Planning a wedding is very challenging in many ways. You probably already know that or you will soon find out. Getting all your ducks in a row is time consuming and stressful. Luckily there are many tools out there to help you with finding vendors, supplies and everything you need for your big day, but what about planning the events and activities, choosing the right services and making it a day everyone will remember and enjoy...
Check it off!
Start with a checklist and start crossing things off of it. Staying organized is the most important thing you can do. There are many sites out there that have great planning tools. We have a great FREE planner to help you later on.
Create a personal pinterest board with ideas and photo's you have. Share them with the photographer or whomever needs to create or recreate what you like.
Time to plan the time of our life.
The most popular and experienced service providers and venues get booked up fast, so the longer you wait the less chance you have at booking the ones you want. If you wait till a few months before your event to book, you may end up getting stuck with less experienced or of lesser quality providers than you had hoped for. It is very important that you book everything you need at least 6 to 24 months in advance or even more if you are wanting to reserve a popular venue. Dates fill up very quickly for good service providers, don't be stuck with services that were simply available. Make sure you get the service providers you want by booking early!
Write or wrong!
A lot of "brides to be" or wedding planners have had their service provider(s) back out on them last minute for a variety of reasons. I'm not telling you this to scare you, just want you to be sure that whomever you get to provide your services completes a legal and binding contract (agreement) ensuring their services for your day. It DOES happen and it DOES happen more often than you think. When it happens, it is usually last minute and it is usually by a friend or a friend of a friend who isn't part of a company or a true professional. If you don't have a contract, you have no guarantee that the service provider will show up!!! Not having a contract can be VERY DEVASTATING! Having a signed contract is a MUST with all your service providers!
Be sure to keep in touch with them too. Make sure things are still set and everything is a go. If such a problem should occur and you can't reach a service provider, start looking for someone new immediately!
Every single company / service provider is different in many ways. All service providers have a different style, pricing and terms. Some are even specialists in particular genres or styles. Make sure the company you are looking at hiring is professional, affordable with your budget and offers everything you are looking for. Be sure that they are there to make your day the best it can be.
Gather your posse.
Hey watch it! It says POSSE! As in "a group of people who have a common characteristic, occupation, or purpose." There is A LOT to do and just when you think, "this isn't so bad", you think of something else and another thing and another thing! Don't do it all yourself and spend all day, everyday planning and organizing. Get your crew to help you out! People love to help! If you do it all yourself, you will be so stressed and wore out before the wedding you will just wish it was over. There are many things people can help with, decor, researching vendors, applying stamps etc etc.
Open bar dude!!!
Weddings are EXPENSIVE, we all know that. But one thing you shouldn't cut-out are free drinks… at least for part of the night. There are many ways to make this affordable; some venues let you bring your own booze for example and most let you purchase kegs and serve wine. Your guests are already giving you a nice gift of some sort and most can't afford to shell out $50+ for drinks. Bottom line is that IF you want your guests to stay, dance and have a good time, booze sure won't hurt the cause!
Be thankful and thank everyone!
Many people chip in one way or another. be sure to personally thank them on your wedding day. Doing it over the microphone at the actual reception will mean a lot more to them than just the same thank you that you send out afterwards if you do.
Queen Bee or Queen "B"?
Your bridesmaids are there for you in many ways and should be willing to do whatever you ask of them, but keep in mind that they are doing a lot for you. Put yourself in their shoes… buying gifts, running with you everywhere, wearing what you want and most of the time digging in their pocket book along the way. Thank them along the way and keep your cool with them at all times.
Can we go home yet?!
OK… so ceremony at 2:00, pictures till 4, hit a couple bars, dinner at 6. Sound good? I hope not! Your guests are going to go nuts! Downtime after the ceremony is one of the BIGGEST mistakes people make! What in the heck are your guests going to do all that time??? They come for fun and celebration, not a sore butt and nap time. Keep things moving. If people are bored and have to wait around too long, they already want to go home and most likely will eat and leave. You can have a photo booth and stuff during social time, but an hour or so is long enough for people to visit and relax before dinner.
Aruba, Jamaica ooo I wanna take ya.
Oh wow, that sounds so amazing! A destination wedding may be what you've always wanted to do, but keep in mind that everyone you may want at your wedding may not be up for the trip. Some people may not be able to get off of work, they may not be able to afford to go or they simply don't want to travel that far. If you choose to have a destination wedding, you will definitely want to consider filming it and having a reception back in your area for those you didn't invite or for those who couldn't make it to the wedding.
I can do it, put my back into it.
DIY is in these days, but is that the best for you? I can bake my cake, alter my dress, design my invites… piece o'cake! While saving some money is awesome, consider the time it's going to take to do these things and certain ones can't be done that far in advance. One of the worst things you can do for yourself is have a hefty to do list a few weeks before your wedding. PLUS, if you aren't that experienced in doing some of these things, you may end up getting what you "pay" for. You may run out of time or spending more money last minute than you would have had to pay a professional to handle it for you from the beginning.
1…2…3…4…Money out the door!
Creating your guest list can be a real challenge. Well if I invite them, we better invite Uncle Bob too then. You and your fiance should each create a master list, then sit down together and figure out where your cut-off point is. To help limit certain people, ask yourself how important they really have been to you and your life. If they have always been important to you or had a big impact on your life then invite them. If they haven't, you know what to do or what not to do that is. Ask yourself, "who has to be invited?"
Parents 2 cents could cost you 2 million cents!
Many parents get bit by the invite bug. Telling you that you should invite this person and them and those, blah blah. Well that's all well and good IF they are important to you. This is not a super happy fun get-together for your parents friends and neighbors… it's YOUR big day, invite who you want!
Your signifiCAN other.
Get your fiance involved one way or another. It is their day too and they can help. Assign yourself specific tasks and set deadlines to get these squared away. Some small and simple tasks taken off your plate can make a world of difference.
Get ready, set, spend!
Don't let someone else's wedding ruin your own wedding or blow your budget! Just because someone else you know had top of the line this and that doesn't mean that you need to do the same. The last thing you need to do is overspend on unnecessary things that you really don't want or need. Starting your new life together will be much harder if you're starting in the whole with debt!
Asking guests for requests in your invites is a very nice gesture, but think of the consequences first. Think about what they will request. Most people tend to request slow songs or songs that aren't very well known. People generally lean towards choosing a song that not everyone else likes or knows as one of their favorites. It's just human nature sometimes. Either way, if 50 people reply with slow songs, songs other people don't know or songs that simply aren't dance friendly, most of your guests aren't going to dance and it will KILL the dance!
People like to dance to the songs they know and most people expect to hear "wedding dance music". You are better off leaving it up to your Dj and allowing the DJ to take requests and play only the appropriate ones. By giving your DJ the power to say that the Bride / Groom wanted only popular songs or whatever, your guests will respect your wishes.
What most people don't know is that the DJ is one of the most important things to the success of a wedding. There are many stories out there about "iPod Dj's" ruining a reception by playing the wrong music and at the wrong times. It takes experience and an unselfish DJ to play songs that a certain crowd wants to hear and will dance to. It is impossible to plan a good wedding dance ahead of time especially without a lot of experience performing for an audience. Also in most situations, it is not easy to setup and run high level audio equipment correctly... and if they are not using professional grade equipment there is a good chance it will over-heat or malfunction at a high level of output. An iPod is not a DJ, it is a music player that has no clue what the guests are going to dance to. For small parties and casual events, that type of show may be fine, but a wedding?
A DJ plays a much more important role than just playing the music, they help coordinate everything, make announcements so people know what's going on and can take requests and make sure the right music gets played at the right time. All these things are very important to the success of your wedding!
Nearly 100% of all brides say that they would have spend more money on their entertainent and almost 80% of all guests say they remember the dance and entertainent the most.
If you are concerned about any part of your wedding planning or uncomfortable with anything, fix it now. Call or talk to your planner or service provider so you are confident. You will be very busy on your wedding day no matter what, so make sure everything is organized and everyone knows their job and place. If you are playing the coordinator the day of your wedding it will cut into your fun and if you are crabby or stressed worrying about things not being perfect, you may hinder the amount of fun you should and could have.
You deserve a personal attendant. Even if it is your mom, a cousin or even an event planner. Make sure there is someone that can help organize and make sure things go smoothly for you. If you are in charge of the entire day, you will be stressed and on the run all day. Having a "right hand man" can make your day A LOT easier and there are always people who would love to help you and have this title!
27 Dresses - Always a bride, never a bridesmaid.
It's your time to shine, no doubt about it! It's your day, you get to have what you want and do what you want! AWESOME! Just don't forget that someday the tables may be turned. Respect everyone involved with the wedding because someday you will be helping someone else with theirs. Also, always keep your guests in mind when planning each part of your wedding. If you want them to have fun, think about what they look forward to and put more effort into those tasks than others that they really aren't interested in.
You're not the boss of me now!
MANY parent's and friends will tell you what you should do on your big day. Remember that it is YOUR DAY and you have the right to do things how you want. Advice is one thing, letting someone live vicariously through you is another.
Most people trust their parents or guardians more than anyone else, which is a great thing, but sometimes they get a little too involved and feel things should be done their way… especially if they are paying the bill! Don't go burning bridges with someone you love and who is going to pay, but let them know if there is something you really want to have or really don't. They tend to get caught up in the planning and forget that is should be you making the decisions!
Hotel, motel, Holiday Inn!
No one wants their guests to drink and drive. A tragic accident on your big day isn't something anyone wants. So having your reception at a resort or hotel may be something you want to think about. Some hotels can be expensive to have your wedding at, so you certainly don't have to have it there, but at least provide a shuttle or bus to the nearest hotel. If your wedding is in the country, find a place where people can camp or park their RV's. If people don't have a place to STAY, they probably won't STAY long at all.
If you dance it, they will come.
If you want people to dance and have a good time, get your butt out there and shake it. This is NOT the time to be shy. Everyone you love and care about will be there and they will not think any less of you if your dance moves consist of awkwardly wiggling around the dance floor. Guests will follow if you get out there and will be impressed if you usually don't dance. This is one day that is all about you, let loose!
It's mine, all mine.
Oh yeah, I am marrying someone. Don't forget that you are still in a relationship and your taking a huge step in life with this person. Get them involved in the planning and get their opinion. Some act like they don't care but if you ask them what they would like on THEIR BIG DAY, you are more likely to get an opinion out of them. Don't forget, the day is about you (a couple) not just you, you!...
STOP, smell the roses and spend some time together. Get wedding off of your mind and be a couple. If your relationship is suffering before the wedding, that's probably not the best start to your new life together.
If you want it to be fun, well make it fun then!
Get an officiant that will integrate a couple jokes during the ceremony. Guests love a good wedding joke and it breaks the formal and boring tension of a formal event. If your family loves sports or something like that, have a theme or do some games that involve your hobby's. Some people have even had mascot's come and entertain the crowd. There are endless games that can be done at weddings to make it way more fun for everyone. Get a photo booth so guests that aren't going to dance have something fun to do. You may even consider spending a few bucks and get some props like glow sticks and funny glasses for your guests to wear.
I'm a cowboy-viking with sunglasses and a mustache.
Photo booths are a huge hit at any event. It can take a typical formal event and bring out the goofball in everyone! You may even want to use the pictures in a scrapbook or as your guest book. People can paste the photo and write a message to you! ideas, options and samples
I am SO mad I could just, just post it!
Avoid venting about anything to do with your wedding on Facebook or any social networks. Someone who probably shouldn't see it most likely will and someone is bound to take it personal! Whether you are stressed about the cost of something or a simple feud with a bridesmaid, avoid posting about it!
Videography is the best and really the only way to re-live your wedding day. Photo's are great but can only show a few moments and don't really tell the whole story. Hidden camera's, in your bouquet for example, can capture some funny and awesome candid moments.
I didn't even see Uncle Jimbo dancing! Are your friends and family up to speed with technology? If so, you may want to setup an instagram account or/and flickr. Ask guests to take pics and to use a special hashtag for wedding posts, tweets and pictures. At the reception, use a projector or TV as a social media station. Pull up the hashtag feed on Twitter, or use a site like Eventstagram, which displays Instagram images in real time as they are posted.
Have them there, even if they aren't.
If a loved one can't attend due to illness or travel cost, consider asking a guest to help livestream the event, via Google Hangout or "I Do" Stream.
Surprise, surprise! You ruined the surprise.
Don't ruin the surprise. If you have something fun or different planned, mums the word. Wait till the big day, the impact is so much better if it is a surprise.
Silence of the phones.
Put your phone away. Check it once or twice just for emergencies, but everyone you should be talking to or texting will be coming and should know what is going on. It is very rude to be on your phone during any event, especially when it's your own wedding.
Create a list of all your vendors and their phone numbers and give a copy of this list to a parent, event coordinator, personal attendant, fiance and anyone else that is important. Emergencies can happen and your planning crew are the only ones who will know what service providers you are getting. If someone isn't there when they should be, have them call them immediately. You will be very busy on your wedding day and you have plenty to do, so assign this to someone else so they can check periodically that all vendors and things are ready to go.
Be sure to setup a wedding page with details for your guests. Many sites like the knot offer a free service to setup a custom web page (we also offer this service). Be sure to include and link to google maps, venue websites and hotel websites so people can easily and quickly get the info they need.
I do what I want!
Stand up for yourself and tell people what you want. Share your goals for the big day. If you see something fun you want to do, tell your DJ. If you see a photo that you really like, Pin it or save it so you can show your Photographer. Don't wish for something after your wedding is over. Service providers aren't mind readers and everyone likes something different.
You don't have to settle for what you can afford!
You may have been dreaming about this day for a long time. It is very important (as stated earlier in this list) not to go all out and spend spend spend, BUT if there is something you have always dreamed of and really want… get it! Now is your chance to get a limo, drink champagne or have a photo booth. Some things you may not be in the budget, but if you want it that much, get it! Don't regret your decision afterwards.