For over a year I've been planning my wedding. Truly the action part of the planning began around September but before that was the part that all girls who dream about weddings wait for with eager anticipation... buying bridal magazines and basically fantasizing about just how fantastic your wedding will actually be. Some girls buy bridal magazines before they are actually engaged because the idea of getting married and having a wedding is so exciting that they can't wait. I admit that I was one of those girls. I used to buy the occasional bridal mag in college BUT once I was actually dating the Fiance, I refused to purchase a single magazine until the ring was on my finger.
photo from marthastewartweddings.com
In the months of browsing, hunting, researching and planning I have definitely learned a few things and I'm not even finished yet. Here are a few nuggets for those who might be planning their own nuptials.
1. Do your research. Check out different options either online, in person or even just by listening to other couples. The first option you find isn't necessarily the wrong one but it will help your mind rest easy if you shop around a little too. I knew that the first gown I tried on was "the one" but I still tried on several others. Seeing the others only confirmed my initial instincts and that's the one that I bought in the end.
2. Ask questions, lots of them, when meeting with vendors and planning different aspects of your wedding. At times it may feel tedious, but it's important to clarify small details that can make a big difference. In almost every picture we saw of our reception venue, the chairs were covered in white and it seemed like a nice touch that dressed up the banquet room. I told the club coordinator that we would most likely want covers at our reception but luckily I asked about extra charges. The basic white chair covers were an additional $6 a piece, which adds up quickly when you assume that obviously each guest will need a chair. Needless to say, we decided we could live without the covers.
3. Double check every contract before you sign. Actually it might be safer to triple check. While most quality wedding vendors pay close attention to detail, remember that while you are only planning one wedding, your vendors are most likely juggling several clients at once. And since they are only human, mistakes can happen. If you thoroughly check every detail of your contracts, you can avoid potential mishaps down the road.
4. Don't be afraid to be unconventional. If you let go of the idea that a wedding has to fit a certain mold, it will be easier to plan a day that will be meaningful to you and your future spouse. Of course there are many elements of tradition that make it a beautiful and special part of any wedding, but sticking to tradition for no reason other than thinking you should takes away from the essence of what a wedding is, an expression of the commitment between two people. If unconventional and nontraditional elements will add more value to your day, then I say go for it.
5. Be prepared to compromise. When you factor in your idea of a dream wedding with that of your fiance, your parents, your fiance's parents and your vendors, it will help if you can be a little flexible... unless you want to be Bridezilla, in which case you should feel free to throw an absolute shit-fit until you get your own way. But for normal gals who don't want to alienate all their loved ones, it will help if you include others' ideas, as long as you aren't sacrificing something that is truly important. Flexibility is also key when you are working within a budget, however big or small. Sometimes the ideas that seem so great in theory are not practical when it comes to cost.
Overall I think that planning a wedding is a lot of fun. I try to keep an eye on the big picture and remember the purpose behind all the details. When it comes right down to it, in ten years I don't want people to remember our wedding because of the great food or the beautiful flowers. While I want the food to be good and the flowers to be pretty, I mostly want people to remember how much fun they had and how happy we were as we celebrated our marriage with our family and friends. I'm much, much more excited about marrying the man of my dreams than I am about the wedding.