Even the the most educated, organized, well-intentioned couples can make some of the biggest mistakes when it comes to planning their own weddings. Here are some whoppers that, with a little forethought and planning, you can avoid.
1. Spending Without a Budget
Absolutely the first thing you should do when it comes to the actual event planning is to decide together what style of wedding you want, which vendors are the most important to the both of you, how much money you can afford to spend on your event, and how to allocate those funds. Spend a little time researching general vendor costs so that you will know what to expect and then outline a budget and put it on paper. As you begin spending your money, stick to your budget. If you find you need more money than budgeted for a particular vendor, reallocate those funds from another vendor rather than over-spending altogether. Be realistic… sure, this is your wedding and you want it to be perfect, but keep these two things in mind. First, the real purpose of your wedding is to join the two of you together as husband and wife. As long as is happens, your real goal is achieved. Second, your wedding day really is just one day out of a lifetime of days with your partner. Do you really want to be in debt for years to come because of one party? It’s nice to dream, but a lavish wedding on a shoestring budget can easily turn into financial nightmare – and a source of recurring arguments – once the party is over.
2. Not Researching Legal and/or Religious Requirements Early
Find out where and when you must obtain your marriage license. In Illinois, you must obtain your marriage licence at the County Clerk’s Office in the county in which you will be married, regardless of your home address. No blood tests are required for Illinois marriages; however, even if you are a resident of Illinois, blood tests may be required if you plan to marry in another state or country. Equally important are the requirements imposed by your religious affiliation and/or the church in which you will marry. You wouldn’t want to pay for flower petals to be dropped by the flower girl and then find out that your church doesn’t allow it. Or show up for the ceremony in your $10,000 strapless gown and find out your church doesn’t allow bare shoulders. Many churches also require pre-marital classes, as well as approval for your music selections, readings, vows, and more.
3. Choosing Bridesmaids’ Attire Not Flattering for All Bridesmaids
Before you even go out on your first gown shopping trip, you should have a discussion with each and every bridesmaid as to each bridesmaid’s likes and dislikes. Likely, your bridal party will be composed of bridesmaids of varying body types. Several of your bridesmaids may also feel self-conscious about a particular part of their body. Yes… you are the bride and it is your day; however, you’ve asked the closest of your family and friends to stand up with you and in support of your union. At the very least, you should want each and every one of them to feel your love and support for them as well. If you’re not able to shop for dresses as a group, make sure to bring the one or two women who will best keep in mind the desires and needs of other members of the party and not simply their own.
4. Poor Bachelor/Bachelorette Party Planning
How many times have we seen blooper videos of grooms passing out during the wedding ceremony, or falling face first into the wedding cake? Getting completely trashed the night before your wedding makes for a miserable wedding day, complete with hundreds to thousands of dollars of you looking sick, faint, or simply hungover in wedding photos and videos. Momentos that were meant to remind you for a lifetime of the love you shared for one another on that special day can quickly turn into constant reminders of your insensitivity, thoughtlessness, and lack of consideration for both your spouse and guests. Make it clear – very clear – to your family and friends long before your wedding date arrives that, under no circumstance, will you attend any bachelor or bachelorette party on the night before your nuptials. Equally important is to make wise choices for your rehearsal dinner; it is just that, a rehearsal dinner, not an excuse to throw down pitchers of beer with your bridal party the night before your wedding! If you can’t take seriously the ceremony – the one day – that binds you together as husband and wife for the rest of your lives, how seriously can you possibly be taking your marriage vows?
5. Asking Friends/Family to Act as Wedding Professionals
While it may be true that Uncle George takes some beautiful pictures, it is still NOT okay to ask him to act as your wedding photographer! Why, you ask? First of all, real wedding vendors are trained specifically for providing services for weddings. Wedding photographers, as opposed to Uncle George, know exactly which pictures to take and when to take them, as well as the etiquette involved in providing those services. Secondly, you contract with wedding professionals to provide particular services; with Uncle George, you have to hope for the best and end up doing much of the detail work (ie: photo editing, cropping, printing, etc…) yourself. With wedding professionals, you have recourse if you don’t receive what you’ve paid for; with Uncle George, you have only hurt feelings and regret. And lastly, Uncle George is a relative and a “guest” of your special day. Shouldn’t he be able to enjoy your event without the pressure of providing you with perfect wedding photos? Now, do we really need to get into why Aunt Betty shouldn’t bake your wedding cake?
6. Choosing Wedding Professionals Based Solely on Price
Ever heard the phrase, “you get what you pay for?” There’s probably a reason why Videographer X is only half the price of Videographer Z. Just ask to see samples of their work and you’ll probably see why. When it comes to the “big” vendors (ie: reception venues, photographers, florists, bakeries, etc…), interview several in varying price ranges and compare not only samples of their work, but years of experience, references, and training/education. Also, when talking to each vendor, try to assess whether you would be comfortable working with this vendor and how well their “style” melds with your vision of your special day; this is especially important for vendors who will provide services throughout the day (ie: photographers, videographers, djs, etc…). Your make up artist may be top of the line, but if she makes you feel ugly and self-conscious about your nose size right before your wedding pictures, who needs her!
7. Giving in to “Last Minute Beauty Panic”
No matter how “pasty” you feel the day before your wedding, do not hit the beach or tanning salon! There’s nothing worse than a sun burnt bride with bad tan lines in the wedding photos. No matter how fat you feel 10 days before your wedding, do NOT go on an all-cabbage crash diet! You’re dress won’t fit right and you’ll be weak, tired and cranky on your wedding day…and no matter how much thinner you look, who really finds beauty in a bitchy bride? No matter how large your pores look or how many fine lines you find, do NOT get an emergency microdermabrasion, chemical peel, or laser facial treatment in the week before your wedding, especially if you’ve never before experienced any major facial resurfacing. Scarring and pigmentary changes (light and dark patches) are common side effects of many skin rejuvenation techniques, such as laser resurfacing, dermal abrasion and chemical peels. In fact, don’t even try any new facial soaps, scrubs, lotions or acne treatments in the days before your wedding. Who wants to deal with red, inflamed, irritated skin on their wedding day! Stick to what your skin knows and loves, despite the fines lines and pores, and you’ll be a much happier bride. And lastly, no matter how flat your hair feels, do NOT surprise your hair dresser on the morning of your wedding with a new home perm or hair streaks. If you truly feel the need for a new look for your wedding day, discuss this with your hair dresser during your pre-wedding hair appointment and have her make any major changes needed at that time.
No matter how thoroughly you plan, some mistakes are likely to occur. Remember the real purpose of your wedding day, to marry your soul mate. As long as that happens, does anything else truly matter? If you focus on the mistakes, that’s all you will remember and talk about in the coming years. Resolve to enjoy the day with the one that you love, surrounded by family and friends, no matter what small things may go wrong, and you’ll look back on a wonderful day filled with love and happiness for years to come.