I’ve been told the two biggest stresses in a relationship are planning a wedding and buying a house / moving-in exactly one year, my husband and I accomplished both things. I’m not going to say that either one of the processes were exceptionally joyful- but, somehow, we got through it, together.
I am collaborating with my husband on this post as a reflection on the past year of our lives and as a cautionary tale for those of you who are currently in the wedding planning phases or about to be.
Here are our words of wisdom from our own wedding planning experience:
Save Early, Save Often
Once that engagement ring is on your finger- immediately start planning your wedding. Start researching venues and vendors immediately- this way you can start loosely creating a budget, and start saving that cash because we are here to tell you, it isn’t cheap. Every little thing adds up, and you want to be as financially prepared and as stable as possible up until your big day. Unexpected expenses are as sure as death and taxes during your wedding planning phase, so be prepared.
Some examples of unexpected expenses we faced were:
Booking two chapels after already putting a deposit down on one, as our initial chapel burned to the ground shortly after we booked it
Clothing expenses for wedding related events such as engagement photos, bridal shower, and rehearsal dinner
Essentials for bridesmaids (fur stoles, emergency kits, and hygiene products)
STAMPS! Stamps for DAYS-shower invites, shower thank you cards, wedding invitations (always add a stamp if you are expecting guests to mail back RSVP cards) and wedding thank you cards
Ways To Save Money
It’s always great to have an open bar-however, you will never need the deluxe package. It’s (hopefully) not the last cocktail your guests will have in their life, and they certainly won’t be reminiscing on how good that Jack and Coke was. A mid-tier bar package will do you just fine, so opt to put that extra money you were planning on using for alcohol on other aspects of your wedding
Chose your date wisely-opt for a cheaper day of the week, such as a Friday or a Sunday. Many venues offer large discounts on any day other than a Saturday. Another great piece of advice is that at different times of the year, such the holidays, many venues offer even larger discounts as it is their “off season.” However, do remember that if you get married on a weekday there is a higher chance that fewer people will show up to your actual wedding ceremony, so try not to take it personally.
Opt For The Better Menu Selection
Now that you’ve saved a nice chunk of dough with the mid-tier bar and opting for a day other than a Saturday, you can use those savings to put towards better menu options. No one wants to go to a wedding and the food is absolute sh*t. Make sure to give your guests a decent amount of options for dinner-we stuck with the traditional beef, chicken, fish, and pasta (no meat sauce), with sides of potatoes, green beans, with bread and salad.
Research A Good Photographer
Other than your own personal memories, the only way you are going to be able to look back upon your big day (unless you have a videographer-we did not) is through photos. I asked many people who had been married within the last 5-7 years who their photographer was looking for referrals and not one person that I asked was happy with the photographer they used. I heard so many horror stories from photographers getting drunk at the reception, canceling at the last minute, or not receiving photos for six months to a year afterwards.
On a whim, I looked up photographers in the greater Detroit area on Facebook around 11 months prior to the wedding and found an excellent photography duo Adrienne & Amber Photography based out of Royal Oak, MI. These ladies were absolutely phenomenal! They have been featured on The Knot and were awarded into The Knot Best of Weddings Hall of Fame, as well as award winners of the Couple’s Choice Awards with WEDDINGWIRE. This incredible duo are two best friends who own a business together, doing what they love, it can’t get much better than that! You can read more about the ladies here.
We initially met with Adrienne and we kind of did an interview process with each other during our first visit to make ensure they were a good fit for us and us for them. We were also offered a free engagement shoot session upon booking our wedding date with them. I will never forget the generosity they had shown to us during that engagement shoot-Adrienne and Amber went a bought us a bottle of champagne on their way to the location to help us relax as we were extremely anxious and running late, which was super sweet of them. They made us feel so relaxed and comfortable during the shoot, playing soothing music, guiding us in natural poses and making us feel confident in ourselves.
Working with Adrienne and Amber on our wedding day was just as amazing. We put full trust in them to pick out the best locations based on what we were looking for, and they sure did deliver.
We couldn’t be happier with our photos and 100% recommend checking them out and yes they DO travel! You can check out their website here.
Your Bridesmaids Don’t All Have To Wear The Same Dress
The days of bridesmaids all wearing the same dress in unison are over-unless that is your preference! Personally, as the bride, I wanted to take into account the differences in my bridesmaid’s personal style preference and what they would be most comfortable in for the duration of the wedding day. The only two rules I set in place were: the dresses all had to be in the color plum, and they had to be purchased from David’s Bridal. I went with David’s Bridal, as two out of my three bridesmaids live out of state and I knew that there would be a David’s somewhere near the vicinity of their location. Each girl picked their own dress according to their own style.
Ask For Advice But Don’t Feel Pressured To Take It
I went through this a lot during my wedding planning process. As a first time bride and groom, there are going to be tons of uncertainties and questions that you are going to ask others who have been through this phase in their life- but remember, not all advice is good advice. It is your day, regardless of what anyone suggests or advises you. Always remember to go with your gut and don’t feel that you need to put on airs because someone who may have had a fancier, higher budget wedding than you can afford is telling you to do something that isn’t feasible. At the end of the day, your wedding is about you and your soon-to-be spouse, so do things your way.
Be Prepared For People To Show Their True Colors-The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
Let’s face it, in planning a wedding there are a lot of people that you have to rely on, be prepared for people to show their true colors. You will come to realize that some family and friends who you considered your ride or dies aren’t going to be willing to pull through or show support. Wedding planning is a very emotional, high stress time for the bride and groom, however, others seem to just look at it a blip in time. Then again, there are others who you never expected to pull through or be there for you will actually turn out to be your biggest supporters. When it comes to people always expect the unexpected, you may come to realize those you hold closest are just fair-weather friends and family.
Always Be Prepared For The Unexpected
Although our wedding turned out beautifully we hit a lot of bumps in the road on our way to happily ever after including:
- The uncertainty of the COVID pandemic caused
- The initial wedding chapel nearly burning to the ground
- Our cake was the incorrect color
- The original DJ had to find a replacement DJ after coming up positive with COVID and notifying us a little more than 24 hours in advance
- Having to drop a groomsman and find a replacement approximately two weeks prior to the wedding
- People who RSVP’ed “yes” not showing up / People who RSVP’ed “no” actually showing up
In conclusion, wedding planning is definitely not easy and not always fun, however, if you have a supportive significant other to lean on you can make it through any adversity that comes your way. We hope this helped anyone planning a wedding and that your day turns out as beautiful as ours did.
Amanda & Sean