Happy New Year, hive! It’s a new year and I’m guessing we have some newly engaged readers here at Weddingbee. I was married on May 26, 2013, and I wanted to share my wedding-planning advice for those of you who might just be getting started. I’ve had a lot of time to stop and reflect on our wedding, including what I loved and what I would change if given a second chance. Here are some decisions that we made during the planning process that I still feel good about.
Skip the Bouquet & Garter Toss
I’m so glad we skipped these two wedding traditions. At 30 (and being the youngest in my family) and 36, we don’t have too many single friends or family left these days, at least not ones we wanted to publicly humiliate by forcing them to stand in a group while I toss a bouquet at them. I’ve always been really embarrassed when I have been forced into a ring of younger women who are ready and willing to fight for the chance to be the next to get married. The garter toss didn’t fit the vibe of our wedding either, nor does it really suit our personalities. I think these traditions are starting to lose popularity over the years, but they are probably a lot more fun if you are getting married young or have lots of younger family members who would be excited to join in. Go with your gut on this one, and don’t let friends or family members talk you into having anything at your wedding that doesn’t suit your style or personalities! Besides, who would want to toss this bouquet?
Skip the Out-of-Town Bags:
As much as I would have loved to pamper and impress our out-of-town guests, I am so glad that we skipped the out-of-town bags. It would be have been a huge extra cost for us (when things were already over budget), and it would have been very stressful to gather these items and assemble them at the last minute, not to mention getting them to the hotels and into the hands of specific guests. A lot of bee bloggers have made them and you see them a lot online, but please, please, please do not feel obligated or pressured to provide out-of-town bags to your guests. I don’t think any guest arrives to a destination wedding expecting anything other than witnessing a wedding ceremony. Yes, it’s a very special touch, but it’s a luxury, not a necessity. When I thought about all the money I was practically hemorrhaging those final weeks leading to the wedding, I came to the realization that it was just an unnecessary expense.
Skip the Bathroom Basket
This falls under the same category as the out-of-town bags. It’s an unnecessary expense. I’ve seen women spend easily $50–100 on bathroom baskets. It’s a very generous final touch, but guys—you are at a wedding for maybe five or six hours. I don’t think guests need an entire basket of conveniences for such a short period of time. This whole idea of being the gracious and generous hostess who anticipates the needs of her every guest is getting out of hand. If you have the money, go for it. Otherwise, skip the bathroom basket. No one will notice and you will save yourself time and money.
I love that we incorporated some fun, silly photos into our wedding-day portrait session, like the one below of us “Vadering.” We aren’t the most serious of couples, so this allowed some of our personalities to shine through on our big day. Don’t be afraid to ask you photographer to incorporate some fun or goofy photos like these!
Have the Sunday Wedding
We decided to hold our wedding on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend. When negotiating with vendors, I did not mention it was a holiday weekend; I only mentioned that it was a Sunday. We ended up with a significant discount from our photographer! This meant we were able to afford a venue and caterer that otherwise would have been out of our budget. Don’t be shy about the Sunday wedding, especially if you can get it to line up with a day most people will have off anyway!
Book the New Venue
I know it’s not always possible, but we took a chance on a brand new wedding venue and really lucked out. A Divine Event had just bought the property that would become Cloverleaf Farms when Mr. C and I stopped by to have a look. There was still a lot of work to be done, but the event coordinator who showed us the property was able to help us see their vision, and I loved what I heard. We were on board immediately and took a chance booking a venue that was still a work in progress. As such, we received a significant discount as one of their first pre-advertising bookings.
Rent the Cafe Lights
We spent a lot of money on rented cafe lights. Yes, it’s crazy. I realize it’s crazy. But they turned out so magically beautiful. If I was a bit more industrious I would have found some way to purchase and hang my own cafe lights, but that was unrealistic considering the time crunch we were under as the wedding approached. But if you need to rent some ambient lights for your reception space—go for it! It makes a huge impact. Originally, we were going to hold the reception inside the house, but since the venue coordinator suggested it, we decided to move all the tables outside and we needed to have lighting. We definitely wanted something more than the garish flood lights already attached to the house. Beauty and function! So for that, I say it was money well spent. But maybe see if you can buy your own and put them up the night before!
Get Edible Favors
Do you ever keep knick-knacks around because you feel guilty throwing them away or donating them? You keep them in a box in your closet or in the junk drawer, taking up space but simultaneously making you feel too guilty to toss them? That’s me! That’s why I’m glad we chose edible favors (French macarons) so our guests wouldn’t be stuck with some random object they felt obligated to take home and keep. Not only were they practical, but they were beautiful and delicious as well. We had some on display on our dessert table and others were individually wrapped and passed out to guests with hand-stamped thank you tags. So many of our friends and family had never tried French macarons before, and everyone was so delighted by the amazing flavor and texture of these fancy little French cookies. It made me happy to share one of my small joys with our guests.
Sorta DIY the Flowers
Originally we were going to go total DIY for our flowers. The plan was to order flowers in bulk from fiftyflowers.com and then spend the Saturday before our Sunday wedding arranging the flowers into my collection of milk glass vessels. This all sounded feasible during the dreamlike “anything is possible” first six or seven months of wedding planning. And then reality sank in. I didn’t want to spend the day before my wedding frantically cutting and arranging flowers, transporting them to and from the venue, all the while asking my mom, family, and bridesmaids to sacrifice their time to help out. In the end, we went the semi-DIY route. This decision was also inspired by the floral quote I received. The compromise was that the florist would handle my bouquet, the groom’s boutonniere, and the table decor while we DIY’ed the bridesmaid bouquets, aisle baskets, and groomsmen boutonnieres. We bought baby’s breath in bulk, and my mom made the arrangements in an hour or so two days before the wedding. They were fine sitting in water until the big day. In an ideal world I would have loved to have something a little more colorful for the bridesmaids, but I’m still happy with the end result. Plus, it saved us a ton of money, and we had plenty of baby’s breath leftover to fill our aisle baskets too.
Keep the Seating Chart
If you are having a seated buffet, people will tell you that you do not need to have assigned seating. I had several people try to convince me that it was unnecessary. Others told me that guests would not want to stay at their tables. I beg to differ. First of all, as you might recall, I have some serious drama in my family, and I wanted to ensure that each family member was sitting with the appropriate people. Secondly, as a guest, I hate having to save a seat for myself and my partner only to realize I’m sitting with a group of people I don’t know. Maybe some people enjoy the element of surprise, but personally I hate small talk with a passion. With these things in mind, I made sure to seat all of our guests with friends and relatives. If you feel like having a seating chart fits the vibe of your guests, go for it. Again, listen to your instinct and don’t let anyone talk you out of it.
Wear What Makes You Happy
I struggled with my decision to wear a blue sash on our wedding day. On one hand, I loved the look of the dress without the sash. On the other hand, I was kind of obsessed with the idea of the sash. I even waited until the last minute to ask my mother to make one because I just wasn’t sure it was what I really wanted. I was terrified that I would regret the decision. Thankfully, I love the final look and I can’t imagine our wedding day without it. No one ever tried to dissuade me from wearing it, but it would have been tough to ignore the comments of my friends and family. Even so, stick to your guns and wear what makes you happy! It’s your wedding day, after all, not theirs.
Did you make any tough decisions that you are still glad you stuck with, even months or years after the wedding?