As someone who attends A LOT of weddings I’m starting to feel like a bit of an authority on what is realistic to expect from your big day. There are lots of different styles and ways to celebrate your new commitment and life together, but those differences don’t stop certain inevitable truths from rearing their sometimes ugly heads. I’m actually not very good at writing intros, so I’m just going to get to my 5 helpful wedding planning tips… hopefully they’ll save you some headache and grief.

1. Have a honest conversation with your partner about what is most important to you for your upcoming wedding. This is really important to do early. It will determine a lot about where you focus your time, efforts, helpers, and money. Odds are that your partner thinks that their priorities are standard, obvious to you, or the same as yours …so talk about it early to avoid awkward moments later. Once you’ve established what’s most important to you as individuals you can start to work on what is most important to you as a couple and where you’re willing to compromise if you disagree. Maybe it’s really important to the groom that he not see the bride before the wedding (he’s just old fashioned that way), or perhaps it’s important that all the out-of-state family can come without worrying about paying for hotel rooms. After you’ve really decided what’s important to you as a couple, try to stick to 5 really important things – more than that is too overwhelming, you’ll have an easier time asking friends and family for help and…

two grooms who DIY planned their entire wedding on the oregon coast

2. Have clear boundaries with friends and (especially) family on wedding planning decisions. There’s nothing worse for a couple than watching, helplessly, as someone else takes over planning their wedding in a way that doesn’t meet their priorities, values, or budget. Family members often think that they have an equal say in decision making, especially if they’re contributing financially, but when ideas start to conflict it’s ultimately up to the couple to decide what to do. This can put the couple in a very bad place during an already stressful time, particularly if the conflicts are coming from both sides of the families. It is also important to be prepared to decline help or financial assistance if you suspect it will cause trouble for you down the road. Need more help with this one? Try some of the advice on Off-Beat Bride.

head table settings with drinks, name tags, and center pieces with apple trees at lawn reception

3. Choose your wedding party carefully. This one is very difficult, but the guys and gals you choose for your wedding party can make or break your wedding day experience. I actually think this is one of the more important decisions you’ll make. Just because you’ve been BFFs since you were 6 doesn’t mean that someone is available or capable of being a good Maid of Honor (MOH)/Bridesmaid or Best Man/Groomsman. Your MOH and Best Man have actual responsibilities for your pre-wedding and wedding day. Your MOH is responsible for holding your partner’s ring, hosting (that includes paying for stuff) your bridal shower/bachelorette party, giving a heart felt toast during your reception, and basically being your right-hand lady that WHOLE DAY. The Best Man is responsible for the same respective duties in addition to having a pocket full of checks to pay your vendors. You entire wedding party is responsible for purchasing their clothes (rentals?), shoes, hair, and make-up; helping you put together invitations/party favors/programs, they need to be able to stand during your service without suffering from Grumpy Resting Face, they need to be first on and last off the dance floor, no drama/too much drinking/inappropriate behavior (keep it Grandma friendly), and most importantly they need to be able to afford to do all these things.  A not-so-awesome wedding party will sew chaos… While a good wedding party will help you create some of the strongest bonds and best memories from your wedding day.


happy wedding party at marylhurst university during formal portraits in february

4. Hire Professionals & Do Your Research. Call me crazy, but there are people out there who PROFESSIONALLY do all the things you need done for your wedding day. Planning/Coordination, Catering, Bartending, Photographer (wink), Videographer, Florists, DJ/MC, Graphic Designers/Paper Goods, Seamstresses/Tailors, Hair & Make-up Artists, Bakery/Cake, Officiant… really the list goes on and on. A professional knows what they’re doing and doesn’t need to you to do their job for them – that didn’t sound right. …What I meant to say is that a pro doesn’t need a babysitter. You can trust them to do a GREAT job at what you hired them for, act professionally, and follow through with you. We all understand that budgets are budgets and that there isn’t always the funds to hire everyone you’d like to, this is where tip #1 comes in. If it’s important to you that your day goes smoothly and that people aren’t coming up to you with questions all day then it would be a very good idea to hire a planner/coordinator. Most of them offer day-of service if you can only afford for them to be there on your actual wedding day and trust me they are totally worth it! There are lots of ways to cut costs when planning your wedding, but please remember that there are always consequences. Sometimes you’re fine with the consequences, others not so much. Lastly, just because you could do something on your own doesn’t mean it’s worth the time, hassle, and money that it will cost you.

custom sparkly cupcakes with small round wedding cakes at small english garden style wedding

5. Plan a “Slow Wedding”. This is more of a two-parter. The number one complaint that I hear from newly weds is that the day went by so quickly that they didn’t get a chance to take it all in. The concept of a “Slow Wedding” is based on the Slow Food movement. The Slow Food movement brought focus to the means in which we produce food, it’s quality, textures, and tastes. It focuses on food as pleasure, food as a central part of our lives, food as quality not as quantity. Similarly a Slow Wedding focuses on a few key elements that are, once again, most important to you. Plan for and manage those elements well and REALLY enjoy your day. Two specific things that I feel help this taking care of your group photography before your service and have some private time for just yourselves immediately after your service. Getting the bulk of your formal portraits handled before your service is nice because everyone is fresh, excited, cooperative, and there are fewer people around to distract from the task at hand. Having some private time immediately after your service gives YOU, the couple, time to just be together. It’s also a good time to eat, use the bathroom, and breathe. I also believe that Unplugged Weddings are in the same spirit as Slow Weddings. Encouraging your guests to put away their phones and cameras to be with you, especially during your service, completely changes the feel of your day. It’s more personal, more present, and more polite.

beautiful bride and groom after their slow wedding ceremony had time for portraits on the beach

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