As a wedding and event planner, I belong to several wedding planning groups on Facebook. I get to watch a lot of what is happening, not only in my local area, but all over the world, when it comes to brides planning their day, and the struggles they find. If I got paid $5.00 for every time I saw a post similar to this one, let's just say I wouldn't need to plan weddings for a living...
Here's the thing, though.... IT DOES NOT NEED TO BE LIKE THIS!
From the moment you decide to pledge your life and love to another person, you choose to embark on a journey with them. Cliche? Maybe. But also accurate. Planning a wedding is, in itself, a journey. Not a destination. Do I need to say it again?
Planning a wedding is a journey. NOT a destination.
You have the ability to choose the path your journey takes. Maybe you don't think you can afford a planner or coordinator for their knowledge and expertise in the field (though, I'm pretty sure you can, as there are always new planners entering the "ring" and offering extremely low pricing as they learn and build). Even so, you are not the first one to walk down a similar path. So what should you do when you feel like this poor bride?
First of all, reach out to your planner. We are here to help, and honestly, if you are feeling like this, you may not be utilizing your planner enough. It is our job to help ensure that you enjoy your journey, and make it to (and through) the wedding successfully. I know that I have spent many phone calls working with couples, helping them navigate and ease their biggest wedding stressors. It's part of my job. You should feel like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders, and that you definitely have a solid footing when we get off the phone.
If you don't have a planner, and really, truly cannot afford even a "new on the scenes" one, then reach out to your parents, friends, coworkers, siblings, etc. I guarantee that there is no shortage of people in your life who have ideas (and would love to share them) about planning a wedding. The trick here is to take it all with a grain of salt. Really evaluate how all of their suggestions may or may not work for you, and know that they come from a place of love and wanting to help. Seriously, it can be overwhelming. You my have already experienced some of this. However, don't feel like you have to do something, just because you asked for their opinion/help/advice, or because they suggested it. Not everything is for everyone. That's what makes each wedding special.
If nothing else, postpone it. I even postponed my own wedding (back in 2015) to make sure I could get the vendors I wanted. No big deal, and it really alleviated a lot of my stress.
You do you. Make it yours!
It is hard to describe the excitement you feel, being engaged to your best friend; A person who loves you and supports you unconditionally and wants to spend their forever with you. Then, to top that off, you get to plan the biggest, prettiest, most fun and amazing party of your life!
You dream of a perfect day; beautiful weather, stunning decorations, a heartfelt ceremony, and food to die for. Everyone dances and celebrates, laughing and crying happy tears with you. It is perfect.
And then... you start to make the phone calls. Your dream photographer is out of your budget, the venue you envisioned is booked… and how can it possibly cost that much to feed everyone?!?
I hear you. I have been there. As a DIY bride myself, I get it. But what I didn’t get, was how helpful a planner would have been. Even if I had only hired someone to help me with the day of details, I would have had someone to help guide me. I get that now. AFTER the fact.
My mom got 2 hours of sleep the night before my wedding. She also made my wedding cake. I mean, she does this on the side and has for years. My cake was beautiful, and everything I wanted it to be… My poor mom was running around frantically trying to pick up the pieces and manage the details because family members and friends who had said they would be there to help were running late. My groomsmen were disorganized and were not where they were supposed to be to help set up for the wedding. My florist, who is a saint, and one of the best in the area where we got married, ended up helping to set up everything for the wedding, which DOUBLED our bill for her. We had friends who had worked in the restaurant business help cater our wedding, and while the food was wonderful, by the time I got to eat, it was all cold. My husband and I took dance lessons before the wedding because I was determined to waltz for our first dance. Well, the dance floor just happened to get waxed the day before our wedding… and it was treacherous! We could hardy move without sliding. Some of the featured decorations I had wanted didn’t get done and put up. For the ceremony, we had a tripod and a very nice camera that took HD video set u, and had chosen a family friend to just push record. Our friend took creative license and picked up the camera, walked around with it, which in some cases was great, and started and stopped the recording multiple times. I do not have an uninterrupted video of our ceremony, or even a continuous clip of our vows.
This is the most honest I have ever been about my wedding. EVER. Yes, I loved my wedding. It was basically everything I ever wanted. BUT, if I could do it over again, I would definitely change a few things.
What would I change? My husband and I agree, hands down, that if we had it to do again, we would have hired a Day Of Coordinator to help with set up and tear down, as well as coordinating the flow of the wedding.
But, I’m a wedding planner… why would I, of all people, need help on my wedding day?
Because of unforeseen circumstances. As a wedding planner, I can tell you that EVERY wedding has them. That and all the things there were to do. I needed someone to problem solve and think quickly. Someone unattached to the wedding and the family. Someone who could help prioritize what needed to be done first, and what could have been left undone. Someone to give direction and understand how each concept of the wedding played into the day. Someone who could come up and interrupt the awkward conversations with aunts or uncles, and get me where I needed to be for pictures or whatever was supposed to be happening next. Someone to make sure I had a chance to eat dinner while it was still warm.
I also would have chosen to hire a videographer to at least capture our vows. My husband is not sold on this, but I am.
After the wedding was all said and done, my new husband and I did not go out to the after party, which I would come to understand was quite the to do. We went back to the hotel and we crashed. We were exhausted.
My mom, dad, and several aunts and uncles stayed behind at the park, in the dark, to clean up. Wait… why didn’t I think about this?!? It was dark, and cold, and my family was trying to pick up and tear down the wedding. I felt horrible. Not only had my mom gotten practically no sleep the night before, she stayed, after the wedding to make sure it all got taken care of. This is my biggest regret. I am sure my mom and family enjoyed the wedding and had fun. I mean, they are smiling in the photos, and it looks like real joy… but the amount of work they had to put in to make my day what I wanted, was pretty selfish of me to ask. I’m not sure they ever had the chance to relax and truly enjoy and take in the day. It was really selfish, and I’m sorry.
So why do I write this open letter to you, DIY bride? Because, if I can, I would love to help save you from the feelings of guilt, and the worry if everything was going ok; if everything was getting done the way I had envisioned. My family and friends are amazing. They stepped up and put in SO MUCH WORK, and it, mostly, got done. They are not the type to make comments or complain about how hard that was. In fact, they never have. But I know how much work and stress it was. I know, quite well, what goes in to executing a wedding. And I would never again ask that of my friends and family. I owe them so much. If any of them are reading this, I love you and am forever grateful to you.