I recently received my gorgeous wedding photos from one of my favorite photographers, and it’s resulted in me thinking about the wedding. We got married about three months ago, so I figured I’d reflect about the process that took up my emotional, mental, and physical life for the 9 months after he magically proposed.
To tell you a little bit about my wedding… We got engaged on December 13th, 2014 and married on September 19th, 2015. We decided to plan it ourselves, and boy, was it a fun (and bumpy) ride! We also received a good amount of help from our parents. My fiance at the time had already purchased a home on his own (he’s AMAZING!), so all we really worried about was getting married and furnishing the home.
Here are some things my husband and I learned along the way in planning our own wedding. I’ve complied this information from our own experience, that which I’ve heard from others, and a plethora of internet sites/blogs/articles:
- Small or Large Wedding? (Month 1)
- If your parents are helping fund the wedding, chances are they may want to invite their friends and families too. Ask them for their opinion, and give them boundaries so that you two don’t get overwhelmed!
- Choose one: Have you always imagined yourself surrounded by friends, family members, the extended family of family, the roommate’s brother’s dog walker’s cousin, and the rest of the town? Or do you want a smaller, intimate 50-100 of your closest friends and family type of wedding?
- Choosing a number of people will help you decide what venue, what sort of decorations, and how much DIY you’ll be doing.
- This will also allow you to choose a destination wedding or narrow down the people you actually want celebrating with you. Ladies and gentleman, it’s okay to say no and truly invite those you want walking with you for the rest of your lives.
- Do you want a Bridal Party? Tell them! (Months 1-2)
- The Symmetric girl/guy: For those who are obsessed with clean lines and everything being even, consider choosing an even number of bridesmaids and groomsmen (each) so that you two will be in the middle with an even amount of people surrounding you. This is mainly done so that the pictures come out with even symmetry. I had 4 bridesmaids, and the groom had 4 groomsmen. It worked out pretty well for us!
- The Boisterous friend: If you are miss or mister popular and have a whole crew, then just invite the whole bunch. I’ve seen plenty of weddings with more bridesmaids than groomsmen and vice versa. It’s your first (and hopefully only) wedding! Make sure you have the people who mean the most to you standing right beside you at the altar! The more the merrier!
- Budget, budget, budget. Did I mention budget? (Month 1)
- Choose a budget. Here’s a website that’ll help you calculate your budget: http://www.costofwedding.com. Just plug your zip code in, and it’ll give you an rough estimate of what you’ll set aside for the wedding.
- Stick to your budget. As easy and simple as it sounds, it’s not. Remember, if you don’t want to start your married life in debt, learn to make compromises early. This is a great learning experience with your future spouse! Choose what is absolutely necessary and take out the frivolous items. Focus on the details that are going to allow you to marry your best friend!
- Choose a Date (Month 1)
- Are you feeling spring, summer, fall, or winter? Often times, choosing a certain season will allow for discounted vendor prices. For example, the months of October to February often have discounts (in Chicago) as the cold weather may bring about less appealing circumstances.
- Choose the time of day: Lunch or brunch wedding receptions can often be cheaper than the night and dinner reception with dancing. Consider these things in choosing the budget, and more importantly, focusing on marrying your significant other.
- Friday and Sunday weddings can also be less expensive than Saturday weddings. Ask the venue if they have discounted prices based on date and time.
- Holiday weekends are great for extended parties and celebrations but also tend to be very busy for the wedding industry. If you’re choosing a holiday like Labor Day or the 4th of July, be timely about calling and visiting venues to book your date!
- Book the Venue, Sooner than Later (Month 1-3)
- The venue can typically be about 40-60% of your budget. It usually includes the room for the celebration and catering (plus tip), where you can choose from a list of suggested vendors.
- Based on your location and #6 (the next point), book a venue. Bigger hotels often have ball rooms where they can fit anywhere from 150- 1,500! Check out hotels, restaurants, museums, banquet halls, and backyards to find the look and size you need for your guests and budget. Call them and ask for their wedding/event coordinator and ask away!
- Room size: Look for venues based on how many they can fit comfortably into the room. Don’t choose a huge ballroom that fits 1,000, and don’t don’t do the other extreme and force 300 people in a room for 100. Be reasonable in your choice, and make room for 10-20 extra wedding crashers.
- Visit the location. My fiance at the time had to search and visit 3-5 venues per weekend since I was working on weekends. He knew my goals for the venue, and he did a wonderful job finding the absolute perfect venue for us – Harry Caray’s!
- Choose a theme (Months 1-3)
- Color: It’s usually easier to choose a theme after you’ve chosen the season. And based on the weather, pick 2-4 colors that you want as the theme of your wedding. Summer weddings might be bright and colorful whereas for a winter themed wedding, one might go for browns, reds, and metallic colors.
- Whimsical? Romantic? Classic? Simple? Rustic? Glamorous?: Choose three words that you dream your wedding to be, and make decorative decisions based on those three words. Mine were clean, romantic, and simple, so I made sure the decorative choices followed those words. Check out the photos from my wonderful photographer at christinaceelee.com.
- Create a Wedding Website
- The Knot has great templates for making a wedding website. You may want to check them out for a simple design to your story and info.
- AVOID the RSVP option on the Knot. (Until they update the kinks). We tried using it for our wedding in 2015, and the app would sporadically delete our RSVPed guests. It was quite uncomfortable, but fortunately, our Excel guestbook-keeping system was more thorough.
- Send out Save the Dates! (Months 1-3)
- Write out the guest list. Ask your groom and families to write out their own as well (if you want them to come, that is).
- Now that you’ve settled how many and who, send out the save the dates! Witness and I used Paperless post, but feel free to go a more traditional route by sending out snail mail! Some hire calligraphers or print out E-Session (engagement session) photos, and send them as a preview for what’s the come. Here are some adorable ideas on Pinterest.
- Also, check out Paperless Post as they have the awesome option of seeing if people read the card and a mini RSVP of what’s to come.
- Do you have a Pinterest account? (Months 1-3)
- If not, please DO SIGN UP! Some of your makeup and hair vendors will end up asking you for photos of what you want. You’ll need to have thought about it beforehand, and Pinterest is a great way to get all your ideas onto one forum!
- Once you sign up and get one, start pinning about your dream wedding! There are so many creatives and romantics on Pinterest, that you’ll be able to organize and plan for all facets of the wedding in a one stop, colorful, and easy-access avenue.
- Pin about these topics:
- Dress: From A-line, to mermaids, and tulle fabric, there are so many beautiful and budget-friendly brands/designers out there! Pin as many different styles and colors, and if you’re indecisive like me, you’ll begin to a notice a pattern of what you actually want for yourself.
- Bridesmaids: Dresses, shoes, colors, gifts, accessories, nails, and hair styles (if you’re choosing for them)
- Your Makeup, Hair, and Nails: Different styles for what you’re expecting for on the wedding day. Make sure you take the weather/temperature into consideration. If it’s hot outside, you may not want your hair down.
- Accessories and Shoes: Decide on if you want something more glamorous or simple. If you normally don’t wear fully studded tiaras and diamonds galore, you may not feel comfortable doing that on your wedding day.
- Photos: Save examples for certain poses and what photos of people you need the photographer to take to help you capture that day.
- Food and Cake: Choose examples of what you’re wanting to eat. Make sure to ask the caterer about gluten-free and vegetarian options for the specified-diet.
- Invitations and Programs: Choose examples of different stationery. Check out Pinterest, Etsy, The Knot, and Paperless Post for ideas!
- Pin about these topics:
- Buy the dress, suit, and/or tux! (Months 2-4)
- Based on your theme and pins, you can decide what sort of dress and suit your man will be wearing!
- Make sure to take a trusted friend/family member when shopping for these expensive items. You’ll need other opinions, aside from the salesman’s.
- Make sure your bridesmaids/groomsmen get theirs as well.
- All of you will need to get your fittings done a least a month before the wedding, and then again a two weeks before the wedding.
Thanks for joining me onpagetwo! Let me know what you thought about the steps and how I can expand on any of the given points!