Advice From a Planner Bride

April 15, 2014

This Sunday marks just 5 months until my own wedding day!  As an event planner, I began planning our wedding with a plethora of insight into the event world and hundreds of visions of what our wedding might be like.

What I never imagined is that, in being a bride, I would learn even more about the wedding planning process.  Today, I would like to share what I’ve learned over our already 15-month engagement and offer you tips for planning your own wedding day.

Take your time.  I’ll admit it… I didn’t do this from the start.  Just just two days after our engagement, I called every vendor that I knew that I wanted to work with to book them.  My dress was selected and ordered just two weeks later.  While my “day job” had given me the opportunity to already work with or interview many local vendors, my quick decision making actually caused me to miss out on some of the up-and-coming vendors that I now know.  It’s not that I don’t LOVE my current vendors – I can’t wait to see everyone’s amazing work – but it certainly has made me wonder what the wedding would look like if I had waited even just 6 months to begin planning.  Who knows… Your dream venue may not exist now but it may be being built as you read this post.  If you have the time, follow a schedule.  Choose your venue, entertainers and photographers first. Then, work from there.

You will change your mind.  I can say with 100% honesty that I’ve had my wedding planned out since I was 13 years old.  (Yes, I still have my favorite magazine clippings from old Bride’s magazines.)  A secret-garden-inspired event was always top of mind; however, I’ve now gone through at least 3 visions of what my secret garden wedding looks like.  My advice?  Book your florist, rental company and other designers according to your planning schedule but don’t ask for detailed proposals right away.  While my vision has not changed much, I can tell you that I will be changing my linen and rental order!  I advise all of my clients to wait until about 3 months prior to finalize their decor decisions.  Why?  Thanks to magazines, Pinterest and your own friends’ weddings, you may see something that sparks your interest even more than your original idea.  That change in mind can mean a blown decor budget if you’ve already purchased those items or that you’ve exhausted your design vendors with continual proposal edits.  Instead, keep a Pinterest board or binder of ideas. Act on those design decisions approximately 3 months out.

Consider an un-plugged ceremony. It’s sad but true that I’ve stood in the back of a church watching a beautiful ceremony only for the view to also be filled with hundreds of cameras, phones and iPads.  Those beautiful wide shots that photographers love to take of your event are now “graffitied” with modern day technology.  The result?  I am kindly asking our guests to turn off and put away their electronics during the ceremony so that our fabulous photographer and videographer can capture it as I have always imagined.

Know that you can’t please everyone. Someone is bound to be offended by how you address their invitation, the type of ceremony you’ve selected or even your choice in venue. I have to also couple this with “some battles are not worth fighting.”  My advice?  Let it go and be cordial.  This is YOUR wedding. The opinions of you and your fiancé are the ones who matter; however, weigh the opinions of important family members.  If their wish does not drastically affect your day, it will be a nice gesture to include it.  The battle I lost?   The cookie table.  After plating thousands of cookies, it was the last thing I thought I wanted to see.  In the end I will enjoy having the extra sweets.  Who was this sweet tooth kidding!?  More importantly, so will my family.

Shop selectively. With the invention of the internet came information overload.  There are thousands of photographers alone to choose from just in the Pittsburgh area.  What do you do?  Take the time to research your vendors online.  Then, schedule in-person appointments with your 3 favorites.  With only 3 to choose from you’ll prevent information from running together, have a clearer vision of who is the best fit and leave more room in your schedule for other activities.

Trust and respect your professionals. The moment we were engaged, there were bets out that I would be a “Bridezilla.”  I approach every event that I coordinate with respect and trust; therefore, my own wedding will be no different.  Take the time to gather the professional opinions of your vendors and give them ample time to respond to your requests. They may be preparing for another event as you speak.

Don’t leave out the videographer. I never really understood the value of a wedding videographer until I compared a client’s video footage side-by-side with their collection of photos.  The moment that changed my mind?  A bride looking up after praying with her bridesmaids saying “This just got real” and the laughter that all of them had following.  While photographers do a spectacular job at capturing the emotion of the day, they just can’t record that hilarious speech from a groomsmen or grandma’s special advice to you and your husband.  Remember too that life is short. Your friends and relatives may not always be around.  Nothing is more special than preserving those moments and re-living them years later.  If a professional videographer is not in your budget, assign friends or family to take on portions of the day.  It will be worth it!

Have fun! It’s not just the wedding you have to look forward to; it is the rest of your life together.  Take breaks from planning, schedule wedding-free dates with your fiancé and make certain tasks feel like a game rather than a chore.  You will both appreciate it.

Now you’ll just have to wait 5 months to see how our wedding comes together!

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