(Closed) Advice from married Bees: Where I started planning

posted 7 years ago in Married Life
Post # 3
5572 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: June 2011

We started by deciding when the wedding would be also. We knew that we’d be planning it all ourselves and took time to come up with what we thought was a realistic timeline to pull it together without feeling overwhelmed but still not giving me enough time to change my indecisive mind 2 million times.
The second thing we did was decide on our guest list size. Once we did that we could really nail down where we wanted our budgeted wedding money to go. Without knowing how many people we would have at the wedding it wouldn’t have been possible to come up with a realistic food/venue/favor, etc. budget.
We also picked priorities. We decided what our 3 most important things were. Photography was #1 to both of us because we knew we’d be putting a lot of work into the wedding and we really wanted the day documented. Darling Husband works for a beer company and having an open bar was really important to him. We also both wanted to have a venue that we wouldn’t regret. We still tried to find deals and ways to make those 3 things most cost effective but we didn’t feel bad spending extra money on them since we knew we’d be getting creative with ways to save money on everything else.

Post # 4
7173 posts
Busy Beekeeper

We first made a list of who we wanted to invite (to get an idea of how big of a venue we needed) and what kind of wedding we could have – based on that list.

That was VERY helpful from a framework of realizing what we needed.

We then started visiting venues.  I had a bunch in my head and had actually picked out ‘THE ONE” – or, so I thought.  Turns out – there were aspects about the venue that Darling Husband didn’t like …. it was really hard to hear – since I had dreamed about getting married at this place for such  a long time… but his instincts on the ‘cons’ were spot on and I was grateful I wasn’t stubborn about it.

We had a dream date in mind – but when we finally found our venue – the date wasn’t available.  Since the venue and what it offered was more important than the date, we moved it.  That was very difficult at first… but ended up to be just fine.  So – my advice there is figure out how important a date is (or isn’t) and then be ready to bend, based on vendor/venue availablility.

Side note:  the way we figured out what was important to us in a venue came through visiting places and determining what we didn’t want.  There weren’t hard and fast rules, but once we found THE venue – it clicked, since it had most of the elements we were looking for.  ie:  we didn’t want to do much setup or clean up – so, that ruled out places we’d have to bring in rentals, etc.  We wanted the catering to be taken care of.  We wanted to bring in our own alcohol, etc……

After the venue, make a list of what you need to book and start with the vendors that tend to book up first:  caterer, DJ/band, photographer, videographer are all the ones that I’d say are primary… I’m sure I’m forgetting something.

Don’t stress out unnecessarily about things if you haven’t figured it out.  I didn’t have a ‘color’ theme for the longest time – and it just developed naturally. 

Also – you’ll get TONS and TONS of well-meaning advice and suggestions.  The thing I learned mid-planning that I wish I knew pre-planning is what to do when that well-meant advice is thrown your way.  Here’s what you do:  plaster a smile on your face, listen sincerely, and then say a very simple:  Thank you, I’ll think about that.  Or, even just:  Thank you.  Or:  Thank you, that’s an interesting idea.  AND THEN – change the subject!

I lost so much energy trying to explain my ideas to people who had a completely different vision/opinion/taste.  It drove me insane and really had no change to the end product (other than chip away at my sanity).

Post # 5
6597 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: August 2010

Our experience was similar but budget played a larger role.

The first decision was “when” I guess but it was definitely understood that we both wanted to get married the following summer so it wasn’t a big decision.

The next decision was BUDGET. My parents offered us $10,000 for the wedding and because I am still in school doing a PhD we didn’t have a lot of extra money to put forward for our wedding. I really wanted a realistic idea of what things cost in my area so that I could make decisions accordingly, so I contacted ALL vendors (without booking) just to get an idea of what things would cost.

Then we decided on guestlist. This wedding was very budget oriented and so the best way to keep your budget down is to keep your guestlist down. We knew we wanted a small wedding (we both do not have extended family in Canada) so we arbitralily chose 50 people split that number in half (25 each). Each guest is allowed to bring a plus 1 so we were down to 12.5 each. You can’t invite half a guest so 13 each. We each listed off our 13 people (not including their dates). Afterwards I asked him if he wanted to invite anyone else he said nope – I felt the same and so their we had it!!! Extended family overseas got invited on top of this 50 person guestlist. (We ended up with 54 guests at our wedding!)

Once we had a good outline of what things would cost and our guestlist my Darling Husband and I both set our 3 priorities.

Mine were:

  1. My dress
  2. Photography
  3. Our Rings

His were:

  • Guest Enjoyment which meant

  1. Open Bar
  2. Food
  3. DJ (Party)

Once we had those things layed out – We splurged (within reason) and then scrimpt on
everything else.

When you know what you want and what you are willing to spend it makes decision making

 REALLY easy! We stayed fairly close to our budget too. My Mother-In-Law very kindly gifted us our

photographer and with the rings our total wedding came to $12,500. I had a blast planning

our wedding and I actually found it really easy!!



Post # 6
6009 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: May 2009

Our fist priority was also picking a date.  We had been talking about marriage for a few years, and I actually knew when he was going to propose, so I’d be day dreaming a little in the months prior to engagement.  I wanted to get married on New Year’s Eve 2008, and since my husband proposed New Year’s Eve 2007, it seemed perfect.  But when I called my dad on New Year’s Day to give him the good news about gaining a son, he told me, “Plan your wedding exactly how you want, and don’t listen to anybody’s criticism.  My only advice is to not plan your wedding during a major holiday, because a lot of people won’t be able to make it.”  :/

We put engagement plans on the back burner for a while, and finished up college, graduating on May 10, 2008.  At our graduation, I told my husband, “We should get married on this date next year.”  It seemed perfect: it was in May (before the wedding season really gets going) and May 10 is exactly 3 days after my birthday and 3 days before my husband’s birthday.  Getting married on the 10th completed what my husband calls the “week of cake eating.”  🙂

With the date set, we again held off on wedding planning as we secured “real-life” jobs and moved to a new area.  At our new workplace (we work together), one of our co-workers told us about this amazing wedding venue his wife works at.  It’s a historic mansion right on the lake, with a private beach and dock.  And she could give us a discount for using the venue on Sunday (which happened to be one of the only date left available for the following summer – 2009).  Yay!  We signed the paperwork, and paid the deposit, and then realized, weddings are expensive!

Our next task was to set the budget, which I did by reading lots of bridal magazines and bridal websites.  I made an excel spreadsheet of all the expenditures for a wedding, and then set dollar limits on each item according to what research had told me was “normal” for my area. 

After that, we went to a bridal show, and collected a ton of local vendor information.  My husband won a bridal shop gift certificate and we won a free engagement photo shoot during the bridal show (woo-hoo!).  I immediately made an appointment at the bridal shop, and found my dress (and veil) that very day.  My husband and our fathers also ordered their tuxes from the same shop, and since we didn’t have a bridal party, all the clothing decisions were made.  After meeting with the photographer for our free engagement session, we decided we really liked him, so we signed him for the wedding, as well.

We took a little break for the holidays, and completed the rest of our planning pretty easily in the last 5 months.  All of our planning (minus setting the date) took 7 months total, and we ended up under budget, thanks to referrals from friends and taking the cheap route on items that didn’t matter much to us (like invitations). 

Post # 7
477 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: March 2011

We went with the date first also.  I only had 1 small window to get married before my Bar exam and if we waited until after my exam, I would have had to plan a wedding in the midst of starting a new job.  I knew I wouldn’t feel comfortable asking for time off for a wedding soon after starting a job, so it was either get married in 6 months or wait another 18 months.  It was crazy planning a wedding in 6 months while going to law school full time, but I am SO GLAD we ended up having a short engagement.  It really made us focus, pick vendors, and stick to our plan.

Then we picked the kind of wedding we wanted.  We were getting married while I was still in school and it had to be manageable enough where it wouldn’t affect my studies, so we went with a small, morning wedding and a lunch reception.  I was working on a budget and decided I’d rather able to spend more per person and really treat our guests, rather than have something bigger.

As for priorities, I wanted a small, cute church so that I wouldn’t have 60 people in a huge cold sanctuary.  So we looked for small historic churches and found one that had sweeping views and would require minimal decorations.  I also wanted good photography, good food, to provide transportation for our guests, Out of Town bags, and to have very specific flowers in my arrangements.

Obviously all of those things were going to require money, so we went for a high-low method of budgeting.  For every expensive thing we got, we had to go DIY or super cheap for something else in order to bring the cost of the big ticket item down.  So because I had my favorite florist make our bouquets, I DIYed my centerpieces, church flowers, and boutonnieres.  I wanted to book our amazing photographer so I did not buy a photobook through her (although I may in the future), DIYed my Save-The-Date Cards on VistaPrint and designed my own invitations with the help of BIL’s Girlfriend who is a graphic artist.  I had 2 fonts (1 free, 1 gifted) and 1 rubberstamp as a logo, so I used those on EVERYTHING to make it look coordinated – our invites, programs, favors, menus, etc.  I wanted to offer wine, beer and champagne at our wedding, so we brought in our own wines for cheap, offered sparkling apple cider and mimosas (i.e. OJ) to cut down costs, and paid corkage instead of using the restaurant’s choices.  We wanted to offer really good food and passed appetizers, so we opted for a buffet package rather than plated meals.  We also opted for lunch over dinner, and had our reception in the private room of a restaurant in lieu of an actual venue or hotel ballroom.  (MASSIVE savings there!)  I wanted to provide transportation for our guests so they wouldn’t have to drive after drinking or get lost, so I DIYed our favors (burned CDs), made my own programs, had my BFF DJ the wedding off his laptop, bought a $10 card box from Walmart, bought cheap wedding shoes, and had Darling Husband rent a tux (got his free from Men’s Wearhouse) instead of buying a suit.  We needed a videographer for our grandparents who couldn’t make the wedding, so we hired someone to just give us 3 hours of raw footage and front-ended our reception schedule so that it would fit into the 3 hours (who needs video of dancing?)  The church was definitely a splurge for us, so I also made my own reception decorations (signs, family photo tables, bar menu, engagement photobook, table numbers, centerpieces, cake toppers), reused the church altar flowers to decorate the reception venue (bar and sign-in table), and got a very cheap, plain cake decorated with fresh flowers and  DIY cake topper.  We also went low-budget DIY for our rehearsal dinner (just some takeout set up in the bridal suite with tables and chairs) and drove ourselves to the church.

But it also worked the other way around.  My dress ended up being much less than what Darling Husband thought I’d spend, so I was able to get a nicer wedding band.  We saved on his wedding band, so we splurged on Out of Town bags for our guests (which they loved).  I had to pay $100 for my makeup trial, so we coordinated it with our engagement photos.  I wore my reception dress (which I got on sale) in my engagement photos, so that was a 2-for-1.  I wore my mom’s jewelry on my wedding day, so I didn’t need to pay extra for accessories. 

One thing we were also adamant about was the comfort of our guests.  So we picked a nice, moderate hotel where everyone stayed for under $100 per night, we offered breakfast the morning of the wedding (i.e. coffee and pastries from Costco), held both my bridal shower and rehearsal dinner the day before the wedding in my bridal suite, provided detailed information and tons of snacks in their Out of Town bags.  We also bought TONS of umbrellas in our wedding colors to keep our guests dry in case it rained (which it did!)

I can’t stress this enough, but plan ahead so that you can keep your family, wedding party and helper friends happy during the wedding weekend.  Most of this means being INCREDIBLY anal about what is expected of them, where they need to be, and to provide detailed maps, instructions and times.  I wrote everything out in a detailed to-do list and schedule for the weekend, with everyone’s phone numbers, and made sure they received this information as soon as they checked into the hotel.  This may sound Bridezilla, but it actually decreased all the stress because everyone knew what they needed to do.  I also picked very inexpensive Bridesmaid or Best Man dresses ($60 each), gave them each a piece of jewelry to wear, and gifted them with shawls and flip flops to keep them warm on the wedding day.  I wrote letters to our friends and bridal party BEFORE the wedding so that I could get all my feelings and gratitude out before things got crazy.  I provided a hotel room for friends I knew were struggling financially, and made sure to send gifts and thank you notes after the wedding.  I truly could NOT have had a wedding without these people helping me.




Post # 8
6661 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: May 2010

We first chose the month, then decided what type of venue we were interested in and immediately made appointments to see the nicest ones. When we chose our venue and made a deposit for our date and reserved our photographer, everything else kind of stalled until I picked out my dress.

The last 6 months were action packed with thinking about colors, picking flowers, ordering invitations (do this waay in advance if possible!), hiring a videographer, DOC, transporatation, hair/makeup, bmaid dresses, groomsmen tux’s, etc. It didn’t help that we were planning a long distance wedding, so most of our weekends and several vacation days were used to make trips down to Philly to meet vendors or have hair trials, etc. Then I had insane dress drama – my dress didn’t arrive until two weeks before my wedding and I was almost checking myself into a mental institution over the dress at that point. Then I was so elated to finally see it – it was 2 sizes too small and I had actually LOST 10 lbs!! So I was dealing with that the last two weeks before, and guests still hadn’t RSVP’d so my Mom and I had the full time job of stalking people to find out if they were coming or not. Up until a few days before my wedding I didn’t know if I had a wedding gown or not and it was extremely stressful.

My advice to brides:

1) Lie to your dress shop about your wedding date to guarantee your gown comes in with plenty of time to spare

2) Order your invitations waay in advance, in fact, do it the second you book your ceremony venue and know what time everything will take place

3) Have all other paper products printed at the same time and by the same company as your invitation vendor

4) If you have the money, hire a full on wedding planner. We only did DOC and I could have saved myself a ton of money and stress if they were helping us from the beginning.

Post # 9
3798 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: June 2012

We are starting with “WHERE” instead of “WHEN”, since we figured it would be easier for the pieces to fall in place once we knew where we wanted to get married, since that will determine more of when (destination at beach, for example). I think either way to start is good, it just depends on what you are personally doing for your wedding. Once we decided where, it was easier for me to pick a theme, etc.

Post # 10
3374 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: October 2011

I wish I would have found a wedding coordinator sooner. It would have saved a lot of stress and hassle and probably would have saved me money (they get better deals).

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