Wedding planning can be overwhelming (understatement, we know) and there are thousands of articles, timelines and checklists available online to keep you organized along the way. Those are great and definitely necessary, but we wanted more! We wanted the non-filtered, completely blunt, tell it like it is type of tips for knowing exactly what we are getting ourselves into. So we looked no further and tapped the pros for their advice.
Enter Mimi Brown, a former wedding planner and now turned event guru and interior design expert for her honest and authentic advice to all the future brides out there. So, get your notepad, pencil, (and probably a cocktail) because you’re going to want to write all this down.
First things first! Decide on a budget TOGETHER with your fiancé and the people responsible for the bill. This should be one of the first things you do. Hate to be a buzzkill, but there is no reason to start looking at pole tents in Italian vineyards (swoon) if you need to keep it to an elegant soiree in your backyard. Anything can be beautiful if you do it right, so don’t fret.
Remember numbers drive the budget so if you’re on limited funds (as most people are) try to keep the guest list under 100. Skip the big wedding party because personal flowers add up for bridesmaids and groomsmen; as do centerpieces, food and beverage numbers per guest.
In lieu of a wedding party, you can ask your bridesmaids and the groomsmen to all pick a dress and tie in the same color wave and sit in the first couple of rows.
To keep food and beverage numbers down, choose a specialty cocktail or two and include wine selection. Don’t feel the need to do a full open bar with everything from Vermouth to Cointreau. Most people are going for Vodka or Tequila anyway when it comes to hard liquor (I mean, let’s be real.)
With that said, pick specialty cocktails that include either Vodka or Tequila and have mixers on hand instead of having an A to Z liquor list.
Include your mother-in-law (and obviously your own mother) when you go register – at least to one of the places. It doesn’t have to be a family affair every time but it’s a nice gesture at least once. This applies to your fiancé’s sister as well. Invite everyone once, have lunch after and check that box.
When it comes to wedding planning everyone suddenly develops a propensity to feel “left out”. So make it easy on yourself and be proactive when it comes to “major occasions”. Yes – registering now counts as a “major occasion”. So does dress shopping FYI.
Limiting the number is key. X the multiple shower themes: A kitchen shower, a garden shower, a garage tool shower, or lingerie shower (sounds fun though). It’s a very nice gesture but if you start getting overwhelmed with offers (likely if you’re from the south), you can try grouping people together and having one shower that encompasses anything on your registry. Or just one engagement party where people can bring a gift of their choosing. Sooner rather than later, you will have to learn to say no, because multiple showers or celebrations will burn you out.
Pro-Tip: Try and get your thank you notes out within a month. You will be so glad you did once the wedding gifts start rolling in.
When it comes to invites and save the dates, make sure they are sent out at least 2 to 3 months in advance. In general, the earlier the better regardless of what any timeline on google says. Why wait? Get it done. Dress fittings and custom dresses will usually take at least 6 months, if not longer, so that needs to happen right away.
For vendors and venues, it can be tight booking even a year out, depending on when you’re getting married. Spring and fall are naturally very popular (depending on what part of the country you live in). And summer of course is popular in cooler areas. Just something to keep in mind when thinking about picking a venue.
Don’t sweat the small stuff and argue over aspects that really aren’t that important. Who cares if your mother-in-law wants to invite some relative she hasn’t seen in 10 years? One more person isn’t going to break the bank. I know I talked about numbers above, but 1 more person isn’t worth a knock-down drag-out. Nor is the terrible yellow dress she is planning to wear to the rehearsal dinner Friday night (but why!?)
Pick your battles.
Also, your fiancé doesn’t care what the flowers look like or the tablecloths (sorry to burst your bridal bubble). Don’t waste time or tears trying to get him to pretend to care. Enjoy this with your mother or your girlfriends. And lastly, don’t lie about the budget to anyone – especially to whom is paying the bill. If you do, when it comes time to pay, the person delivering the bill will be the one to give the news and that will be even worse.
Don’t be afraid to cut costs on things you don’t care about. Not a paper person? Send a paperless invite and splurge on your tablescapes. It’s YOUR party. And anything goes these days. Especially in an eco-conscious society.
You ONLY (hopefully) get married once, so ENJOY it. Try not to get too stressed out. If you do things ahead of time instead of waiting until the last minute you can relax more and really take it all in.
At your wedding try to take small, quiet moments to really enjoy the setting.
Notice everyone there who loves and supports you. Listen to the chatter of your loved ones and the sound of the music. Pay attention to the decor and how everything came together (even if it wasn’t 100% perfect). You’re going to remember those moments later and look back with happiness and gratitude.
There is no magic formula to wedding planning – be organized and confident. Especially, realistic and grateful. Hire a wedding planner if you can afford one and take the pressure off.
Want more tips, event advice or help with interior design? Reach out to Mimi Brown at www.mimibrownstudio.com