05 Jan 10 Things I Learned From My Wedding
Last summer I got married. It was a beautiful event with 80 of our closest friends and family. The wedding was perfect and we played to the strengths of the rustic venue. My husband and I planned the wedding ourselves with a little help from my mom. In the end, everything was just as I had imagined it. I was so happy with how everything turned out that I certainly would not go back and change a thing. However, there are some things I learned along the way that I wish someone had told me.
1. Find Ways to Make it Uniquely Yours
There were many things that my husband and I decided to include on the day of that were unique to us. Many of them we thought of easily because they are things that we love. However, no one told me how much these small details would mean on the big day. If they had I might have included even more of them! Here are some examples of little things we decided to have at the wedding: my husband and I both meditate so we had the officiant lead a short two minute meditation during the ceremony. We were nervous about this because most people in our families do not meditate. We ended up getting great feedback from our guests. We also had lawn games because we both love to play games and have fun. Another unique element was that we picked a slightly silly song for our first dance, In Spite of Ourseleves by John Prine. It is an offbeat folk song that we both love. Again I was nervous about some of the quirky lyrics. However, we had a great reaction from our guests and more importantly it made the dance meaningful to us.
2. Do Some Fun DIY Projects
When I started thinking of things I could do myself for the wedding reception it was mainly because I thought, why buy something when I could make it? But these projects became so much more than just money saving ideas. I now have a few little things that will forever remind me of the wedding and I have the beautiful memory of doing them myself. One day I went to a home improvement store with my mom and bought some paint and wood. I made my own signs for my lawn games with only wood, hinges, screws, and chalkboard paint. I made two of these signs and now I have two chalkboards! My husband and I make jewelry so he decided to make his groomsman bracelets as a grooms gift. They ended up being beautiful and everyone loved them. I know that planning your own wedding can be overwehming and time consuming. However, taking the time to do these small DIY projects ended up meaning a lot on the big day.
3. Save Money Where you Can
I read something about how to save money planning your own wedding when I first started thinking about this big event. I really wish that I had heeded the advice in the article! One way to save money on your big day is to forget about party favors. We decided to do them very inexpensively, they came out to under $200. I loved them and having a bunch left over is a great memory but they went to waste a little bit. Very few people ended up taking them with them. Another way to save money is to have a small wedding party and to not spend too much money on them. I only had four bridesmaids but I got totally caught up in buying them things. My mother-in-law made them all beautiful tote bags, I got them a bathrobe, and I got them all matching love knot rings. Again, I adored everything I gave them but it was way too much. When it comes down to it your bridesmaids are just grateful to be a part of your big day, you don’t need to overspend to thank them.
4. You and Your Husband Matter Most
This might sound a little self involved but it is really important! While planning my wedding it was easy to get caught up in what all of my guests wanted. Wheather it was people my parents wanted to invite, or how casual the wedding was, everyone had an opinion. Although it is nice to be considerate to your guests you also have to remember that this day is about you and your groom. I wish that I had spent less time worrying about what everyone else wanted and more time thinking about what was really important to me and my husband. It is alright to be assertive, this is your wedding and it is a big deal. Your wedding day is something that will stay with you so make sure it is about you and not about trying to make every single guest happy. My father-in-law gave us similar advice and it was a beautiful reminder. My mother also told me “someone will be offended at your wedding, just don’t let it be you.”
5. Have Help on the Day Of
So many people told me this when planning my own wedding, and I am grateful that I listened. There are a few different ways to do this. You can chose to rely on family or bridesmaids but I think it is better to let your guest be there for you and hire a professional to help. I looked at a few professional wedding planning companies but most of these will not do just day of coordination. After searching around I went on craigslist and found someone who does just day of coordination. The price seemed almost too good to be true, she only quoted me about $150 for the night. However, her email was great and so I spoke with her on the phone. I absolutely loved her! She knew what she was talking about and made me feel really calm about the whole process. I sent her two long emails. One email included a schedule for the day of and a map, and one answered any lingering questions. The day of she did a fantastic job. She did not bother me once the whole day with anything. When there was a problem she dealt with it for me. I would highly recommend to anyone planning their own wedding that they spend a little money on a day of coordinator.
6. Pad Your Budget
I promise you that no matter how many things you account for in your wedding budget, there will be extra expenses. The only way to handle this is to pad your budget and give yourself a nice cusuion for miscellaneous costs. For us this happened the day before the wedding. We had the rehersal dinner at the same venue as the wedding. The same rental company and caterer were there for the rehersal dinner. This was really helpful because they were able to assess what we might be missing. We realized with the hot sun that we would definitely need umbrellas. The only problem was I was already a little bit over my budget for the wedding. Luckily my in-laws offered to pay for the much needed umbrellas. No matter what thing it is, it might be small or it might be very expensive, you will have costs you don’t anticipate, so plan for them as best you can!
7. Have a Rehearsal
It was our wonderful officiant who told us that we must have an actual rehersal for the wedding, and he was so right. This was quick, it only took about 15 minutes and we did it before the rehersal dinner. At first we thought we didn’t need one because we figured everyone would know what to do. But they didn’t. In fact, it is really important to let everyone know exactly what their role is, what pictures they are supposed to be in, and where they are supposed to sit during the ceremony. Just to show you how important this is, we had a rehersal and there was still confusion during the ceremony. Make sure you have a rehersal and communicate clearly with your guests.
8. Pick People to Work with Who You Like
It is great to hire the best people or the people who have the highest ratings on google or other sites, but what it really comes down to is if you click with this person. Remember that who you hire will be helping you plan the most important day of your life. The best way to do this is when you’re looking for someone, from a photographer to a flourist, is to talk to them. When I was looking for people I sent out many emails with what I was looking for and requesting quotes. I would get many emails back and I could usually tell from the emails who I clicked with. I would then set up times to speak with them on the phone. After one phone call I could tell immediately who I wanted to hire. It might seem clique but go with your gut. Pick people who you want to work with not the cheapest or most impressive person.
9. Make Time to be Alone Together
When it comes time for the weekend of your wedding there will be so many people and so much excitement you might forget to spend time with the person you are about to marry. In order to make time for one another plan it into your day. The night before our rehersal dinner, even though everyone was in town, we went to dinner just the two of us. It was great to have this time to be alone and relax together before everything got too crazy. Throughout the weekend we often retired to our room together just to take a break and be with one another. Although I have so many fun memeories of being with guests or my bridesmaids the times I remember most were the times with my husband.
10. On the Day Of, Pause
When you are about to get married you will inevitably get a lot of unsolicited advice. Hands down the best unsolicited advice that I got was to pause throughout the wedding because it will fly by. The night of my wedding seems so fast that it was almost a blur. What I do remember is a moment when my husband and I took a step back from the reception and held each other as we looked out over the beautiful sea of lights and people. It is hard to take these moments to pause throughout the night. Everyone wants to talk to you and it is easy to get swept up. But as much as you can take a pause just to feel how joyful and beautiful it all is.