If you’re reading this blog post, just know that I am over the moon excited for you! I’m guessing you are engaged, or you are very close to getting engaged if you are reading this. If you aren’t, I don’t blame you—I read these all the time even when I was single. The talk of weddings, and all things love just makes me giddy. Still even now! I wish I could relive our big day all over again, and I never thought I would say this, but…the planning too. I’m starting to miss it (just a little), but it still counts right?
I wanted to write this blog post (and a majority of my wedding related blog posts if we’re being honest) because I want to help future brides, and also give them inspiration! I had a really hard time finding girls with wedding related content that went over everything about their process. Mostly because a lot of people’s blogs didn’t start until after they were married, so since I got to document my process from the beginning, I very strongly wanted to be a resource for women entering this exciting time during their life. Below is a list of my tips that helped me during getting engaged, planning and the big day.
Keep Addresses When we got engaged, we got a handful of gifts! I wrote thank you’s to those who did and a majority of them I did not know their home address. I made sure to write them down somewhere else and keep them for when it was time to send out save the dates and such.
Make a Pinterest Board, If you haven’t already Some of you may need to get going on this, but if you’re like me then this board was created when you were 14 and had your first serious boyfriend. When it was actually time to start planning and I knew an engagement was coming, I ended up making a whole new wedding board because my taste had changed quite a bit from over six years ago, ha! I’m a huge visual person, so looking at inspiration photos really helped me envision what our wedding was going to look like.
Make a Joint Email I made a joint email for both Tim and I after we got engaged. We both know the password and I used it for all things wedding. My personal email inbox is organized, but when it comes to the wedding, you don’t want to lose anything. When you start getting contracts and things to sign it’s just nice to have a separate account for that. Now that we are married, we consider it our family email. It’s the email we use for Chip’s vet, the email we will use when we have kids for doctors, sports, etc. so we both have access to it. It’s also great for all things adulting— insurance, receipts for big purchases, trips and more. With that being said, choose a title that isn’t wedding related so you can use it after its over.
Invest in a Wedding Planner Not talking about a person right now, I’m talking about an actual planner book. I used this wedding planner and it was a saving grace. You’re gong to want to take something to all your appointments— meeting with the caterer, the DJ, the florist, the list goes on. Trust me when I say you will take notes at all of these so you might as well get a planner that has everything wedding related in one place. This will be your best friend until the wedding is over! In this specific one I used, you are able to list your bridal party, their sizes, contact info, notes pages, and their’s also a timeline which keeps you on track.
Choose a Date This tip might not be for everyone, because it will vary couple to couple. Tim and I chose June 8th for our wedding day, and we were not willing to bend on it at all. It was June 8th whether or not our (my lol) dream wedding venue had it available or not. For some couples it is the opposite, they want the venue they want and can care less about a date. Whichever is more important to you (in our case it was the date) choose that first and be firm. AKA, once it’s decided, there will be no changing.
Talk to your Potential Bridesmaids This is very important, as being a bridesmaid is a big job! Before you ask your bridesmaid with the whole proposal (if that is what you’re going to do) thing, chat beforehand and make sure they’re ready to commit. Talking about it futuristically can be one thing, but actually committing to being a bridesmaid can be a whole other thing. Make sure you note your expectations, and what you think the whole thing is going to look like. Are you planning on your bachelorette being out of state? Mention that, since money is a big thing for people. Are you planning on the bridesmaids dresses to be the star of the show, ending up being $600 a piece? You should probably mention that. When it comes down to getting ready for the big day, are you hoping everyone will pay to get their makeup done, or are you going to cover everyones expenses? Basically, all things money related should be discussed and upfront to prevent issues during the wedding planning process. Trust me, you won’t regret doing this!
First things first, VPV The most important thing when it’s coming to weddings that needs to be planned and picked first, besides a date. Your venue, photographer and videographer. Nowadays, weddings are very expensive. Tim and I were very blessed in that we did not have to pay for our wedding. For most cases though, a lot of young people have to pay for their own wedding. With that being said, people are now booking venues out up to two years in advance in order for enough time to save and plan. Also, the most important vendors which are photographers and videographers, get booked out far in advance too. I’m talking my photographer only has limited space left for 2021. Nuts. If you’re on the fence about hiring a videographer to save money, PLEASE trust me when I say you will regret it if you don’t. If you have to cut corners and save, pretty please don’t save with the photographer or videographer. Cut corners somewhere else. You will thank me later.
Duh, plan a budget Of course before booking anything, you really need to set a budget. With your fiancé, your parents, and also your in-laws. Weddings cost a ton of money and when you bring in the extra stuff; like the bridal showers and honeymoon, it gets even more expensive. You don’t want any bad surprises, so talk to everyone who you think will be pitching in for the wedding and get a set amount from them, if you can. It may be a little awkward, but you need to know! You don’t want to be in the boat of depending on someone to pay when their answer was “I might give a little, I’ll let you know”. If anything, you want good surprises when it comes to this topic, like someone unexpectedly paying for something.
Wedding Dress Shopping After setting your budget and booking the 3 most important vendors, it is time to start the hunt for your dress. We had a 9 month engagement, and I didn’t go dress shopping until 8 months before. You want to get this date in the books as soon as possible, because you never know how long (or little) it could take. I found my wedding dress at my first appointment, and it was the very first one I tried on. The same thing happened to my sister-in-law, so it happens, but not for everyone! It could take multiple dress shopping days or multiple stores, so you just want plenty of time if that ends up being the case. Also, no shame if it takes you awhile. You want it to be perfect! Before booking your appointments as well, you need to decide who you want to come with. I wanted all of the important family members at mine, so it ended up being me, my mom, my sister, tim’s mom, tim’s two sisters, his grandmother and my god mother. Eight total including me, so once I hit that number I knew I couldn’t bring my bridesmaids with because it would have been about 20 people. My people were firm, so the date had to work for everyone in order for me to go. I didn’t want anyone missing out! Think carefully as to who you bring, as you only want positive spirits there along with people’s opinions you trust.
Makeup Trial + Dress Shopping, same day I booked my makeup trial on the same day as my dress appointments, and it was one of the smartest things I did during wedding planning. I got my makeup done that morning and then went to my appointments. When trying on dresses, I was able to really envision myself with what I was going to look like on the big day. I ended up going with that artist, but not the look I did that day. Regardless though, it was still helpful! Also, I was able to take photos for my blog after dress shopping and put the makeup to good use that way, without feeling like it wasted on just a normal day. It’s a full day, but try to get good use out of it by having/making plans the same night.
The Wedding Party At this point, you should already have your bridesmaids chosen. My process was a little unique in the sense that I got engaged, had my engagement party, and asked my bridal party all on the same day. Mainly people plan their engagement party during this time too, but since mine was planned for me, I didn’t have to worry or plan any of it. If your engagement party is about 3 months after you’re engaged (when it should be if it’s not the day of), definitely start a group chat with your bridesmaids during this time and plan a time to get together before the festivities start. My cousin was smart and had a bridal brunch before her engagement party same day, so that way we were able to be asked with our proposals and all get to know each other a little bit before going to the party. I highly suggest doing that if you can! Especially if they don’t all know each other. This way you can all connect a little better in a more private setting.
Who is in Charge of What Time to assign people jobs! For the bridal shower, honeymoon and bachelorette. Mainly the Maid and/or Matron of Honor should be doing the bachelorette and shower, but if you have a bridesmaid who you want to do something, make sure it is known throughout the group so you avoid drama and everyone knows what their job is. When it comes to the honeymoon, that is for you and your fiancé to decide! Both Tim and I wanted equal parts in planning and choosing where we were going and what we were doing, so that was something fun for us to do together. But definitely make it clear to your bridal party who is doing what, so you don’t place the bad guy mark on the MOH or whoever is planning! Your girls will want to hear it from you—trust me.
Crash and Burn When the hype from your engagement has settled down a little bit, you’ve started planning, maybe your engagement party has happened, you might start to notice yourself…crashing. This happened to me around 3 months after getting engaged. The holidays came and I just stopped planning all together and took a break. This was much needed and also really nice. The hype settled down and I was able to enjoy the holidays and also enjoy my new fiancé and us a couple. This is when the crash sets in. You take your break, enjoy yourself, and then you realize when it’s time to get planning again how much you have to do. What you have left is usually half fun (the bridal showers and bachelorette) and the other half is usually…not fun. Ordering Save the Dates, addresses, making a guest list, deciding who to invite, paying vendors, the little things, and oh—if drama is bound to happen it will usually take place during this time. Soak it ALL up!
Keep it Steady Once you get through the crash and burn stage and you’re up on your feet again, back into planning and working on the hard stuff, make sure you keep your pace steady. One of the things I did that I regret, was I was either running at full speed or at a stand still. I never kept a steady pace and this was what made me overwhelmed. Your energy will creep back in and you will get super excited again, but to avoid crashing and burning for a second time (like I did), make sure you slow your pace and don’t overdo it.
Pre-order Food My mother-in-law gets all the credit for this one and it was so helpful on our wedding day. A few weeks before, we ordered breakfast and lunch for everyone who was getting ready and took their orders. We had food for me, the bridesmaids, the moms, and also the hair and makeup girls. One thing to avoid on your wedding day is being hangry, so by doing this step it keeps you and honestly everyone happy! SO many girls were mentioned how smart it was and how lucky we were to have food, because the day is busy. Can you imagine getting ready and having to place an order for like 15 people? You have enough to worry about already, so plan ahead.
The Big Day
The week is here Oh boy, the week you have been waiting for (which seems like forever) is finally here! My friendly reminder: this is YOUR TIME TO SHINE! All the hard work you’ve done, all the BS you’ve put up with if there was any—it doesn’t matter anymore. It’s your wedding week, and you will NEVER get back this time again. So sit back, take it all in, enjoy every minute and remember to breathe.
Last Minute Details At this point, what’s done is done. One of the best pieces of advice I got was whatever wasn’t done 2 weeks before the wedding, just leave it. You’ve done everything you can and you really do just need to sit back and let it be. You, your mom, your mother-in-law, or other people involved in planning will start to think of little details or things you forgot to do. Instead of stressing out, make a quick choice. Is this something that can easily be done (and I mean VERY easily, like no more than 30 minutes of your time) or will it take a lot of effort? Only you can make this decision and make it wisely. Like I said, what’s done is done and try not to stress.
Re-Confirm With Vendors If they don’t call you, call them! I started calling all of my vendors about 2 weeks before the wedding finalizing everything and making sure that everyone was on the same page. I made sure times were correct and that everyone had the run down of the day. This helped to ease my nerves, and also prevented people from calling me two days, the day before, and the day of the wedding. The only vendors you should be communicating with on your day of (if you have a wedding planner, if you don’t it might be different), is your VPV and planner. Venue, photographer and videographer.
Plan a Pampering Day The day before the wedding, me and all my bridesmaids got our nails done together and then went out to lunch before heading to the hotel to get ready for rehearsal dinner. I highly recommend trying to squeeze this in and prioritizing this, if you can. Having my girls all together and doing an activity that was relaxing really helped ease my nerves and make me calm. If all your bridesmaids aren’t around, or maybe can’t get off work, try going with one or two. However, don’t go with someone who you know is going to be talking about planning the whole time. That stressed me out more because I didn’t want to talk about it, so choose wisely.
Send out the timeline One thing I didn’t do that I wish I did! Send a photo to everyone in the bridal party (groomsman too!) so everyone can refer back to the schedule on their own phone, instead of asking you a million questions. This will get old, fast! Also make sure you check in with your Matron and/or Maid of Honor to make sure you’re on the same page and just kind of check in. They might have questions for you and if there is anything you need to tell someone, tell them now!
Don’t Forget About Your Almost Hubs Important reminder: this entire day is about you, but also your future husband. In the chaos of the rehearsal dinner, girls day, and getting ready, make sure you carve out some time for the two of you. This looks different for everyone, but you want to remember the purpose of this all and why you are having a wedding in the first place. I got to eat dinner with Tim and give him a few hugs and kisses before we went our separate ways. But honestly, I wish we could’ve had at least 5 minutes of alone time or just a conversation before the big day. We got dragged off to getting back to our locations to sleep and then it was time, so I didn’t process it really, but I wish we could have exchanged a few words.
Candid Shots AND Smiling Shots I was so wrapped up in making sure we got all the “must-have” shots. The candid ones, one-on-ones, family, you know—the whole list. So wrapped up that out of all our wedding photos, Tim and I only got one photo of us smiling and looking at the camera. One. So, all though those candid shots are gorgeous, make sure you just get some smiling and standing ones too!
It’s your wedding day…and nothing else matters.
When the day comes, soak it all in. Don’t think about anything other than getting pampered and putting your dream dress on. Think about your husband. Take a look around while you’re getting ready and take in all of the faces you see, your view, and everything around you. When someone asks for a photo or a selfie, take one. Make sure you take one of yourself, too. Hug your bridesmaids, hug your family. Smile big. When you start to notice yourself drifting off, bring yourself back. Be present and make sure you look around. Your vision has come to life, the day is finally here, your community of people is all coming together in one place, and you are taking vows that will last a lifetime. This day will never happen again, and having all of your favorite people in one location will also most likely never happen again. Reflect on everything that brought you to this day, and enjoy every minute. This is just the beginning of a new life together.
Ah, writing this post gives me all the feels. It forced me to go back in time and take myself through the process again. It was nice to relive it and remember the feeling I had on the most perfect day. These are all of the tips that I thought of over a period of time, but if you are a past bride too and think there is something helpful you can add to this list, make sure to comment! I want to keep this updated as time goes on, people have more ideas and as I think of more things.