When I got married back in 2017, I shared my whole wedding planning experience and recently I had the chance to speak to a group of brides at my Erin Condren Wedding Workshop. I realized there were so many good tidbits I never shared, I thought I would put a brief recap together of what I talked about for a wedding planning 101.
Before we get into it, as a bride I know it’s stressful and sometimes you just want to talk to someone, please think of me as your friend! I answer every DM and every email! Feel free to shoot me a note with questions, comments, or venting! I am here to help you!!
Wedding Planning Challenges
During my wedding planning process, I had three major challenges that caused me a lot of stress and a lot of tears.
The first and constant challenge throughout my entire engagement was budget. This is something every bride struggles with no matter how big your budget is. There’s always last minute things or surprise fees you didn’t know were coming.
Secondly, I am a control freak! I was very worried about the day of the wedding. I was worried I was going to walk down the aisle and look out on something completely different than I had envisioned. The day of I had several walkthroughs during set up to ensure everything was looking the way I had imagined since I couldn’t be hands-on setting it up myself.
Lastly, girl drama! (insert eye roll emoji) Of course, when you get a lot of girl’s together with stress and emotions there is going to be drama. Something I never really opened up about was firing my maid of honor. I initially had asked a friend to be my maid of honor, throughout the wedding planning process she showed to be unsupportive and selfish and I did not want to have someone like that near me on my big day.
I ended up promoting my sister to the maid of honor which I should have asked her all along (read more about why your sister should be your maid of honor here). I also was now down a person and had two very best friends that I had not initially asked because I couldn’t ask one without the other. I immediately called them and apologized for not asking them in the first place and ask them to join me as bridesmaids, and because they are the very best friends I could ever ask for they said yes without even skipping a beat.
Wedding Planning 101
You’re engaged now what? Each wedding is different and depending on how long you’ll be engaged each wedding planning process is different. Take everything you read and see with a grain of salt and as a suggestion. Do what is right for you and your groom.
Start with the big picture planning and prioritizing. How do you envision the day? Do you see hundreds of people there or just a select few?
My biggest advice to brides is to pick 3 non-negotiables. These are things that are must haves and won’t be compromised on. Jared and I decided the venue, my dress, and the photographer were absolute non-negotiables. This helps put everything else into perspective, so you won’t spend time stressing about linens, or lighting, music, etc.
You are going to encounter opinions along the way that you don’t agree with, but remember who this day is for! My ex-maid of honor said to me “I don’t understand why you are making this day all about you…” Of course, this day IS about YOU and YOUR groom and it’s on your penny! No one else’s opinion matters!
Resources (even mine) are a guideline and a starting point. Along with opinions, it’s very easy to get sucked into the comparison game. GET OFF PINTEREST! So many things you see on Pinterest are fake (read more about styled shoots and fake weddings here). Once you have an idea of where your heading run with it and put blinders on.
Once you’ve got the big picture, it’s time to pick a theme. Read more about picking a theme and color scheme here!
Ok, now on to budget. Remember your non-negotiables and weight what matters. Check out this awesome cost estimator tool here to help ensure you are getting a fair price.
Approximate your guest list based on budget and don’t be afraid to trim.
A few ways we cut costs was by not having kids, not having alcohol and substituting alternative flowers. For example, garden roses look almost identical to peonies for half the price!
Dates & guest lists determine the quantity, vendor availability, what flowers are in season, venues may have peak season pricing, travel plans for guests, etc.
DIY options are also a way to trim the budget. I did minimal DIY options, but my in-laws made our cross altar, our photo booth backdrop and my sister helped with calligraphy. I also bought a bunch of cheap gold frames from the dollar store and printed seating assignments out and put them in the frames.
Find a space suitable for your vision and time of year and set the date! There a lot of things to consider when picking a date like holidays, birthdays, football games…if you live in the south. Read some more tips and tricks about setting a date here.
Don’t forget to weigh costs on what’s included in your rental like clean up, tables and chairs, lighting, microphones, etc.
Selecting your vendors is hard and I HIGHLY recommend reading reviews, asking other vendors who they recommend and enjoy working with and meeting them in person.
One of my biggest regrets was our DJ, we didn’t spend enough time with her and she ended up totally killing the vibe of our wedding. Her humor didn’t match ours and she didn’t understand our aesthetic or music taste.
Don’t be afraid to negotiate or say no to vendors. Once you have decided to choose your vendor make sure to let the other candidates know by sending them a simple email. Don’t take it to person, you aren’t hurting their feelings, it’s business and they understand.
If you have a wedding coordinator they should do this for you, but if not make sure you send reminder emails 6,4, and 1 week to your vendors before the wedding. The last thing you want is a vendor forgetting about your wedding.
I also recommend setting up a separate email address for all things wedding related. This way things won’t get lost and you don’t have to worry about it once the wedding is over!
The BIG Day!
Do your best to be a stress-free bride by prepping everything you can ahead of time. Create a timeline for all parties involved (vendors, bridal party, family) so everyone knows when to be where. Like I mentioned I am a control freak, so after our rehearsal dinner, me and my girls had a sleepover at one of the girl’s house. This was so fun and memorable but also helped me know everyone going to be on time because they were with me.
Have a day of point of contact (MOH, day of coordinator hired or provided by the venue). I also highly recommend getting a day of coordinator or month of coordinator to handle everything and minimize hurt feelings.
ENJOY! Be present, use a hashtag for guests to share, use your vendors to capture memories for you while you enjoy the moment and schedule alone time with your groom. (Read 10 things I am glad I did on my wedding day here.)
Happily Ever After
You did it! Blue skies ahead and hopefully sandy beaches. Try to write thank you cards as you go, so you can keep it minimal when you return from your honeymoon.
My 2 biggest pieces of advice for your honeymoon is taking a day between your wedding and when you leave and keeping a travel journal.
By taking a day between this will help minimize SO much stress. You can enjoy brunch, drop off your dress, grab your bags, do any last minute things you forgot. LOL funny story! We got married on April 8 and planned a week-long vacation. Something we didn’t think about tax day being April 15th, so the day after our wedding Jared and I sat with my dad in our hotel lobby doing Turbotax on my computer. LOL! I am SO glad we had a day in between!
Keeping a travel journal is something I wish I would have done. Sure, I have the photos, but I wish I could go back and read my feelings.
I hope this is helpful! Wedding planning is supposed to be fun, so take a breath and enjoy it!
Again, I am here to serve you! If you want to talk or ask me ANYTHING! Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or shoot me a DM on Instagram @thriftypineapple!
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Photos by Victoria Trevino Photography