10 Things I Learned Planning My Own Wedding

I’ve spent the last year planning my wedding. Unfortunately my family is scattered so I didn’t have my parents, maid of honour or one of my bridesmaids around to help. We are now 30 days away and I thought it might be helpful for other brides to share what I learned while planning my wedding.

  1. You know more people than you think. When we first booked the reception venue, we were told we needed a minimum of 100 and an absolute max of 120. That isn’t a whole lot of wiggle room! My family is huge, so I decided to make a cutoff of not inviting cousins. We ended up having about 90 people on the list, and figured we could pay for a couple more plates if needed to reserve the venue. Then I asked my parents for the list and all of a sudden our count was about 175. 175?? Are you kidding me? Who are these people and why have I never met them?? Luckily we were able to compromise and reach a reasonable number.
  2. There is family drama no one tells you about. Apparently even as an adult I’m not privy to the knowledge that there is a spat on my mom’s side so if one of her siblings wants to come, two others won’t. Grow up, kids.
  3. “Tradition” is a complex and sometimes ridiculous thing. Did you know it’s considered rude to tell people where you are registered? Apparently they are supposed to ask your parents where you are registered, but you can’t just tell them. This is silly. We reached a compromise by putting the registry info on our wedding website, then including the website on the invitation. Not everyone knows my mom or how to contact her. Let’s be serious.
  4. At the same time, you don’t need to follow tradition. I’ve always found the garter toss to be creepy. I don’t want his hands up my dress. I don’t want the guy’s grabbing for a thing I’ve been wearing on my thigh all day. So, we decided not to do it. And for that matter, we aren’t doing a bouquet toss either, because gender equality.
  5. Why is everything so expensive?! Most places jack up prices for a wedding. I know someone who booked the venue without calling it a wedding, just saying it was a formal dinner. Well, the venue realized at the last second that it was actually a wedding and made them pay a few thousand dollars more. Which is ridiculous because they would have done the exact same thing for cheaper if there wasn’t a fancy white dress involved.
  6. Costs add up quickly! My budget included everything related to our wedding day. Yes, I counted the calligraphy pen I spent $6 on for our invitations. Yes, I counted the $12 I spend on material to make my garter. Yes, I counted the $10 we spent for a cake tasting before booking our cake. And you would be AMAZED how these little things add huge costs when you include them all together.
  7. A good Excel spreadsheet will save your life. I’m a huge fan of Excel. I like that I can include whatever I want, and it will update sums and the remaining budget with just a few simple formulas. If you aren’t comfortable using Excel, there are tons of free wedding planning spreadsheets out there. Whichever you choose, use it and be thorough. If you are working on a strict budget, you will be amazed how much of a headache it saves you. As a bonus, I added a column for the dates all our payments are due so that we don’t have to pay late fees.
  8. Sometimes weddings bring out the worst in people. My sister is my maid of honour, and we had HUGE issues. Apparently purple is her colour and I wasn’t allowed to use it. (What. You don’t own the colour. And no one cares if we use the same colour. You aren’t even engaged.) And then there’s the shoes… she bought shoes in the wrong colour and now has told me she’s wearing them and it doesn’t matter what I think. Are you kidding me. It’s not even the shoes that bother me, it’s the fact that she doesn’t care how her decision makes me feel.
  9. But, weddings also bring out the best in people. I can’t count how many lovely well-wishes I’ve gotten. And the generosity oh my goodness! My groom’s parents told us that they would pay for the entire reception, whatever it cost, so don’t even worry about it. They just wanted to make sure our day is perfect.  They are far too nice to me. I also decided to invite the group of girls I have been taking dance classes with for the last 3 years, and some of them were so touched to be invited. It makes me feel good to be able to say hey, you’re important in my life, and even though we don’t hang out I look forward to seeing you every week and I want you to be a part of my special day.
  10. Despite other people’s input, ultimately it is your day. Make it the way you want it. People have good intentions. This would be a more complimentary colour pallet. You should serve this food instead, people will prefer it. You can’t take pictures at a waterfall your dress will get dirty before the reception (ok that was a good point). Despite it all, it is your day. No one is going to be at your wedding going “she really should have picked the other dress”. What seems like a huge issue now probably no one will even notice. Make decisions, stay true to yourself, and trust that even if everything is a huge disaster, at the end of the day you are still married to the person you love. And isn’t that what it’s all about?

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About janinerussell

The transition to adulthood; reflecting on the past to create a better future.

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