Kim & John

When I first started the Wedding Graduates series, it was designed to be a now and then feature where people who had made it to the married side of the wedding (my blogger girlfriends) wrote a letter to those of us on the planning side of the wedding (me) to tell us what they’d learned and what they would tell their planning self if they could. Today’s post from Kim harkens back to that original model and to the very first Wedding Graduate post ever: East Side Bride. Kim originally wrote it on her blog Domestocrat, and we asked if we could share it with you here, because it’s a good one. Planning ladies, take notes.

What I Wish I Knew Then

What I Wish I Knew Then

The Top 15 Things I Know Now About Wedding Planning That I Wish I Knew Then

1) This thing is going to end up costing way more than you thought. We stuck to our budget, we reviewed it weekly, and still we went over. But we didn’t use our credit cards. Go over budget if you have to, just don’t go into debt.

2) You will not go tanning, need facials, whiten your teeth, or go to bridal bootcamp as much as you thought, save your money.

What I Wish I Knew Then

3) No one cares about your wedding as much as you do. And that’s ok. It should be that way. There were many times I posted to Facebook, went on at work, and called friends just to talk about the wedding. I know it’s obnoxious and I tried to keep it to a minimum. Just know that while everyone is happy for you and are psyched to come to the wedding, they don’t want to hear about it every day.

4) You will have to concede on some things to make other people happy. This doesn’t make you a bad person, just human. You will constantly have to decide whether or not the things others suggest or want to help with will cost you anything, literally and figuratively. When they cost you nothing and will benefit the other person, just roll with it.

What I Wish I Knew Then

5) On the other hand, you’re going to have to put your foot down. As great as it is to make others happy when it’s easy, it’s important to make yourself and your fiancé happy first. If something isn’t going right, people aren’t cooperating, or there is negativity of any kind, you have to squash it immediately (see #6). Even if you hate conflict or have trouble confronting things like this, you have to do it. Be honest, composed, and firm.

6) Not all vendors are created equally. Do your homework, get recommendations from married friends, check them out on Yelp. The good ones are amazing to work with but the bad ones can ruin everything. Don’t sign any contracts before you’re ready. Ask every single question you can think of. And if something doesn’t feel right, speak up. If you don’t, it will get worse. Trust me.

What I Wish I Knew Then

7) Invest in a huge stash of thank you notes. Triple the number you think you’ll need. Seriously. Between bridal showers, bachelor/bachelorette parties, gifts from coworkers, cards/gifts from folks who can’t attend the wedding, and the wedding itself, we bought probably 300 thank you notes (for a 100 person wedding). Despite what anyone says a hand written thank you is not a dying art, it’s proper etiquette and a must-do.

8) It’s ok to change things last minute. Don’t ask for enormous changes but it’s ok to tweak little things even though you may have a little bit of guilt. We changed our first dance song with 8 days to go, I changed my wedding band 3 weeks beforehand, and I changed my whole hair style 5 weeks before. Your wedding needs to feel like you. A lot of things change between when you planned them a year prior and your wedding day, and it’s ok to make modifications as you go.

9) Do your decorations last. I know having tons of time to DIY your perfect centerpieces or make all of the boutonnieres seems awesome, but trust me when I say you’ll save yourself time and stress if you wait until your venue, rentals, seating arrangements, wedding party, and food set up are all set to decide how you want to style the wedding.

What I Wish I Knew Then

10) Your wedding will bring you closer to your friends, your family, and your fiancé. I totally didn’t expect this but it’s so true. People want to share your love and enjoy this time in your life. It’s extremely special and I found the more I could share it, the merrier.

11) Celebrate, celebrate, and then celebrate some more. Try not to lose sight of how momentous and amazing this time of your life is with all of the business of wedding planning.

What I Wish I Knew Then

12) The amount of planning you do will directly relate to how smooth your wedding is. We planned the heck out of our wedding and, based on all of the praise, comments, and feedback, it showed in the awesomest of ways. The whole day went flawlessly. We have a lot of other people to thank for that but we also have ourselves to thank too, and I’m super proud of that.

What I Wish I Knew Then

13) Taking pictures and doing our first look before the ceremony was the best idea ever. It set such an eased, calm, and relaxed tone to the day. I really don’t get how some people go into the whole thing not seeing each other. That would have created such stress for us. Hanging out and taking our wedding party and family portraits before the whole wedding really put us at ease and let us all spend some quality time together before the craziness. I highly, highly recommend that everyone do this. (It helps when you have kickass photographers to orchestrate the whole thing!)

What I Wish I Knew Then

14) Don’t apologize. Everyone will have their own opinions about how you did your wedding. The nice ones will dish behind your back and the rude ones will say what they’d do different to your face. But don’t apologize for any choice you made. You made it yours and that’s the most important thing.

15) Your wedding day will be the fastest day or your life but it’ll be the best day of your life. I promise.

What I Wish I Knew Then

The Info Photography: Kristin Korpos Photography / Venue: Chester’s at Bell Tower Square / Invitations: And Kathleen / Dress: Maggie Sottero Couture (selling it on eBay right now actually!) / Hair Piece: Custom made by Brenda’s Bridal Veils / Caterer: Firefly’s BBQ / Flowers: Nellie’s Flowers / Cake: Sweet Tooth Boston

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  • Thank you for featuring our wedding and liking my 15 Things list so much! I hope it helps my fellow APW readers :)

  • I like that you said to make adjustments for other people AND to put your foot down! Right on! I didn’t want a processional for my tiny wedding. (All the guests would have ended up processing – is that a word?) I figured that it didn’t matter, so she walked down the aisle before I did. My in-laws wanted us to change the date of our big reception that we had post-honeymoon. That one was firm. No way were we going to change the date of the party because they didn’t like it.*

    • Exactly, there’s a balance and it’s the couples’ job to be assertive and collaborative.

  • Laura

    Great post; an excellent reminder of keeping things in perspective for those immersed in the planning stages.

    However, I’m not sure about advice bit #12: “The amount of planning you do will directly relate to how smooth your wedding is. We planned the heck out of our wedding and, based on all of the praise, comments, and feedback, it showed in the awesomest of ways. The whole day went flawlessly.”

    Whenever I hear about flawless weddings, I worry about people thinking that if they plan enough, they can have a perfect wedding. In my opinion, there is no such thing as a perfect wedding. You can love your wedding, it can be the best day of your life but it won’t be perfect. And no amount of planning will make it that way, so don’t stress about the planning so much. Don’t plan yourself into a ball of stress and forget about the important things. For us, things weren’t flawless and it was okay. So I’m glad we didn’t plan like crazy and I’m glad no one told me that the degree of perfection in our wedding was directly related to how much planning we did. That would have put me in panic mode and made me think I had to plan lest our wedding be crumby. Because if we’d driven ourselves crazy planning stuff, it would have taken the fun out of it. So I say, plan enough and then relax. Just my two cents.

    • I totally understand that. In my post I just meant that we did everything we could and then took a step back and let it happen. We were fortunate enough to not have any hiccups as a result – whether it was as a result of all of our planning or of sheer luck, who knows? Either way, it was perfect for us (in the way that perfect means what you define it as and not the royal definition of perfection).

    • Amanda

      The amount of planning you do will directly relate to how *complicated* your wedding is? : )

      I did a lot of planning (given how short the engagement was and how low-key our wedding was). Spreadsheets, timetables, you name it.

      You’re right in a way, of course: there’s no way we could have pulled off such a DIT wedding without all that planning. But things still go wrong, and if you’re lucky you roll with it and friends and family save your ass!

      Now, my sister in law is planning the lowest-low-key wedding. I think her planning will be a low-maintenance dream!

    • Anonymous

      Yes! From my perspective, I’d almost rather recommend… underplanning? Heretical as that might be to say on a wedding blog, it helped keep me (a normally quite type-A person) sane and happy and healthy. I trusted that the important things would happen, that our friends and family would have a great time, that any hiccups along the way would either work themselves out or not end up being that important. And everyone had a blast, me and my husband most of all.

      So don’t fret if you’re not a planner! We threw our wedding together in three months, but truly most of the planning took place in three weeks. We didn’t finalize a plan for FEEDING EVERYONE until two weeks before the wedding.

      You’ll be fine. And it will be great.

      • I completely underplanned my wedding. (What can I say, my dad died 50 days earlier and planning was so not a priority.) It totally worked out for us, but in fairness, it’s how we both roll. If overplanning works for you, do it. If phoning it in works for you in the lead up, you’ll probably be happily surprised at how well the day turns out.

        It helps to know how you are wired, and know what will help your mental state and what won’t.

        • Claire

          I agree. I think it’s important to know yourself and take your personality and expectations into account when deciding how much time and effort to invest in wedding planning. To each her own.

          We had a month to plan our wedding and didn’t bother with any of the detailed planning stuff at all (timelines, seating charts, assigned tasks, decorations, etc.). We ended up being really laid back about the planning (read: lazy) and it was fine. We both enjoyed exactly the level of planning we were comfortable with and decided our expectations were flexible enough that we were willing to let the rest unfold naturally and be okay with those outcomes. Sure, we had some little snafus but we didnt freak out and they worked themselves out. Looking back, I’m glad I didn’t drive myself crazy planning for every little thing trying to guarantee a perfect wedding.

  • I have loved this list since I first read it on Kim’s blog; it is so unbelievably true that I almost want to just yell to everyone I know who is getting married to PLEASE read it! It has such valuable information that can save you some money, stress and tears!

    Also, can I just state this wedding was beautiful? My husband and I attended it and were so happy to be there for some of our best friends in celebrating their love. Right down to the adorable BC favors, I just loved everything. Plus, can I mentioned how amazing the cake was? To. Die. For.

    Kim, we love you and are so happy we were able to be a part of this special day. I love this post to the nth degree and I hope it gets out to a lot of ladies who are planning their wedding and need to take a breather!

    • You are so sweet Danielle. I am lucky to have you as a friend.

  • 10! Number 10! I could write pages on how true that is.

  • Lisa

    With my wedding only 2 days away, this was amazingly simple advice that I think I really needed to hear. It not only has made me feel better about what’s to come in a couple of days, but the decisions we’ve already made. Thank you :)

    • So glad it’s useful and good luck!

  • Yes, yes & YES! Well, except #13 which I feel is very personal decision for every couple. We didn’t do a First Look & I wouldn’t have it any other way. But I get that other couple’s LOVE the First Look. All in all, a fabulous list for every Bride-to-be to take to heart!

  • Fawmo

    I just can’t get over your husband’s amazingly expressive eyebrows! He is absolutely bursting with joy and you just *glow*. Congratulations!

    • Yes, he is very expressive :)

  • Stephasaurus

    This is my favorite wedding graduate post. I love that it’s in list form and packed with very useful, straightforward advice. :)

  • Very wise words! This is a great list to keep in mind, thanks!

    I was surprised at the extra number of thank-you notes you needed, but it does make sense when you think about gifts outside the wedding. And I agree with you – hand written is important! My mom ingrained this in me. :)

    And #13, I hear this a lot about first looks! I guess it must be true!

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  • I agree with number 13, the first look/portraits before the ceremony! As a photographer, of course, it is up to my clients, but I am so happy that at my wedding we managed to get most of the formal photographs out of the way before the ceremony. We had more time to mingle with our guests and enjoy all of our company instead of being isolated with the photographer.

    • Exactly! I never felt forced by our photographer, we just trusted her and it was the BEST decision!

  • Claire

    Love this list of simple, practical advice.

    But what I really love is the joy and exuberance captured in your photographs. They really convey the emotion and story. Beautiful!

    • Thank you. Our photographer was amazing. I owe that all to her.

  • Sarah

    Those flowers! Oh my goodness they are so beautiful!

    • Thank you! Peonies! Seriously, we spent *the least* amount of money on the flowers and it’s continually the biggest compliment we get. Go figure!

  • #10 is my favorite, and so, so, so true.

  • LOVING the Griffindor ties….I can’t believe no one else noticed!

    Also, great advice, beautiful wedding!

    • Oh, it’s actually Boston College maroon and gold! LOL!

  • The photography is great, it makes the wedding look loads of fun.

    I love their cake, it’s very simple and elegant.

  • Julia

    Beautiful grad post and I squealed aloud when I saw your pictures. We also got married at Bell Tower Square (I have a picture on that same couch!). I love Lawrence and really, really love seeing people invest in the city. Merrimack Valley represent! :D

    • That’s awesome!!! Do you have any pictures? I LOVED the venue! It made the day perfect. And their staff. Amazing place.

  • Couple days late but love this post when I finally got a chance to read it. #2 is so true…still have two boxes of whitestrips (one regular and one of the turbo-fast because I waited too long) and didnt’ use either (ALTHOUGH I did splurge for a back facial and loved it – got a ton of comments on how soft my back was during all the hugging!!) I wish I would have known #9…ordered centerpiece “stuff” before we got RSVPs back and ended up with a whole box of 12 hurricanes that weren’t needed. Totally agree about the first look also.. some of the sweetest pictures of the day, with no other distractions around. And YES to #11. We had the time of our life enjoying the “party” part and I’m so grateful for it.
    Great post!

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