Between scrolling Pinterest and flipping through wedding magazines, it’s hard not to be overwhelmed with all the seemingly perfect weddings out there. You know the type: designed by the industry’s best planners in an exotic location with over-the-top splendor and Rihanna just happens to be a bridesmaid.
While that type of day might be farfetched for most of us, it’s still absolutely possible to have the wedding of your dreams without all of that (yes, sadly without Rihanna too). Even if hiring a planner is out of the cards, don’t fret. I’m here to tell you that planning your own wedding is perfectly doable.
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Yes, it will feel like a full-time job and you'll toil over it day and night, but when it all comes together, it’s the most rewarding feeling ever! Having gone through the planning process myself, I learned a few valuable lessons along the way that helped me immensely. Scroll down to read my tips.
1. Hire a Day-Of Coordinator
Even though you’re planning the wedding yourself, it’s still important to hire someone who can help you with the technical needs on the day-of (or even the month-of), like making sure all name tags are in the correct spot. They will absolutely save your life when it comes to organizing and staying on top of the wedding day schedule. As a bride, you don’t want to deal with that yourself. The best place to find a coordinator? Ask your venue who they'd recommend! It’s especially helpful to work with someone who’s familiar with the space.
2. Use Your Favorite Wedding Planners' Vendors
While doing research, did you come across wedding planners whose style you loved? Look through their portfolios and see what vendors they use. If a popular planner is using a particular vendor (from florals to catering to photography), then that vendor has likely been well-vetted by top dogs in the industry. Plus, if you like the style of the planner, then their vendors will be right up your alley.
3. Make a Moodboard on Pinterest
This tip is obvious, but it’s truly eye-opening when you pin inspiration to a board and see a theme coming together. When I first started planning, I didn’t necessarily have an exact idea of what I wanted, so I sifted through wedding blogs and Pinterest wedding boards, gathering tons of images that stood out to me. From there, I looked at my board of images as a whole and saw that I was drawn to lots of greenery, natural elements, simple designs, and romantic vibes. So while I hadn't realized it before, I quickly figured out my theme from that research.
4. Use the Knowledge of Your Vendors
Your vendors have likely worked at hundreds of weddings and that means they know the ins and outs of what makes a great event. Don’t be afraid to ask them for advice about your day. When I had a mock-up appointment with my florist, I told her I was having a hard time deciding on the table layout during the reception. I showed her my idea and she quickly rearranged all the tables in a way that made so much more sense for the space.
5. Ask Your Married Friends What They'd Do Differently
There’s no better place to nab great advice than from someone who’s already been through the process. Were they stressed out on their wedding day? Ask them why and try to figure out ways to avoid it. Did they forget something important during the ceremony? Now’s your chance to incorporate it in yours.
6. Timing and Pace are Everything
What time is sunset? Twilight? Nightfall? Research all of these before building your day-of itinerary. Do you want to take photos during golden hour? You can actually google “golden hour” and the day of your wedding and it will tell you the exact time the sun will have that magical glow. In an ideal world, it will occur during your cocktail hour so you can slip away and snap a few photos. Aside from that, guests are extremely sensitive to timing in general so make sure your flow is organic and nothing lasts longer than it needs to be. Take notes at weddings you attend to get a feel for what you want during yours.
7. Google Docs is Your Best Friend
Get organized with a wedding folder in your Google Drive. From keeping track of invitations to seating charts to itineraries to ceremony details, you’ll want everything to be easily accessible and in one place. My husband and I wrote our entire ceremony together so it was essential to have a shared Google Doc that we could each contribute to.
8. Put Your Friends and Family to Work
Don’t be afraid to ask your loved ones for help. We asked my dad to build us a ceremony altar and it turned out to be one of my favorite aspects of the wedding.
9. Use This Calligraphy Trick
If you’re dying to add original calligraphy to your day but don’t have the budget to go all out, think about incorporating it in small doses. For example, if you want your invitation envelopes to be calligraphed with your guests' addresses, you don’t need to calligraphy all of them. Let’s be honest, will your fiance's friends from college appreciate a calligraphed envelope? Doubtful! Select a few of your guests (immediate family, close friends) to receive those special, hand-drawn envelopes and the rest can receive a printed envelope. Similarly, for the rest of your wedding, if you want to incorporate calligraphy, it doesn’t need to be on every paper material. Pick and choose—that way, you’ll still get the vibe you want at a lower price point.
10. Speak Frankly with your Photographer
Since you won’t have a planner to figure this out for you, it’s especially important to discuss your photo needs with your photographer ahead of time. Write out a detailed shot list (there are tons of examples on wedding blogs) to make sure you get all the photos you want. Some coordinators will take this on as part of their duties, but for those who don’t, you’ll want to be constantly communicating with your photographer so they get all the right shots.
11. Negotiate With Your Vendors
Since you’ll be the immediate point of contact with your vendors, it will be your job to negotiate the contracts. Don’t be afraid to come up with new terms that better suit your needs. Negotiate price, timing, and details that you don’t love. It never hurts to ask!