When we were planning this wedding I was totally lost on what needed to get done and how to go about doing it. I read some blogs, magazines, etc., but I hadn't been to a wedding in quite a while and wasn't really sure how they were supposed to work. We were trying to keep the cost down but still have a nice, semi-formal event that we could invite our (many) close family members and friends to. So in honor of our friends that are planning weddings, here are a few things I learned while planning our wedding:
1. Weekday weddings will save you a considerable amount of money, but may limit the number of guests that can come. At our venue, we approximately halved the venue rental costs by choosing to have our wedding on Friday morning. However, less than 50% of the people we invited were able to make the wedding, and many had to leave the reception early to go to work.
2. Visit your venue during the season and time of day that your wedding is going to be, if possible. We booked our venue over a year in advance but didn't find out until two days beforehand that the covered pavilion for our ceremony was not significantly cooler than standing out in the sun.
3. Bring sunscreen and mosquito repellent if any part of your event, including photos, will be outdoors. I left the wedding with a sunburn, and we all spent the entire time we were out for photos swatting mosquitoes.
4. Making decorations and favors yourself can save a lot of money and make the wedding very personal, but is VERY time consuming. We made all the bouquets, corsages and boutonnieres (there were about twenty corsages and bouts alone), centerpieces, favors, save-the-dates, and placemats. The flowers alone took me about thirty hours, and I had four people helping me for at least five of those hours. Including researching and testing options for decorations, myself, family, and friends probably put several hundred hours into DIY things for this wedding. If you are going this route, start early and get help. Time how long it takes you to make something before you commit to making dozens more of them.
5. If you are reserving a block of rooms at a hotel, check with the hotel to see if there are any special terms. We found out as we and a dozen family members were checking in that the hotel could give away the rooms in the block if we didn't check in before 6PM - consequently we ended up scattered on four floors of the hotel and Dave's dad almost didn't get a room.
6. Hire a DJ. We debated about doing this and eventually went for it, and are very glad we did. The DJ kept us on track with the schedule we had planned (OMG it's time for our first dance already?) and allowed our family to enjoy the wedding rather than trying to keep track of time or mess with the music.
7. Make plans with out-of-town guests ahead of time. We had a fair number of people here from out of town, and wanted to spend time with all of them in the two days before the wedding. Unfortunately we had made only rough plans with some of them, and consequently ended up bouncing back and forth between groups, always feeling like there was someone else who was clamoring for time with us. This was probably the biggest source of pre-wedding stress and guilt for me, and could have been reduced if we had blocked out chunks of time specifically for each group in advance.
8. The jacuzzi in the hotel room is worth every penny. It's your wedding night, kids. Take the upgrade.
Wedding planning is stressful and it WILL bring out the crazy in you. But as cheesy as it sounds, the moment I saw Dave standing at the altar everything else melted away. The most important thing about the wedding was not that the pins kept falling off the corsages, that my hair crunched like a potato chip from all the hairspray I put in it, or that I had no idea how the decorations were going to look together until I walked into the reception. The most important thing was that on July 22nd, 2011, I married my best friend. <3