- 6 years ago
- Wedding: September 2011
So we’re about 4 1/2 months away from our wedding and when we first started planning, I heard so many horror stories about the process— you have no idea how many people told me “planning a wedding is one of the most stressful things you’ll go through as a couple; if you can survive this, you can survive almost anything!” But I have yet to have a Bridezilla moment, and I’ve not had a single argument (let alone a proper fight) with my wonderful Mister, and the only episode of “raw nerves” lasted about 3 minutes, with my sister (the MoH), who is my polar opposite on anything that needs planning.
Anyway, I’m not sure if I’m looking for a sanity check or hoping to share some of the things I’ve learned along the way, maybe a mix of both 🙂
Early on, I realized a few things that I think have helped make this a lot eaier than I’d expected. First and foremost, I realized– and accepted– that we are NOT going to please everyone. It’s an unrealistic expectation and just generates a lot of stress. Someone WILL leave a bit hungry, someone WILL not like the music, someone WILL have problems paying for airfare, that is just what happens when you get more than three people involved in anything. Just do the best you can do, and accept that it’s not going to be perfect for everyone, and try to make it as good as you can without driving yourself nuts.
Also I think it really helps that my fiance and I are paying for the wedding and all the other stuff, so we don’t have any pressure to invite certain people or do things a specific way.
Keeping things on the smaller side has been a huge plus: small wedding party (1 Best Man, 1 Maid of Honor, 2 Bridesmaids and 2 Groomsmen, might let my future-neice or nephew have a little role but that’s for them, and not for us) and guest list is at 90. No drama about everyone getting along or everyone showing up, no bickering, no fuss.
I’ve gotten my photographer, DJ and caterer all from asking friends for their recommendations, and I only ask people I trust. I’d much rather pay a bit more for a caterer that my friend (an event planner at a big multi-national corporation) recommends than save a few dollars and worry for the next few months if they’re going to go bankrupt, screw up, or show up late. Bonus tip: if you need referrals, try to get them from people who’ve used those vendors for business events, because the vendor will be less likely to let you down if they know they will risk losing that contract with Cisco or Marriott or whoever.
We also chose to have the ceremony and reception in the same venue– it totally doesn’t hurt that it’s an amazing venue (a chartered river boat: http://potomacriverboatco.com/cherry-blossom.php) but we have no worries about transportation between the two “events”, timing, or any of that. Plus, the boat itself has beautiful decor and the amazing natural scenery, so we can go really minimalist on decorations. Just centerpeices and a floral arrangement to put behind us as we exchange vows. There really isn’t any storebought or DIY decor that can compete with the sun bouncing off of the Potomac and the Monuments in the distance, so why get all worked up over it?
Thanks to the excellent advice of my girl pal, we are sitting back and letting the Professionals do what we are paying them to do. This is not the first wedding on the riverboat, nor is it the first time the DJ has played a wedding. They have their routines and scripts, and they know what works and what doesn’t. I’m going to let them work for their money, and I’ll enjoy some free time I’d otherwise spend writing playlists and other silliness.
And we trust our instincts. When something feels right, it IS right. There are so many choices out there that it’s easy to keep looking in hopes of finding something “better.” Venue, caterer, dress, you name it. You could spend YEARS and never feel satisfied. The 12th dress or so just felt RIGHT. So that’s it, end of story, no need to keep banging my head into the laptop monitor looking for The Most Amazing Wedding Dress Ever.
Some of the things we’ve dropped may surprise some folks:
-Colors. I suck at color co-ordination anyway, and in all honesty there is so much color on that boat that I would really have a rough time trying to pick a formal color scheme that works. We had the invites done in colors we both liked, made our wesbsite to match, but that’s pretty much the last anyone will see of those colors. On the boat, we’re matching the linens to the wallpaper, and the centerpeices will be whatever hydrangeas are in bloom that look the nicest (oh and rubber pots, not ceramic, because we’d like people to take those home and plant them, and rubber pots will be easier for the TSA to deal with).
-Seating Chart: That one did my head in, truly. There’s just no way you will ever get it so everyone is happy; someone is going to have to sit with strangers (which isn’t a bad thing). The boat’s wedding co-ordinator will make sure that people are filling into the tables in some sort of reasonable array. I have no idea what benefit I could gain by spending 20 hours lining up people with chairs. Main table for the wedding party only; reserved table for family; and everyone else, come on in and make yourselves comfortable.
-Rehearsal Dinner: well not completely abandonned, but we’re going to take *just the people in the wedding* to a late lunch, then go rehearse (maybe in the hotel, maybe on the boat). The guest hotel does a daily, complimentary happy hour, and we’ll time our rehearsal to end when the happy hour begins, meaning we can invite all the out-of-town guests (not just the wedding party SO’s and kids and etc) to chill together. Not only is this very gentle on the budget, but it prevents us having to plan some crazy dinner with 30 people, or risking someone’s SO feeling left out.
-Bridal shower. I don’t want or need gifts, and anyone I’d want to hang out and throw a party with will be at my bachelorette outing (a spa day in Richmond, good road trip, far enough away to be away and warrant a hotel night, but not so far as to be a chore) so it just seems redundant.
-Official bridesmaid dresses. Yeah this will probably make some people scream but my Ladies are three very different people in every way possible, and there is no such thing as a dress that looks good on all three which is also comfortable (mentally and physically) on all three. I’ve bought taffeta shawls to tie the looks together, and I’ll buy them jewelry to tie it all together too. And honestly I can’t be bothered to pick out their footwear for them!
-Favors. Our wedding director on the boat says her staff throws out about 80% of what people put out as favors. To me this sounds like extra work and extra money with no benefit, so that’s something that we can drop (we will have some small bottles of sunscreen on hand since I am counting on people forgetting).
Anyway, so we’ve already got the following in place with all the applicable deposits and contracts: venue, guest hotel (really my only source of stress, as we did have to contract for a certain guaranteed number of rooms, and people are being slow to book into our block), shuttle bus between hotel and venue (theoretically an expense we did not need, but we are discouraging guests from renting cars and that would be a logistical nightmare to get everyone back and forth in a taxi), someone to do a roll call before the bus leaves the hotel (make sure no one is left behind), officiant (picked the first one we met with because she is awesome), caterer (still need to finalize the menu, they will do the cake too), DJ, dress, bridesmaid “attire”, groom and groomsmen attire, cake topper, serving set, limos, registry. And we’ll nail down hair/makeup as we’ve had three friends (all with professional experience) offer to do this as our gift.
And what we still have left to do: centerpeices (which will be minimalist, pretty much the aforementioned potted hydrangea and some tea lights), flowers (also minimalist, my bouquet will probably be hydrangea and roses with the Ladies carrying smaller versions of the same, and single-bud roses for the Gents), finalize the actual ceremony details, finalize the actual vows, get the marriage license, plan a family gathering (his family lives overseas and with the exception of my sister, no one on his side has met anyone on my side, and we’re thinking of a casual “open house” type thing at our house, with my brother manning the grill and me serving all sorts of things that either require zero effort (dim sum) or can be made in advance), bridesmaid and groomsman gifts, and a final list of ceremony songs and must-have/do-not-play list for the DJ. Oh and go buy the wedding bands! But we’ve got a weekend set for that– the engagement ring is oddly shaped so we want to go to the original jeweler for the wedding bands, but they’re out-of-state, so we’re going when the airfares say we should go.
So…. am I just really lucky that things are falling into place so smoothly, or have I overlooked anything? And on the things I’ve dropped, can any of those come back to bite me? I feel pretty confident in these decisions but, oddly, sometimes the lack of stress makes me wonder if I’m just messing up so badly that I’m blind to it all.