P.S. Below is me and Al’s wedding venue 🙂 🙂 🙂 Via my iPhone but it’ll do!
This may be my favorite blog post I’ve ever written/put together. What’s that quote…?
Behind every successful woman is a tribe of other successful women who have her back.
Y’all, we sooo need each other. And I am so thankful for the ladies below who are only a few of the smart, loving, and beautiful women who support me with their advice and friendship. And with their awesome advice, I would like to bless y’all as well. Please, enjoy! And happy wedding planning!
How did you stay organized while planning your wedding?
“There are so many apps you can download and I tried them, but I found a wedding planning binder I loved more called All the Essentials Wedding Planner By Alison Hotchkiss. (You can find it at Barnes and Noble). There are many different versions out there but I liked this one because it wasn’t overwhelming, had a great checklist by month, tips and how-to’s, and tabs by category to help you plan and stay organized. Since this one is a binder and not a book, I could add or remove pages, I also added a couple sheet protectors to keep receipts in and business cards.”
“I used a 3-ring binder with a ton of dividers and a calendar – nothing pretty, just extremely practical. The first section of the binder was the calendar (printed 1 week per 8×11 page) where I took all of the due dates from the Knot app and wrote them out on their assigned day leading up until the wedding. I also backtracked and wrote out all of the mini tasks I needed to do on certain days in order to accomplish each Knot task (ex. For the Knot task “Buy Extra Decor,” I created my own sub tasks that included going on Pinterest, researching places to buy things, and listing out where and when I would purchase each item. As you get closer to the wedding this will get much more granular, like “call venue coordinator and ask if I can light candles,” etc.) If you get serious satisfaction from crossing things off a to-do list, you will love having all of these little tasks listed out. Side note – a lot of times I wouldn’t get to a task that week due to travel or whatever, so I would just cross it out and rewrite that task for the next week, less stressful that way and you don’t lose track of little items.
The sections after the calendar were categories (ex. Florist, Decorations, Venue, Photographer, My Accessories, etc.). In this section, I cut out magazine pictures, printed my Pinterest board ideas, etc. and added them to these sections. I also jotted down random things I’d think of randomly on a piece of loose leaf paper and would put it in that section so I didn’t forget. This is kind of like your brain dump sections filled with lists and inspo. When a task on my calendar was due, I’d go to that section in the back of the binder and check out what I’d written down before completing the task to see if there was anything I was forgetting. Also a great place to print out all of your contracts with each vendor…which you WILL want to do because having them in one place is helpful for reference later.”
“I’m a big user of excel at work so it just came naturally for me to track everything in excel for the wedding! I had a 25+ tab excel workbook that I used for every piece of the wedding planning process! It allowed me to embed documents in it as well (like quotes or contracts) so everything was housed in one place!”
Did you set your budget ahead of time? If so, did you find this helpful?
“We did not set a budget but we had an idea of what was too expensive and I basically tried to be as thrifty as possible! I’d do a lot of research and compare prices so I know for sure we got the most inexpensive of each thing that was still the best quality. Once you have your necessities figured out, you find the best possible price and accept that it just costs what it costs. I also tried to be realistic. The personalized hangers for bridesmaid I absolutely loved!! But did I want to spend $120 to get them made? Not so much. It’s really thinking about what you want and not getting lost in the Pinterest picture perfect things that girls do who have expendable incomes!! Lol”
“We tried to set a budget ahead of time but honestly I didn’t even try to stick to it…. When the whole planning process began, I was all about trying to save money whenever possible but then when I would book a vendor or go dress shopping, my mom convinced me to just get whatever I wanted and forget about the cost. Her philosophy was “it only happens once in your life so make it the best.” I still kept cost in mind for a lot of it, but realistically it is hard to create a budget let alone stick to it lol.”
“Yes and yes; especially with decor – I did a decent amount of online shopping and DIY projects for decor to stay in budget.”
Did you use a wedding planner? If so, are you glad you did? If not, do you wish you had?
“We used a planner that was there for us ‘the day before and the day of’ yet they worked behind the scenes for then. I had all of my vendors planned and my coordinators job was to make sure they all showed up on time and did what they needed to do. It was worth every penny.”
“I did not use a wedding planner! I’m a bit of a control freak, and although I’m sure it would have been extremely helpful, I liked having my hands in every piece of the wedding planning process. It made me feel confident that I was doing my due diligence and was aware of all the options and everything going on!”
“We both felt strongly that we did not want any one in our family to have to spend the day/night of the wedding setting up or tearing down. We also got married half way across the country (and in a very small town with few wedding resources), so a wedding planner was a must! Choosing our planner was without a doubt the BEST decision we made. There were a few hiccups along the way that she handled with such grace and ease (our first DJ turned out to be crazy, a florist we really liked turned out to be a fraud, etc). There were so many questions that came up throughout the process and it was nice to have one person to go to for advice. I am also a terrible decision maker, so it was nice to have our planner give us her suggestion (which we went with 99.9% of the time). And a lot of little details – like linens – we had NO idea how to choose. She does this all the time, so we let her choose what she thought would go well with the rest of the wedding.”
What advice comes to mind for someone just beginning to plan their wedding?
“As soon as you have your date set in stone find your photographer. Many people book their photographers a year+ out and when I started looking about 8 months out several of the people I had contacted were already booked for my date and it was very discouraging.”
“Create a Pinterest page or mood board. Before we even chose a venue, I picked colors I liked, the feel I wanted, and things I loved. It’s good to decide on a time of year or narrow down to a month to help choose seasonal colors and flowers and location too. This helps so much when shopping for a venue because you can give them info of what you’re looking for and decide if it will be a good fit or not. You don’t want to plan your dream wedding around the venue because you’ll probably have to compromise on stuff. you want to pick a venue that you know will offer just what you are looking for and go with your vision.”
“Do NOT procrastinate! I am someone who will do that but I have learned, at least from my experience, everything fills up! I almost lost my venue, hair/makeup and church because of it even though I was more than a year ahead.
Also, don’t stress too much. Even though I didn’t like a lot of the wedding planning mostly because I am an anxious person, there are parts that are so enjoyable. Decide what YOU want to do and don’t let anyone (including parents and in-laws) sway you.”
What item(s) do you recommend splurging on, if any?
“This is totally a personal choice! I wanted to feel like I looked my absolute best on that day, so I spent money on my accessories/dress/well-being leading up to the day. I also had a very specific picture in my head of the venue, so that was important to me.”
“Your honeymoon!!!! Seriously! When else in your life will you be able to get away just you two for a week or more? It is such a special time. Go for longer than you think you can and soak up every second. It’s so fun to reflect on your wedding, relax, and look forward to the future.”
“Photographer, videographer, and entertainment. You want memories to last a lifetime.”
Is there anything that you felt you could have focused less or spent less on?
“Although my mom would argue- flowers. I spent a crazy amount on flowers. I absolutely loved my flowers and they added a lot to the photos and space but there’s gotta be a cheaper way to do it. The bride’s bouquet is most important but there are other options for centerpieces that cost a fraction of the price. A lot of florists have a minimum amount to spend though so make sure you shop around!”
“Decorations. The venue was really pretty already, so I ended up returning a lot of the décor I bought because it wasn’t needed. Also, save the dates and invitations can get so freaking expensive and it’s just a piece of paper that gets thrown away. If you don’t go the formal route with like 7 parts to your invite, it’s nice to spend less on this piece.”
“I personally spent A LOT (I’m talking hours upon hours) of time wrapping twine around bottles for my centerpieces. While I absolutely loved them and they looked great in pictures I don’t think I would recommend it. As far as spending less, I wish I could’ve spent less on my dress because it really is only worn one time.”
What was your favorite part of the wedding planning experience?
“Marriage counseling. I’m a nerd. I love to learn; whether it is about marriage itself, us as a couple, Andrew, or do my own self-discovery/reflection. It was also so special to see how loved we are by so many people.”
“Wedding dress shopping was such an incredible experience! Talk about playing dress-up to the millionth degree – that was amazing!!”
“Getting to know what your future husband and you agree and disagree about. It is amazing how many little details you may not realize you differ on but honestly, it preps you for the married life.”
If you could do it all again, what would you do differently?
“I was soooooo nervous before…if I could do it over, I’d do a small ceremony with just my family and a few close friends so that I’m comfortable and in the moment vs. nervous and focused on standing in front of 200 people. Then I’d have everyone else up at the clubhouse waiting for us and for the reception.”
“If I could, I would slow time. I would relive it all a million times. But I cant, so I would better document it all. That was our biggest regret, that we felt we didn’t record it enough.”
“Start doing things earlier. I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off. Your wedding week should start with everything pretty much done. This is your time to relax, enjoy company and pamper yourself!! Enjoy being in the moment. Don’t leave it all to the last minute unless you absolutely have to.”
What was your favorite piece/part of your wedding day (besides the groom and love and all that ;))?
“Honestly my favorite parts of my wedding were the small details from our bouquets to the centerpieces to the various signs around the venue. And the reason being- I spent A LOT of time and energy making most of it! I felt that it made my wedding very personal and I love seeing pictures of the small details. (I also hope the guests appreciated all of my hard work!)”
“My favorite part was the dancing at the reception. I was looking forward to it all day long and it was all that I had wanted and more. We did have an after party at the hotel which I would highly recommend!”
“We had a ‘first look’ at a beautiful lake in the mountains. It was a special moment with just Ryan and I before the eventful day started to show him my dress, and spend a few minutes together alone (with our photographer). I’m so glad we did that, and even after all the photos, we had some time to freshen up and get ready for the ceremony, and all the emotions and giddiness came back again before I walked down the aisle.
Also, a friend of ours advised us to find time during the reception to stand up on a chair, look around, and take it all in. Our DJ played “Fishing in the Dark” which was a tradition in college to stand up on chairs when that song came on.. so we got up, and sang, and looked around at everyone dancing! It was so much fun and we felt on top of the world!”
What was less important to you that day than you thought it would be?
” I think it was everything except for Bobby, my bridal get-up and the setting. I finally started to realize not to sweat the small stuff – social media really hypes up weddings these days and it feels like we’re all trying to outdo the other and keep up with the trends. Imagine how incredible our world would be if people put that much emphasis on making their partner happy in their marriage instead? :)”
“All of the details (cliché but true!). I LOVED each and every little detail in our wedding. But when I look at the pictures or think back to our day, that’s not what I see. I do see the most wonderful family and friends together under one roof. And I wish I had more pictures of them (even though we have no where to put them)!! I don’t wish I had more pictures of the flowers, food, etc.”
“All the wedding formalities (pictures with every family member, wedding party intros, garter/bouquet toss, making a big to do about cutting cake. going around to every table to say hi/“thanks for coming”, etc.) Pick and choose what’s important to you and if time doesn’t allow for all of them, it’s okay. It’s your wedding… be different 😉 and use your time wisely, the day goes by quickly!”
Any final thoughts for a bride-to-be?
“Remember while it is your wedding, it’s just your wedding. What’s important is marrying the man you love and being surrounded by friends and family who care about you!”
“Don’t get overwhelmed, follow your to do list one day at a time, give yourself a break from planning, and delegate where you can.
Have fun with it! It’s you and your fiances day, and nobody else’s opinions matter.
Lastly, with vendors – read the contracts thoroughly and ask a lot of questions!”
“Plan a good honeymoon- or better yet- have your groom plan a good honeymoon. Paul planned our trip to Maui and it was phenomenal. It gave us something to look forward to after the craziness of the wedding planning!”