By Amanda Chambers
Congratulations! You’re planning your wedding – one of the most special days of your life. Now, take a deep breath. I know it can feel intimidating, but planning a wedding doesn’t have to be stressful. As a wedding planner and coordinator, I’ve seen couples take all different kinds of approaches to planning their big day, and I’m here to share some secrets for making the process a little less overwhelming.
1. Start with a realistic budget in mind. Popular wedding sites will tell you that the average wedding is $30,000, which is true. That doesn’t mean that you can’t plan a $30,000 wedding, but it does mean that you’ll want to do some research on your particular area with your specific guest count in consideration before you set your budget. The DMV area can be pricey, so pick the categories that you want to stretch and splurge on, and keep yourself on budget for the categories that don’t mean as much to you.
2. Prioritize vendors and don’t do too much at one time. Of course, your venue is the first priority, but what should you do next? Find catering, as this will be the biggest portion of your budget. Next, look at photographers. Once that is booked, check out DJs. Work on your décor plan and then lock in your florist. It’s not necessary to book all vendors simultaneously, which could prove to be very overwhelming. Feel free to ask booked vendors you already trust for referrals. They will never send you to someone that won’t do a good job; we don’t collect referral fees, we just like connecting our clients with people we know are amazing.
3. Be honest with your opinions when discussing your wedding with vendors. Didn’t like the chicken at your catering tasting? Let them know so they can give you alternative suggestions. Did the florist pick some flowers that you don’t love for your proposal? Tell them and they’ll switch it out. Didn’t like your hair and makeup trial? Give them feedback and sign up for a second trial if it doesn’t feel right to you. Your vendors are only good at providing exactly what you want if you let us know exactly what you want.
4. Don’t let the timeline stress you out. If you have a planner, they will successfully guide you through creating a successful timeline, and if you don’t, don’t worry. Use online resources, and talk with your photographer, DJ and catering coordinator to make sure everything that is needed makes it into the timeline. They are there to help and to provide feedback that will only make their job easier.
5. Make the day personal to you, and don’t add things that don’t mean anything to you or your partner. Photo booths are great for lots of couples, but do you love them? Favors can be cute, but do you have an idea that is special for the two of you? Don’t do something only because it’s a trend – add it to your beautiful day if it’s meaningful and magical to you.
6. Be realistic with DIY projects. Planning a wedding can be time-consuming, and I constantly see brides overcommit to what they can handle project-wise on their own. No one wants to be up until 2 a.m. every night the week of their wedding, hand painting table numbers and making centerpieces. List out projects and the time you expect it’ll take to complete, and then make sure you have the time to make that happen. Don’t forget to review the costs of your DIY projects too – I have seen many DIY project budgets end up being just as or more expensive as renting, buying or having a vendor provide the service for you.
7. Focus on creating memories. What is going to stand out to you 10 years from now? What are your friends going to remember and bring up to you a year or two after the wedding? It probably won’t be the color of your napkins, or the types of chairs you choose for the reception. Work with your vendors to create a fun experience, and you can’t go wrong.
8. Remember that it’s just one day, and your marriage is really what’s important. Knowing that this is just the start to your journey – not the end – can make the little things that might go wrong along the way seem much less important and impactful to your overall process. No wedding planning process is complete without a few hiccups, but prioritizing the life you and your fiancé are starting after the wedding day will make those bumps in the road seem a lot less important!
The writer is the owner of Colorfully Yours Weddings & Events, a wedding planning company in Alexandria.