Wedding planning season is in full swing! And while it’s been over a year and a half since my husband and I tied the knot (you can read all about our wedding details here and here), I still get questions about how we planned our wedding, and find myself frequently giving advice to friends who are just beginning their own wedding planning journeys.
It’s an exciting time, but it can also be an extremely overwhelming time. It’s very easy to get swept away in the planning and eventually bogged down with all the details, especially if you’re trying to tackle the bulk of the work on your own. When I was going through the process, I thought my wedding was the most important project I’d ever plan. But after the wedding, I had a much more pragmatic perspective (they always say hindsight is 20/20). There were key pieces of advice I got from family and friends, in addition to things I wish I knew when I was planning my wedding. So you don’t have to learn many of these things the hard way, like I did, here are 17 things you’ll wish you knew before your wedding:
1. You don’t need to spend money on frivolous things.
Listen, I know you think you need that ice sculpture, or photo booth, or elaborate wedding favours, or extra dress for your reception. But I’m telling you first-hand: if you spend frivolously, you will regret how much money you spent on your wedding. It’s a fact. We went $30,000 over our wedding budget (think about that for a second.) because of all the extras and frivolous expenses. People will only remember the big things: was there enough food, was there an open-bar, was the music good, were the speeches short?
2. You’ll never get your time back.
No doubt, wedding planning takes a lot of time. But in the same way that you should not spend money frivolously, don’t spend time frivolously either! You are not trying to win the best wedding planner of the year award. You don’t need to create a PowerPoint presentation with all the bells and whistles. There are some great, free (simple) resources online that will help you. You don’t need to recreate the wheel!
3. Get a day of wedding planner.
You can’t do it all by yourself, and you certainly don’t want to be the person trying to keep things organized and on-schedule on the big day. Full wedding planning services can be expensive. But do carve out a portion of your budget for a day of wedding planner. A good one will end up being more of a ‘month of’ wedding planner, as he or she will need to get up to speed with the plans and introduce himself or herself to your vendors.
4. Be realistic and open about your finances.
Determine how much you can spend, based on how much you’ve already saved and how much you can save during your engagement. If your wedding budget doesn’t go as far as you’d like, consider making cuts (see point #1 above) or a longer engagement (this is for the rest of your life, after all!). Don’t be afraid to speak to your families about finances upfront, as it’s better to know what kind of assistance you’ll be receiving, rather than guessing.
5. Deal with the big things first.
Venue, caterer, dress, photographer, flowers. Get the most important things crossed off your list first and then re-evaluate your budget to see what you have left for the smaller things.
6. Forget tradition, do a first look!
This is one of the best ways to get a very special and intimate moment with your partner documented on your wedding day. This can also alleviate some of the anxiety of walking down the aisle.
7. Don’t forget to eat!
Eat breakfast. Have snacks that aren’t messy and are bite-size on-hand. Keep your bridal party fed during the day. Have your day of wedding planner (see point #3 above) put a plate of cocktail reception food aside for you and your partner to enjoy privately.
8. Make room in your budget for after-care for your dress.
Decide early whether you plan to sell, donate, or keep your dress. Personally, I will never understand people who trash their dress (like, why?) and I could never bring myself to sell my dress after the wedding (there’s far too much sentimental value attached). Not gonna lie, after-care for your dress can be expensive, but it’s worth every penny and if you factor it into your budget in advance, it will save having sticker shock later!
I went to Creeds in Toronto, an established, family-owned and operated dry-cleaning service in business since 1921. Creeds is a couture dry cleaner and trust me when I tell you, these people KNOW after-care for wedding dresses! Not that you should ever do this, but if you waited a couple years to clean and restore your dress after your wedding, Creeds could still make it look like new again! I personally witnessed just how meticulous their seamstresses are and how much individual attention to detail is given to each dress. All of the work is done by hand and each dress is treated differently. For example, the entire bottom layer of tulle on my dress was badly ripped, and somehow Creeds was able to save my dress and make it look perfect again! Once they’re done cleaning and restoring your dress, they stuff it with tissue paper to maintain its shape, and beautifully package it up in an airtight box. You’ll have an heirloom to preserve for future generations. Creeds also has a pick-up and delivery service, which makes the process even easier.
9. At least one thing is going to go wrong.
It always does. Chances are, no one will notice except you. Prepare yourself in advance for this fact and approach your big day with the attitude that anything that goes wrong won’t phase you. If something does go wrong (which it will), don’t sweat it. There is only so much you can control. Do what you can up until the night before your wedding and then place all your trust on the day of in the wonderful work you, your planner and loved ones have done. Focus on being present and having fun on your big day.
10. You’re going to piss at least one person off.
Weddings are a sea of emotion and you’d be surprised who else will throw a fit besides the bride! People get upset over the silliest things and EVERYONE has an opinion about how you should do things. Remember: it’s YOUR wedding. Cut out as much of the noise as possible and focus on the things that are most important to you and your partner.
11. Don’t leave the photography to cocktail hour.
Just don’t. You’ll be surprised just how quickly that hour and a half goes! Get your main photos (bride & groom, bridal party, even family photos, if possible) done before your reception. Any additional photos you get during cocktail hour will be a bonus.
12. Write your thank you notes immediately after you get married.
It’s tedious and time consuming. But just get it over and done with, and don’t wait for a few months or even longer to acknowledge your guests and thank them for their support and generosity.
13. Write your own vows.
This is one of the best ways to tell your partner how much he or she means to you in your own words. It can be scary to some (like my husband), but this is one of the things you and your guests will always remember.
14. Think of ways to enhance your guest experience.
If you’re going to fuss over details, then let it be those details that will enhance your guest experience. People will always remember the rescue flats I had at my wedding. So many women came up to me at the end of the night to thank me for taking care of their aching feet – it was such a nice touch! Our late-night snack bar was also a hit.
15. Carve out at alone time with your spouse on your special day.
Set aside 20 minutes to be alone. Cherish how you feel, being together on your wedding day. Take a moment to look around and acknowledge all the people who came to support you and your marriage.
16. You don’t have to go on your honeymoon right after your wedding.
It’s not necessary to leave for your honeymoon right after the wedding, and I personally have never been able to wrap my head around how people can do this (unless you can easily manage and need an all-inclusive getaway that requires minimal planning). This will just be another huge item on your wedding planning checklist. If you wait, you can save (I shared how we saved for our honeymoon here) and have an even better honeymoon later (we went to Dubai and Mauritius for ours about a year later).
17. Enjoy the planning and have fun!
Most important of all, enjoy the process and have fun on the day of! By giving yourself enough time to plan and execute, you’ll eliminate the stress of things being left to the last minute! Your wedding should be one of the most magical and fun days of your life!
*This post was done in partnership with Creeds, but as always, all opinions are 100% my own.