11 Things You Should Know Before You Plan Your Wedding
You're tackling your wedding-planning checklist, diving headfirst in to budgets and guest lists, and making your way through all the other initial steps that are essential in making your wedding the most amazing day ever. Whether you're doing it solo with just the help from your soon-to-be spouse, you have an entire fleet of bridesmaids and in-laws on your side, or have tapped a professional wedding planner, tried and true advice from the people that know best is always welcome—particularly when it makes organizing the many details a little bit easier.
We've asked some top wedding planners, photographers, and florists to share pointers that they wish all couples knew before they started planning. Consider this an insider's guide to planning a wedding with ease. The tips that follow will make the months leading up to your big day easier for everyone across the board—including your vendors.
Remember, it's important to keep the big picture in mind as you contemplate the little details. These expert-approved suggestions will help you make every necessary wedding-planning decision. And since this guide covers everything from when's the right time to book your venue and how to be the very best clients to helpful pointers that will ensure you keep everything perspective, you'll be well on your way to planning the ultimate celebration once you're finishing reading.
Without further ado, click through here for the planning tips experts agree you need to know. You'll want to read and heed the recommendations before you get knee deep into seating charts, napkin colors, and first dance songs.
Don't book your venue before you hire a planner.
Venue selection is the starting point, but if you are able to work with a planner, involving them first can be a lifesaver. "Overall, an experienced planner can assess the venue for logistical and design needs that a couple may not know to look for," says Beth Helmstetter of Beth Helmstetter Events. "This can help not only set realistic expectations upfront, but also to avoid surprises later." Some surprises a seasoned pro can help you navigate through: timing, power, and costs. Most venues won't discuss power with a couple unless the questions are asked, but a planner can help you consider related costs up front so you can avoid financial surprises (and power outages) later on.
Trust your vendors.
The more you trust your vendors and the creatives that you bring on board, the more you will enjoy your wedding. "Hire people you like and let them do what they do best," photographer Millie Holloman says. She adds, "Choosing professionals that can think on their feet and roll with the punches" is key.
Patience is a virtue.
Things take time and, believe it or not, you're probably not the only bride your vendor is working with. "Bids take time to generate, planners are often waiting on the schedule of other vendors to get you information. And sometimes, other clients are in front of you on our to-do lists," says Michelle Leo Cousins of Michelle Leo Events. "Treat everyone with kindness and respect their business hours and personal boundaries. Aside from being a wedding vendor, everyone is a human being with personal lives."
It's better if you're not aware of everything.
There's a lot that goes on behind the scenes that brides and grooms don't know about—and it's better that way. "Herculean efforts go into creating a seamless affair," says wedding planner Calder Clark. "This is not child's play, nor for the meek, nor a vanity project—but rather a military op wrapped in a gorgeous box with a bow on top. On any given wedding day, there are (literal) disasters that we deftly maneuver around and quietly dismantle, which is a testament to hard-won experience; we are an insurance policy every bride deserves."
The day is about both of you.
You're getting married, not having a birthday party. Remember: Your wedding is about two people coming together—and the celebration should reflect that. "Stop comparing your wedding to what your friends have done in the past, what you see on Pinterest, and what your friends and family are telling you need to do," says Morgan Perrone of Valley Flower Company. "It has to be what feels true to you as a couple. If it means having 1,000 red balloons because it reminds you of your first date, by all means, have the balloons and don't let anybody tell you it's stupid. Don't worry what people think or say about your wedding."
Fighting during planning doesn't mean you're bound for divorce.
It's not weird to fight with your fiancé while working through your wedding planning list of to do's. You're stressed out after all. "Women and men problem solve very differently, so it takes a bit of getting used to," says Michelle Rago of Michelle Rago Destinations. "For most couples, this is the first time you will have all of your friends and family in the same place. It's a lot of pressure!"
Let it go.
Don't sweat the small stuff. "As soon as the wedding day is in progress, brides and grooms have this 'ah-ha' moment where in retrospect they see which decisions were a big deal and which were nothing to worry about this whole time. Listen to your wedding planner who already has the hindsight to know what to prioritize and emphasize versus what not to fret about," says Annie Lee of Daughter of Design.
Skip it, who cares?
Traditions exist for a reason, but who ever said they were mandatory? "If the thought of a first dance with all eyes on you makes you uncomfortable, then don't have one, or start your own tradition," suggests photographer Steve Steinhardt. Or perhaps you've never been a cake person but are a longtime fan of glazed donuts. Stack the holey sweets on a pedestal, and bite into one together instead of cutting into a multi-tiered fondant-covered confection.
Unplug. Everyone, unplug.
Who would you need to call if everyone you love is in one place? Put your phone away, and encourage your guests to do the same during the ceremony. "Insisting on a cell-phone free ceremony allows your guests to be fully present, instead of being more concerned with snapping mediocre pics during your vows, or getting in your photographer's way to snap a pic of the bride and groom walking down the aisle," says photographer Carrie Patterson.
Get in motion.
If you can swing hiring a videographer, do it. "In the moment, it seems like a great place to save money if you are trying to figure out how to plan a wedding on a budget, but in the end, all of my clients who passed on videography regret it after the fact," Shannon Leahy of Shannon Leahy Events.