Hello lovelies! Sorry, I have a pretty dull blog post planned for today, but hey, at least its a post, right?
Anyway, I wanted to share some things I've learned about planning a wedding. Some things to look out for, and pay attention to. For some of you, this might be utterly boring and non applicable. In which case, simply close on out of the page and find something fantastic, like how to make spinach artichoke dip on Pinterest. Or you could skim your way through and keep the information tucked away for future reference. Or maybe even read it and enjoy it. Your call.
#1. First things first, the dress. Those things can take awhile to come in if you don't get one straight off the rack. I've had friends fret and worry that their dress wouldn't arrive in time for the big day. Trust me, you don't want to be in that boat. As soon as you've got a ring on your finger, get your girls together and take off on a road trip. First I researched the bridal shops in the town we were going to. I browsed through the collections they had online and narrowed down if they even had any that I liked that were in my price range. That helped narrow down the search. I booked an appointment with the largest store, but not the others. I know they say they don't like walk in's, but they will help you out even if you do show up unannounced, and it freed up my day. I was able to browse as long as I wanted in the first shop without having to worry about getting to the next appointment. Definitely take people with you who are supportive, but who know you, and are willing to tell you when you look like an idiot. You wont be able to think rationally when you're trying on dresses, and you don't want to take their word from kindhearted friends who tell you this looks fantastic.
Another thing, relax. They have dresses for all shapes and sizes that are made to look fantastic on you! You will not be stuck with a blah dress just because you're curvy, or short, or flat, or seven foot tall with antennas. Take your time. Have someone take pictures and let you look at them from all different angles. Take your shoes with you. Don't write a dress off because it looks plain on the hanger. Ask your helper about adding a belt or flower to it. They have tons just laying around that can show you how the dress would look jazzed up. Don't panic if you don't find one right away. We found my dress at the third store we went to.
#2. Bridesmaid dresses are tricky because there are so many options. It's especially hard if you can't get all your bridesmaids together in one place to try them on. Some girls like short dresses with no sleeves, and others want floor length with sleeves. They all say they will be happy to wear whatever you like, but you want them to be happy and comfortable. red bridesmaid dresses, or short red dresses. Anything that even remotely resembled the idea I had. We found some we liked, and ordered like six at a time in sized that would fit my two sisters, since they represent the body types of my other two bridesmaids. My mom also upgraded to Amazon prime for the months leading up to the wedding. That way we could send everything we didn't like back for free shipping. It saved us a ton of money. We ordered three batches of dresses before we found the perfect ones, but they are exactly like I pictured, the girls like them, and they were way cheaper than similar dresses at the bridal shops.
#3. The guys. If you want anything done at all with the groomsmen, do it yourself. Your sweetie just wont do it. It's not that he doesn't want to get married. He's not dragging his feet. He doesn't think your ideas are stupid. He just doesn't understand the urgency of the situation. It's those glass half empty or full type scenarios. You're looking at the calendar thinking we only have two months left and he's looking at it thinking man we still have two whole months left. My first plan was to take all the guys shopping and have them try on shirts and vests and such, but they're farmers and ranchers and college kids and no one has time for a trip to the mall. So I went to a little store here in town and set up an account to rent all that stuff. Jarod and I were able to pick the colors and styles of each piece of clothing we wanted. I poked and prodded Jarod into telling the first two to go get measured, then I texted the others with his phone just so I knew it was done. In a few weeks I'll check in with the shop and see if any of them have done it yet. I'll probably have to call them at least six more times. Possibly skip them and go to the girlfriends, wives, and mothers involved. We kept our budget in mind, even though the groomsmen are paying for their own outfits. There's no need to go crazy. A suit is a suit. The $400 ones look exactly the same as the $75 ones, when you get right down to it. Don't stress the details. Jarod wants a red bow tie. I let him get one. My mom is appalled. Do I think it will look silly? Yeah, probably, because he doesn't wear ties, let alone bow ties. Is it his wedding too? Yes. So will I argue the tie? No. It's not worth it. The guys prefer boots and jeans over dress pants and shoes. Hallelujah. I've never seen a weirder sight than Jarod in dress pants. Mom's and grandmothers, and people like that will freak out at you for things like that, but you can't sweat the small stuff. Guys are going to be uncomfortable anyway, there is no reason to torture them. Remember it's your honey's wedding too. He has a say in things. Does that mean camo tuxedo's are an option? Not a chance.
#4. Touchy subjects. Depending on your families beliefs, and what kind of church you grew up in, things like dances and alcohol will be touchy subjects. To a certain extent, its your wedding. Do what you want. But bear in mind, God does have standards on some things, and wants us to follow his commands. So do what you want, as long as it coincides with what God wants. For us, not having alcohol at our wedding was a no nobrainer. We've both seen first hand the problems that it can cause, and it was never a question of it we were going to have drinks at our reception or not. We know people will think we've gone bloody mad, and that's alright. It is better to obey God than men. We're hoping that the people in attendance love and respect us enough to endure the lack of brew for the duration of a couple hours. Jarod was impartial to a dance, because he's not much of a dancer, but I wanted one. I'm sentimental. I've had my father daughter dance song picked since I was like, eight. (It's Cinderella be Steven Curtis Chapman, by the way) But, having talked to our pastor, and a deacon, we realized that while we can't find any biblical evidence that dancing is a sin (quite the contrary actually), the Bible does say that if you do something knowing that other people think of it as sin, it counts as a sin against you, for causing your brother or sister in Christ to feel like they are partaking in something sinful. Since our church has always taken a stand against dancing, we realized that to have a dance would be to cause our family in Christ to stumble, even if we planned to have a dance that didn't involve trashy music, and things that were obviously wrong.I was disappointed, but my day will not be less special because I didn't trip all over my feet and stumble through a few dances. People who believe differently than us are going to doubly think we've lost our heads, but that's alright. Sometimes a person just needs to brush off the scoffing and move on.
#5. Book a site. Our wedding is outside, so we had to locate a spot and talk to the owner right away. We also booked a reception/indoor option in case of thunderstorms site. You want to do this as soon as possible, especially if you're getting married in the spring or summer, when its wedding season and all those halls will be booked on the weekends. We looked at places that would have enough space for the number of guests we are inviting, had air conditioning since it's going to be July, had room for reception activities such as dances if we were to have one. Our location also comes with an easy to run sound system, a fully functional kitchen, multiple bathrooms, and a fairly large side room where we can store all the necessary gear where its not an eye sore.
#6. Who is doing the wedding? Find that out right away. We discovered our pastor isn't actually ordained and can't do a wedding. Luckily, he should be licensed by the time July gets here, but if we hadn't known that ahead of time we would have been in a mess, because we don't have anyone else to do it.
#7. Get a guest list down fast. Don't worry about the addresses right away if that's too hard, but get a number down. You order invites long before you send them out. You need to have enough. You need to plan for seating, and parking, and food. Get a number. And get the addresses fast as you can after that. When it comes to who to invite? It's tricky. Some people you just don't want to come. But through family connections and such, you feel obligated to invite them. You have the right to say no, hit the road. We opted to invite them and hope they don't come. If relations are that strained with a person, they probably wont come anyway, but at least they wont be able to run around and tell people how rude you were to not send them an invitation. If your sweetheart is inviting people you don't exactly like- good news! There will be other people there. You don't have to spend much more than maybe two minutes with anyone if you don't want to. You'll be busy and can go do other things for the few hours it takes before you can leave and get away altogether. Anyone who respects you will be able to get along with everyone long enough for a wedding.
#8. Photography. Seems like everywhere I turn, pictures are the most expensive part of the wedding. When I started looking I was floored how many thousands of dollars pictures were going to cost me. I wasn't going to do it. I'd have Minion 1 take our pictures before I went broke on a professional photographer. So what did I do? I stalked. Get on Facebook and check out the albums of people you know who got married recently. Look at their pictures. Find out who took them. Who took the cute pictures of the toddler who lives a few blocks away. Find out if that person takes engagement pictures too. I ended up finding a girl I actually used to know when I was a toddler (small world, right?). She took my co-workers engagement pictures. She's not a pro. She takes pictures on the side. But she does good work, and she charges way less than anyone else I found. Lots of times non pro's will give you a bundle price too. Since she is taking all of our pictures, engagement through reception, she gave us a little less than if she were taking two separate sessions.
#9. Do it yourself, but don't bury yourself.
#10. When people offer to help, do not turn them down. I had a rule going in that I would not seek people out and ask them to serve food, and pour punch and stuff like that. I didn't want the people I care about feeling like they were just cheap help, and have to work all day instead of mingling and enjoying the fun. But I've had people come out of the woodwork offering to help. One lady as soon as she found out I was getting married and wasn't catering in, begged to help serve food. She's catered several weddings and enjoys it and wants to help. Of course I said yes. Don't rob people's joy, and stress yourself out by turning people down.
#11. Back to the dress. If at all possible, find a dress that already fits. If you do have to get some alterations done, don't have the wedding shop do it, if at all possible. If you know someone who alters all the towns prom dresses, ask them. They're way cheaper, and they do just as good.
#12. Do your research on anything you buy. My friend got her invitations at Walmart because they were inexpensive and she was still able to put photos on them and make them look really nice. My first instinct was that Walmart would be the cheapest option. Turns out my mom had Vistaprint make her some business cards a while back, and they're invitations are way prettier, and almost fifty cents cheaper than walmart. Google is your friend.
#13. Pinterest is also your friend. Get ideas. Print them out. Take them to the store and compare. Find stuff that looks similar. Find ways to make stuff. It's so helpful to be able to have all that information together in one place. My mom started a wedding folder with scraps of the fabric in it for color references and such. Great idea. It's lost. Can't find it. My Pinterest board is still in the same place.
#14. Make it you. If you want book quotes all over, do it. If you want to play a scene from princess bride during the ceremony, do so. Don't think you have to follow the exact pattern for a traditional wedding ceremony. You don't have to at all. Some people might think your ideas are silly, but if you like it, that is all that matters. It is your day, not theirs. They can decorate their wedding however they want. I was informed that red and black are not summer colors. Do I care? No. Red and black are our colors. That is what we like. Doesn't matter one bit to me what season it is. I love books. Book quotes are going to be in the decorations, and hopefully we're using a book to carry the rings down the isle. Tweak little things so that when people look around they say "Oh my gosh, that is so them". Toast with old fashioned Mountain Dew bottles. Do it. You can.
If you want colored lams....I suppose you can do that too...
#15. Start planning a honeymoon. Are you going right away after? Are you waiting? Are you going all out, or just doing something small? Originally, me and Jarod wanted to take off right away and go to Alaska. Turns out, July is the most expensive month to go there. We considered waiting a year or so and saving up enough, but we knew that with our jobs it wasn't likely we'd be able to just randomly take off down the road. People let you leave right after your wedding. It's a little harder to get a few years later. We also knew we want to have kids in the relatively near future, and we didn't want to end up not going on a honeymoon because pregnant ladies don't feel like traveling, and don't even think about taking an infant to Alaska. So we looked closer to home. And we've found several places all within driving distance of each other, that are several hours travel away from where we live now, that will be a completely new, out of the way, fun place to go. Much cheaper, and still buckets of fun. I've already got that week taken off from work.
Which leads us to #16. You can never be too early for anything. If he hasn't given you a ring, and you're planning what kind of cake to buy, yeah that might be a bit early. But if you have the ring, and you said yes, plan everything. It's way easier to plan stuff right away than it is to wait. Yeah, the checklists say wait till two months out to do this, four weeks to do that, etc. I kind of look at those as saying Don't Do It Any Later Than This. You can get everything ready ahead of time if you want. That way, when it's six weeks out and time to send out invitations, you just drop them in the mail and wave. No stress. No hurry. Don't think it's too soon to start planning for anything. If you don't buy it right away, at least know what you're buying, where it is, and how much it will cost.
#17. Have fun. Don't turn into a bridezilla. Don't put so much effort into planning the perfect wedding that you make your fiance scared to have even asked. Don't let details like chair pick up turn you into a beast that he needs to hide from. The day will be what you make it. If you're panicked and stressed and nit picking, no one will have any fun. Especially not you. And you want to have fun. You want it to be the best day of your life. Not the day you spazzed at everyone you love in front of everyone you knew and went home sick to your stomach with a splitting headache. We don't want those kind of memories.