Before the Honeymoon: 7 Lessons Learned from Wedding Planning

Despite this being a honeymoon blog, I’ve been meaning to write a post about wedding planning for a long time now. There are tons of wedding websites, blogs, and magazines out there offering wedding advice, but I truly feel like the following seven lessons will actually make a positive difference with both the planning of and “the big day” itself. I was aware of some of the recommendations while I was planning my own wedding, but man do I wish I knew about all of them.

Mountain Winery Wedding

1) Prioritize.  Prioritize.  Prioritize.

I hope I’m not the first person to break this to you, but it’s impossible to “have it all” when it comes to weddings.  It’s no secret that weddings are incredibly expensive, and even the smallest costs add up to massive totals before you know it.  To avoid developing unrealistic expectations and then getting your hopes up, you and your significant other need to ask yourselves what’s *most important* about your wedding as early as you can.  Is it having a huge guest list?  Hiring the best band?  Looking as glamorous as possible?  Having the most extensive open bar?  Going on a ridiculously awesome honeymoon?  Get your priorities in check before you even begin contacting any vendors.

2) Hire a wedding planner/consultant/coordinator/whatever.

If you’re a bride-to-be and you haven’t hired someone to help you already, stop reading this blog and start researching awesome wedding planners in your area immediately.  Some people think it’s alright to just rely on your venue’s in-house wedding person, but you’ll be a lot happier if you bring in your own expert.  Choose someone who a) doesn’t do a ton of weddings (the more they do, the less time they’ll have to focus on you), b) but has a lot of experience and confidence, and c) that you totally trust.

3) Find a photographer that you love, and then ask him/her for a videographer recommendation.

You’re going to spend a LOT of time with your photographer and videographer on your wedding day, and you’ll want them to get along and work well together.  My photographer and videographer hadn’t worked together before, and I felt like they were just “out of sync” and competing for shots throughout the day.  For example, my videographer missed me putting on my shoes, and then five minutes later asked me to take them off and put them on again.  No, this wasn’t a huge deal, but I felt like things would have gone more smoothly if the two vendors were better used to each other.

4) Take as many photos as possible before the wedding.

Ask your photographer for a list of typical couple/bridal party/family portrait shots, adjust the list to your needs, and find out how much time you’ll need to take those photos (then add 20 extra minutes, just to be safe).  Is it a pain for all of your family members to show up 90 minutes before the wedding begins just to take a couple photos?  Yeah, it’s not ideal, but it’s worse to wait to take photos until after the ceremony because they’ll either miss your entire cocktail hour or you may not even get the shots at all.

5) Using shuttles?  Make a playlist!

Get your guests in a celebratory mood by playing the right music on your shuttles.  Unless you’re incredibly picky about music (cough cough… like yours truly), making an upbeat playlist and burning a couple CDs will take you 20 minutes, tops.  Make sure that your shuttles have CD players ahead of time, then give the CDs to a responsible friend that you know will be punctual.

6) Don’t get your dress altered too early.

I’m the sort of person who likes to cross things off my to-do list as soon as possible.  While that worked to my benefit in many aspects of wedding planning, it would have been a disaster if I applied it to dress alterations.  You may change your mind when it comes to your undergarments or shoes.  Stress may cause you to unexpectedly gain or lose weight.  For the best fit possible, don’t get your dress altered too early.

7) Don’t freak out when things don’t go as planned.

Every wedding, and I mean EVERY wedding has things that don’t go as planned – just be prepared to roll with the punches. The photobooth company may bring the wrong props, the band might forget to play one of your favorite songs, the printing company could accidentally print the wrong color on your programs, etc.  To someone who has been diligently planning the perfect wedding for months, these may be glaring mistakes, but I promise the your guests will never know the difference.  Directly after my wedding I couldn’t get those little missed details out of my head, but now 10 months later, I can hardly remember what went wrong.

If you have any questions about wedding planning or would like vendor recommendations, especially for weddings in Northern California, you can reach me at peoniestopalmtrees@gmail.com or on my Ask a Question page.  Good luck!

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