I’ve been married for about 6 weeks now. I think I’m ready now to re-visit the 6-month adventure that, fortunately, both my husband and I lived to tell about. For me, personally, it was the craziest emotional rollercoaster ride I’ve ever been on. I’m always up for a challenge, but this was the biggest challenge ever. So without further ado…
5. Take the Number in your head and triple, no, quadruple it (Three Bs – Budget, Budget, Budget)
I used to watch SYTTD (“Say Yes to the Dress” if you’re not staunch TLC BrideDay viewer) and other bridal shows mainly for wishful thinking and secondly for tips. When those bridezillas would talk about how much they (or their fiances or other human bank) were going to spend on their dresses and wedding, I’d wonder how much they were spending on illicit drugs.
Who in the world would spend more than my sky-high rent on a piece of cloth that you’re only going to wear once, and for a few hours? And using a down payment on a house (well, maybe not here in California, maybe more like Texas) to have people stare at you and eat for free? Crazy talk!
Well, we had an intimate affair (around 50 guests), and we spent at least double of what I thought it would cost. I mean, some of the venues I wanted to book took up half of the number I had in my head. Then there is that “m” word — Minimums. You see, at many venues, you had to meet a minimum amount in order to even be worth their time. It would probably have been easier if we had double our guest count, but early on, we had actually started out with more like 20 people.
So, yeah… paying $500 to provide a 3-course meal to each of our closest family and friends was just a teensy weensy out of our budget.
4. Time is Your Best Friend (Because High Blood Pressure Is Not)
If you have any kind of sanity (and want to maintain it), give yourself time. Planning a wedding is not as easy as getting the rings, getting a dress, getting a venue and dancing the night away. We spent 6 months planning ours. Little did I know that that’s about the time I should have already had my dress and gotten alterations started (per the wedding blogs/sites I’d read).
I didn’t start looking for my dress until 5 months prior to the wedding. So, I pretty much had to choose something, and quickly. In addition, I was told that my Maid of Honor’s dress would take 15 weeks to get in. We had only started shopping about 3-4 months prior to the wedding. Oh yeah, and I was told the same thing about my flower girl dresses.
When I tried contacting some vendors about our wedding date, many were already booked. Some even said they were booked at least six months to a year in advance. Whoopsie! I guess I missed the memo.
While being under the gun forced us to make decisions quickly, I hated not being able to plan. I’m a planning type (though I never was the type of girl who planned her dream wedding since she was a little girl). So, this was stressful for me.
Although things worked out for us, if I could have re-done things, I would have planned at least a year in advance.
3. No Matter What Size Your Guest List Is, Get Help (Give Up the Reins)
Perhaps I took Destiny’s Child “Independent Women” too much to heart. I’ve always been about doing things on my own. I have to prove this to (nobody but) myself. I spent hours upon hours researching venues and vendors. We managed to book all of our main vendors within the first two months or so.
We thought “Yeah! We’re on a roll!” and did the Cabbage Patch (okay, maybe more me than my then-fiance… and I did it mentally because I can’t dance).
But then it came down to something we didn’t really think about — the details. Um, yeah. No matter how great we may be at multitasking, running our own wedding on your wedding day when we are going to have a million and two other things on our minds does not sound like the best plan of action.
Heed these three words: Hire a planner. We hired our planner last, but at least we did it. Our planner was the mastermind behind our ceremony and reception.For the most part, all we had to do was show up. I think if we had decided not to hire one, I would not have any hair left on my head, and neither would my husband (it would have been a shame too because his hair is so nice).
And this leads me to my next lesson…
2. Personally Meet with Your Vendors (Stranger Danger)
One of the most fun aspects of planning was personally meeting with potential vendors (or at least the ones who: 1. Actually responded to me, and 2. Were willing to meet with us). Some people look great on paper (or in our experience — online). However, nothing beats a face-to-face meeting.
When we had decided to hire a planner, I chose 3 out of the zillion available in the area. Each one seemed well qualified. They just had to pass the Test. I’ll admit, I had already hired one of them in my head due to her name alone. I mean, her name was Juliet. She was born to work in the wedding industry, right?
So wrong. I could not be more wrong. (And I’m never wrong!)
When she set foot in that Starbucks on that Saturday afternoon, I wasn’t sure if she had walked a thousand miles to get there, or she always looked so… uninterested. I think we would have been better off hiring Ben Stein if it came down to it.
And if dealing with strangers wasn’t bad enough…
1. The People You Know Best Don’t Know How to RSVP (Get Out the Pliers Because It’s Time to Pull Teeth)
Before planning our wedding, I never understood the importance of RSVPs either. You get a card and there’s a date in which you need to send it back. So, naturally, you look at the date and think you can just wait until 5 seconds before the clock strikes midnight on that date to mail your RSVP card back. Made total sense… until I was on the receiving end of the RSVP. Or should I say on the not receiving end?
There is so much that a single RSVP relies on — seating, food, favors and meeting our aforementioned minimum, just to name a few. So, whether someone comes or not, it’s still coming out of our checkbooks. And the sooner we know, the better .
Some guests were totally on top of things and sent back their RSVPs within a week of receiving them. Others had the courtesy to inform us that they were unsure. But there were quite a few who could not follow the (unspoken(?)) rule and did not return the RSVP card and decided they would only responded after I nagged them. And respond via e-mail. They still (for whatever reason) would not send back the conveniently pre-stamped envelopes (again, another cost to us).
I honestly did not know I would become a dentist. It was probably one of the most aggravating things to me. It’s funny, but the Maid of Honor and Best Man were the last ones to RSVP.
We purposely sent our invites months in advance to give people more time. However, I think in this regard, we should have given them less time.
Moral of the wedding planning story: While it is a crazy ride, it is so well worth the money, headache and time. I know I only plan on doing this once in my lifetime, so make savor each and every moment — good and bad!