It’s wedding season, and that means I’ve been spending a lot of time emailing, texting, and talking on the phone with engaged girls! There’s one pattern I’ve noticed among almost all of the brides that have inquired with me. Overwhelm!
Whether they end up booking with me or not, a lot of brides just want helpful advice on how to approach planning the big day. It can be so overwhelming and every wedding is just so different. This list is by no means all-inclusive but are a few tips I learned through my recent wedding planning process that I love passing on to soon-to-be brides.
- Dream Big
This is the day you’ve been dreaming of for your entire life. Start the planning process with a big cup of coffee and an empty notebook. Open all the Pinterest tabs in your browser, binge watch wedding videos from your favorite filmmakers. Turn it into a date with your fiancé and go wild! Before you get into the specifics and the budget, it can be fun to start by thinking outside the box, little things big or small that would make this day special for you. A lot of brides haven’t even been to very many weddings, and have no idea where to start! Maybe find a wedding photographer, even planner, or florist you respect, grab a cup of coffee with them and ask for some ideas.
2. Specify the Goal and Keep it Front and Center
Everyone has a different goal for how they want their wedding day to go down, other than the fact that everyone wants to be married at the end! Some people want a huge party with all their friends. Some people want every aspect of the day to feel like royalty, or have a wild and free elopement.
For us, we wanted everything about the day to have a handmade, heartfelt touch and point to the beauty of Christ. As I made different decisions leading up to the wedding, those priorities helped me keep the main thing the main thing. I went to so many dress shops, and ended up finding my dress for under $300 at a consignment shop. It wasn’t as fancy as some of the others, but my ultimate goal for the wedding wasn’t to feel fancy, it was to be beautiful for my husband and reflect Christ and the Church. And for that’ my dress was more than perfect.
3. Budget for What Matters
Photography, food, and live music. Those were our top priorities for the day and we budgeted for those things above everything else. If your budget is smaller than the average wedding, that doesn’t mean you can’t have your dream photographer or dream venue!
The key is to choose a few things that matter most to you and keep everything else simple. Once you’ve set your budget, find some average percentages of how much people spend on each area of the wedding. This will help you keep all the details in mind like invitations, tuxedo rentals, paying the officiant, etc. From there you can adjust the budget for what matters most to you. Want a killer DJ but don’t care as much about cake? Find a less expensive cake option and party the night away!
4. Break Rules
Don’t care about throwing your bouqet? Skip it! Want popsicles instead of cake in the middle of November? (We did) Go for it! It’s your day. Who are you trying to please? Pinterest? Don’t sweat the small stuff. People are coming to celebrate with you, and it really doesn’t matter if they aren’t impressed by your colors or the earrings you chose. All your true friends care about is celebrating with the two of you.
It can be really fun to break some rules and add unique, sweet touches to the ceremony. It can be helpful to study each tradition and find out why it exists. Not only will it help you appreciate the meaning behind the wedding traditions you chose to make a part of your day, but it will also help you toss out a few that may not be as meaningful and replace them with something that is.
5. Nurture Relationships. Don’t Drop Those Friendships
I know, girl. You’re working full time, you’re in over your head with wedding planning. You’re moving to a new place, you’re trying to prep for marriage and continue to build your relationship with your soon-to-be husband. There is SO MUCH to think about in the months leading up to a wedding day. Sometimes all you want is a StressAway bath and a bar of dark chocolate. The last thing you want to do is try to invest in and nurture your other friends.
Believe me though, after the honeymoon and after you’re settled in, you don’t want to look back and realize you have let your friendships dwindle away. Don’t get me wrong. Engagement is a taxing season. Your true friends will understand, this season can be demanding! But do something small. Send a text or a note. Take them out for coffee. Going the extra mile to spend time with your friends, and not make it about wedding can go a long way to show them you really care.
6. Invest Time Into Pre-Marital Counseling
After the ceremony and the party is over, the lifelong wedding begins. So many couples spend more time and energy leading up to their marriage on wedding planning than they do on marriage planning. Find a couple to mentor you, go through some solid books together. (Our favorite is The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller.) Take time to ask the hard questions and get to know each other’s dreams, plans, habits, and strengths so you can prepare to walk alongside them and love them well.
7. Delegate Tasks
It’s the day you’ve been dreaming of for so long. You have a vision in your mind and you want everything to be perfect. But if you don’t hand off the details of your day to someone else who can handle it for you, you’re going to be overwhelmed and unable to simply be present! This is your day and you should be in it. Don’t be afraid to hire help or put your friends to work! I advise every one of my brides to have one or two day-of coordinators to help with everything that day. Nobody should be asking you how you want the napkins folded or when the reception starts. Do a few special touches yourself, and then hand it off! Don’t have super hero complex. Let go, let others serve you and help you to live in the moment.
8. Schedule Time for Meaningful Moments
You’ve probably heard, “the day will fly by!” And that’s true! Another truth is, meaningful moments rarely happen on a tightly sealed schedule. Put time in your schedule to greet loved ones, sit and talk with your mom before you walk down the aisle, a moment alone with your new husband between photos and the reception. Remember it’s not all about the photos and the event. It’s also about the moments. Make time to just spend time with the people you love!
9. Hire a Great Wedding Photographer
I know I’m biased, but this comes from the heart. Second only to pre-marital counseling, is the importance of wedding photography and here’s why: It’s the only thing you have after everything else is over. Great food, a fantastic DJ, a stunning venue, all the friends and family close. All of that only lasts a day, and if you don’t have great photos to bring back those memories, all of it will fade so quickly. I’m not saying it has to be me! Everyone has a different style and goal for their wedding day. But do your research, budget a decent amount, and ask questions to make sure you’re hiring someone trustworthy who really cares about your moments. A few questions I would ask a photographer are:
— “Will you meet with me before we sign the contract?” Make sure you really like their personality and style.
— “Are you willing to take charge during family photos/stressful situations?” Wedding photography is a lot of work! Make sure you find someone who cares enough about your day to direct the schedule and the moment so you don’t have to think about it.
— “How do you light indoor and reception situations?” (Some photographers are great at natural light and golden hour but that doesn’t mean they know how to light harder situations well!)
10. Remember What It’s All About
When you’re three weeks out from wedding planning, you have piles of decor in your garage, bridesmaid drama in the group text, you’re on your third or fourth cup of coffee and it’s 9am, take a breath. Call your fiancé and tell him you love him. Tell your friends and family you love them, and can’t wait to celebrate with them. Don’t get lost in the stress of the moment because when you look back, all you are going to feel is grateful and in love. Stained table cloths, a falling out with someone on the guest list, decorations that won’t get here on time. It will all work out and be absolutely beautiful. Remember it’s about the covenant you are making, and have a little fun in the process!
As always, if you have any questions, shoot me an email! I’d love to talk with you about your big day! Much love, Patience.