Planning A Wedding

Wedding Planning: What I’ve Learned So Far – Part II

The last six months of wedding planning have been a whirlwind! While it’s definitely been a fun process so far, it’s also felt like I’m climbing an extremely steep mountain with no peak. I never realized how many little details there are! It seems like every time I check something off my list, something else adds itself to the bottom.

Right off the bat, I was lucky enough to be able to book my venue, my photographer, my DJ, and get the food lined up, as well as a wait staff and bartenders to help with drinks and food. I was feeling pretty confident in myself, and admittedly had myself on quite a pedestal, and then I ran into some snags.

The thing about the wedding circuit is, things are trendy, just like in the fashion world. And, as it happens, I don’t actually like what’s in “style” for weddings right now [read: whispy, wildflower-y bouquets and arrangements, and mermaid-style wedding gowns, just to name two].

I have been STRUGGLING HARD to find a florist. I’m not kidding you, I’ve emailed somewhere between 20 and 30 florists to try and find somebody who shares the same style as I do, and who is also in my price range [I received a $10,000 minimum quote from a lady – I was absolutely speechless! who spends that much money on PLANTS?! plants that are inevitably going to DIE. apparently some people can and do..]. I have found a few, but it’s been extremely hard to keep track of them. One of the biggest things I would suggest to you is to not email vendors through their websites, if you can. If they have their email address listed on their site, email them directly! Some websites have a bounceback email that lets you know they’ve received your inquiry, but most don’t. I didn’t hear back from a good chunk of the vendors I messaged, and when I kept running into dead ends and had to go back to the drawing board, I couldn’t remember who I’d already emailed and who I hadn’t [I initially tried to keep an Excel spreadsheet to house all the vendors that I’d been in touch with, but that was way too time consuming and was taking a big chunk of my time that I really didn’t have].

In my last wedding post, I made a point of noting to get your Pinterest boards organized. Since that time, I’ve actually pulled photos from Pinterest and made an “Inspiration Board” that houses all my favorite pics in one. Creating an Inspiration Board is a great way to streamline your vision into one small [ish] space [if you’re anything like me, you have 20 wedding boards with hundreds of photos in each – that is way too overwhelming for a vendor to hunt through]. My coordinator was actually the one who suggested I do this; at the beginning of my planning process, I knew what I wanted for a venue, but I didn’t have a design direction. I had thousands of ideas on Pinterest, but nothing really flowed. Putting my inspo board together really helped to get my ideas to flow, and then I fell in love with my design plans! On my board, I included florals, table decor, a wedding gown, color palette and the aisle and arch/altar. It was long overdue, but in the end, that is what ultimately helped me to give florists an idea of what I wanted. This also gave my wedding coordinator a vision to go off for suggesting vendors to help with planning my big day.

Before you get in touch with vendors, RESEARCH exactly what it is that you want and expect the outcome to be. I ran into major roadblocks and communication gaps with florists because I didn’t know anything about flowers, let alone the ones that are available in the fall. I kept receiving proposals with flowers I hated – I felt like I was getting my point across to them during our meetings and discussions, but I clearly wasn’t. When I finally took some time to look up the flowers they were proposing, the flowers that are in season, and eliminated the ones that I didn’t like, I finally started connecting more successfully with the vendors. The same was also true for my coordinator – I explained to her what I wanted for my vision, and she has been doing everything in her power to make that happen.

I highly recommend hiring a coordinator of some sort. Or at least be sure to have a friend or acquaintance who has experience with combing through contracts and siphoning out little details. I have been so thankful for my coordinator throughout this entire process, but especially in the last few weeks – we ran into some HUGE glitches with the owners of my venue, and luckily my coordinator was able to break down the contract and keep things according to agreement. Vendors can be sketchy AF! They will often times try to pull the wool over your eyes, and it’s in your best interest to know what you’re signing when you come to an agreement with them. If something in the contract seems odd, don’t sign it! Things are always negotiable, which is something that I’ve really had to learn throughout this entire process. Another bonus about having a coordinator: you don’t have to worry about anything on they day of and leading up to your wedding day. That, to me, is worth every penny.

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Wedding Planning for Newbies: What I’ve Learned So Far

I’ve been engaged for 42 days.

I have already seen [and booked!] our venue, been in touch with three photographers, called two local bridal boutiques and made appointments to try on dresses, emailed three florists, two videographers, four food/dessert vendors and five coordinators for month-of details and finalizing.

Did I mention my fiancé and I’s tentative wedding date isn’t until Fall 2018?

Yes, you did your math correctly. That gives me roughly 16 months to plan this thing.

#confessionsofaplanaholic

So, why the rush?

Going into this, I knew basically nothing about weddings. I was the maid of honor in a wedding a couple of years ago [almost to the day], but I wasn’t involved in any of the planning process. The bride lived in San Diego, had a venue picked out in Malibu, and with me all the way up in Sacramento, there wasn’t much I could do. Also, up until recently, I really wasn’t even a huge fan of weddings. I mean, I totally thought it was great to celebrate other people’s love, but the forced mingling with people you have never met..? Well, I’m an introvert and can be extremely socially awkward, so, you get why weddings weren’t my fav.

BUT, that said, now that I’m engaged and planning my own special day, the tables have turned a bit.

Even though I have nearly two years to plan, I knew that I wanted to get my venue and my photographer booked as soon as possible. Although I don’t know much about wedding planning, I do know that these two vendors book up the quickest [my potential photographer already has a September wedding for 2018!].

The first thing I did when Mitch and I got engaged was to sign up for Style Me Pretty, The Knot and Wedding Wire. They all give you the opportunity to browse vendors local to your city and/or your general area [for example, we live in Sacramento, but some of these vendors encompass all of Northern California – Bay Area, Sacramento, Chico, South Lake Tahoe, etc.]. While I didn’t end up choosing a venue from the list, it did give me a great starting point for photographers, florists and coordinators. Instagram has also been a really good friend of mine – once I figured out the photographers I liked, I would follow their profiles and find other vendors they’d tagged in their photos [I actually found ALL but one of my potential vendors from this method].

Create a new email address that’s for wedding stuff ONLY. I can’t even tell you guys how helpful this has been. You never realize how many emails you get every day until you’re trying to pilfer through them all to find the ones that relate to your wedding. Having a separate email for our big day has been a life saver. And, bonus, I can easily remove it from my phone and computer after it’s all said an done and I’ll never have to see a wedding email again! [Although, if I’m being totally honest, I would 100% consider a career in wedding planning after this].

Don’t wait! Regardless of how far out your wedding is, get in touch with your potential vendors so you can get your name on their radar. Even though the florists I’ve contacted don’t promise their services until a year before the wedding date, at least they know I’m interested and my day is now in the back of their minds. And if you don’t want to go through the legwork of planning all by yourself, hire a coordinator!

Don’t get your heart set one one single vendor for each category of your wedding. For example, I only saw one venue [which we got extremely lucky in booking], and I really only love one of my potential photographers. We almost didn’t get our venue, and if I don’t get the photographer I want, I will be absolutely crushed [not ideal!]. The moral of the story: have some backups. Don’t narrow it down to one place or one person if you can help it. Have an idea in mind of what you like, and see as many places and interview as many people as you can before you settle. You will be much happier if you start planning your wedding with an open mind.

Get your guest list done early on. We ended up having to do this in the beginning by default due to the fact that the venue we wanted only accommodated 200 people max. It was painstaking and there were lots of disagreements, but ultimately that is the most difficult part of planning, and once this is done it will be smooth sailing afterward. Better to get this out of the way as soon as possible.

Work on your inspo boards! YES, I mean Pinterest. The best thing I ever did was sit down and organize the heck out of my wedding-themed Pinterest boards. It was so easy for me to go in and print out dress styles, floral arrangements, décor styles, etc. Whether you’re a DIY-er or you’re hiring a wedding planner, the best way to let your vendors know what you want is to give them something to go off of. Most vendors will ask you what kind of ideas you have, so having something to go off of is always a good idea!

Stay in touch with your vendors and potential vendors. Let them know what your timeline is and where your head is at. While I was working on our guest list and trying to figure out how to make our venue work for us, I wasn’t just sitting idly – I was emailing potential vendors and getting pricing, availability, etc. I couldn’t nail down a time to meet with anybody since I didn’t have a venue, yet, but I made sure they all knew what the case was and that I would reach out once our venue and date were secured.

All in all, make sure you find that ultimate wedding dream team to work with. Finding vendors who mesh well with you as a couple, as well as each other, is a huge necessity. And also, don’t forget to have FUN. Being engaged and planning a wedding is supposed to be one of the most fun moments of your adult life. Enjoy every moment of being affianced and planning your big day. At the end of it all, it comes down to just the two of you – don’t forget that! And if planning and decision-making has become all-consuming, take a step back, take a night or two off and enjoy some time together just being engaged, in love, and not worrying about wedding details.