Wedding Advice from a Former Bride

When I got engaged last year in April, I had no idea how crazy my life was about to get.  My husband and I decided on a short engagement, setting our wedding date to late October of the same year.  That meant that I had no down time, I was immediately thrown into wedding planning because the venue had to be found, my dress had to be ordered, and my colors had to be perfect.  Now, looking back, there’s a few things I wish I had done differently that I want to share with all the brides in my life.  I’m now happy to share some wedding advice from a bride that got married this year.

Number one, enjoy your engagement

wedding advice enjoy your engagement

Enjoy your engagement for goodness sake!

I often found myself so engrossed in wedding everything that I became extremely stressed, and it completely took the fun away.  I wish I had taken what extra time I had, put wedding planning to the side, and just enjoyed our time of being engaged.  Make dates important for you two, take time out for the two of you!

To go along with that point, don’t forget about your significant other!  Usually there is one of you that is super involved in the planning, and one that is not as involved.  If you have someone who is just as involved in the planning as you, count your blessings!  For me, my husband wanted nothing to do with the planning.  Too many options and decisions stress him out, and it was better for him to be in the background until I had decided what I wanted.  There was too much bickering during this time because I wasn’t able to separate our time together with ‘wedding planning time’.  I made every moment we had together about the wedding, and it caused a lot of strain between us.  Take a lesson from me, don’t do that!  Designate certain times during the day/week/etc for wedding planning talk.  For the rest of your time together, take wedding planning talk off the table.  It’ll let you two enjoy each other without the stress of the wedding between you.

Number two, listen to your vendors

wedding advice - listen to your vendors!

Wedding advice – listen to your vendors!

The best vendors have many years under their belt, which means a lot of experience.  Some of the best wedding advice I could give is listen to their experience!  While each wedding has unique qualities, much about them are the same.  They all run on schedules, have many of the same events in them (first look, ceremony, first dance, etc), and is one of the happiest days of the couples’ lives!  The vendors are there to make sure that happens, and they know what they’re doing!  Ask them lots of questions, but at the end of the day know that they are prepared for every situation that could happen.  I was super concerned about it raining on my wedding day; the forecast said it was going to rain, but we were supposed to take bridal portraits outside and there weren’t any good alternatives to taking inside photos.  My photographer took all my questions and concerns in stride, and was way more prepared than I could have even wanted her to be the day of.  She arrived at my getting ready location with umbrellas and places around town that she had seen while driving that had overhangs for us to take pictures under.  We were covered, and you couldn’t even tell it was raining in the final pictures.

Picking vendors is one of the most fun aspects of the wedding planning! Start out with an idea and general list of what you want the wedding to be.  Make sure you have written out what is important to you so that you don’t forget about it when talking to your vendors.  Also, go in with a clear budget and try to avoid torturing yourself by looking at vendors that you know are outside your budget.  I made the classic mistake of going to see a venue that was way out of my price range, and immediately fell in love.  I tried to move around my budget to see if it would work, but no finagling could make an extra few thousand dollars appear in my account.  Finally, I agreed to see a venue that a friend had recommended, and it had exactly what I wanted.  There was a brick wall, it had unique character, it included extras, and it was in my price range!  My flower vendor was another surprise.  I had seen this flower vendor at a local farmer’s market and her bouquets were absolutely gorgeous.  She had a natural eye for putting together the perfect color schemes and flower combinations.  I impulsively asked her if she would be willing to put together the bouquets for my wedding, and she reluctantly agreed to a meeting.  Once we met, I knew that she was going to be perfect.  She instinctively knew what I wanted for my bouquets and listened to all my requests, while being willing to gently let me know when my requests weren’t feasible.  Additionally, she was the nicest person in the world and gave me an amazing deal on loose flowers for my centerpieces.  I got flowers that I thought were out of my price range for an incredible price, and when I picked them up she even included more than I had ordered!

Number three, hire a wedding planner

Wedding advice - hire a wedding planner

Wedding advice – hire a wedding planner.. A wedding planner can make everything better.

I strongly suggest, at minimum, having a day-of-coordinator or asking an assertive person in your life to take on that responsibility.  This was my biggest mistake of my wedding planning.  I did the planning mostly by myself and that burden was way too much for me along with all the emotions of preparing to get married.  I spent the six months of my engagement a bundle of stress and negative energy; my poor husband and best friend didn’t know what to do with me.  If you do go the friend route, make sure that they are naturally extremely organized, good at communicating, and someone you trust.  You need someone who is going to take things away from you, not add to your worries.  Bring them into your wedding planning early so that they are a part of all the decisions and can speak on your behalf.  If you hire a wedding coordinator, do your research!  Look at their reviews and ask for testimonials from previous clients.  Ask for their packages and look at what is right for you. Some brides need full planning, where the coordinator completely takes over and is charge of everything.  Other brides only need someone to come alongside and help them, an aide in the planning.  Still other brides only need a day-of-coordinator who makes sure that the wedding day  goes by seamlessly.  Choose what is right for you, and let some of that planning stress go!

Number four, the photographer

Hire a great photographer!

wedding advice – hiring a great photographer can help everything.

This was my biggest splurge in my budget, and for me the most crucial part of wedding planning.  A huge point of wedding advice for all brides – DO NOT overlook the importance of a good photographer!  I looked at tons of websites, portfolios, and reviews for my photographer.  Eventually I chose one whose shooting style and editing I liked, who was in my budget, and who, in correspondence with me, seemed like a good fit.  We ended up speaking on the phone before I put my retainer down, and I really encourage an in-person meeting if possible!  You want to make sure that you pick someone who you are comfortable around, because they are the ones who are going to be able to get you out of your shell and take the most natural and gorgeous pictures.

My wedding day was one that I absolutely loved.  Being in front of a camera is awkward at times, especially when the lens is 6 inches from your face; but just embrace the awkward and focus on your spouse!  Our photos came out absolutely fantastic and everything I wanted.  I’d recommend for all future brides to think ahead and be organized especially if you have a large wedding party. If you’re having photos done in different locations & have a lengthy shot list, make sure your expectations are reasonable based on the time frame between getting ready and the ceremony as well as how many hours you have hired the photographer. We had some props that we wanted to use, and in the bustle they were forgotten, and there was no turning back for them once we got to the wedding.  It didn’t affect the quality of the photos we got, but it was a bummer to have missed the opportunity to use them.

Last but not least, remember what this day is about. 

Wedding advice - remember what it's about!

Wedding advice – remember what it’s about!

At the end of the day, my biggest advice is to remember what the wedding day is about.  It’s not about your friends or family (though they’re important), it’s not about what decorations you have or what delicious food you eat, and it’s definitely not about where to seat your crazy uncle.  Your wedding day is a celebration of marrying the person you are absolutely head over heels for, that’s what it’s all about!  Feel free to pass along this wedding advice to all your friends getting married!!!

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