Three Wedding Planning Lessons from the Other Side of I Do
We did it. After lots of searching, appointments, joint decision making, and check writing, we are most certainly, legally, undeniably married. What did we learn?
Hiring a wedding planner really is worth the cost – really.
I am a recovering control freak and proud spendthrift [sounds much better than ‘cheap’], and thought we could do without a planner. As the date approached I began to feel overwhelmed, so with about 90 days to go we found someone who would actively manage the last few week’s “crunch” time, especially the few days leading up to our wedding and the clean-up after. Her suggestions with our timeline were invaluable, she managed the wedding & reception set-ups perfectly, and having her there as the go-to person for the other professionals was, I am sure, more helpful than we know. It was not cheap, but worth it.
What we learned: Having the first dance early in the evening, our planner’s suggestion, was a nice change-up and got the evening off to a great start. Thank you Jazmyn Strickland at Love Always Weddings!
Our Do-over: Hire a planner from the start (it doesn’t cost much more than bringing someone in toward the end) and off-load more responsibilities, like managing contracts & deadlines, progress payments to vendors, running a list of “to-do’s”, and keeping the two of us on a schedule.
2. Don’t leave as much time as the experts tell you for guests to RSVP
I did what we all do when faced with an unfamiliar topic – I googled it. My question about lead time for mailing invitations and the RSVP generated an overwhelming number of responses. Most read something like the advice from from the Knot, “make your RSVP deadline 2-3 weeks before your wedding date”.
What we learned: Do NOT follow this advice.
Why send out invitations 90 days or more in advance — as is often recommended — and then give people two months or more before responding? For us, anxiety set in and we sent follow-up emails to our non-responders about one month before our date. Almost all of the replies at that point were “no”.
Most people know if they are going to attend your wedding from the moment they get the invite. More time to decide does not generate more “yes” responses, just more creative “no’s”. Might a shortened RSVP deadline mean a couple more last minute cancellations? Maybe, but those are beyond your control regardless.
Our experience — despite sending save-the-date announcements 6 months in advance, invites 90 days in advance, and allowing people to RSVP up to 2 1/2 weeks before our wedding, we still had a table’s worth of guests cancel during the last week. Shit happens.
Our Do-over: Still send save-the-dates at least 6 months out and invites no more than 90 days out, but give people only a short window to RSVP. Then, if you have that “B-list”, you can actually use it.
3. Spend your time (and money) finding your photographer
Then spend the extra money to have an engagement session even though you really don’t want to (and as a groom, I can’t emphasize enough how much I really didn’t want to). Why? The time you spend with your photographer during the engagement session is invaluable in building a relationship that will make your wedding photography more fun, natural and successful. We knew we found our photographer from the first meeting (and he did not disappoint!). Despite that immediate connection we felt, we were much less comfortable during our engagement session than during the wedding and its seemed to us that he felt that way too.
We had a blast with our photographer at our wedding, loved our engagement photos and can not wait for our wedding day shots.
What we learned: There are many wedding photographers, but there will be one that will BOTH meet your requirements AND feel right to both of you. Spend the time to find that one. We are so glad to have found Jeff. Thank you Jeff Newsom.
Our Do-over: None.
We are proud of what we accomplished and are really happy with the day. We made our wedding our own – a goal we share with many couples. It takes time and energy. We hope our experience helps you manage your time so you have the energy for creating your wedding day…and some extra left for the dance floor.