Well, wedding season is finally upon us. This is secretly my favorite time of the year. Out of all the pictures people post on Facebook, wedding pictures are my favorite to stalk! As many of you know, I got married last summer and spent the entire year leading up to my wedding in intense planning mode. I graduated college and quit my bullshit job as a salon receptionist all within the same month. From then til August I did not have the mental capacity to think of anything else other than my wedding. I was not quite a Bridezilla, but now, looking back on it, I should have been.
There are a few tips I want to pass along to future brides to make sure they avoid the blunders I encountered leading up to my big day. I had every single wedding magazine you could possibly imagine and the pages in each one were basically ripped and worn out by the amount of times I flipped through them. I studied these magazines like they were my college text books. (Ok, let’s be honest, I don’t think I ever even owned a college text book, but you know what I mean). I was certain that if I memorized the advice the wedding gurus had been dishing out in these magazines, nothing would go wrong on my big day. Boy oh boy, how wrong I was! Things are going to go wrong no matter what you do. The key is to not let them ruin your big day.
Let’s start from the very beginning; choosing your bridal party.
Your bridal party should be made of the people you love more than anything in the world, and who, more importantly, love you more than anything in the entire world. These women need to be happy for you and truly want to take part in what is going to be the happiest day in your life. Right off the bat, if you ask someone to be in your wedding and they don’t seem excited for the opportunity, they literally are not excited. People like this view being in your wedding as a chore and just another stupid thing to waste money on. And to be honest, they probably are not happy for you. Anyone like this is going to be toxic to your wedding. They need to get the axe asap. They could be one of your oldest friends, but if they’re not happy for you, why do you want them there? They’re going to bring you down on your day and that is the last thing you need. Next up, the bridesmaid who thinks this is her wedding day. That bridesmaid needs to be put in her place right away. She doesn’t look good in blue, short dresses make her legs look fat, her hair looks better down because she has big ears, we can’t have your bridal shower on this day because I’m going to a Lady Gaga concert. Whatever it is, stop it in its tracks. You let that person get away with one thing and they’ll get away with everything. Remember, this is YOUR day. Simply tell your bridesmaid she can wear whatever she wants on HER day. If she doesn’t like it, tell her she can wear whatever she wants as a guest of your wedding and be done with it. Thankfully I didn’t have any divas in my bridal party but I have heard horror stories and that’s how I would handle it. Also, there is no rule that your bridal party needs to be best friends with each other. BUT, they do have to get along for the sake of the bride’s sanity. There is nothing worse, being a bride, than getting a million phone calls from each one of your bridesmaids complaining about the other. It’s not like you’re going to be stuck on an island with these girls for the rest of your lives. My rule of thumb for any bridal party is this; the maid of honor will know what the bride wants and what is in the bride’s best interest. Think about it, she’s the maid of honor and she’s clearly been chosen for that position for a reason. At some point, showers and bachelorette parties become about the bridesmaids and what is easiest and most convenient for them. Somewhere along the line the bride kind of becomes forgotten about. So as a bride, just keep your MOH by your side and just keep telling her what you want. She’ll make it happen. And if your bridesmaids have a problem with that, well, you know what to tell them.
Ok, next stop… vendors.
This one may seriously be the most important to pay attention to, because if these people screw up it could really suck all of the fun and excitement out of your day. My mom owns her own newspaper, The Link News, and because of that she knows a lot of people and has a lot of good contacts. She was able to work some things out with a few friends of hers and save us some money on a few things. In certain aspects, this can be a great thing. Just make sure you’re cutting the right corners. Her friend was able to get us a deal with our wedding invitations, and that worked out perfectly. Our invitations were one of my favorite things about my wedding! They were simply stunning. We also used some of her connections for our wedding favors. Since we got married at the beach we thought it would be cute to give out beach towels with our names and wedding date embroidered on them to all of our guests, and for the men, golf towels. My mom’s friend Howard pretty much took care of those for us, and he did a great job. Everyone loved the towels. Actually, our guests liked them so much there were none left over for me to use. Matt and I also had our reception at Branches Catering, which was originally Squires Pub, where my parents got married. They did an amazing job with our wedding! As far as I was concerned, everything went off without a hitch because I had such great wedding planners who took care of everything for me. Unfortunately, I wasn’t this lucky with every vendor we used. My number one suggestion is make sure you are 100% completely comfortable with every vendor you are going to use. If there is any doubt that they might not be the best fit for you and your wedding, do not use them! The one thing I kept seeing over and over in wedding magazines was the suggestion to ask your florist for pictures of weddings they’ve worked on in the past. My florist ended up being someone who advertised with my mom, and who was supposedly going to give us a great deal. On my first meeting I asked them for pictures and would you believe they responded with, “oh we don’t do that here; it’s a waste of time.” Now I know they don’t do it because they don’t want any evidence left behind! I sucked it up because it was a friend of my mother’s and we were on a tight budget. How badly could they really mess flowers up anyway? Well, the answer is a lot. I brought in a picture of the bouquet I wanted for myself along with a very detailed description and the exact name of every flower. They asked me if I wanted a throw away bouquet for the reception, I said, of course! (I love all that cheesy wedding cliché stuff). At our ceremony we had two mini pillars at the corners of the stage with big beautiful cascading bouquets on top of them. At our reception, they were supposed to be the centerpieces on my parent’s table and Matt’s parent’s table and an employee from the flower shop was supposed to transport them to Branches themselves. Well, come my wedding day, my bouquet looked NOTHING like the picture, pretty as it was, I was not provided with a throw away bouquet (that yes, I did pay for) and the two beautiful bouquets from the beach, well they never made it to the reception. So at my reception, we were two center pieces short. This is not a post about me bitching, it’s just for me to convey to all of my readers how very important it is to form a good relationship with your vendor ahead of time. I had a gut feeling about this mom and pop flower shop, and I truly wish I followed my instincts. Looking back on my wedding day, I was most upset about the flowers and the limos…or should I say buses? Another one of my mom’s friends. The owner of this limo company was a good guy with good intentions, but he had a really small selection of “limos” to choose from. I had a gigantic bridal party and really had my heart set on a party bus for everyone to relax in while we weren’t in the spot light. The ride from the beach to the reception site was only a few minutes so a big party bus seemed like a waste of money. We opted for a bus…it was supposed to be like a party bus, but it was literally just a bus. Nice and fancy on the outside, but on the inside it had standard bus seating. It sucked. Everyone had to sit in twos and there was no champagne or anything flowing in celebration of our wedding. Oh, and our bus driver got lost on the way to the reception. That was fantastic. I did not like this guy from the start each other. So again, the most important thing to do is form a good relationship with your vendors before you decide to do business with them. Ask for pictures; ask to take a ride on their limos, or buses. Just ask for as much in advance as you can to get a good idea of the people and business you’re working with. Even if they’re willing to knock 20% off a price, if you don’t feel comfortable with them, it’s just not worth it.
Those were the two main things that really bugged me even after my wedding was over, my two main regrets if you will. There were other things that went that day… there were people fighting with each other, some people weren’t on the seating chart and had nowhere to sit, there were some token drunk guests, you name it, it went wrong. But thanks to much wonderful wedding planners at Branches, I literally had no idea. They took care of everything! Every guest had a place to sit, every table had a beautiful centerpiece, they even asked Matt and I what our favorite drinks were ahead of time so there was always one waiting for us. They are truly fantastic at what they do, and the food, oh my god. To die for. Oh and did I mention we had an amazing DJ as well? Marcus, from Simply Professional DJ’s, everyone should use him. And he was also a friend of the family. OH MY GOD, I almost forgot about the second most important thing!! (The first, I’ll get to in a minute). The photographer! Make sure you love them too. The pictures (and video) you have will be your memories of that day for the rest of your life. You don’t want your wedding pictures to look like some JC Penny family photo. Your wedding pictures should literally take your breath away, and mine did! Our photographers, Darren and Nino, were the absolute best there is! And yup, they’re actually family, not just family friends! After I saw my wedding pictures I told Darren over and over again I would have literally paid thousands of dollars for the work he did. Below is my absolute favorite picture they captured from our wedding day. At the end of the night the people at Branches surprised us by opening up an entire room that was filled with the most amazing desserts. The took Matt and I and our families in separately before it opened to our guests. In the middle of the room there was a big screen TV playing a slide show of photos from our wedding. When we first walked in, this picture was up on the screen. At first I thought, well that’s an amazing picture, but why are they showing someone else’s wedding pictures at my wedding? And then I took a closer look and I literally gasped, out loud. It was me! Everyone just stood there in silence for a minute and stared at this picture up on the screen in awe. I had never seen anything quite like it. Matt and I had the picture turned into a huge portrait that now hangs up in our living room. Like I said, you’ll have those pictures for the rest of your life. Make sure they’re worth looking at. The one below is too small to really get that WOW effect, but imagine it on a larger than life screen.
In the end, all I can tell people is to feel comfortable with every decision you make. That thing they say about finding the perfect wedding dress, when you try it on you’ll know it’s the one… that is 100% true. You won’t believe it until it actually happens to you, that moment where you see yourself in the mirror for the first time and you’re like, wow, I look good, this is the dress I have to wear! It’s not like Big Foot or Unicorns, that moment really does exist. And when you find that dress, and you know it’s the one, don’t let anyone else try to talk to you out of it. If your Grandmother doesn’t like it because you can see the tattoo that covers your back, tough. She’ll get over it when she sees you walking down the aisle. If you can’t afford the dress, cut corners somewhere else. I would have given up flowers in general to be able to wear the dress I wore on my wedding day, or even the DJ. I would consider hooking an iPod up to big speakers if it meant getting to wear that dress. Another great money saving tip is to get the sample dress. It cuts about 50% off the price. It’s usually a size 10 or something crazy like that, which will require more fittings and alterations, but you will still end up saving a bundle on it in the end. Like I said, cut corners somewhere else, not on your dress. My dress was the single most important thing to me on that day, and my favorite thing about my wedding (besides, ya know, the whole getting married to my best friend thing).
Weddings are stressful enough as it is. But had I done some of these things from the beginning I think it would have saved me a lot of head ache in the end. I hope these tips end up helping another bride out before she ends up calling the whole thing off. I’m not the most organized or focused person in the world so a blog like this probably would have been somewhat helpful. There’s so much more I want to touch on, but these are the key things that stick out in my mind. Overall, surround yourself with people who love you and your husband-to-be. Nothing but good vibes leading up to and on your big day! Cut out all of the negativity ahead of time, and most importantly, just enjoy yourself! This is supposed to be the happiest day of your life, remember that! Don’t sweat the small stuff. As long as none of your guests get drunk and set your reception site on fire you should be good to go.