it wasn't as important to us as photography. Instead of having all tall centerpieces, we split it and did some short ones and some tall onces - just to save a little there. Little things make a difference.
- Do what you want to do. We got mixed reviews on our favors - we donated money to the Washington Animal Rescue League where our adorable pup came from instead of giving a favor. It was important to us to do something meaningful. We got a ton of positive responses. We also opted not to use ANY flowers at the chapel. We felt the chapel was absolutely stunning by itself and that the flowers really wouldn't have added much. We wanted the chapel to stand alone. People noticed it but instead of being appalled by it, the majority of responses were positive - they noticed that we had done it on purpose and loved it. Another thing we did that people had mixed feelings about - having our dog at for a couple formal pictures. Everyone (including me!) was worried that she's put a dirty paw on me and ruin my dress. It was a risk I wanted to take - it was something we really wanted. So - if you get a feeling about something that you really want to do - do it.
- A note about your registry: I would recommend registering for things you absolutely need prior to your shower, then after your shower, add the things that aren't necessities, but that you want. We did not do it this way and I wish we had. Now, we don't have towels or our bedding but have a ton of fun things. It's going to be a big pain for me to return the fun things that we want - but we're going to have to because we didn't get a lot of the stuff we need.
- Do not be afraid to speak your mind. I was a little nervous about this in the beginning in terms of speaking up to vendors. I felt bad for some reason asking for certain things - I thought I was being picky. But when it came down to it, I reminded myself that we're allowed to have our day, exactly how we want it and that we are paying to have things how we want them. Just remind yourself that you have every right to stand up for what you want. I was blatantly honest with a couple vendors about my dissatisfaction with the way something was handled and they (I hope) appreciated it. It meant that they could fix things and really pay attention and make things wonderful for the big day - and in return, I am able to rave about how professional they are.
- Check the knot boards or ask around. It sounds very bridezilla - but before I booked any vendor, I wanted to get a few positive reviews beforehand. So I'd post for opinions about that particular vendor and see what happened. I really think it helped me and as a result I ended up with an awesome team of vendors who made our day incredibly special.
- Use other people's weddings for inspiration. I looked at people's photos, or thought about weddings I've been to, and the details I loved. If I liked someone's cake, or DJ, or makeup, I asked them for the information. I know you want to feel like your wedding is unique from any friend's wedding - but it's okay to go with a vendor that a friend used. I think it actually helps - then you know their experience, and can reference their wedding when inquiring.
- I already mentioned this one - but skip the cameras in the middle of each table.
- Someone mentioned to me that during the last few weeks before the wedding, to take some quiet time to sit back and realize what an amazing time this is in my life. I did that - and on the wedding day I took about 1/2 hour by myself on the balcony with my journal. I sat and reflected and it really helped slow down the wedding day. Everyone says it flies by - and it does go quickly - but for me it wasn't a blur. I remember so many details of that day, words someone spoke, and the feeling I had that day I will never forget. Take the time to appreciate it - it's an incredibly special feeling!
So there's my two-cents! And of course, take it or leave it! Any advice you other ladies can offer that I may have missed??
Next up - HONEYMOON REVIEW!