Happy Monday! On Friday our wedding was featured on my favorite wedding blog, Style Me Pretty. Having used the site for design ideas, it was truly an honor to be featured especially since Phil and I elected to not use a wedding planner. As most of you know, Phil has played piano for so many weddings and has collected ideas along the way and I absolutely love design so we decided to go for the challenge. I’m thrilled with how everything turned out and our photos and video do such a great job of capturing that. More than anything, I’m so happy to have married my best friend and soulmate. I can’t stress enough how important it is to remember that as you plan. Getting to unite with the person you love in front of all of your family and friends and most importantly, God, is something I am so grateful for. I had to keep reminding myself of that when I’d get lost in Pinterest and want to completely change our theme. Thank God for best friends too for talking you out of changing everything at the last minute!
One of the most important things to both of us was to write our own vows (you can hear some of them in our video). After all we waited to so long to be married (8 years!), we both really wanted to express our love for one another. You can read more of our story on Style Me Pretty.
With that I wanted to leave 10 tips for planning your wedding. If you have any questions or just want to chat about planning your wedding, feel free to comment below!
10 Tips For Planning Your Big Day
1. Agree on a “theme” or color scheme and stick with it – even if it’s not “in style” as long as it’s your style!
I wanted to change the look of our wedding to more rustic at the last minute because I was feeling inspired by all of the photos on Pinterest of those rustic barn weddings with the gorgeous farm tables. We did end up including some rustic items into our day, including those farm tables, but we ended up covering them in silk fabric to stick with our glam theme. It just got to be dizzying going back and forth and at the end, we stuck with our initial instinct to go with a more glamorous affair.
2. Think of creative ways to save and work with your venue on design ideas.
Our wedding venue already had a glamorous draped tent which was always the type of wedding we’d wanted to have. The problem was, there was really not much else that was “glamorous” about the space. We wanted multiple chandeliers and were planning on renting them for $1,000+ a piece until I found some online for a fraction of the price. They had to be put together and rewired for hanging, but we were lucky enough to be practically related to an electrician and he was gracious enough to be willing to do it for us. So we bought three chandeliers online, had them built and then our venue loved them so much, they bought them from us! Most venues are trying to keep on top of wedding trends and often need updates or additions. You might be surprised what they would be willing to go in on with you or purchase, knowing you’d rent it from them. If only we could’ve talked them into buying those gold chiavari chairs!
3. Before you buy decor, check with your florist or planner!
When we first started wedding planning, we went a little crazy in buying up all of the small decor items ourselves. We purchased a ton of mercury candles, vases, frames, etc. which we got for great deals, until we realized our florist already had a lot of that stuff! Oh and I bought vases that were so large, our floral designs were over two times the price that they would’ve been had we just used our florists vases. Who knew the opening of the vase was what mattered (not the size of the vase!). Anyway, we ended up going with multiple different floral designs and we did incorporate some of the items we bought, but not all.
4. Put yourself in your guests’ shoes, remember they’re there for you.
We’ve all been to weddings where we’ve felt like we were a little out of place. Of course you can’t accommodate everyone, but do consider saying a special thank you to all of your guests for coming. Luckily for us, our photographer highly recommended doing a receiving line after the recessional. We weren’t planning on doing one, but he said he insisted those were the photos and memories not only you, but your guests will cherish. He was right! I know there would’ve been people I would’ve missed had we waited to talk to them later in the night. We also did a quick thank you speech after the other speeches. We wanted everyone to know how much they meant to us and how lucky we were to have them in our lives.
5. Consider taking a moment to yourselves.
We knew we would have a flood of different emotions on our big day from excitement to nerves and sometimes you can lose yourself a bit in that. Knowing ourselves and how much we tend to focus on making sure everyone else is enjoying themselves, we decided to make it a point to plan time for us to just be alone together amidst the chaos of the day. If you don’t plan for it, you likely won’t get it – so seriously, add it into your schedule! We rode separate from our bridal party between sites. We took a vintage Rolls-Royce Bentley that couldn’t go too fast on the highway since it’s a classic car – which was actually great because Phil and I got time to just talk and be together. That calmed my nerves a lot.
6. Surprise each other!
Apart from getting married and writing vows for one another, try to surprise each other with a little something extra. Phil won for the best surprise ever by serenading me with a number of songs on the piano. Seriously, it was like a dream come true. I surprised him not by sharing my vocal talents (of which, I have none!), but by getting him a groom’s cake. It was a small gesture, but we both enjoyed having a little surprise – especially since we’d planned nearly every other detail of the day together.
7. Hire a videographer, they may save your marriage later!
I know people have mixed feelings on this because of the added cost, but nearly everyone I talk to who didn’t use a videographer wishes they would have. They’re expensive, especially if you go with the best. Maybe you can justify the price a different way or trade out some decor instead. After all most people (yourselves included) won’t remember what your centerpieces or the bar table decor looked like, but having a video to remember your big day will be something you cherish forever. For Phil and me this was nearly the biggest part of our budget. We went with the best because we fell in love with them before we were even engaged. We agreed to justify the expense by making it our first anniversary present to each other. It took almost a year to get the final cut so it really did feel like an anniversary present! They took a lot of time and once we saw it, we realized why. They spent days outside of our actual wedding day to get B roll of the cityscape. Seriously, who does that?! Besides that, their vision is untouchable. Please check out the video and let me know what you think! After we showed it to my grandma (who cried along with everyone else who we’ve watched it with); she reminded us to watch it during trying times in our relationship so we’d always remember the vows we made that day. I have to admit, I have had to do that! It always makes my heart a little more tender realizing that despite any hurtful or angry words exchanged, as my husband always says…at the core of us is always love.
8. Consider keeping a memento from the day.
Remember those wonderful chandeliers I mentioned earlier? Well we ended up buying one for our first home together. We loved them so much and it was such a labor of love from our dear family friend that we knew we had to have one in our first house together. We also bought our unity candles and crystal candle sticks which we now keep in our bedroom. I’m reminded of our wedding every time I walk into our room.
9. Incorporate your loved ones into your day.
It goes without saying, have your family members take part in your day in some way. I realize some families are just too big to allow everyone to be a bridesmaid or groomsmen, but there are so many other ways to serve and you know what, they’d be honored to do it. Although we wanted a string quartet to perform for the ceremony, we also knew we wanted vocalists and that my sister and brother-in-law would be the perfect people to do it. We picked out two Christian songs for them to sing in between the readings and during the unity candle lighting ceremony. My sister and brother-in-law are shining examples of God’s love and active members in their church so it couldn’t have been more fitting for them to be the ones to shed God’s message on our big day (apart from our Pastor, of course). Another way we were able to incorporate someone near and dear to our hearts (my second cousin who is like an aunt to both of us) was to have her serve as our day-of-coordinator. We had a site coordinator provided by the venue, but she served as a liaison between us and them so we could enjoy the day. She was amazing and we knew she would be great at executing. She was so gracious to help in that way and we were grateful to have someone we trust looking over everything.
10. Do something unexpected.
One of the things Phil and I had in common when we first met was our love of the film Meet Joe Black. I can say that to this day, no one I’ve ever met loves that film more than we do. I know it didn’t get rave reviews, but it’s seriously a great movie and the party at the end of the movie is unbelievable. Phil and I always said we’d love to throw a party like that one day–complete with fireworks on a hillside and all. Well when it came time to wedding planning, we knew we had to go for it. The fireworks show was one of our guests’ favorite parts and the show was one of the best we’d ever seen. Of course Phil was meticulous in describing just how he wanted the show to go when he was planning it with the company who did it, but they exceeded our expectations and it’s something we now get to remember in our video too.
Apart from anything else, I encourage you to remember that at the end of the day a beautiful wedding is just that if there’s no feeling behind it. Some of the best weddings I’ve been to have been the simplest, but the most touching. Usually when people write their own vows, they have me in tears, but things from song choices to the first dance evoke all of those warm feelings in everyone. Remind people of what it’s like to fall in love and what you fell in love with in each other. It just might reignite feelings of love in those around you too.