I received a message from her that said,
“I haven’t even begun to think about wedding planning! If you have any tips let me know…I’m just enjoying engaged life because wedding planning sounds overwhelming!”
I felt two ways about this email….
1. pure empathy because I have been there. I remember wedding planning and with each decision I was met with the choice to embrace and enjoy or complain and grumble.
2. total excitement because I realized that I had valuable advice to share with not only her but all my other friends who are in the process of planning a wedding- advice that could potentially ease the perceived and most talked about pains of wedding planning.
Planning and preparing for a wedding is a big undertaking (understatement) but I truly believe excitement through that process is available for anyone getting ready for their big day! By sticking to the following list of advice, excitement will become on the forefront of your emotions to describe this season of life. So here you go! This is a comprehensive list of all the tips I could think of while looking back at my own planning experience as well as my experiences through shooting weddings.
1. Prioritize, prioritize
Before you dive into any official planning make a list of your top FIVE priorities for where your budget will go on the wedding day! There is no right or wrong way to do this part! Yay for gray areas! This can go a number of ways. There are a many different things that can make their way onto your priority list, such as: ability to invite as many people as you would like without cutting anyone from your guest list, venue-style, size, ambiance, etc., type of food/caterer, flowers, wedding attire, geographic location, photography, videography, decorations, open bar/cash bar/beer & wine only/no alcohol, music- dj, live band, create your own playlist, gifts for attendants, wedding favors for guests, printables- invites, save the dates, thank you cards, you get the picture here! Your money has a number of places that it can go. The most important part is being assertive and delegating finances to the areas that mean most to you as a couple. Once you do this, it lays the foundation that you and your fiancé are on the same page from the beginning of planning and gives direction in decision-making. From there it opens the door to fluid communication between you, your fiancé and both families involved.
2. Stress is for the birds- your outlook matters
Your disposition, attitude, and outlook over the course of your engagement determine the stress-level of the planning process.This seems simple and obvious but I feel like it needs to be said. If you want a fun, enjoyable, meaningful, and easy-going engagement it starts with the way you handle this season of life. Instead of being overwhelmed by the to-dos and family pressures, and deadlines, embrace those things, stand firm in what you have set out to do and keep your cool. If you choose not to play into other people stressing and I really believe that allows you to have fun deciding the details of your big day. The first step to walking through a season of engaged bliss stems from open communication which happens to be my next piece of advice…
3. Talk isn’t cheap- open communication
Have open conversations with all parties involved from the very beginning. Set expectations from the very start of planning and keep the lines of communication open through wedding. You’ll realize very early on in the planning process that each and every person involved in decision-making (in any capacity) will have very unique perceptions and expectations when it comes to your wedding. This piece of advice includes sitting down with parents and speaking candidly through budget (if parents are covering or contributing to wedding expense payment), any expectations either families have in regards to any details, guest list, etc. and made sure to get on the same page. This is case-by-case as no wedding or family is the same, but the importance of open communication remains the same across the board. I think it is also important to note that just because you communicate openly does not necessarily mean you compromise on your dream details. That is something only you and your soon-to-be-spouse can decide together but those conversations still need to happen! Speaking of open communication, this leads me to what may be the most detrimental piece of the planning puzzle…
4. Cut out the middle man- guest list
I’ve chatted with a lot of brides who feel that guest list is the toughest part of wedding planning. I mean think about it: you have two completely separate families plus a couple with their own community all coming together to include their most favorite people in this special day. That’s a whole lot of people. The most effective way to ease this pain point, is to divvy up the numbers between parties. Let me explain. In Collier and me’s experience, we were getting texts and calls daily from our parents basically saying, “hey, what do you think about inviting so and so?” We kind of became the middle man for determining whether people were on the guest list or not which became stressful because we of course wanted to honor our parents requests and desire for certain friends and family to be invited but we also had a capacity limit at our venue. SO, here is what we did: we split our guest list up based on how many people our venue could hold, Collier and I made our list of close friends/family that we absolutely wanted to invite, then we split up the remaining amount for our parents. After giving each family a number we gave them a deadline of when to have names and addresses to us to send out invites. There were definitely still conversations because we are talking about precious people here and we had to continuously work to get on the same pate BUT It took SO much drama out because we didn’t have to okay every decision and instead let our parents decide who of their friends/family were priority to invite. Make sense?!
5. You do you, boo- keep the details unique to you
Make this day your own!! Last but surely not least, this is your day! Make it fun, make it unique, make it all that you and your fiancé want it to be! what are some fun details you could include on your wedding day to showcase your personality as a couple? The opportunities are endless for this one! From my experience, including fun details made our wedding so much fun and I really believe this is what made it so memorable for us and everyone who came. We chose details that were maybe not traditional but things that meant a lot to Collier and me. Those are the things that Collier and I look back on and are SO happy that we included…things like having worship during our ceremony, Having a trolley ride around Nashville for the bridal party, having Funfetti cake for our wedding cake (see story behind that here: (https://www.instagram.com/p/BNhS2lYDrri/?taken-by=marissarobertsphoto) doing breakfast for dinner, making our own playlist for music and not having slow songs because we wanted everyone to dance the night away…stuff like that. Y’all are unique and your wedding should reflect that no matter the opinions of others!
Sweet friend, I am SO excited for you! I hope this is helpful. Bride to bride, I want this season to be all you hoped it would be and more. If you have any planning questions or concerns that I did not cover here, comment below and I’ll share from my experience!