I just realized how long it's been since I wrote an update on planning our wedding! We are now just over 4 months out, and SO much has happened since I wrote my last post about planning.
I have been using a system where I wrote down EVERYTHING that has to happen by our wedding day, which was somewhat overwhelming but good, and then broke it down by month. Then when I make my monthly goals each month, I remind myself of the wedding action items that I designated to that month back when I first started planning. This has been so helpful to make me realize what needs to be prioritized each month. I also generally about once a week try to plan out one "detail" for our wedding. Examples of details include: gifts for my bridesmaids, my day-of-wedding gift to Grace, how to display seating charts, what drinks to serve at the bar, etc. Focusing on one per week is very manageable and fun!
Here's a rough list of everything we have accomplished since I last updated this blog about wedding planning:
- Made an appointment for an initial consultation for premarital counseling (required by our officiant)
- Booked our honeymoon flights and some accommodations (I am so excited to write a whole post about honeymoon planning!)
- Decided on some key details (some I'm keeping a surprise for our guests, so I won't describe in detail here)
- Booked our hotel accommodations for our wedding weekend
- Decided where to get our wedding cake (still need to do tasting and decide on final selection)
- Sent out save the dates
- Designed our wedding invitations and accompanying paper suite
- Booked our florist
- Booked our caterer (SO excited for our wedding food)
- Negotiated to get group rates for hotels and provided info to our guests
- Created our wedding website (I just used the same website builder as I used for my blog, so they look similar and it was super easy)
- Registered for gifts
- Booked our wedding reception band and ceremony musicians
- Booked my East Coast AND West Coast bachelorette weekends (yay for double the bachelorette parties, haha!)
- Started preliminary discussions with our officiant about how we want to structure our ceremony
Whew! I feel kind of tired just looking at this list. It's definitely a lot of work, but I honestly love it so much. Planning my wedding has been one of my biggest dreams my whole life, and to be in the thick of it is pretty surreal.
In case anyone is curious or in a similar season of life, here are some things I've learned over the past few months:
Catering is hands down the biggest expense. I'm sure there are some people for whom that's not the case, but for the most part, this is far and away the most expensive part of our wedding. The cost was kind of shocking at first, but once you think about the fact that you're feeding 200 people a nice meal, it's not as surprising. I have heard that the food is also one place you really shouldn't skimp, because it's something people will remember about your wedding. We ended up contacting 3 different caterers and while they were all similar in costs, what made us pick the caterer we did was the creativity they displayed. With roughly the same amount of money as the other caterers, they wrote a specially customized proposal for us with fun infused waters and juices for when our guests arrive on a hot day, s'mores toasted to order for the evening, and a ridiculously delicious tasting with fun and interesting items, not your standard protein, vegetable, and dinner roll situation. I don't want to give away our whole menu because I love the idea of surprising our guests with fun details, but I will do a whole post on food after our wedding is over!
One other note on catering: we found that a good way to save money is to have the dinner be buffet style rather than plated. While plated is more elegant, our wedding is going to be an al fresco summertime celebration, so a buffet seemed to fit (whereas an elegant ballroom wedding might feel weird with a buffet). At least for the caterers we spoke with, having a buffet rather than plated saved literally THOUSANDS of dollars.
Send lots of pictures for inspiration when talking with vendors. We found our florist through our caterer, as they often work together. When we started talking with her, we sent tons of pictures of what we had in mind (let's be real--what I had in mind. Believe it or not, Grace does not have a scrapbook of dream floral designs hidden under her bed, haha!). I think this helped so much because from the minute we got a first draft of a proposal from our florist, it was exactly on point with what we wanted.
Just like how if you have a particular hairstyle in mind, it's a good idea to bring your hair dresser photos to show what you want, you should show your vendors tons of photos of your style and vision. A talented vendor will be able to incorporate this with their own style, not just do straight copies of what you send them. This is also why it's a good idea to screenshot some favorites from the vendor's Instagram, etc., to show what in particular draws you to THEIR work and what kinds of things you would like to see at your own wedding.
Your fiancee will probably surprise you with what they care about. Don't get me wrong, Grace reminds me every day that she is very excited to finally be married. But out of the two of us, I'm the one making day-to-day wedding decisions and the one who has strong feelings about flowers and details like that. But every now and then, Grace surprises me with something she randomly cares about! For example, I was looking at mock-ups of invitations and liked both of the below (spoiler: neither of these are our invitations, as I'll explain):
Sorry for the grainy quality; these are just pics I took of my computer screen. Anyway, Grace vetoed both of these because she was not a fan of the calligraphy/brush lettering. We ended up going with a very classic invitation instead that I am in LOVE with, and ultimately I'm happy Grace spoke her mind. But that said, it was just surprising and funny that she had a strong opinion about this. If you're in the boat of the person who is taking the lead on planning, I think it's helpful to defer to your fiancee when they pipe up with opinions, especially if it's rare that they have a strong one.
Honeymoon planning is the perfect antidote to any stress over wedding planning. I'm happy to say that I have not been very stressed throughout the wedding planning process. But sometimes it can get a tad overwhelming or my eyes just get tired of looking at countless different options for things. I have found that planning our honeymoon is the perfect solution for that stress! Even though the two are highly linked, planning our honeymoon is a totally different thing for me mentally. There's also a lot less to plan (which is almost ironic, because we'll be on our honeymoon for two weeks whereas our wedding is just one day. Ha!). Now that I have our flights booked, I'm so excited to book accommodations and make a handful of reservations for things little by little like I did for our Alaska trip.
Don't assume that people (especially your wedding party) don't want to help out and celebrate with you. Since I have not had many close friends get married yet, sometimes I feel like I'm kind of navigating in the dark in terms of what's appropriate to ask of guests, wedding party, etc. I am super self-conscious about expecting people to spend money participating in our wedding. The thought of asking our bridesmaids to buy expensive dresses makes me cringe, and I wanted to do an East and a West Coast bachelorette so that people wouldn't have to travel too far depending on which coast they live on. All of that being said, I think it's good to remember that these are your best friends and they WANT to be part of your wedding day! I was so self conscious about one of my besties flying down for my bachelorette and also flying for our wedding that she snapped me back to reality and reminded me: "why wouldn't I come to your bachelorette??" So that's been a good learning lesson. I still am erring on the side of trying to be conscientious about other people's schedules and budgets, but I think it is possible to err TOO far on that side.
Registering for gifts is fun but honestly VERY tiring! Not to sound ungrateful in any way--people's generosity with our wedding gifts blows my mind and we've already received a bunch--but just something to factor in if you're going to make a registry! We registered first at Crate & Barrel and we had to take a coffee break in between and then a few times of plopping down on couches in the store and resting. I laughed when after 2 hours, I looked at our list and we'd only registered for 40 items. (Not that 40 gifts isn't a huge luxury to receive, but I want people to have a bunch of options and price points when they look at our registry, so 40 is a bit low for 200 guests!!). We ended up doing our other two registries--at Bed Bath & Beyond and Anthropologie--online. And by we I mean me. It's fun to have the scanner and walk through the store and check everything out, but it's truly exhausting so that's why we opted to build them online for the second two.
That's about all I can think of right now with wedding planning! We are very excited to go back to our venue in a couple of weeks with my mom when she visits. I have a feeling April, May, June, and July are going to FLY by. And then it's time to get married!