Let me preface this by saying that I’ve probably learned nothing at all about planning a wedding. Disaster seems to rear its ugly head at every corner, despite the fact that I thought I had my bases covered. A lot of things are coming together, but a lot still needs to be resolved, and of course I’m wrangling with the fact that Murphy’s Law can, will, and does strike on the day-of. I will not be able to prevent all crises and new ones that I haven’t thought about will probably crop up. Things are probably going better than I think they are, but currently my feelings on the situation are mostly that everything is going to go completely wrong, all the time, and that I’m inconveniencing the entire world by choosing to get married. So that’s been fun.
The wedding is in exactly two months. The thought is both exciting and horrifying to the point of making me break out in a cold sweat. But it’s all part of the fun, right? These past few months will be just a drop in the bucket of our marriage, so I’m working very very hard (and sometimes failing) at trying to relax and enjoy the process and appreciate the fact that this is about me and Kevin getting married, duh. Spending the rest of our lives together! Making coffee on Saturday mornings and sitting on our patio! Playing with cats and dogs and maybe in like eleventy million years, children! Fun!
Now excuse me while I go make sure the venue hasn’t burned down.
Here are just a handful of things we’ve learned, or had beaten into us, over the last several months:
1. Keep track of all numbers. Budget? LOL WUT. Guest list? Skyrockets before you realize your church can only seat 50. Be watchful, because prices shoot up and everything costs more than you expect, and suddenly your friend’s girlfriend’s sister doesn’t really need to be on the guest list – and neither do the girlfriend or the friend, for that matter.
2. Don’t settle when it comes to The Dress. It took me five shops to find mine, and I was close to despair when I finally stumbled into the shop I least expected to visit and spotted It on a mannequin. There were tears, which is pretty much a requirement. Your search may take a while, and you may never want to see a white dress for the rest of your life when you’re finished, but having That Dress become Your Dress and trying it on for the first time is absolutely fantastic.
3. Accept help. Kevin and I were determined to be a modern couple and pay for everything ourselves. Then our self-imposed budget collapsed under the weight of the perfect venue, the awesome caterer, the prize-winning flowers, and the DJ. Oh lordy, the DJ. Our parents urged us the entire time to let them help, and we did, gratefully. You only get married once, right? Let everyone help you make it memorable.
4. That said, ask for help. I have trouble with the last two, honestly. I feel like I’m inconveniencing people by accepting, or asking for, their help or money, and I’ve always had a “LEMME DO IT” thing going on. But you don’t have to lick all those envelopes or tie all those bows on favors or bake that wedding cake by yourself. That’s what bridesmaids/groomsmen/parents/siblings/BFFs/people you hire on Craigslist are for.
5. Just because the magazine did it doesn’t mean you need to. The magazines I’ve looked at encourage brides to make their weddings into three-day-long chaperoned affairs, with engagement parties, multiple bridal showers, bachelorette parties, rehearsal dinners, the afterparty, and the morning-after brunch on either side of the main event. The afterparty? Seriously? You’ll already have an afterparty. It’s called a reception.
We’re not doing a lot of that stuff. We’re skipping the garter toss. We have multiple different cakes instead of one big wedding cake. As for planning multiple days’ worth of entertainment for your guests – let it go. They’re adults. They can figure something out. Don’t leave them hanging – give them some local snacks and maps and a cute card – but don’t book Broadway shows for them. That’s all I’m saying.
6. It is possible to find cheap (or at least less expensive) things. Hit up wedding expos to snag coupons or free consultations from vendors. (That dress store I least expected to visit? I only went because I got a coupon for $150 dollars off from the Salem wedding expo. That more than covered the cost of alterations.) Search Etsy for favors, invitations, jewelry, even dresses – you could save money and you’re sure to find something one-of-a-kind. If you’re crafty, or have crafty friends, you can make your own favors, invitations, placecards, programs – basically anything involving paper. You could probably bake your own cake, if you wanted to. If you’re good at bargaining, you can probably haggle with your vendors for discounts.
So there are my hopefully-useful two cents. They’ll probably be worth more after the wedding once I’ve uncovered new secrets and learned from more mistakes. I’ll be sure to let you know.
That said, if you’ve gotten hitched recently and have tips, we’d really really really like to hear them.