I could probably list about 100 lessons that I learned from planning my own wedding, but don’t worry as I narrowed it down to the top 10 I thought were the most important. My husband and I were married on August 26th 2012 after three and a half years of dating and having known each other since preschool! We had a huge wedding (roughly around 400 guests) and got married at Pioneer Park Pavilion, which was a central location to our friends and family. Our ceremony was outdoors with an indoor reception. All photos in this blog post are of our wedding and were taken by our amazing photographer, Jennifer of Polka Dot Photography.
1. Do not try to do it all yourself and delegate the rest
Personally, I have a tendency to try to do everything myself! Which is of course exactly what I tried to do with my wedding. But there is so much to get done for a wedding that there just isn’t enough time for one person to do it all. Recruit your fiance, family and bridal party to help. I planned wedding invitation making parties and had all my girlfriends come over and we stamped, cut, taped glued, addressed and sealed all afternoon while drinking wine and appetizers.
2. Figure out what is most important to you.
If you prioritize what is most important and do those things first, then you can make sure that they happen just how you want. For us, having personal vows were important and we wanted them written out in our programs so that everyone could read and understand them. I spent quite some time designing our perfect programs that would include those vows.
3. Not everything needs to be DIY
Although the “do it yourself” movement is very popular and Pinterest makes it look like you can make everything yourself, it isn’t necessarily the best option. Outsource what you can! Do what you are good at and only have time for and outsource the rest! For my wedding we tried to do too many things that at midnight on the night before our wedding I was attempting to finish building our slideshow!
4. Use decor that you can later use in your home or donate
So often the centerpieces from weddings are things that no one else would ever use. Or why would you need 22 vases? Think about using decor pieces at your wedding that you would like to have in your home later. I still have a beautiful birdcage that was a card holder at our wedding on display on our mantle. Our guestbooks were quotes from the movie “Sweet Home Alabama” that people signed around and they hang on our walls. And the arch we were married under will one day be on display in our yard (once we have one!).
5. Don’t lose sight of the reason you are having a wedding
Remember that most people will not remember the decor pieces from your wedding, what the food tasted like or if your flowers were perfect. But they will remember the joy you shared on your wedding day and the special memories that were created.
6. Things always take longer than you think
When helping my brides plan their wedding day timelines I always add in lots of buffer time! Everything takes ten times longer on a wedding day for some reason so plan accordingly.
7. Avoid being the wedding planner on your wedding day
Personally, I love being in control and am great at planning things. On wedding days as a photographer I am usually the one running the show as I am often the only person who knows when each person is supposed to be in a certain place as I have to photograph it! But as a bride, this is a terrible idea! I recruited a great friend and coordinator for my day of schedule who ran it all for me so I didn’t have to worry.
8. Make sure to actually eat your dinner
You spent so much time picking out the perfect wedding food and it is probably expensive too! Make sure you actually sit down and eat. Let people talk to you and don’t be afraid to KEEP EATING while they do! You’ll regret it later when you get to your hotel and are starving!
9. Drink lots of water
Drink way more water than you think you will need to! Especially if you plan on having alcohol at your wedding. With all of the stress, activity, talking and running around you will very easily get dehydrated.
10. Recruit a cleanup crew
Don’t depend on your bridal party and family to clean up after your party (or even you and your new husband!). Recruit or hire others to do it for you and you will not regret it!