Wedding planning can be a lot to take on, between all the vendors to book and decisions to be made about colors, decor, dresses, and food (just to name a few). After bride-to-be Allie got engaged, she quickly turned to fellow Literally, Darling writer (and fairly recent bride) Kelly for tips and advice on where to start. The two decided to tackle some common wedding-related questions to help future brides-to-be stress less during the planning process and enjoy the big day.
How old are you? How long was your engagement? Wedding date?
Kelly: 24 years old. My husband (Julian) and I were engaged for a year and 5 months, and our wedding date was January 14th, 2017. We just celebrated one year anniversary. We wanted to wait until after I graduated from graduate school and accepted a full-time job to get married.
Allie: I’m also 24; we’ll be 25 when we get married. My fiance (Ryan) and I got engaged on July 28, 2017, so it’s six months so far. Our wedding date is September 15, 2018, so our engagement will be a total of about 14 months.
What was the most stressful part of wedding planning?
Kelly: For me, the most stressful part of wedding planning was waiting. I’m a planner and I like to get things done, to just make a decision and move on. Unfortunately, with wedding planning, there are a lot of things you have to wait until closer to the date to confirm — seating charts, RSVPs, weather-related decisions. It also required a lot of waiting for other’s opinions and input, which I didn’t mind having, but it was extremely difficult to work around everyone’s schedule to sit down for a cake-tasting or bridesmaid dress shopping. The date inevitably got pushed back, which only added to my stress.
Allie: I actually expected I’d be way more stressed than I have been, although I’m not down to the wire yet since I still have eight months. So far, my biggest stress was trying to figure out my cake situation–I have a dessert reputation to uphold, so I was really struggling to find a bakery to make a decorated cake that would taste good to me and not cost an absurd amount of money. And then one day I realized that I literally don’t care about a cake cutting picture anyway, and finally said “screw it, we’re serving Costco cake,” because it’s my favorite cake, it’s delicious, and it’s hella cheap. That was pretty liberating–realizing I really don’t need to please anyone but myself and my fiance, since the day is about us. From time to time, I stress about the size of our guest list–I’m not a big crowd person–but ultimately we want everyone who’s important to us to be there.
What was one part of wedding planning you hated? Thought you’d hate?
Kelly: In actuality, most of my wedding planning was considering what other people would want. What kind of food, what time of the year, open bar or limited drinks, shuttle-service or no? In retrospect, I think I should have focused more on what my husband and I wanted to make our day special.
I thought I’d hate reciting our vows. We’d originally discussed just saying “I do” and nothing more, but as the wedding planning progressed, we decided to write our own vows. While I don’t particularly mind public speaking, it felt very personal — but I was more worried that I wouldn’t remember the vows or I’d be crying/too nervous to read off a paper. In the end, it all worked out — our minister read out the vows and we repeated them. Easy!
Allie: So far, I really haven’t hated anything. I expected to hate dress shopping, because all of my prom dress shopping experiences were a nightmare of not finding things that were the right length, or that weren’t over the top, etc. It turns out, that was one of the easiest decisions. My mom, sister and I went to David’s Bridal on a random Wednesday when they had a sale going just so I could see what some options might be like. I ended up falling in love with the third dress I tried on and bought it, and I still can’t wait to wear it. I’m a little nervous about reciting our vows since they’ll be personal and I’ll probably cry…but that’s basically expected. Honestly, planning has been a breeze and most decisions have been really easy for my fiance and I. I’m really grateful for that.
What was one tradition you bucked? Why?
Kelly: We knew from day one that we didn’t want to do the garter-toss. Naturally, we are both fairly quiet people and it was one thing for us to celebrate a wedding, but neither of us felt comfortable with the process of garter-tossing and we skipped it. No one seemed to notice and we are still happy with our decision. In addition, we decided to do a small cake to cut and just hand out cupcakes. Neither of us were cake-people, but my mother-in-law insisted that it was an integral part of the wedding day.
Finally, we decided that instead of doing a father-daughter and mother-son dance, we’d merge the two. Again, neither of us are big fans of the spotlight, so my dad and I started off for about a minute and my husband and his mom joined us. The result was seamless and all parties were happy.
Allie: Yeah, the idea of a garter-toss was an “oh hell on earth, no” from the get-go for me. That’s literally one of the most awkward and uncomfortable things I could imagine having happen in front of 150+ people. Truly, I don’t understand who decided that was ever a good idea? We’re skipping the bouquet toss too, because I don’t want to pay extra for a toss bouquet, and I don’t want to toss my real one. Right now we’re still on the fence about a cake cutting. I imagine we’ll end up getting a small cake to cut, but this isn’t a tradition that’s super important to me either. We’ll definitely keep the dances, though–I’m really excited about those traditions.
What’s one thing you stressed about on the big day, but wished you hadn’t?
Kelly: On the day of, I was stressed about two things: time and weather. I am always on time, if not early, however, on the day of the wedding, circumstances beyond my control pushed the schedule back and once one thing is pushed back…everything is pushed back. It came up to the time the ceremony was starting and I asked what time it was every 30 seconds to make sure we weren’t too late (if anything, I didn’t want my future husband to get nervous!). In retrospect, while we were a few minutes late, the show went on as planned and no one really noticed. I could have spent that time on a few more pictures or at least some deep breathing.
Because we got married in January on the East Coast, the weather was unpredictable. Despite being sunny and 60s the weekend before, our wedding weekend projected ice and a dusting of snow. Of course, this made me worry about the out-of-town guests who had to come in! While we could have lived and the wedding could have gone on even if a few people hadn’t made it in, I wanted to make sure that the minister, our immediate family and photographer were there! At the end of the day, it wasn’t icy at all and a light mist of rain was undetectable in our photos.
Allie: I’m pretty sure my biggest concern will be food-related. I need to be well fed and well rested to be a happy camper; I’ll definitely be one of those brides that’s eating a big mac or something right before a crucial moment. I do worry a little bit about weather as well. I live in Iowa, where any season could conceivably do whatever it wants. This year on our date, it was 90 degrees in mid-September. Other years, it’s been in the 40s. Naturally, I’m hoping for somewhere in the middle. But ultimately, I’m sure it’ll still be a good day. I’m sure I’ll be stressed about being on time throughout the day as well; being late to things is one of my biggest points of stress in life in general, so I expect our wedding day will be no exception.
What’s one thing you spent money on that wasn’t worth it?
Kelly: We decided to go with an open bar — a choice I’d regret later. While my husband and I drink very rarely and didn’t think we’d be drinking that night, we wanted to be considerate of others and have an open bar. Unfortunately, we underestimated just how much other people would drink! It ended up being an absorbent cost after the wedding and there were a few too many people with a few too many drinks. Looking back, we should have at least limited to wine and beer only.
Allie: So far, nothing, but obviously the day’s not done. I’ve been really budget-conscious throughout the planning process, because I can’t really wrap my head around the cost of everything wedding-related. We’ve weighed every purchase to decide if it’s worth it to us. I’m sure there will be a few decor-related things that in hindsight we could probably have skipped, but I’m trying to be thoughtful about that as well, and only doing flowers and a few locally made signs (like the one below).
What is something you registered for, but wished you hadn’t? Registry suggestions?
Kelly: We liked all our registry choices, but our favorite gift wasn’t on the registry! One of the groomsmen bought us two Nerf guns to serve as a reminder of the fun people we used to be as we take on bigger, more serious responsibilities. It was a great and thoughtful gift.
Allie: Love that idea! We have almost everything we need, but many of our kitchen items especially could definitely use an upgrade. We’ve registered for practical stuff like new dishes, nicer bakeware and pots/pans, a new vacuum, a nice drill, a new coffee maker–all the normal stuff. If you don’t already own an Instant Pot, that’s something I think everyone needs on their registry. It’s a life-changing appliance, seriously.
Tips for brides on a budget
Kelly: I was definitely trying to be on a budget and at the onset of wedding planning, I was completely shocked by how much everything really costs! We had planned on a June wedding, but decided to get married in January because the venue cost was 50 percent less. That decision was a huge help down the road because vendors were less likely to be busy during that time of year, giving us more options and more flexibility to negotiate costs (all costs are negotiable!). Even if you don’t get married in the off-season, shop during the off-season! Invitations, accessories, even bridesmaid dresses can be discounted during the winter, which can make a big difference to your bottom line.
Allie: I was also shocked by how much everything costs, and I live in the third cheapest state to get married in. Our venue has the same fee no matter what season you choose, so we were able to pick a September date since we wanted a fall wedding, but there are definitely places you can save by picking an off-season–or even an off-night, like a Friday evening or a Sunday afternoon. Clearly you can save money on cake if you go the Costco route like I’m doing.
Invitations and save the dates are a place you can spend a lot of money if you try; really nice paper goods are really expensive. I originally wanted to find a local designer for mine, but when I thought about how much I’d be spending for something people throw away, I couldn’t justify it to myself. I actually found a Groupon for our save the dates via Zazzle. Their photo options aren’t the highest quality in my opinion (although they’re still cute!), but if you don’t want a photo save the date, that might be a good option for you (and at $40 for 110 save the dates with envelopes, I’m not complaining). We got our invites through Vistaprint and ended up saving a ton of money by buying them during their 50% off sale. So definitely watch the sales and do a lot of research!
Any final advice to other brides?
Kelly: I don’t think there is any way to guarantee a perfect day — you can’t control a traffic jam en route to the venue, people’s emotions or behaviors, or the promise of good weather. Be open to going with the flow and don’t dwell on the things that may not have gone according to plan. If I have any regrets about my wedding day, it’s only that I wished I’d taken more time to take pictures! The day flies by and, looking back, I wish I had taken more photos of just myself, individual shots with family and couple shots with different backgrounds. Your wedding day is special and you’re going to want to look back and remember it all! Plus, basically everyone wanted photos from the wedding.
Allie: So far, my biggest takeaway is to not sweat the small stuff. That’s advice I could really follow more in my actual life. Remember that the day is about you and your fiance–it’s nice to think of your guests and their needs, and it’s certainly thoughtful to run big decisions by whoever is helping you pay for the wedding, but ultimately, it is your day. Also, I’m going into it expecting that something may go wrong, and the day will be great anyway. I don’t love when things don’t go according to plan, but I’m not going to let little things ruin my big day. I’m definitely taking Kelly’s advice to go with the flow!
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