Right about this time last year, as my husband and I (both teachers) settled into Christmas break, we began to get a lot of questions about our wedding plans. We had just gotten engaged in October. There was a lot I didn’t know about weddings, but there were also many very helpful people who came beside us along the journey to our wedding in June and the beginning of our marriage. Since our wedding, I have been in, been to, or been behind-the-scenes for several weddings. I wanted to share some of those helpful pieces of advice and resources I have found extremely valuable. (This post may contain affiliate links. If so, I may receive a commission if you make a purchase from one of those links.)
- Plan Early! – I used and loved this timeline planning checklist. It’s cute, printable, and FREE! You do have to provide your email address. I stored mine in a binder I had on hand, but if you need a cute binder, here are some beautiful wedding binders and planners. Also, there are so many useful smartphone and tablet apps to help with the planning process. I used Dwindle for our wedding day countdown and Microsoft Excel to keep up with our guest list. The Knot and Wedding Wire also have beautiful, useful apps. Amazon is my favorite place for registries. If you have not created an Amazon registry yet, what are you waiting for? Create an Amazon Wedding Registry Here
- Splurge or Skimp? – I began making a list of the items and services we needed to buy and rent for the wedding. The planner helped. With every item on my budget, I talked with the people who would make the purchase possible (my parents, my then-fiancé, myself, etc.) and decided on which items to spend the most money, and in which areas where we would want to spend less. For example, we knew we wanted an excellent photographer and a beautiful venue. Those cost over $2,000 each. Then, we ordered food from a restaurant but did not pay for the expensive catering service. We ordered cupcakes from Sam’s Club instead of a cake from a bakery. I wore my mom’s dress and bought my veil online. Narrow down your big spending items so you have more money set aside for those things.
- Easy + Customized Invitations – After you set a date and pick a place, you’ve got to order your save-the-dates, invitations, thank you cards, and RSVP cards (if you’re using them). There are plenty of great resources for papergoods, but my absolute favorite is Zazzle.com. I bought all my papergoods there, and I had so much freedom to customize using the artist’s original design. At many stationery shops, online or off, you are unable to customize what you’d like. However, at Zazzle, I used designs from Jill’s Paperie and then adapted them very easily into exactly what I wanted. To save money, we used postcards for our save-the-dates and shower thank-yous.
- Counseling or Mentoring – Nothing in the wedding-planning process was as helpful as our marriage mentors. We found them through our church and grew to love them. A couple who has been married for a while, has kids, and can devote some time to walking through life with you is a great help, whether for formal mentoring or casual coffee together. We worked through the book Preparing for Marriage God’s Way with our mentor couple and recommend it.
- Think of Your Guests – Yes, it is your and your betrothed’s special day. However, if your loved ones are traveling to your venue and buying you a gift, you need to consider them and their needs. Is anyone in a wheelchair? Provide special parking or a golf cart for transportation to an outdoor setting. Will it be hot? Consider buying fan programs (or make your own with this Wilton Print Your Own Fan Kit). Is it outside? Sunscreen and bug spray are thoughtful. Are there small children? Consider a children’s area or have coloring pages at your tables. One bride I knew had uncovered bales of hay as seating arrangements for her guests. Unfortunately, since the invitation was very fancy, guests thought they should dress up for the wedding. Can you imagine wearing your short cocktail dress and finding uncovered bales of hay as your only seating option?
- Plan Ahead for Something Special in Your Wedding – Every couple has a special symbol to remember their wedding by. Some use sand ceremonies, candles, or memory walls for loved ones who have passed. We went to a wedding that had guests write well-wishes and advice on small rectangles that the bride’s grandmother then sewed into a quilt. At our wedding, we used a Unity Cross, both for the display and the during-ceremony event. I’m glad we did. It is such a special memory with a beautiful result that we can display in our home. The meaning behind each piece is so special to me. You can order your own by clicking on the image below. Or, check out the new Unity Hearts!
- Breathe! When you remember to breathe, you are a happier, healthier, more humble person, and that makes for a beautiful bride. Keep in mind that the goal is not a one-day wedding, but a life-long marriage.
Something goes wrong in everyone’s wedding. It’s impossible to have a “perfect” day. However, your celebration in the beginning of your life with your new husband is perfect regardless of how the day turns out. Don’t forget to celebrate it!
The featured image in this post is courtesy our wedding photographer: http://www.orpheusandaphrodite.com.