I am a Wedding Photographer–I attend a ton of weddings. So let me offer you some real world wedding advice. I am not talking about the Brides Magazine or Martha Stewart Weddings type of advice. Here is some honest to God, real advice for planning a wedding:
DIY–DI DON’T: Pinterest would make you believe that you could make every single item at your wedding and have it look amazing for not a lot of money. Ummm, no. Know your limits. Some of us have no time for making 20 centerpieces. Some of us just suck at crafts. That is totally fine. If you feel like you absolutely MUST make something for your wedding, choose wisely. Don’t make your wedding dress unless you are a talented seamstress. Making your entire menu is a recipe for giving the guests food poisoning and you a stroke. Just saying.
Start with the “B” word: Before you go trying on dresses or fall in love with a venue, sit down with your intended and have an open, honest discussion about what you feel comfortable spending on a wedding. Weddings are like home renovations–they always cost way more than you ever anticipated. Make sure you prioritize what is important to you. If you spend 90% of your budget on the venue, you will not have much left over for anything else–like wedding photography, LOL.
Grow a Backbone: No one wants to look like a feeble minded dictator or an out of control Bridezilla. But you will want to put your foot down on some things. For example, if you don’t want kids at your wedding, put your foot down. If you want to do a First Look, but your mom hates the idea–she does not get a say. If you don’t want cell phones at your wedding, just say no. It is ok to say no. Practice saying no.
Narrow Your Focus: There are a million options out there when you plan a wedding. Narrowing things down somewhat will actually make the job easier. If you don’t want a ballroom wedding, don’t look at those types of venues. Narrow things down to five options at the most, make a decision and MOVE ON. Second guessing yourself is like the kiss of death.
Originality Can Be Overrated: This flies in the face of everything the wedding industry would have you believe today. But guess what? Weddings have been around forever. It is like a fill in the blanks exercise. A few nice personal details are great. But the guests don’t really care about the special logo you had created just for the cocktail napkins. They are just wiping their faces and hands on them. Sorry to rain on the parade of your cosmic love, but it is true. The logo does not make your marriage more valid. Only the license makes your marriage valid. Everything else is fluff.
Be Kind to the Bridesmaids: Be kind and be aware. You are asking your friends to spend a lot of time, effort and money in making your day special. Why would you want to send them a nasty-gram regarding weight loss? Why would you dictate how much they spend on a party they are throwing for you? Don’t choose a dress that is $600 if you know that they can only comfortably afford a dress that is half that price. If you want to still have friends after your wedding, keep this in the top of your mind.
Be Respectful of Your Vendors: This goes a long way in getting quality service/products from your vendors. I have been on wedding forums and seen posts where brides think that wedding vendors are gouging them just because it is a wedding. However, most of the wedding vendors I know do weddings for the love of it, not because we make a ton of money.
Wedding vendors who have been around for a while know their cost of doing business and their market pretty well. I am all for helping my couples get the most bang for their buck, but I know I can’t just give people a 50% discount for the top of the line package. So if you are trying to stay within a budget, communicate that in a respectful manner and then LISTEN to what the vendor has to say. Demanding a discount rarely works and never motivates anyone to do their best job. Maybe they will cut the price but give you crappy service.
Now go out there and start planning!
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