Sunday, December 30, 2012

The year in review.

I've only been engaged for three months, but I've already been through learned a lot. In two days it will be 2013, the year I get married! To finish out the year, I've compiled a list of ten important things I've learned so far.

  1. It's never too early (or late) to start planning. My friends who had short engagements (four to six months) tell me I have "plenty of time" to plan this wedding. I did some research and found out the average engagement lasts 15-16 months. Mine will be 13 months. The length of your engagement is completely up to you. For me, I wanted nine months to a year, as I like to plan ahead. I'll tell you one thing: when I began venue searching, many places were already booked for the fall dates I wanted. Then the carpet was ripped out from under me when the venue I booked (over a year in advance) suddenly canceled on me. This time around (11 months in advance), even more venues are booked up. We ended up settling on picking a Sunday, which leads me to my next point...
  2. Who said you have to get married on a Saturday? Saturdays are the most popular day to get married for obvious reasons: your guests don't have to ask off work and they have Friday and Sunday to travel. I may prefer a Saturday, but I have found non-Saturdays to be very appealing too. Many venues charge significantly less on Sundays and weekdays (sometimes between $1000-$2000 less). Also, since Saturday is so popular, more venues have openings on other if you have a short time to plan, it's a great option to consider. I even had one venue offer me free use of a Saturday bride's ceremony chairs if I had my wedding that Sunday!
  3. Pinterest is a bride's best friend. I didn't allow myself to daydream about wedding planning until I had a ring on my finger...but that doesn't mean you can't start pinning! I have found Pinterest to be one of the best ways to keep track of wedding ideas. I even created a separate Pinterest account just for my wedding planning and have separate boards for colors, food, hair, attire, and more. Follow me!
  4. Everyone's budget is different. According to Brides magazine, the average wedding cost $26,989 in 2012. This may seem like a lot to some brides and it may seem like nothing to others. I know brides that spent as little as $3000 and others who have spent over $30,000.  Whatever your budget, your wedding is may just have to get creative! I feel like I've been making wise, budget-conscious decisions, so I try not to compare myself to others. There are some things I don't want to skimp on, and there are other things I can live without. Just because you have more or less to spend, doesn't make your wedding any less special.
  5. The dress of your dreams may not be the dress of your dreams. When I went to the first bridal shop with my mom this fall, I really wasn't planning on finding anything. I figured I'd want to check out more than one store, maybe lose a little more weight first. Well, I found my dress that day...only I didn't know it. When I tried it on, I felt beautiful, and all the sales associates, the owner, and other shoppers kept commenting. I didn't buy it because I wasn't ready to buy anything that day. When I returned to NC, I visited two other stores with my friend, Lauren, and I just never got that feeling again. I kept trying on dresses that I thought were pretty, but I finally came to the conclusion that what I had in mind just wasn't right for my body type. I found myself comparing everything I tried on to that dress. So now a couple months later, I have an appointment next week to try on that dress again and (hopefully) buy it this time! FYI: It can take up to nine months for a wedding dress to come in after it's ordered, and you should give yourself two to three months between the time of your first fitting to your last. Just some things to keep in mind!
  6. Do your research. This applies to everything! Research everything from the venue to the caterer to the musician to the dress to when the sun will set on your wedding date. After doing some research, I found an amazing and affordable caterer that was willing to work with us on our menu. I found the dress I wanted $100 cheaper at another store, and the original store agreed to price match it. I calculated the perfect time for the ceremony to allow for the best photographic lighting. Do your research. It pays off!
  7. Observe. Chances are you've been in (or been to) a few weddings. Every chance you get, observe! Make mental notes of what you like and don't like. Ask other brides for advice! Observe the weather, the colors, the lighting, the size of the guest list, the menu, the location, the music, the dress, the overall feel...
  8. You can't invite everyone. Friends, acquaintances, coworkers, and strangers will be coming out of the woodwork asking for invites. It's important to keep in mind that it is your wedding, and you shouldn't feel pressured to invite anyone you don't want to. Of course I would love to be able to invite everyone, but the truth is I just can't afford to. The Knot unveiled that the average cost per wedding guest in 2011 was $194. If you have 150 guests, that's almost $30,000! More guests=more $, so you need to find a balance between the wedding you want and the number of guests you invite. If you have to invite more people, then you may need to scale down on other things such as decor or food. Having a buffet instead of a fancy plated meal may be a cost savings that allows you to invite those extra guests.
  9. Get a wedding coordinator! If you can afford to, hire someone to help you plan and coordinate. A lot of planners offer day-of-the-event coordination which is more affordable than full planning services. They will coordinate the rehearsal, ceremony, and reception, which saves you, your family, and bridal party a lot of stress and headache. If you can't afford to hire someone, consider appointing a capable friend who is willing to take on the responsibility! I am resting assured that my sweet wedding coordinator is going to allow me to enjoy my special day. My fiance is a catering coordinator, and he has told me that at almost every wedding he's worked, at least something has gone wrong. Usually he or the wedding coordinator is able to fix it without the bride ever knowing.
  10. Time flies. Enjoy the ride. Sometimes I tell myself, "I've got ten more months; that's plenty of time." Other times I wish I had ten more on top of that! Everyone tells me to enjoy this time, because it will fly I am sitting back and really savoring every moment. I'm loving dress shopping with my mom, hyperventilating and calling my matron-of-honor at work, watching reruns of Friends and all of Ross' weddings...though this process has been (and will be) stressful, I'm trying my best to just soak it all in, and you should too!
So there you have it, a list of ten important things I've learned so far. Hope this helps!


the Bride


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