Weddings are huge. And as someone who is at the tail end of planning one, I wanted to give some hints for those just setting out on the adventure.
Elope – Everyone will tell you to elope and not do a wedding. If you two are willing to consider eloping then at least consider it. Weddings are stressful, complex, and expensive. They strain relationships and create and immense amount of stress. I’m not saying eloping is for everyone. But if you two are open to the idea, give it a good thought.
Coordination – There is a lot involved with weddings. There are the things you can think of such as invitations and flowers. But there’s a lot of small details you don’t consider until you’re well into it. Unless the bride is planning the entire wedding, you will need to coordinate your documents. It doesn’t matter what tool you use as long as you a central repository. We had separate invite lists with varying data and formatting. Uniformity would have eased some steps.
* Google Drive – Shared documents are important and Google Drive’s ability to do spreadsheets is going to prove useful for invitation lists and budgets.
* Slack – I don’t use Slack but people seem to like it for group collaboration.
* Dropbox – Shared files on Dropbox are fine too.
DIY – Lots of people are crafty and enjoy making things of their wedding. If you have the skills and desire, do it. But like any home improvement project, it takes longer than you think, is often more expensive, and requires three trips to Home Depot. Think carefully whether you should be doing something or just paying to have it done. Time and energy are limited and paying for something can make life easier.
Money – No matter how expensive you think something is, round it up to the nearest hundred. If it’s higher than $x600 (ex. $1700) then round it to the nearest thousand. You’ll be thankful when something is “only” $300. Lots of websites have budgeting templates which can give you an idea on costs. Do this activity early and be thorough. Think about stamps, inner envelopes, outer envelopes, liners, printing, tax, delivery fees, and whatever else you can think of.
Who Is The Wedding For – Early in the process talk to with your significant other who the wedding is for. Many think it’s in honor of you two, but is it actually for you two? I’m of the opinion the wedding is 75% for the bride, 20% for the families, and 5% for the groom. Other people may say it’s mostly for the families while others say it’s only for the bride and groom. You could probably find some who think it’s for the bridal party. Not that any of it is wrong, but this exercise will reveal outside influences and let you ask the question whether that influence is acceptable. Perhaps even ask your families if you want their input.
Create A Timeline – There is no shortage of opinions on when events around the wedding should happen. Do you send the invitations out 2 months before or a month and a half before? What about 2 and a half months? Develop a timeline, perhaps using a Gantt chart with milestones to help keep everything on track. Dates move and that’s okay but knowing how it impacts the rest of the timeline in a visual manner is important. You two may work different and prefer other methods.
Demand Good Customer Service – You’ll be paying handsomely for your wedding. In Chicago, the average price for a wedding photographer must be at least $1500. You’re spending good money on their services and if you’re not getting good customer service during the planning, be sure to raise complaints. They may not be able to help you and it may be too late, but don’t people walk all over you.
Have Fun and Stay Positive – If there’s one thing I did poorly during the entire process (and believe me, there were many) it was not enjoying it and letting the complexity and drama turn me negative. Negativity will affect everyone – most importantly you. You two will fight. You two will experience a lot of stress. But take a deep breath and try to enjoy the experience as much as you can. Remind yourself why you’re going through it. You two love each other and are excited about spending the rest of your life together. It’s so easy to forget this point when fighting about invitation liners.
Carefully Consider Invite Lists – I can almost guarantee you will upset people with the invite list. Be careful who you exclude with friends, family, and co-workers. I made some decisions on the invite list which I regret. Invite who you want but be comfortable with hurting those who you will hurt. If hurting them isn’t acceptable, find a way to invite them.
Beware of The Knot and Pinterest – I never really went on either site but my fiance did. Both provide amazing amounts of suggestions. Don’t let yourself drown or get carried away by the torrent of options.