Planning your wedding may feel a little like learning a foreign language. Your caterer is talking about your BEO (banquet event order). The rental company keeps asking you about chargers (a decorative plate). And your venue coordinator wants to know where the head table (a table with the bride, groom, and their wedding party) is going. It can be overwhelming to figure out what everything means and make sure you all the information in order to make decisions.
One of the crucial elements of being able to successfully plan your wedding is understanding the ins and outs of the industry. How do you know which vendors are the right ones? What does a wedding in your area on your budget look like? Is it possible to create a budget and stick to it?
Without having the information you need, it’s easy to feel unprepared and like you’re going into the planning process blind. And the planning process feels more intimidating if you’re the first one going through it. Wouldn’t it be great if you could have a bride-to-bride chat to get the inside scoop about what the planning process is truly like?
Wedding Planning Tips for Brides
Grab a cup of coffee or a glass of champagne because today I’m making that happen! I’m thrilled to introduce you to one of my sweet JTE brides, Janine. I had the pleasure of serving as her day of wedding coordinator for the gorgeous winter wedding she planned. She’s going to be sharing her insight about what she wishes she knew, what she would do differently, and giving you her best advice. Plus, I’m dishing up my top 3 wedding planning tips for brides.
Let’s dive in, shall we?
Top Tips for Brides
There’s a lot to know when it comes to planning your wedding. Here are a few of my top tips for brides who are planning their own wedding.
01. Set a budget before you start doing anything.
Knowing your budget, helps narrow down the vendors you meet with and it allows them to provide you with realistic options. They can take your dream ideas and show you how you can accomplish the same look with alternatives if necessary. And it prevents you from being disappointed when you can’t work with a vendor you fall in love with because they’re outside your budget.
02. Hire a day of wedding coordinator
There are many pieces of the wedding puzzle that have to come together on your wedding day. It means preparing for what’s happening next and making sure everyone’s on the same page. You only get one wedding. Wouldn’t you rather spend it being present, soaking up the magic of the celebration instead of answering last minute vendor questions?
03. Work with professional vendors
Choosing to work with professional wedding vendors means you can expect a certain level of quality and skill in the work they do. They have invaluable knowledge and industry experience about what it takes to execute tasks for a wedding. Wedding professionals understand the timing and preparation to create things on a larger scale. Baking a cake is one thing, but baking a three-tiered wedding cake is something different. When you hire professional vendors, you get their experience, time, and talent. It frees you up to spend time with friends, family, and do the other things you love.
Bride-to-Bride Wedding Planning Tips
Jenna: What part of the wedding planning process did you feel least prepared for (choosing vendors, creating an experience, etc)?
Janine: I felt least prepared for determining a budget, thinking about the design, and timing of the wedding day.
In order to determine our budget, I needed to get an idea of what a wedding would look like on our budget. I wanted to know the biggest costs so we could adjust the budget. To do that, I called vendors to get their initial offers before starting negotiations. I researched average weddings costs in our area. And I asked some of my friends (at least the ones who wouldn’t be offended!) what they paid.
I feel like I could have used more help developing our aesthetic and design while sticking to our budget. I relied on research and vendors, but I wasn’t sure if I could have done more to stick to our budget and aesthetic.
Wedding Day Timing
Timing was a challenge because we had a winter wedding. The sun was due to set an hour after our wedding ended, which isn’t enough time for outdoor portraits. The church ceremony was at preset time that we couldn’t change. And I didn’t want to do a first look. In hindsight, I would have worked harder to make sure we ran on time and had alternative indoor locations for pictures as well.
Brides Tip: It’s better to be safe than sorry when planning for your photos. Even if you don’t think weather will be a problem, you can’t go wrong with having backup locations. You never know when a location might be closed, crowded with tourists or if a freak rainstorm will pop up.
Jenna: What part of the wedding planning process did you find most challenging?
Janine: I found the budget and timing to be the most challenging. I’m not a natural negotiator. I wasn’t sure how to do it, what could be negotiated, and how to do it without disrespecting our vendors. I’m also a terrible judge of time! I did my best and things worked out. But I definitely could have done a lot more to make things even better.
Brides Tip: If you’re creating your own timeline, make sure to build in at least 15 minutes of extra time, especially when scheduling transportation.
Jenna: Preferred vendor lists, monthly checklists, and hiring a wedding planning are a few things you can do to help make wedding planning easier. If there was one thing to make the process easier for you, what would that have been?
Janine: I think it would have been understanding time management for the day of the wedding. Either hiring a wedding planner from the get go or creating back up plans would have helped. We ran late to the church which compromised our pictures. It was disappointing because the photographer did a great job with what she had. (Yes, she did. I can only imagine what she would have done if she had more time!) I didn’t think I could afford a wedding planner from the beginning, but I do think an expert could have helped.
Brides Tip: Creating back up plans is one of the many things a wedding planner can help do. They also have the experience and knowledge to help you make the most of the time on your wedding day.
Jenna: Is there something you regret about the wedding planning process?
Janine: How much I stressed about it! A friend once told me that your engagement is a special, finite time in your life and that you should enjoy it. We did try to heed that advice, but handling a large budget that impacts so many people isn’t easy! The engagement and planning are just as special as the wedding day. There’s so much more of it to enjoy. We did our best to create fun memories along the way, but I wish that I had stressed less and trusted my instincts more.
Brides Tip: Set aside time each week to do something you love doing as a couple that’s not wedding related. Cook dinner together, go for a walk or watch an episode of your favorite television show. It’s a great way to refresh yourselves during the planning process.
Jenna: If you had to plan your wedding again, is there something you would do differently?
Janine: I would have reworked the timing and created a backup plan to get the most out of our pictures. Our perfect wedding photographer was worth every penny, but we definitely didn’t take full advantage of the time we had with her.
Brides Tip: A professional wedding photographer can track when the best time for photos are and can suggest alternative locations. Utilize their knowledge and expertise to make sure you get the wedding photos you want.
Jenna: What’s one piece of advice you would give to other brides planning their wedding?
Janine: I’ll give two. First, enjoy the engagement and planning process. Enjoying the engagement and planning process was hard, but definitely good advice. The wedding day goes by so fast! But you can create a lot of great memories during the planning process too.
Second, stick to your budget. I don’t regret sticking to our budget. We had a generous budget, but we had to work hard to save and make good financial decisions throughout the planning process. It’s easy to spend more because it’s all so pretty! It felt good to not have to pay for anything after the wedding day and just enjoy being together. Being strict with our budget meant making hard decisions, like with my dress and the flowers. But I definitely don’t regret not spending more.
Brides Tip: After you’ve set your budget, make sure to track and record all your expenses. Those little one-off expenses add up quickly and can make you go over budget if you aren’t aware of them.
Thank you so much Janine for giving us the inside scoop about what the wedding planning process was like! I hope today’s post answered some of your questions and helps you feel more confident about going through the planning process.
Photos by Jennifer Baryn Photography