Wedding SZN comes and goes and there is always a new post or take on weddings and what you SHOULD DO, what you SHOULDN’T DO, and everything in-between.
I know my story is one of thousands – but I wanted to be able to lay out everything we did, mistakes we made, questions we didn’t ask, what we would do differently, what truthfully doesn’t matter in the grand scheme, how to stay calm, and what we absolutely loved about our special day.
This may not be as “well-written” as any of my other blogs but this type of blog called for a different outline – HERE SHE BLOWS!
FIRST THING FIRST:
Have you and your fiancé EACH make a list of 5-10 things that are MOST important to each of you on that day. (My big two? Walking down the aisle and having a first dance)
Go over those two lists together and put together a list of importance.
Make a budget.
Talk about money.
Nail down the ceiling price that you will go.
Excel worksheets will be your best friend.
Now with the budget – I would say to make your budget, divvy up how you want to distribute and a-lot that budget. We had an excel sheet (you see, best friend) and it had each category, how much we were planning to spend, and the percent of the whole budget that took up.
We stuck to our budget the best we could, but sh*t happens and we ended up having close to $2,000 worth of things we didn’t realize we needed OR didn’t even put as a cost because we didn’t think it would “add up” to an amount worth budgeting for. I would set aside an “OOPS” fund!
There are SO many little expenses that come up:
the gifts for the bridal party, the “getting ready” outfits, the food for the day of the wedding BEFORE the wedding even starts (breakfast/lunch/snacks/drinks), tipping vendors, and SO MUCH MORE. It gets crazy fast – and it’s best to have extra than not enough.
Something that is extremely hard for me is delegating – but it’s one of the most important things you will have to learn to do.
Although I like to believe I can do it all myself, the help that I got was priceless. Planning a wedding is in the top 5 most stressful times of a humans life and that’s the dang truth.
I loved being involved in the details overall, but if I could do it differently? I would probably make room in the budget for a wedding planner.
Having a “day of coordinator” was incredible (provided by the venue), BUT – I can only imagine what that would’ve felt like if I had her all along the way helping! Not only the help – but the KNOWLEDGE! My sister and I knew NOTHING about wedding planning, and it was a lot of trying to play catch up and reading bridal books.
I would also reach out to any friends/family that have been married in the past 5 years. Anyone who has gotten married in the past 1-5 years will have fresh insight on how it went, what to do, what actually mattered and vendors as well.
And of course – ask your mom. She will love to be a part of the process and well – Mom’s always know best. My mom had a lot of insight on what mattered 25+ years later, and what didn’t even hold a memory in her head.
One of the best things I did was to only buy things that could be reused, repurposed, or resold.
Check on Facebook to see if there any any bride resale markets in your area. There was one for Columbus, Ohio and you could either ask questions about vendors/tradition OR buy/sell things from/for your wedding! I got some stuff from brides I didn’t know but had things that worked perfectly for my wedding and it was one less thing I had to worry about.
For re-selling – I made sure I didn’t buy/make anything with our dates/names or extremely particular to us.
If you get a sign that is made saying “Welcome to the wedding of Sue and Alex” – it’s either going to be $50+ you don’t get back and throw away in the end, or you have to be extremely lucky and find someone with the same names. If you put your date on it? Realize that it’s a one time thing and there’s nothing that can be done with that item after your wedding UNLESS it’s something you want to hang up in your home.
Now – you can OF COURSE have something with your name and/or date on it – but maybe just stay away from the word *wedding* on personalized stuff so it CAN be hanging up in your home as a sweet little memory!
I got items that I could write on (chalkboards, mirrors) to make personal, but also turn around and resale them.
Everything else that I didn’t repurpose or keep – were easy things to sell on the resale market where other brides could scoop them up. It helps you not lose money and possibly even break even/make money on some items!
For re-purposing – this is something I am SUPER glad I did. I got a frame (on sale at hobby lobby!) used some twine + little clothes pins and printed out the seating chart. That frame is now in our home as decor! Our centerpieces were mason jars filled with twinkle lights and burlap numbers around them. The mason jars are now our drink-ware at our home and the twinkle lights and burlap numbers I sold!
We also had a memory table and while I did pay for a “in memory” of sign, it was a general one that I re-sold. The picture frames we used are now also in our home!
Other ways to save money comes back to the list that you and your Fiancé made at the beginning.
For us – I really wanted flowers to hold/for my bridesmaids and while I LOVE flowers, it wasn’t a deal breaker if they were everywhere. I chose a venue that catered to my needs. How? The ceremony took place in a flower field which meant that flower decor wasn’t necessary. The reception took place in a barn that came with the tables, linens, chairs, chandeliers, and twinkle lights. It also didn’t need much decor at all – which meant less money that needed to be spent for sprucing up!
Also since we are talking about flowers – you can also talk to your florist about *next day flowers* or *wet flowers* which are flowers used in a wedding or at an event the day before yours!
Another thing to note if you do get flowers is IF you want to save any. If so, you have to have the idea already and ready to execute post wedding. Cleaning up is a madhouse and your flowers may get lost. And if you even bring them home but don’t have them as a priority – it’s likely they will die before you can press them or do what you want! Some cute idea are having them dried/pressed and put in a clear picture frame OR in an ornament! (RIP to my flowers, we forgot to do anything!)
This is going to be very VERY individualized. I know many people who have different thoughts on flowers/venue/and more because they have different likes and dislikes and non- negotiables. Pick your “things” you want/need/like and spend money in that way!
Of course I have to mention Pinterest! This is were I found a lot of inspiration or ideas to use for my wedding. I knew the *theme* I wanted to follow and would look up weddings with similar ones and go from there. I knew I didn’t want big centerpieces so I just searched “simple centerpieces” and “mason jar centerpieces” and lastly, “Non-flower centerpieces” – This also helped me come up with an idea for the guestbook and what would go next to the mason jars.
I bought kraft notebooks from amazon (taught myself calligraphy – which also came in handy because I addressed all the envelops myself and saved money!) and I wrote “advice and wishes for the new mr. and mrs. on their X wedding anniversary” and coordinated the year with the table SO it would be a small and easily storable thing we could have and look at years after our wedding!!
For the guest book, this again comes around to what YOU want. I’m not here to tell you the right or wrong way.
I knew I wanted something that be used in our new home. A book would have to be something I would want displayed or something that wouldn’t end up in storage. We chose a gold globe that I again wrote on “Home is wherever I’m with you – Alex and Sue -“ and all the guests signed. Along with having another kraft journal beside it for people to write more or give advice/fav bible verses. I’ve seen some really cool things in place of a normal book, so head to Pinterest and scope some out!
Another thing that I had a hard time spending money on was our favors. The price was adding up and I really couldn’t recall a wedding a went to where I didn’t throw away the favor or most, I couldn’t even remember what they were.
I was about to just set out some assorted candy (WHICH IS COMPLETELY FINE!!) – but an idea popped in my head.
Alex and I LOVE coffee.
We wanted to do something that really captured we were and what we loved.
I bought 2oz kraft bags from etsy, found a local coffee shop, and they filled the bags for me! I made what I wanted the stamp to look like (made on canva.com) and had a stamp made and stamped all the bags. (Stamp from @redclouddesign) It was perfect and less than $2 per person! And we had extras that we saved that are just so cute and special to us!
Now – before I get any further – I’d like to have a chat with any of you newly engaged lovely ladies.
YOU NEED TO GET YOUR DRESS SOON!
Dresses can take 5+ months to come in and other than a venue – it’s the first thing you need to nail down.
Venues fill up FAST, and dressing come slow.
One piece of annoyingly sad advice I will give you? Although wedding dress shopping is magical and wonderful – the wedding dress industry decided to play a cruel joke on almost brides.
Wedding dresses run small… like multiple sizes small.
Not that this is the end of the wold, but I am well aware of how dressing rooms can make you feel poopy and the size of clothes shouldn’t matter, but sometimes it’s just lame when they tell you “oh you are going to be a size 10” when you’re a size 4.
Again, not the end all be all – but be aware so that you don’t leave hurt and crash dieting!!!
Speaking of wedding dresses: Try to not wear a bra the day before your wedding! You don’t want lines from where your bra was digging into you in any of your pics! And getting boob inserts in my dress was absolutely worth it. NO BRA CLUB!!! (Even my mom who has a significantly larger chest than myself, got the inserts put into her dress she wore and didn’t have to wear a bra! Take it to any seamstress and ask!)
This is especially true if you get a spray tan (which if you do – make sure you get it 2 or more days before so if anything goes wrong, you can fix/shower! And do a test run like you do for hair and makeup!) – but even if you don’t get a spray tan – your bra can dig into you and make lines. Just something to think about — if you can’t go without a bra – just be weary of the bra you are wearing!
For anyone local to Columbus (or really these are anywhere) – take a look at consignment shops for dresses!
Not just like a goodwill, but boutiques especially for bridal gowns.
There’s one in Columbus, Ohio called “Luxeredux bridal” and they were the KINDEST PEOPLE and the sister store for where I ended up getting my dress. These are just dresses that people wore and then sold back – 95% of them are dresses that were worn on the runway or used “on the floor” of stores and not sold. Very few were worn down the aisle or bought for a wedding and not used – and if you don’t want any of those – simply tell them and they won’t pull them for you!
The dresses were gorgeous! They were designer dresses that were significantly discounted. I was torn between a dress here and a dress at the other store – seriously – don’t knock buying a “used” dress!
Now back to the other thing you need to get first: the venue!
Ask around about venues that others have used, search online for venues, and even look at places that you wouldn’t necessarily think is a wedding venue. We even called family friends to see about renting their barn for the weekend!
Once you nail down some visits – make sure you don’t make a decision on the spot. Venues range from $5-20k to even more. I honestly didn’t find a location that was less than $5k when all was said and done.
That’s the other thing, you HAVE to read the contract/what’s required/what is included.
Some venues will say they are only $2k (like country clubs in my area) but then the fine print is that you have to spent $10k in total ALL on THEM.
Decide if outside catering of cake/food is a must or if you don’t mind using theirs.
Venues have specific rules and limitations. Some don’t let you bring outside alcohol or anything, some don’t care, some will let you but have certain things you can’t.
Again – just read over everything and come with a LIST of questions. Don’t be afraid to keep asking them until you understand/have a full understanding of what you are getting for the money.
Day matters too. Saturday’s are the most expensive, Friday’s follow, and Sunday’s you can normally get the cheapest deal.
Don’t forget to ask about what time you can arrive the day of, as well as what time you have for rehearsal the day before, and what the city ordinances are on music!
Our wedding had to have the DJ off by 8pm because of city ordinances for a Sunday evening. We also were only allowed at our venue starting at 1pm the day of!
VENDORS: food, dessert, silverware, alcohol, flowers, you name it!
It’s GREAT to have vendors that have been to your venue before because they know the area, the rules, and have a better idea of what you expect. If they have not been to your venue – ask if they can meet you there a few months before the wedding to point things out! Most venues also have a list of preferred vendors and they are dependable, highly rated by other brides, and have normally been to the venue multiple times.
When finding vendors – ask similar questions you did of your venue to find out specifics.
Something I completely overlooked was BUSSERS! We had a buffet style meal and we had bartenders – but I didn’t even think about cleaning up the plates and such.
I had to hire them the day before the wedding!!
Find out about silverware, drink ware, linens, plates, warming trays, ice, EVERYTHING AND ANYTHING you can think of.
Everybody loves a good present, and your wedding shouldn’t be any different.
We got SOO much stuff that we needed to start our new home and life together. You can of course register at different stores – but I found something I loved more:
blueprint registry. This was completely online, allowed you to import other stores registries, and even allowed you to make things “group gifts” or “cash gifts”. It was so simple and I LOVED IT!
I also ended up doing the invites through shutterfly and the rsvp online (rsvpify.com)!
Everyone told me how important paper invites were – but in my opinion? I probably would do it all online. Reason being: a ton of people lost their invites and would text me for questions. The RSVP was online, but having one on paper, and one online – I think it confused people more. A wedding website also comes in handy for all info in an easy to reach place.
Remember how I said excel would be your best friend?
Here is comes again —— compare everything you need to.
Like alcohol: our venue was BYOB.
My dad and I sat and looked over the amounts we would need of each alcohol and what was the best price for non-shitty alcohol.
I chose to do beer, wine, and margs (our food was mexican!!)
We had 120ish people and got 3 kegs (we tapped one keg the week before because 11 people were staying at our house and we used it for the rehearsal dinner). We had 2 white wines and merlot, and then the tequila and the mix.
I can’t give you exact numbers of the amount you should buy – but I can tell you there are a few things to be aware of:
- number of guests
- number of heavy drinkers
- how many types of alcohol you are having (cash bar, limited bar, full open bar)
After the alcohol, we had to find bartenders, ice, and something to hold the alcohol in!
We decided we didn’t want red solo cups in pictures, so we got a thick, clear, plastic cups. They looked *classy* and were easy to clean up (hint: not reusable). The bartenders we got from the local bartending school, and the ice we got from a local restaurant.
The dessert was easy: my sister owns a cheesecake business and Alex and I love cheesecake. Done deal. Hire her.
The hors d’oeuvre were just cheese, meat, crackers, and snack mix because we were only having our guests wait 30 minutes before our entrance AND dinner was still at a normal dinner time. We got serving plates form friends, and the crackers and such from Costco.
When it comes to help: realize that people love you and want to be involved. We ended up saving money in places I didn’t intend to just because people wanted to help – WELCOME IT WITH OPEN ARMS!!
Our rehearsal dinner was in our neighbors backyard. We rented big white tents and had my fav: chicken wings! They set everything up, cooked all the food, and all we had to do was show up! It was perfection for what I wanted. We also had a family friend make texas sheet cake to feed a small army!
When it comes to more directed help, like a MAID OF HONOR – I would highly urge you to pick someone who lives in town. My sister was my MOH and she was phenomenal and she was able to take care of things quickly because she was in town! It also made it very *easy* for her to put together the bridal shower (with the help of my lovely friend Laura!) as well as help with anything else like the rehearsal dinner, dress fittings, florist, ANYTHING. She was there and at the ready to help.
For duties of the MOH – this will vary from person to person and what they need out of a MOH. For me? We were living together at that time and she could see when I was getting overwhelmed and then would help where needed. She also would ask (especially in weeks nearing the wedding) – what else needed to be done and then we would divy up tasks. Seriously – it was SO helpful. There are SO many little details and calls and visits and so on, and it was nice to not have to find room in my brain for it all.
For the photographer, we looked around a bit but we also have a dear friend who takes the most amazing pictures. We checked with her because we didn’t know if she wanted to be a guest at the wedding or if she wanted to photograph – it was the perfect situation having her there all day. I know most people won’t be able to find a photog that they are friends with, but it did make the day that much more special. She was with us the whole time and SO helpful when some things went awry. She also did something fantastic: she made us fill out her photo form. This form had any and all information she could need and ended up helping us streamline pictures after the wedding. Not only did she have the family portraits all written out (like every variation), she had us fill in people’s names so her (and the MOH) could stand there and *order* people to the pictures so we weren’t taking up a ton of time!
When it comes to music/DJ – HAVE SOMEONE DO IT! I’ve been to a decent chunk of weddings and the DJs are always annoying in my opinion. I was determined NOT to have that so I was just going to have a playlist playing. HOWEVER, our DJ (Nolan) – had the schedule of events and really helped move the night along and was not annoying at all. He met with us before the wedding and chatted and we were able to get to know him and his wife a bit. He asked about what to wear, where it was, and really was determined to make the night exactly what we wanted. Him and the “day of coordinator” (provided by the venue) – kept things moving and grooving. Something great that Nolan did was he had us fill out 2 google forms. 1 had the songs for the ceremony, and the other had songs for the reception. On the reception sheet, he asked for “DO PLAY” and “DON’T PLAY” so it was easy to knock out some songs that we truly didn’t want. The only *downside* of the DJ (and this is just getting nit-picky) was that if someone suggested a song, he would take a while to play them. Maybe talk to your DJ and say that if someone in the wedding party/family requests a song – to play it soon.
For the makeup and hair – really search for someone who is going to do it how your envision it, and the best thing you can do? DO A PRACTICE RUN!!! My practice run was almost exactly what I wanted, but we made some tweaks to truly have it down. It also helped that Claire is the girl who normally does my hair so she knew how my hair worked and such!
People have a lot of fun with this, and this was one of the things that wasn’t “do or die” to Alex or I. Our wedding was ending at 8pm, it wouldn’t be dark by then, and we weren’t planning on *leaving* right then – we wanted to help finish cleaning up and make sure everything was good to go before we took off from our AirBnB. We just didn’t have an exit.
The biggest thing with wedding planning is well — you don’t have to follow any rules you don’t want to. Do what makes you happy and full of joy and don’t do the other stuff. And maybe you DO do the other stuff because it’s important to your family/family members – that’s okay too. I didn’t do a garter toss or any group dances, I didn’t toss my bouquet or do what I “had” to do – I did what I wanted!
Many people ask me “what do you wish you knew BEFORE wedding planning that you know now?”
Everything is going to be okay.
I kept getting SOOO bent out of shape for so many reasonings.
People not RSVPing in time, people being inconsiderate, people asking questions that they easily could’ve found their answers on the invite/RSVP/me posting it elsewhere, trying to figure out the seating chart, and so many other small and UNIMPORTANT things.
I get it. You spent a lot of time and money planning this thing – you want it to be perfect and you want it to be about you.
But it probably won’t be, and that’s okay.
The seating chart doesn’t matter, the “colors” don’t matter, someone bringing a plus one that you didn’t say they could have – it doesn’t matter.
At the end of the day- you get to marry your best friend. You will be married. That’s the reason for the wedding and that will be the end result. The “in-between” is all mush, and not worth you worrying about – because well, you have a husband/wife that you vowed to love forever and not get the opportunity to do that. (Note that my dad, my sister, mom, and many others gave me this advice and I rolled my eyes and was determined to make it about me – but that’s not how the cookie crumbles – and that’s okay!)
If you have ANY more questions that are specific to your situation (picking the bridal party, choosing between things, making family happy, etc.) – shoot me an email.
Hair and makeup: @Clairexobeauty
Coffee for coffee favors: @coffeeconnectionshilliard
Stamp for coffee favors: @redcloudstudios
Bartenders: Columbus Bartending School
DJ: Fast Track DJ
Wedding cake (CHZ CAKE): @thecheesecake.girl
Spray tans: @blisstans
Bridesmaids dresses: @showmeyourmumu