Planning a wedding is not easy! When you first begin planning a wedding, there are so many forks in the road, a multitude of decisions to make, and so many ways to go astray. At this amazing and crazy time in your life, take a minute to step back, relax and organize your thoughts. Get a grip on the project you have just undertaken, follow some seemingly simple steps, and planning a wedding can be a wonderful and memorable experience.
Establish a budget, stick to it and don’t deviate.
This is often a neglected characteristic of planning a wedding. It is essential to get your budget in order before making any financial decisions. Too often, many couples book a reception location or a wedding day professionals without solid financials in hand, only to find out they have overspent and are now bound by a contract.
Big tip: Use a number for the budget that is 10-15% less than what you actually plan on spending, so you essentially have a buffer when additional expenses arise, because they will. The great thing is that if you don’t use your entire buffer, you will have some extra spending money for your honeymoon.
Hire Wedding Professionals.
When your best friends second cousin volunteers to do be your wedding photographer, and promises a nice discount, it might be tempting to take advantage of the offer. However, a big word of caution in hiring friends and some cases family can often backfire. Expectations may not be met on the wedding day and friendships can become estranged. Additionally, these friends may not have all the necessary experience or equipment to complete the task effectively. You should hire wedding professionals for their experience, expertise, and resources. True professionals will assist in making your day hassle free. You hire them, you can direct them, and the relationship is not personal.
Compare apples to apples, not apples to oranges
Many times, when a couple begins a search for a reception location or for wedding vendors, they simply compares prices, not services or characteristics of the services. It is rare that you will find two locations offering the exact same package, one or two videographers that offer the same quality of service (time and style) and amount of product (prints and albums). You need to carefully evaluate each aspect of the potential venue or vendor. What seems too expensive at first glance may actually be a better deal when you realize what it offers compares to others in the same category.
Be different – cookie cutter weddings are out of style.
Couples continue to look for new ways to add personal flavour to their wedding day. Giving your wedding personal style does not mean doing the same thing your best friend did, or what you watched on Entertainment Tonight about Nicole Kidman’s wedding. Think out of the box. Hiring a wedding planner or event designer, even for a few hours, can help you be inspired and lead to amazing results. Instead of a guest book, have guests sign a coffee table book on a subject that is of interest to you. Learn an unexpected choreographed first dance, like the tango, and wow the crowd.
Surround yourself with the positive people.
When selecting a wedding party and asking other friends to be involved in the wedding, select people who have positive attitudes and those who, as Bill O’Reilly says are, lookout for you. Single girlfriends, your older single sister, even your brother may feel a tad envious of your engagement. For the most part, this is a passing phase, but that does not make it any easier for you to deal with. These people may often criticize your decisions, attempt to have attention diverted away from you with their own theatrics, or simply try to make themselves the focus of many decisions (the style of the outfits, what foods they like or dislike for the meal, or which date for the wedding is better for his/her schedule). If and when this situation arises, try your best to walk away from it and ignore it. Realize their behaviour is not your fault, and if they must be included in the celebrations, have your mother or a trusted friend intercept the stressful dealings with these people.
Make your ceremony mean something.
The best way to do this is to write your own vows and/or select special poems, readings or Biblical verses. Even though the ceremony is really the only event that needs to take place on the wedding day, so many couples put little focus on the actual planning of the service itself. Is there a special song for you and your fiancé, perhaps the one that was playing the night they proposed? Why not walk the aisle to it and surprise your fiancé? Have you ever written a poem or love letter to your fiancé? Read it during the ceremony, or if nerves wont allow you to read it yourself, have the Officiant read it for you. Look into your fiancés eyes during the ceremony and focus on the two of you and the life you are preparing together.
Create a timeline for the wedding day.
If you are not working with a wedding planner, it is your job to create a realistic timeline for everyone to follow. Detail and document all key elements and activities that are to take place on the day. Include addresses of locations and who needs to be where and when. If you do not do this, you take the risk of all the wedding vendors establishing their own agendas. Of course, consult with the ceremony and reception venue, as well as key vendors regarding the timeline, but ultimately most all of the timeline decisions are up to you.
Ask for help when you need it.
It is not uncommon for a couple to become overwhelmed with wedding planning. It takes a lot of time, dedication and work. Typically there are many people knocking at your door anxious to help your future mother in law, your mother, your sister, your future sister-in-law, your best friend, your single best friend the list can go on forever. When asking for help from friends or family members, give them specific instructions and deadlines. Also, make sure they know you still have final say.
When wedding planning consumes every aspect of your life, take a breather.
Schedule a date with your fiancé and go to dinner, take a walk, or just go for ice cream. There is only one rule on wedding talk. Reconnect with the ones you love and then get back to the planning with your mind and heart focused on the right things.
Of course these are not the only steps to planning a wedding, but these are very important aspects of planning that will help you keep your sanity and your focus on the reason for this whole crazy thing, love.
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Neal McFarlane is a full-time Toronto Wedding DJ ,VJ and MC who enjoys sharing his decades of knowledge to elevate every single event he can.