I’ve been thinking a lot about the wedding planning process as I’ve been planning my own wedding this year. After 15 years of planning other people’s weddings, this has been a really enjoyable process for me, about which I’ve been shocked! However, I have had two mantras that I’ve held close for every step along the way.
One is “Don’t be afraid to break society’s rules.” There are SO many things with wedding planning that you’re “supposed to do because everyone does”. Says who?!! The wedding police? No thanks! I am in charge. Own that one, friends.
The second mantra is “Don’t care that much about anything.” There are such high expectations for every element of this day and as we all know, expectations ruin relationships and plans. Wedding blogs and such normally tell you to focus on the one or two things that really matter to you. I would encourage you to not do that. You’re just setting yourself up to be let down when those one or two things go wrong!
As I have worked with many wedding clients through Mayan Cafe, I’ve seen that it’s easy to get decision fatigue. There are so many choices you have to make and it’s often hard to know what’s best. So, I have made a list of tips I’ve gathered over the years to make weddings less stressful and a bit less expensive as well. Feel free to take any or all of these and run with them.
P.S. If you’re curious how my wedding turned out and if I was able to put all of these tips into practice, check out my post-wedding piece here.
TIPS WHEN CHOOSING A LOCATION
- OUTDOOR WEDDINGS ARE MORE STRESSFUL. They’re also more expensive. You have to pay for the venue plus also typically a tent, lights and a dance floor inside the tent. You can not decide to add a tent the week of a wedding because the forecast looks bad. You have to add it at the beginning of the process and you can not cancel it at the last minute. Rental companies don’t work like that.
- HAVE AN ACTUAL, DETAILED RAIN PLAN IF IT IS OUTSIDE. Think through every element of the day – ceremony, cocktail hour, dinner, dessert and dancing – and make sure you know what to do with each step if it rains. The nightmare scenario is the Tuesday before your wedding, the forecast is 40% rain for the whole day. What decision do you make? Only cocktail hour is semi-easy to move at the last minute, if the bar is under the tent already. Everything else needs to have the rain plan deployed ahead of time because you don’t want to be moving 100 ceremony chairs or a bar when it’s raining already.
- CEREMONY CHAIRS MAY NOT BE NECESSARY. The ceremony is typically 20 minutes long. Most people can stand for 20 minutes. If you don’t want to pay for a second set of chairs that are only used for 20 minutes, just skip them. Put a couple rows of chairs in the front for folks who really do need to sit and ask everyone else to stand behind them. They will be fine.
- HAVE A DAY OF COORDINATOR. A full wedding planner is pretty expensive and helps make every decision from the beginning. A day of coordinator just comes in the final month to help organize vendors and create a timeline. This position is invaluable, in my opinion, in making it so you can enjoy the day and really be present. However, I can’t stress enough that it’s imperative to hire someone who actually knows how to plan weddings. When your organized friend offers to do it as your gift, but hasn’t done weddings before, don’t let them. You need someone with wedding experience to know what questions to ask.
- SERVED/PLATED DINNERS ARE THE MOST WORK. You have to collect entree choices per person, make a spreadsheet with this info and then make place cards with their entree choice noted on the card. That is a lot of legwork for the couple leading up to the wedding.
- BUFFETS ARE EASIER. Period.
- CHOOSING WHO SITS WITH WHO IS A LOT OF EMOTIONAL LABOR. What do you do with that random couple that doesn’t know anyone? What about the two cousins that are sworn enemies and this is the first time they’ll be in the room together? If you want to skip this work, you will need to have extra chairs. This is because not every seat will be filled at every table. A group of six friends will sit together at a table of 8 and those last two chairs may not be taken. A good formula to use is having about 10% extra chairs than guests.
- SOMETIMES YOU CAN EVEN SKIP THE TABLES AND CHAIRS ALTOGETHER! If you have a more casual style of food that you can eat without a fork & knife – heavy apps or a taco bar – you can just have a ton of hightops and a few rounds for those who really do need to sit down. This feels like a fun cocktail party then! Be sure to have a coat rack in this case if folks will be bringing jackets because they won’t have a chair to hang their jackets on.
WAYS TO SAVE MONEY
- SKIP THE CHAMPAGNE TOAST. Let your guests toast with whatever they are already drinking. You have to pay for extra staff to pour and pass the champagne, extra glasses and extra champagne. Plus, many people don’t even like champagne and don’t drink it.
- TEXT YOUR INVITATIONS. Save paper and time gathering addresses and just make a graphic on canva.com (a free graphic design website) and text the image to your guest list. You can collect rsvp’s via a wedding website that you link to on the invite.
- SKIP THE BOUQUETS. Flowers are expensive! And you generally toss them after the event. You only hold bouquets for about 20 minutes anyways and the bride gives her away a couple times! Save your floral budget for centerpieces on the tables.
- SKIP THE PARTY FAVORS. You are buying food and drinks for these folks. They don’t need anything else.
I’m not saying your wedding shouldn’t be special or fancy. But you don’t want it to be so stressful that you can’t be present and enjoy the moment. If you take nothing from this article except my suggestion to not be afraid to break society’s rules about weddings, this will have been a valuable read. Your wedding is YOURS. Not your mother’s, your soon-to-be mother-in-law’s, and certainly not some nebulous societal comparison. Defend that! Make your wedding yours.