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Wedding planning is a joyous yet stressful time. There are highs and lows that every bride goes through; it’s literally a roller coaster of emotions. From getting engaged to the day of, it’s a whirlwind of excitement and stress.
I was the first of my friend group to get married. That being said I had nobody to ask for help, no advice or little tips to help me out. I read articles online and they helped but they were the generic “top 10 things a bride should know” kind of articles. Yes, this blog will be similar because it’s true, there are a top few things brides stress about, but it is going to be real advice. It’s real advice that I gave my friends who have gotten married after me, and helped them out greatly. I’m not a wedding expert, I just was a bride who planned her wedding the way she wanted to and learned not to sweat the small stuff. I want to share my advice with whoever is willing to listen. From one bride to another, a friend to a friend, here is my advice.
1. The Proposal
Ok so I know what you’re thinking, how is this a stressor? Yes, it’s up to him to pop the question, but what if it’s not what you envisioned? Or what if it is and someone downplays the excitement of it? Whether you are whisked away to a romantic island or you were taking a walk in the park, for me, my proposal was simple. It was so simple that when the time came to announce it to everyone I wasn’t happy. It wasn’t how I envisioned the moment would be. I had this elaborate idea built up so much that I got mad at my newly made fiance and he actually re-proposed to me the following weekend at sunrise on the beach (to which that was the one I announced on social media). Looking back, the real romance was in the original proposal. The one kept just between us.
My husband had originally proposed to me one random morning in the walk in closet he built me. I was getting ready to go out with my girl friends for lunch and I turned around and he was there on one knee with his grandmother’s ring and told me he wanted to marry me and to show he was being incredibly serious he took out the ring and gave it to me. It was such a pure moment of love and happiness. At the time I was naïve thinking it was simple. All I could think was, this was it? Nobody’s videotaping this. I’m in my sweatpants and no make-up. How am I going to tell people he proposed in my closet when women I went to high school with were being proposed to on a Caribbean island or a mountain?! I was honestly embarrassed. That’s when he re-did the proposal. We got the ring sized earlier that week and he popped the question again we got up early and went to a beach by our house and caught the sunrise. We announced our engagement that afternoon, and because it had the grand story of a romantic surprise beach proposal it got well over 150 likes. I told myself that if I posted my closet proposal it would have had about 5. I could go on forever about the details of the day, but I’m digressing from the point. My point is what people think is not important. I was so focused on what my engagement should be and what people would think, that I lost sight of the purity in it. A few months later when I vocalized my closet proposal it ended up being everyone’s favorite story. It was the most meaningful, the most real. My advice is, don’t compare yourself to anyone else and if he pops the question on the couch during a movie night in your PJs, you better damn well broadcast the heck out of that on social media! Every love story is different and that just makes it special.
2. The Bridesmaids
So now it’s your turn to pop the question and you pick your bridesmaids. You are so excited because you can’t wait to have them help you plan and do all the fun stuff like your bridal party and bachelorette party or all the silly BFF photos on your wedding day. If you are one of the rare lucky brides whose friends are all perfect and get along and do everything you ask (like Stepford bridesmaids), more power to you. When I got engaged I thought it was going to be like those pinterest weddings with the bridesmaids all laughing and being the best of friends. In reality mine was more relatable to the movie Bridesmaids. I along with a few others weren’t so fortunate to have the picture perfect bridal party. My bridesmaids consisted of my younger sister, my cousin, my sister in law, and my two best friends. Everyone knew each other and got along, well until wedding planning. Nobody ever tells you about the drama. For me, my bridesmaids rarely helped out. It was mostly because they had no idea what they were doing, and partly because they never had the time to help. I ended up planning the majority of my wedding without the help of my bridesmaids (or groom). At first I was sad, but it ended up working out. Sometimes your bridal party will disappoint you and that’s ok. Don’t get discouraged.
A few of my other friends went through this too. It seemed to be more common than anything that there was some sort of bridesmaid drama and I was happy to know I wasn’t alone. So and so was fighting with this one, and this one wasn’t happy about her bridesmaid dress, or this one wanted to orchestrate the bachelorette party. Or my favorite one is where they pout the whole time at your bridal shower in the corner because THEY aren’t getting married yet. Yep, it happens. You have to let it go, there is going to be drama in your bridal party—it's inevitable. There will be fights and tests of friendship. It will happen and it’s normal. However, things will work out regardless of the little tiffs that occur. It will, I promise. They care about you and will be there for you no matter what. Every one of my married friends has vented to me about their bridesmaids and has shed tears over different stresses with them, and I can honestly say we all laugh about it today. So if there’s drama right now, breathe. You will get through it. My advice would be to incorporate your bridesmaids only in the important things if there is too much drama. They don’t need to be involved in every little detail. Ask for help when you need it, but remember to be considerate they have lives outside of your wedding; so plan accordingly.
3. The Guest List and Seating Chart
The guest list and seating chart nightmare! Ugh! I can’t begin to tell you how tedious and anxiety driven these silly little placement cards are. Granted, I did my entire seating chart in two days, but that’s probably because I’m the crazy type A person that has to complete a task the minute it's given to them. The guest list was probably the harder of the two. Once you have your guest list in place it’s so much easier to move everyone around like puzzle pieces to where you want them to be. So you have your venue and they tell you the room you chose holds X amount of people so now you have to start planning. With me, I’m Italian so my family is huge and if you invite cousin Anthony you have to then invite uncle Paul who invites cousin Joey who invites your third cousin Sally boy and before you know it the wedding is a Ringling Brothers circus. And of course you then can’t leave out your husband’s side, with the crazy aunt who binge drinks or the cousin on his mom's side that wears the short skimpy dress to every event and talks 10 volumes too loud. Alas they are family and you should invite them. The good news is they give you awesome wedding gifts. Or even better news, they may decline! If they do, it is so important to have a B list. Nobody is going to tell you that. When you have a guest list make an A list and a B list so that way you are always prepared for when someone declines. Of course you would never tell anyone that they are on your B list, but have one ready to go. Our venue required us to have 150 guests, so we sent out roughly 85 original invitations. We had about 20 of those invites decline. We knew we were short and had to come up with the remaining guests to keep the room so we sent out roughly 50 more back up invitations about a week and a half later. We kept the B list close to the A list for two reasons. The first so that nobody knew they were on the B list, they just assumed their invitation arrived late and also for the mere fact we were on a time restriction and had to have our seating charts and finalizations done a month before the wedding. With the guest list, choose the people who mean the most to you, the ones who you want to be there for your special day, and also allow your parents to have one table for their friends. I was hesitant about this at first because it was my day not hers, but I have to say it was really nice to see my mom having a grand time on the dance floor with her best friends.
For the seating charts, everyone is going to have their input. This one wants to sit at this table, and this one wants to avoid this one. Do you best to accommodate your guests, but also put people where you want them to be. I had a few individual friends where I didn’t know where to put them and I sat all of them at a table together (the random table is what I called it) and I can honestly tell you to this day that they are all really good friends because of it. They have the funniest pictures together from the photo booth. So my advice is to create an A list and a B list for your invitations and definitely over invite people. More people will decline than you think and MANY will literally wait until the last second to RSVP. Stay on top of it as much as you can. Also sit people where you want them to sit. Of course if there is drama, you might want those two on opposite sides of the room, but in all honestly nobody is going to want to ruin our wedding day. Also, a fun tip is the fewer friends you put together at a table, the more likely they will get up and dance on the dance floor to hang out. Food for thought!
4. The Decorations
The decorations are a big stressor because you always had an idea of what your wedding would look like. Who hasn’t? You always envisioned the perfect wedding, lots of floral arrangements, candles, colors, romantic music as you walk down the aisle etc. You want it to be perfect. I know it stressed me out. I felt like I had to live up to certain expectations. The short answer, you don’t. Your wedding is for you and your groom and nobody else. The key is to incorporate details that would symbolize you and your groom. Little touches here and there can go a long way. For my husband and I, we got married the day before Halloween. We love Halloween and incorporated some stuff into our wedding theme such as some carved pumpkins, our Nightmare Before Christmas cake topper and had masquerade masks handed out at midnight (Halloween) and played The Time Warp. A friend of mine and her husband are huge Mets fans and they had their wedding floral colors blue and orange and had their decor in those colors. Another friend loves riding horses so they had a western feel to their wedding. Each wedding had its own individuality, but it wasn’t something that broke the bank. The majority of the time the venue you choose will supply the resources. So the stress level there is at a minimal. What you want is to make the wedding not so generic; you want it to be specialized to you and that easy to do with little touches here and there. What I did was I became best friends with Etsy. I got a lot of my decorations there, from my personalized wedding dress hanger, to a little pumpkin ring holder with my husband and my name on it. You can find a whole bunch of things on Etsy to have personalized and that aren’t that bad in price if you search. Another website which has anything in bulk was Oriental Trading Co. I used them for my wedding favors. I made some decorations myself which was pretty cool because it allowed me to put myself into my wedding. My husband and I went to the store and bought these really pretty black antique picture frames for $2 each and made my own table numbers. I went on the computer and printed out 15 table numbers and put them in the picture frames. For our centerpieces my husband and I had lanterns with tea lights and rose petals. We went to a local store and bought lanterns for $10 each. I bought the tea lights for $50. The petals were part of our florist package, but cost way less that putting a floral display around the lanterns. We printed photos of ourselves throughout the years and had them placed around the reception. Because we wanted to be involved in our wedding as much as possible, we went pumpkin picking and got our own pumpkins for the ceremony. Our florist cut them open and put flowers in them. Since we did a majority of the décor ourselves we actually saved $5k. The key is to make the wedding yours. Little touches here and there go a long way. Think outside the box, but stay within budget.
5. The Photographer
Do not skimp on the photographer, I repeat do not skimp on the photographer. God did we learn our lesson. We found this wedding company that was literally one-stop shopping. They were the photographer, the videographer, the DJ and MC. We thought we were making out like bandits getting it all in one shot, but boy were we wrong. We looked at so many different photographer’s and they were out of our budget. We kept thinking we needed to spend more on other things for the wedding and my husband didn’t want to pay $5,000 for a photographer. He thought that was absurd. Let me tell you, it’s not. Do it. Even if you have to cut down on something else, your photos are forever. Forever. And mine are, well, the photos were amateur; the quality looked like I did it on Instagram. I wasn’t smiling in half of them and some were a tad blurry and the filters (my god what were they thinking?!). Before you ask me why I used them, I have to tell you I was totally catfished. They advertised online and the photos were gorgeous, which is why we booked them. The photos were so whimsical and dream like I was drooling over how gorgeous they were. Then when we met them and learned we were getting all of the things included in our package for $3000 we thought we were getting something good. Turns out they were a scam. They had a new photographer work my wedding. Let me say that again, a NEW photographer, a novice. And then when I went to pick up my wedding photos at their office a few months later, they went out of business!! The only plus side to that was we didn’t have to owe them the final grand that was left on the contract. It was an awful experience, and we learned our lesson with cutting corners. Please my advice is do not skimp on the photographer. Get the one that costs more because the quality of your photos will be worth it. You truly do get what you pay for. I literally had to fix all my wedding photos myself. Thank goodness I’m good at photography.
6. Fighting with the Groom
Here’s something nobody will tell you, but it is all too common. You and your fiancé, you are going to fight and it’s going to happen more than you think. When we got engaged I thought it was going to be like in the movies, this whirlwind of romance and happiness and laughing and love. Which it was, for the most part, but then there are the bickering fights and tears. There will be fights about the budget being too high, or the guest list, or how eloping would be way better. There will be the excitement of finding your wedding hall, but then hearing the cost. Don’t be surprised if your groom is not sharing in the excitement with you. It’s normal and we all go through it. As a bride to be we get so excited over our dream wedding and when you hear your future husband isn’t on the same excitement level as you, it’s kind of a bummer. My husband was more of a realist; I was more in my fantasy bubble.
Also don’t be surprised if the groom isn’t as helpful in planning as you want him to be. I cannot tell you how many times my friends or I have cried over our groom to be about not helping. He is not going to want to do everything with you. It gets so frustrating. The solution, give him little projects, one or two to start that way he’s involved, but he’s not overwhelmed. The last thing he wants is to pick our flowers with you. He will not understand the difference between azaleas and lilies. Let him be in charge of the limousine. I did that with my husband and it worked. The projects he worked on were the card box which he made from scratch, the limo and getting his tux. That helped with the stress and fighting and it allowed him to feel involved. Just know fighting is very normal and all the stress will be resolved the day of the wedding.
7. The Day Of
The day of your wedding will be perfect. Something will go wrong, but the day WILL be perfect. You need to go with the flow. That is the BEST advice I could give you and I have given it to all my friends. Remember to smile as much as you can and go with the flow. Everything you are stressing about up until this moment is irrelevant. Please understand that something will go wrong, but it will be so minor. The week of my wedding our venue switched the rooms on us last minute. We went to the venue the day before to talk with them because we were freaking out and they not only switched the rooms back, but they threw in a free Venetian hour. The day of the wedding one of my best friends from high school stepped on the back on my train when we were in the photo booth and he ripped half the tulle of the back of my dress. I remained calm though; my bridal attendant fixed my dress for me. At one point of the night I was making my rounds at the tables and my aunt who is practically off the boat from Italy kissed me and grabbed my face and half my makeup flaked off. I stayed calm and went to the bridal suite and fixed it with my emergency make up. Definitely bring that with you!!! Along with an emergency kit (sewing kit, tampons, etc) I cannot tell you how that helped with my bridesmaids. So something will happen, but remember it will be the best night of your life. My husband and I constantly saw we wish we could relive our wedding. Even with all the little hiccups I wouldn’t change it. I know it's easier said than done, but seriously don’t stress, remember there will be fights, and somethings will not go as planned, but take things one day at a time. It will all work out. That is my advice for you from a bride to a bride.