I’m a brand-new newlywed. During the nine months of being engaged, I spent hours upon hours scouring the internet to find the best tips, tricks, and how-to’s for planning your own wedding. I am a pretty organized person and our budget was not expansive, so I didn’t feel the need to hire a wedding planner. I was confident I could pull everything off myself.
So for you lovely brides-to-be:* whether your left hand is sparkling or will be any day now, whether you’re inherently organized or just hope to be, whether your engagement will be weeks or years, here are 6 resources you can use to throw a successful event that just about everyone will enjoy.
- First, your most important resource is your groom. I never bought into the idea that a groom’s job was to try on his tux or suit, enjoy his bachelor party, and try to show up on time. Despite the cultural emphasis on it being all about the bride, I wanted my wedding day to, more importantly, be our wedding day. And with that came completely open conversations, conversations about things he didn’t care about, and most importantly, never booking anything he didn’t agree to. (The only caveat to the latter being the possibility of booking something to surprise him.) My now-husband was a fabulous fiance. He was there for me when I was stressed, picked up the slack when I couldn’t make phone calls or receive messages from a vendor due to my work/sleep schedule, and faithfully kept up with the to-do list I kept for him. Enlist your soon-to-be-husband to help you! I’d guess he wants to, anyway.
- Your next resource: your budget. Taylor and I figured out the total amount we wanted to spend, and then used The Knot’s Budgeter to get a rough estimate of how much we should spend on each vendor. You can personalize this calculator with many specifics – and if you’d like to do that, do it! We found that simply having the main categories available to us was enough, and it helped us have conversations with potential vendors or even eliminate vendors based on their rates. We also sat down with our parents the day after our engagement and told everyone we planned to foot the entire bill, and any gift would be graciously accepted but was not required nor requested. This conversation gave us final say on all decisions, from the venue to the goody bags to the guest list. If you are in this position, I very highly recommend you have the same conversation. It will benefit you later!
- Next resource: your parents. Taylor and I are lucky: all of our parents remain married to one another. We were blessed to not have very much drama in this department. However, I know that not everyone is in the same position as we were. Therefore, take this advice with a grain of salt, knowing your own family so much better than I do! We found that our parents were great sounding boards for ideas and style inspiration, bringing in ideas from their own weddings. They were also great listeners when things were difficult. Our parents made phone calls for us when we both had to work (or sleep, #nightnurselife), booked vendors for us, went with us to bridal shows and meetings, and ran errands with us the week of the wedding. I’m sure no one in your life is more excited for you than your parents! Include them as much as you feel comfortable doing so.
- Next resource: a wedding planning binder. Phone convo with the photographer? Take notes and put it in the binder. Discover the absolutely perfect hairstyle on Blake Lively from the Golden Globes? Print it out, or rip it out of the magazine you’re looking at, and pop it in the binder. Attend a bridal show and get offered 20% off your DJ if you book in the next month? Make sure you get something printed with that offer, or handwritten and initialed from one of the employees, and put that in the binder. Kept one of your closest friend’s wedding program, or another friend’s lingerie shower invitation, or another friend’s wedding invitation? Pop these in the binder, too! You never know when these items will spur some inspiration for your own big day or other events. Even if they never become inspiration, you may come across them, remember how you felt watching your best friend exchange “I dos,” the way her bouquet was so perfect with those white hydrangeas, or just how overwhelmed with love you were when the pastor finally said “You may kiss the bride,” and hopefully it gives you some peace for your own day. Your family and friends will be feeling the same things you did! Whatever wedding argument you’re in the midst of – and there will be more than one, unfortunately – won’t matter because everyone is going to be so happy for you and that you’re in love. 🙂
- Next resource: your guest list. Oh drama drama drama. Drama for you, drama for your mama and your papa. When you hang up the phone from telling the last friend or family member about your happy proposal, delight in the bliss of being engaged, give your husband-to-be a big ol’ kiss, take a deep breath, and start writing down names. I hate this for you. This part is so difficult. But the sooner you start, the sooner it’s over. Start your list with people who are definitely invited. Parents, grandparents, family members, best friends you intend to ask to be your bridesmaids and groomsmen, etc. Then write a list of people you really really really want to come. Childhood friends, close friends from college, people you work with, youth pastors, etc. Lastly, write a list of people you would love to invite. You know these, the outliers, the ones you’re friends or acquaintances with but would be okay if they RSVP’d with a “no.” Invite your parents to make the same lists (for us, we only had them make the first two lists). Now tally up all these people. Now when you go venue-hunting, you can get a good idea of prices for column 1, columns 1 + 2, and columns 1 + 2 + 3. It’ll help you negotiate well. Also, the polite thing to do is only invite people to pre-wedding events who are also invited to the wedding. So when your aunt and uncle or husband-to-be’s godmother offer you an engagement party, you know which people to choose from.
- Lastly, your style. If you already had a Pinterest before you got the rock, look it over, especially if you have a board dedicated to clothes. What do the things you pin say about you? Are you laid-back and casual? Preppy and classic? Bright and colorful? Use this for inspiration when you make wedding plans. I found it difficult to translate my personal style into a wedding style, having never planned a wedding before. But the more I remained true to myself, the better I felt about my decisions in the planning process. And in the end, my wedding was exactly true to me and my new husband’s style, which made us enjoy the day even more. We aren’t particularly fancy people but enjoy some fancy things. So we were comfortable with our cocktail-attire, open-bar event held in a venue decorated with modern uplighting and beautiful antiques. I’m also not a particularly colorful person, instead usually opting to bring color into my style through accessories. Therefore, my groom wore navy and the wedding party all wore gray, several different varieties, while we brought color into the event elsewhere.
Whew! That ended up being so much more wordy than I anticipated. Gold stars for you if you made it this far!
Next time I write about wedding planning, I’ll be writing about actual books, websites, and other resources I used to nail my style into place, ensure very few feelings were hurt (and that those that were stung were not stung too badly), and keep everything to a timeline so nothing ran late.
Until next time!
* Disclaimer: in light of our society’s transforming attitude towards gender identity and a general increase in LGBT rights, I felt it worth noting that I will be writing all wedding planning posts from the point of view of a bride and groom. Please don’t take this to mean I’m attempting to exclude anyone who is getting married but is not a straight couple. I hope you still find the blog welcoming and informative no matter what kind of wedding you’re planning. 🙂