Wedding Tips for Brides to Be!

I am so excited to be helping my brother and future sister-in-law plan their upcoming wedding! In trying to think of as much advice and tips on planning their big day as possible, I decided to ask some friends who recently planned their own wedding to see what things they had to say.

It is easy to get wrapped up in the things that a magazine, wedding planning book or celebrity and how they plan their weddings on a budget that is FAR from realistic for the average couple. I hope this helps other brides-to be in some way!

1.     What did you spend the biggest amount of your budget on?

·        I spent the biggest amount of my budget on my photographer. Now, with that said...I loved my pictures but I wish I had spent more time searching for my photographer. The one that I chose I had decided on long before I was engaged bc I had seen some of her work a few years before and loved it. She is really the only photographer I had looked into and as soon as I was engaged I booked her immediately. I know photographers are expensive but I felt I paid way too much of my $ for what I got. It was almost $4000 and all I got was 8 hrs on the wedding day and a CD with 600 pics and rights to print. I didn’t get any prints, no wedding album and at the time that she did my wedding she was involved in another business and I felt she was lacking the creativity I had seen in her previous work. I had wonderful pictures of my husband and I, but only 1 pose with my bridal party and I so wish I would have had cuter pics with my girls and the entire wedding party and family. Like I said, I loved what I got but wish she had done more. There are several things I wanted photographed that she did not get. Since my wedding I have had several friends get married who have had pictures just as good as mine if not better, with much more offered and a much less price so just be very careful and detailed in choosing a photographer-Your pictures in my opinion are the most important thing you could spend your money on bc that is what you are going to have forever....and no matter which photographer you choose, make a list of EVERYTHING you want pictures of and give it to them to make sure that nothing is forgotten or left out. Don’t wait until the day of like I did bc everything is so hectic and going by so fast you aren’t going to be able to think or remember everything.

·        Reception venue

·        We didn't have a budget really...just did everything as cheaply as we could. We spent the most on our honeymoon, which was the best use of our money!!

·        I spent most of our money on own reception venue! hard to find an inside place in GA for the winter time!

·        I spent the most money on my venue. I got a great deal on my photographer otherwise I may have spent more on that.

2.      What was something you wish you would have spent more time/money on?

·        Photographer!! Don’t cut this part short FOR SURE!

·        I wish I would have spent more time on a photographer and more money on a DJ. Our DJ was ok but was the cheapest one we could find and was a friend of a friend type thing. I recommend going through a company bc believe it or not the DJ is kind of what "helps" everything fall into place at the reception and you need someone who knows what they are doing or things could get a little chaotic.

·        I can honestly say I was 100% satisfied with how every detail of our wedding turned out. Money was spent where it needed to be and saved where it didn't need to be spent!

·        Probably favors. In reality I wanted us and our wedding party to always remember our wedding but also the people that came. Our favors were nice but could have been better.

·        I wish I had met with more videographers. I didn't really know a lot and just went with the one my wedding planner recommended to me. They were ok but missed a few important things on the day that we wished they would have recorded.

3.      What do your guests remember most about your wedding?

·        Probably A few of the songs we selected for the ceremony, Our wonderful slide show ( a tear jerker for sure) that my sister worked on for months to show at the wedding, the food was fabulous and hopefully how much fun they had ;)

·        Our guest talked about our decorations, the flower girls coming down the aisle in a wagon...but EVERYONE talked about our wedding party dancing to "The wobble". Even our photographer couldn't stop talking about it. So much fun!

·        The energy and dancing at the reception and that it was just fun!

·        Dancing at the reception

·        Most people said the warmth and laid back atmosphere to the wedding. Nothing was formally done....even the ceremony. There was TONS of laughter and it was very relaxed.

4.      How did you bring your own personality to your wedding?

·        We brought our own personality to the wedding in three ways: 1. Our wedding processional song was, "This will be an everlasting love" and we all kind of danced out. 2. All the groomsmen and groom wore basketball shoes to the reception 3. and of course our Dances at the reception

·        My husband has a very funny/jokester personality and has been known for his tuxedo t-shirts he has worn for years. So, we had tuxedo shirts made for all 10 groomsman and they wore them under the real tuxedos all through the wedding and once all the "formal" stuff was done at the reception they all took their tux jackets and shirts off and enjoyed the rest of the night comfy in their tux tees lol. Tacky as my grandmother would say but so something we would do lol. Also, we had our very favorite oreo dessert balls that my grandmother made as party favors (5 to a bag) with a picture of my husband and I holding up a "Thank You" sign for all of our guest. The groom’s cake was an exact 3D replica of my husbdand’s Jeep Wrangler...down to the exact color and detail of the wheels and tires. It was awesome....and my all-time FAVORITE movie of mine and my mother’s is Steel Magnolias- so, I walked down the aisle to the beautiful music from the soundtrack. I loved it!

·        I think by having it small and simple, nothing to fancy - from the rehearsal, to reception - it was all about what God had done and celebrating it with our family. My husband and I both tend to be pretty laid back so I think that reflected our personalities well!

·        We had it outside so there was a lot of natural beauty but we tried to keep things simple and not too flashy. It was really nice but no ice sculptures or formal dinner. We made it mostly about celebrating with our families and friends. Also, my husband is a pretty casual dresser so I let him go with a suit instead of a tux and all the groomsmen wore Chuck Taylor's. It was reflective of his style, and I think he was much happier in that than dress shoes.

·        Our ceremony was tailored to us as a couple, both in our vows and nontraditional music. We wanted to remember the ceremony and bring as much meaning to the actual “getting married” part as possible!

5.      How much time did you spend planning your big day?

·        We got engaged on November 24, 2009 and got married on May 7, 2011...so about a year and 1/2 total

·        We were only engaged for 4 months and in those 4 months, we made a cross country move. So there was lots of time over really 3 months that we planned and made decisions.

·        9 months… the last 3 were the most intense!

·        We were engaged for 13 months and we started planning after being engaged 4 ish months. But in reality if we planned "full time" it probably would have only been a total of 4-5 months.

·        I was in my last year of college, looking for a job, and planning a wedding so I probably didn't spend as much time planning as I should have. Lucky for me, I had a good mom to help :). She was enthusiastic and helped keep me on track.

6.      What did you think was a big deal that ended up not being?

·        I worried that we wouldn’t have enough beverages or food but we actually had more than enough!

·        Having everyone on a schedule, song list to dance to, favors

·        I was worried about the bridesmaids looking uniform. I'm more of a creative dresser and believe in expressing your individual style and personality, but I was also a ballerina for 15 years. In that world, everyone has to look exactly the same when you go on stage so I was overly concerned that they were going to wear some type of crazy jewelry or paint their fingernails some crazy color. In the end, it did not matter AT ALL. I didn't even notice in the big day :)

·        Honestly nothing. We had a small mini reception for everyone after the ceremony, followed by a luncheon private reception just for family/close friends. I slightly worried that there wouldn't be enough food, but once the day arrived, I didn't worry at all!

·        Not having enough food.....we stressed and stressed and stressed about not having enough food. Not knowing exactly how many ppl would come since it was New Year’s Eve, not having enough money for more food = a ton of unnecessary stressing. Truth is other ppl may come for the food, but they're really not going to care if it isn't a gourmet meal. We had just enough to go around with no 2nds and NOBODY complained (which shocked me) but if its ppl that love and care about you food is going to be the last thing on their mind and trust me it will never once come in your mind until it’s all over and your starving (papa johns is always open btw)

7.      Did you have a wedding coordinator? Suggest one? Why or why not?

·        We had one at the church we were married in. But up until the rehearsal, we planned/coordinated everything ourselves. Having someone to coordinate the ceremony was SO helpful...I would highly recommend that - someone who is not family/friends and is a good voice of reason and authority. Martha was a life saver. She even decorated the sanctuary for us in our colors and didn't charge us! She made sure the ceremony and mini reception ran so smooth!

·        I did and it was AWESOME! One Enchanted Evening was the name of the company I think. They were great. They took the reins about 3 months before the wedding. On the day of my wedding I didn't have to talk to the florist, DJ, etc. they handled everything, and it was a huge relief because you just want to enjoy your big day!

·        Well, I didn’t actually hire a "wedding coordinator" but I did have my cousin who is an event planner and has many connections with florists and vendors help me. I planned every last detail of my wedding on my own, He just helped me pull everything together and make it happen. I do suggest making sure that you have someone there to make sure everything is in place and done and set up right so you won’t be stressing so much about it. Whether it’s hiring a coordinator or has a family member or friend volunteer to help.

·        No we didn't have one. Too expensive with our tight budget. So we did everything our self, granted it would probably have been a lot less stressful with one. We just couldn't bring our self to hiring somebody to do something our family would die to help do and we could do own our own. If our budget was bigger it would have definitely been something to think about.

·        Yes! Family friend and she was AWESOME!

8.       What was your favorite DIY project you did for decor?

·        I don’t know if it was actually DIY but I had black and white damask table runners for the reception and we had several left over that weren’t being used so we made bows out of them and added them to the arrangements going down the aisle and it looked beautiful

·        Everything was DIY! I ordered the boutonnieres off etsy. com (KatesaidYes....is the seller's name..she's located near Boston, MA...and is WONDERFUL!!!) Otherwise, I did everything myself. I think my favorites were my sister and I's bouquets. They turned out so much prettier than I thought. And my centerpieces...we did simple glass vases with hydrangeas, ranunculus, and dahlias.

·        Instead of flowers for center pieces, we put fish in vases. I picked up a TON of fish, and even though there wasn't much crafting involved, it was still fun :) and it was fun to give them away to kids after the reception. I have people who still have the fish from 3 years ago!

·        Almost Everything was a diy project. We made topiary trees out of a wooden stick, Styrofoam balls, flowers, ribbon, etc. There were 2, one on either side of the aisle runner. My aunt made them and everyone asked what florist we had that made those. We also decorated every vase with all kinds of stuff. Hobby Lobby and Michaels were our best friend the 3 months before. We even made huge plants out of glittery blue and silver limbs and feathers. It looked awesome with the lighting at the reception.

·        We had to keep all décor very simple bc of the budget. Most of my gifts for people in the wedding were made.

9.      What store or site online did you frequent the most?

·        Hobby Lobby. Saved our flower budget!!! Website: Pinterest.com - gave me all of my ideas from centerpieces to bouquets and table numbers.

·        DEFINITELY theknot.com, Hobby Lobby, and Michaels

·        Michaels & Hobby Lobby. Love their 40% off coupons!

·        Theknot.com 

10.   My best advice in planning a wedding is....

·        Take a deep breath, Take your time, don’t get overwhelmed, Try not to stress so much and enjoy every last moment of planning and the wedding. No matter what you fret or stress over its not going to matter in the end bc your wedding is going to be as beautiful as you have ever dreamed and at the end of that night you have the love of your life by your side :)
·        Enjoy yourself and don't take it for granted. Do all the girly crazy things. Wear a giant veil in public at your bachelorette party. Get a manicure so your nails look awesome when you show off your ring. Wear sassy dresses to all your showers. Invite 300 people (even if half of them are strangers that only your parents know) because it's worth it to see everyone you know and love in one place having a giant party and celebrating love together! Because you're only the bride once:) . But just HAVE FUN because no matter what color your bridesmaids fingernails are, at the end of the day, you're going to be married to the love of your life :)

·        Keep it simple. We have a very simple ceremony from start to finish. I had one attendant - my sister - my Matron of Honor....and she was allowed to pick out her own gown, which was GREAT! The guys didn't have to wear tuxes - they wore navy suits they already owned. Looking back, it was the most perfect day. My husband and I saw each other before the ceremony and had an incredible time of prayer before the ceremony. It took the stress and nervousness off...but still seeing his face as I walked down the aisle was priceless. Don't stress about the little things - or about others people's opinions about your day. Delegate things so you don't have to do it yourself. Look for local restaurants that will offer a discounted reception site. Over all....enjoy it!!!! =)

·        Talk to your fiancé and decide what is most important for you two about YOUR day together. It is all about you guys and the commitment that you will be making together. You will only do it once, so don’t worry with what everyone else wants. Focus on the two of you and have fun with it! You’ll never get to plan this big of a party again J

·        Try your best not to let anyone else stress you out over anything. Whether it is your parents, his parents, or even your fiancé. What is important to you is what is important, end of story. Really allow yourself to let this be about you. It can be really hard to do that, because you start thinking well my mom has waited for this day too, but fortunately they've already had their big day. So first don't let anyone else stress you out, and second don't stress yourself out. As long as you have all the main things, such as: a dress, bridal party attire, ceremony and reception venues, food, flowers, photographer, officiant, and invitations. EVERYTHING else will fall into place. I promise. This is coming from a girl that decided to get chair covers and sashes two weeks before. From every sash being tied, to every curl being curled. It will happen, and if it is the exact opposite of what you thought...set in your mind you will not let anything upset you and try to enjoy and capture every moment because at the end of the day everyone you love just witnessed you joining life with the love of your life and you still get to go on your honeymoon which will be awesome!

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