YOU GUYS. I got married in April. We had a seven month engagement and it was a wild, wild ride. I’m still coming down from cloud nine, but I wanted to share my best advice and lessons learned while it’s still fresh:
- Screw tradition. Honestly, planning a wedding can be so overwhelming in so many ways. During the planning process, you’ll ask yourself a dozen times “oh, are we supposed to do that?” or “how is it supposed to be done?” While it’s sweet to keep some traditions, don’t feel like you have to do anything. It’s your day, after all. I didn’t have something blue. We didn’t do a first look. My beer blog uncle married us. We didn’t have programs. Our first dance was to Alan Jackson. Our guestbook was a fingerprint tree.
- Etsy, girl. Etsy. You will find out very quickly that anything with “wedding” in the name is ridiculously expensive. For invitations, I scoured website after website and was mortified when 200 invitations were going to cost me $800 – not including postage. I was relieved to find so many templates on Etsy – most under $20 – for literally everything: wedding invitations, seating chart, signage, etc. I used a local printer and saved 75%.
- Kiss some of your Pinterest dreams goodbye. No shame, but I had a wedding Pinterest board long before I met James or was even engaged. So naturally, the second we were engaged I was obsessing over all my favorite ideas. I’ll be the first to tell you – they can’t all happen. And that’s OK. So I said goodbye to the family tree frames nailed into the tree (first of all – what venue allows this?), the wood palette sign (these things are dirty AF and so hard to paint that nicely), the vintage window seating assignments (who has a nice window lying around, let alone perfect calligraphy handwriting?). Sigh. Just stick to what’s doable.
- Don’t skimp on your dress, hair and make-up. Looking back, I am so happy I didn’t do this. You want to look and feel your best on your big day, so make sure you budget for it. My dress was on the higher-end of my budget. I treated myself to a few facials. I tested shellac nail polish colors for four months. I even bought hair extensions. Who am I? c’est la vie. Looking back I’m glad I did it. Do what makes you feel beautiful.
- Be prepared to face your relationships. This was something I wish I was prepared for. Weddings are such an amazing time, and while you will be overwhelmed with love from so many people, you will also be underwhelmed by others. The happy occasion will make you re-evaluate a lot of friendships in your life. To put it bluntly – some people just won’t show up for you. And that can be hard to swallow. But don’t let it overshadow your special day and all the love you get from others.
- Pick your bride tribe wisely. I’m so glad I did. I cannot stress this enough. These girls are your lifeline on your big day. If you can’t narrow your friends down, just remember that you can assign other special roles in your wedding. Someone could do a reading during the ceremony, give a prayer before dinner or even manage your sign-in/welcome table. If you’re doing table visits, it’s also a great idea to assign a close friend or family member to help usher you and keep you moving. Whatever, make it up (see #1).
- Make a 90-day plan. For me, I had to plan our wedding in less than one year. I am extremely Type A, so, naturally, I made a work-back. I created a 90 day project plan, with our tasks and to do’s spread out over each month. Doing it this way, we were able to tackle one month at a time and not feel overwhelmed. I shared the spreadsheet with our mom’s regularly, so they could feel like they were part of the process. Also, I can’t recommend Zola.com enough. It’s a one-stop shop for wedding website, guest list/RSVP management, gift registry and more.