Martha Stewart Weddings’ Darcy Miller Shares Her Best Tips for Planning a Wedding
I can hardly believe it’s been 20 years since we launched Martha Stewart Weddings. When I worked on the first issue, as an editorial assistant, I was totally single. One husband, three kids, and a few promotions later, I’ve attended hundreds of weddings. At each, I discovered something new. Here, my nine lessons to help you plan your own unforgettable day.
The Early Bird Gets the Stress-Free Celebration
I always tell couples to pretend their date is two weeks before the actual day; it’s a smart way to trick yourself into getting it all done. And if you succeed, you’ll have time for all the last-minute details that invariably crop up.
Personal Touches Make Memorable Weddings
Guests won’t notice if the linens are a shade darker than you hoped. They’re most impressed by what makes the day feel like yours, such as serving your favorite dessert or printing the lyrics of “your song” on your programs. When our creative director, Kate, wed, she had napkins embroidered with a berry to reflect her new last name: Berry. (Now they use those when they entertain at home.)
There’s Weather, Whether You Like it or Not
Much as you may want to just cross your fingers and hope you’ll get a gorgeous day, you must have a Plan B for rain, heat, and wind. When we photograph weddings on beaches, for example, we create heavier centerpieces that won’t blow away in the breeze. You also need to budget accordingly in case you have to add walkways and umbrellas at the last minute.
Vows Can Wow
It’s tempting to focus on the reception: picking a band, designing a menu. But leave time to work on making your ceremony meaningful. It’s the reason everyone came—to watch you get married!
Portraits Should Be Playful
Even if you do a “first look,” set aside time to take photos after the ceremony—that’s when you (and everyone else) will feel relaxed and excited. Plan locations for those shots, and make sure the right people know where to go.
Don’t Stress When You Can Strategize
Something is liable to go wrong. When it does, don’t sweat it; just rethink your original plan. At one of the first celebrations we covered, the couple had meticulously arranged everything in shades of green—until the sun streaming through the car window lightened the fondant on the cake being delivered, turning it a different color. We panicked. Then we rotated the cake so the other side would fade to the same hue and got on with having a great time.
If You Love It, Go for It
Don’t feel that your day has to be traditional. If you appreciate Pachelbel’s Canon, walk down the aisle to it. If not, pick another song. When our special projects editor, Anthony Luscia, got married, a friend wrote a twist on “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” to sing at the ceremony, and a gospel choir serenaded the newlyweds with Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” as they made their way back up the aisle. It was so them.
Stop and Soak It In
When the day finally comes, it flies by. Let all the details go, trust that everyone is enjoying themselves, and take time to pause and be in the moment. One idea that helps: Steal away from the reception for a few minutes and stand to the side watching the party so you can take it all in together.
Film Is Forever
No one ever regrets hiring a videographer, and my friends who decided to skip it often tell me they wish they hadn’t. It’s been almost 14 years since our wedding, and while we love our gorgeous photos, it’s fun to show our daughters the video—and we get to relive the day, too.