The Overall Wedding Planning Process
I am a planner. Obviously if you have read any of my other articles, I LIVE to plan. Planning my own wedding was going to be just as fun right? Just a month after getting engaged and with the declining health of my Grandfather we decided to get married in one year in June 2016. We started by researching florists, day of coordinators and bakeries; the stress of planning really set in. Within a month, with a little luck, we found this incredible company called John Michael Event Services. I knew that I wanted to be involved with the personal things like our cake topper and guest book; but I realized I REALLY needed help with the everything else.
We had a strict budget of 13K for our wedding, so we went in with low hopes that they could assist us. To our surprise, they offered us a customized event planning bundle at 10K to include a custom cake, wedding planner, day of coordinator, custom floral, catering and drinks. We were lucky enough to have friends do our DJ and photography services for free. We signed the paperwork that day and we immediately felt relieved. The wedding planner planned every single appointment for us; we would just show up and pick out what we wanted. They even spaced out payments for our wedding throughout the year to make it even easier on us.
Before we get started on this nonsense of weddings. Take away this one piece of advice.
The VERY FIRST THING you need to pick up is large 10 gallon Tupperware bins. The bins saved my life. Put these somewhere you can easily reach them and as items come in the mail for your wedding, pop them into the bins. This way everything is packed for your planner or wedding party to put out on your wedding day. Even use these bins to store ALL of your paperwork. TRUST ME.
The Venue – 1 Year Away from our Wedding Day!
After booking our Wedding Planner/Coordinator, one year out we needed to pick our venue. We looked at only one venue; we knew when we walked through the door. Lake Mary Events Center in Lake Mary, Florida is an incredible venue. It featured a beautiful rotunda with high glass windows overlooking Lake Mary. It took our breaths away from the moment we walked into the building. Our ceremony was to be held in the beautiful rotunda just after sunrise, our reception in their grand ballroom.
Food, Flowers, Music, Cake and THE DRESS! – Eight months away from our Wedding Day!
A few months after booking our venue, our wedding planner scheduled us a meeting to pick out our flowers, food and cake. We also met with our DJ to pick out different songs to play during the event. OH and I bought my dress! You always want to get your dress with as MUCH time as possible, with all of the stress my weight fluctuated a lot and I need alterations to my dress.
Flowers – I went with lambs ear and light colored peonies. I really wanted to stick to lighter colors, to go with the morning/breakfast vibe.
The Dress – I didn’t actually have a plan for what I wanted my dress to look like. My Man of Honor actually picked out my dress, forced me into and I fell in love with it. He picked out a beautiful ball gown layered with tulle.
Music – was pretty easy too. My husband to be and I turned on music in our living room and wrote down each song we wanted for the different parts of the event. We sent the list over to our DJ and POOF that was checked off our list.
The very best part? Picking out the food! Andrew and I wanted a brunch wedding, so we decided on a Make Your Own Waffle Bar, unlimited bacon and unlimited mimosas. CAN’T GO WRONG WITH THAT! (plus breakfast food is a LOT cheaper than serving dinner)
The cake – We still wanted to keep with our brunch vibe here. We picked out a citrus, orange flavored cake with cream cheese frosting. YUM.
It’s all in the details – Four months away from out Wedding Day!
Some of the smaller things I of course wanted to do myself. We included a custom wedding hashtag #herecomethealvins and printed it on mostly everything we made, this way all photos that our guests posted we were able to see later on! The small details do not have to be expensive either, we mostly used the Dollar Tree and Oriental Trading Company. I ordered everything online, had it delivered to my door, packed it away in our large Tupperware bins for our wedding planner and POOF it was done.
- A photo booth – Our photographer snapped soooo many cute photos of our guests! Get creative with it! We picked out a Flamingo Themed booth! I purchased the photo booth props from Esty as a PDF ($10) and printed them at Staples for another $5. We included some dollar tree items as well, a feather boa and inflatable bird.
- A guest book – This doesn’t have to be a traditional book, we ended up using our favorite board game! We got it on sale for about $30 and picked up two sharpies for guests to sign.
- Cake topper – We had custom bride and groom flamingos made for the top of our cake. This was the MOST expensive thing we purchased. We picked them up off Etsy for $30.
- Guest favors – Something small (and cheap) we hand folded paper boxes, filled with colorful tissue paper and placed a small gold animal. The small gold animals matched the larger version in the reception as “table numbers.” A guest favor/place card! The cardboard boxes came from the dollar tree ($50), tulle from Michael’s ($15) and plastic animals from the dollar tree ($25).
- A unity ceremony of some sort – We used a Tree Planting Ceremony for ours. Each guest was invited to place dirt in the pot so show their support as we planted the tree to show the foundation and strength of our relationship. We brought a pot and watering can from home and picked up the plant from IKEA.
- Signage – We had plenty of different signs throughout our wedding. A welcome sign, photo booth entrance, small table signs. These are easy to purchase! We bought everything from Etsy for around $50.
- Small treats – A LOT of people are using a candy bar in their weddings, but we wanted something brunch themed! We purchased the same containers as a candy bar, but filled them with fun cereal. We folded small pink popcorn containers with our hashtag sticker on the front, so guests were able to make their perfect mix.
- I had custom newspapers printed! Around $100 for 100 copies, we had a company print a custom wedding newspaper printed. Each small article was about someone in our wedding party, funny stories about how we met and tons of pictures of our pup. There was even a word search on the back and we passed out Starbucks gift cards for winners!
- Menus – During the reception I printed out menus on card stock (costing around $15 at Staples) and created a word search on the back. We also had custom pencils made with our hashtag (you can get these from Oriental Trading Company for $15).
All of the other events that come with Weddings – One month before our Wedding Day!
I was actually shocked to know that it’s just not your wedding day you are planning for. There are so many more smaller events that take place to celebrate for upcoming marriage. A month before our wedding I had a bacholrette party with friends, a bridal shower with family, an engagement party, a rehearsal event and I planned a bridal party slumber party the night before my wedding
(I will be posting all of these events separately later on).
Weddings are EXHAUSTING.
Take your time and enjoy all of the wedding festivities. OH! And take lots of photos!
Our wedding planner was INCREDIBLE; she was there with us the entire process of planning and the stress the day of. Even if you think you will not need a planner, please consider it! Even with my passion of planning events, I needed her more than I could imagine on my big day! We were surprised how much we actually NEEDED a planner.
There are two large things that I have gathered from my own wedding and for those weddings I have helped out at throughout the years.
- First, delegate but delegate selectively! Rely on your bridal party and your family to come through for you, but make sure you are demanding on what you actually WANT. A lot of family remembers have their own ideas and values for what a wedding should be/have, it’s your wedding; do not let anyone (including family) push you into anything that will not make you happy.
- Second, it’s all about the details. You can have a beautiful venue and you can have a perfect dress; but it is all about the tiny details that make your wedding special. Things like a special cake topper and guest favors make ALL the difference when it comes to making your day special. These small details do not have to be expensive (you know how much I love the Dollar Tree), but they have to be personal for you and your spouse.
Smaller things that no one ever tells you that will change your day
- Pack spare clothes in your “getaway car” do not let anyone move them
- Pack valet money in your “getaway bag” you do not want to have to park in a parking garage at a hotel and have to carry your dress and your belongings five miles to the lobby. You are tired and you deserve it
- Go to David’s Bridal and get your dress there. You will get your dream dress for cheap, along with a PACKAGE OF COUPONS for discounted tux rentals and spa treatments for your ladies
- Do not spend money on a nice wedding band for your husband, you will eventually have to get it replaced….several times
- Use a poster board and sticky notes to map out your reception guest seating (they are easier to move around)
- On your wedding night (after parking in valet) go into the hotel lobby in your dress – you will immediately be upgraded to a fancy room with free drinks
- Brides listen. You will miss out on your guests arriving and your bridal party walking down the aisle. You are going to want to have someone film this for you
- Drive to the Courthouse 60 days before your wedding to pick up your license and take the pre-marriage consoling; it will save you $30
- Make sure you officiant fills out the form correctly or you will have to get it re-signed. You can send this in the mail, instead of having to worry about dropping it off on your Honeymoon
- Take two honeymoons. You and your hubby are two different people; plan a week for each of you. (We stayed in a cabin and hiked for my honeymoon; we went on a beach cruise for his). You are exhausted from all of the festivties, you DESRVE to take some time off.
- Use VISTA PRINT for everything wedding related. Wedding invites, announcements, thank you cards, even the hashtag stickers. Having everything printed through them was cheaper, they shipped everything right to my door.
I know this is all over whelming. Trust me though, keep this list!
Remember though, it’s your day. It’s all about you and your spouse. Spend the day with each other and enjoy every single moment! I would love to hear about your wedding below!!