Planning a wedding can get a little crazy, especially if you've never done it before. Having been a bride myself and witnessing many things happen as a wedding photographer, I wanted to go through a few things that can get overlooked and cause more stress and heartache then you need!
The key to planning on your own is to make sure you have a great To-Do list, and that even the little things are listed on it. Don't assume you'll remember something because it may be "common sense". I made this mistake and wish I had made my list a lot sooner.
The list below is some of the most common things that get overlooked when planning. Some of this things are personal to our story and some are from experiencing other weddings. I hope this helps!
1. CREATE YOUR TIMELINE EARLY ON
This is THE best way to have a stress-free wedding day. Write your timeline early and get your photographer involved so you make sure you have the right amounts of time set aside for each part of the day, especially portraits!
2. HIRE A DAY-OF COORDINATOR
One of my biggest regrets was asking my friends and family to help set up and tear down my wedding day to save a little money. It wasn't because they didn't do a great job, they really did! But, looking back, I wish they had been able to actually enjoy the entire day, just as guests and not as workers. Instead they worked all day to make my day perfect and were tired when it came time to party, and then even more tired when they had to clean up. Some venues may offer this, but make sure you get the full details on what they do as it may not be exactly what you need and you may need to hire an additional coordinator.
3. PLANNING YOUR HONEYMOON
Wait a day to leave for your honeymoon. I understand your excitement to get to that beach, but most people don't realize how exhausted you will be the morning after your wedding. If alcohol is involved at the wedding, you may even be a little worse for wear that next day ;) The last thing you want is to miss your 9am flight because you overslept! This happened to a friend of ours!
4. YOUR FINAL GOWN FITTING
When purchasing your dress, talk to an alterations expert about how long it will take to have alterations done and what happens if it still doesn't fit. You want to make sure that you have more than enough time to get your dress back, have alterations and then have more time if necessary for a second alteration. Especially if you plan on losing weight during the process. This will determine whether or not you need to purchase off the rack or if you can custom order.
5. NICE DRESS HANGERS
You said yes to that dress because you love it! You'll love it even more if your photos of it include a beautiful wooden hanger instead of that plastic one! Ask your photographer if they have a hanger they can bring for your dress, or you can have your own custom made! It's a good idea to have some for your bridesmaid's dresses as well (and they double as gifts!)
6. GUESTS AND MEALS
One of the things I hear brides talk about a lot is the food and making sure there's enough. I have never been to a wedding that didn't have food left over! Things to remember: 1. not everyone will have dessert. So don't worry about having exactly 100 servings for your 100 guests (unless you WANT to take half your cake home... I won't judge ;) 2. not everyone will eat a full serving of food either. It never fails that you will have a handful of people who start their new diet right before your wedding and only eat the salad. 3. be sure to note any allergies any of your guests may have and maybe have a separate option for them.
7. DON'T FORGET TO EAT
I know you are going to be nervous and may feel a little out of sorts, but you have to make sure you eat! Have breakfast, have some snacks for the day and SIT DOWN AND EAT DINNER!
How is everyone getting to each venue/location? Is there enough parking? How are you leaving? Make a list of everyone that will need to be transported and then figure out if you will hire a service or have everyone drive in their own cars or together.
9. PREPARE FOR THE WEATHER
The greatest thing about Texas is you can have all four seasons in a 48 hour period... I'm sure this could be the case for other states as well, but the point is to always be prepared. We had a wedding where the day before was sunny and 74 degrees and then wedding day was cloudy and 34 degrees! Luckily, the venue had heaters on hand and everyone still had a great time! If you are getting married in the rainy season, order a box of clear umbrellas to use for portraits! Think there could be a cold front? Buy some matching shawls for your bridesmaids to wear if needed. You can always return these things if the weather ends up cooperating!
10. EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED
Even the most organized planning cannot prevent the inevitable chaos involved in a wedding. Even I thought I had planned my wedding perfectly, but things still didn't go as planned, and that's ok. Make sure to give yourself some grace and leave yourself room for unforeseen issues. It's especially important to remember this on your actual wedding day. TRUST your vendors to help in planning and to make your day run smoothly. Just enjoy this time with your fiance, family and friends, and have fun!