With a two year engagement I had plenty of time to plan for every small detail of my wedding, and plan I did. Still, a wedding that runs with absolutely no hiccups or surprises is fairly rare, and mine was no exception.
Here’s what I learned from planning a wedding, and how you can learn from my experience to set yourself up for a fantastic ceremony and celebration.
You Can’t Do it Alone so Ask for Help
I was a highly organized bride. I had the bridal binder with the appropriate tabs labeled “guests,” “venue,” “music,” and so forth. I meticulously researched what questions to ask vendors (and was complimented several times on asking good questions). I had the budget I was working with and kept track of every single expense right down to tiny decorations and I saved all the receipts.
You can do a lot, but you can’t do it all. Some minute detail will inevitably fall through the cracks and you’re going to have to ask someone for help. Your fiance, your parents, your wedding party, a vendor – these people are your team. Use them.
Here are two examples where I couldn’t handle something myself and needed help, both relating to last minute deliveries:
We were using small succulent plants as the wedding favors/placard holders with table numbers. These were not delivered until the night before the wedding, partially because I didn’t want them delivered too early and have them not hold up.
Side note: Choose a wedding favor that you can arrange to have delivered earlier than the day before, to avoid having a last minute panic attack.
They did arrive in time, but I realized the morning of the wedding I had no idea how they were getting to the venue. I asked the boyfriend of one of my bridesmaids for help and he was happy to transport them.
The other thing was the wedding cupcakes. They were also picked up the day before the wedding, and the baker informed me they had to be refrigerated. Great. Where am I refrigerating all of these cupcakes, and then how are they getting to the wedding?
My maid of honor’s mother ended up taking them and keeping them fresh in her basement refrigerator and delivered them to the venue.
Two people who weren’t even a part of the wedding party or were vendors ended up helping me in such a huge way, and that’s not to even mention the myriad ways everybody else helped out with the big day.
Something Will Probably Go Wrong
Again, you can attempt to plan for every little detail and lean on others for help but inevitably something is going to go wrong that will be out of your control. Maybe you have an outdoor wedding and it rains. Maybe a key person in your wedding party gets food poisoning. For me, it was that my hair person did not show up.
We’d hired a person from a local hair salon to come to my parents’ apartment to do mine and my bridesmaids’ hair. My mother had a second person coming from the same salon just for her.
These hairdressers were not allowed to do at-home appointments. The salon required them to only schedule appointments at the actual salon. So this was on the down low, and that turned out to be a big mistake.
The person just didn’t show up. And my mother’s hairdresser was unable to stay and do the rest of our hair. When it became clear we were in trouble my bridal team got on the phone with other salons, and thankfully one was able to fit me and two bridesmaids in. My other two bridesmaids found a friend who did hair who was able to help out.
Here’s the thing: We could not report this person to the hair salon without my mother’s hairdresser getting in trouble as well, so we didn’t.
Learn from my mistake and hire only legitimate vendors, so if something goes wrong, you can hold someone accountable and have the situation at least somewhat remedied.
Beyond that, though, just know that something small or big – or both – is going to go wrong and you’ll just have to let it roll off your back and keep the big picture in perspective.
Even if I’d never gotten another hairdresser I still would have been walking down that aisle. A bridesmaid would have done my hair or I otherwise would have figured it out. But I still would have gotten married, and that’s the important thing.
Consider a Videographer
It never entered my mind to hire a videographer. I just felt like that was one expense we could leave off. One of my parents’ friends, however, did capture what amounted to 42 minutes of video catching the highlights (the ceremony, the cake cutting, etc.), and I was actually shocked at how incredibly happy I was to have the video.
Photos are great. The photographer is arguably the most important vendor to even have at a wedding. But, you cannot underestimate how precious it is to have those moments on film for years to come. It was something I never knew I needed or wanted.
If it’s in your budget, hire a videographer. If it’s not, have someone take video with their phone, which is still significantly better than having no video at all.
The takeaway here is to have a great team at your side for your big day, to carefully consider where you’re spending your wedding budget, and to keep the big picture in mind.
You need a great team not only in terms of the wedding party, but also with hiring reputable vendors whom you trust. Although you’ll want to stick to your budget and not go into debt over your big day, also remember that you’re (presumably) never having another wedding. It may not be worth saving money to hire a less than reputable vendor, or to skimp somewhere you’ll later wish you maybe hadn’t.
But most importantly, remember what this whole crazy party is all about: celebrating with the love of your life and all your friends and family.