- 15 Wedding Questions Answered -
My final wedding dress fittings were spent in tears. No, not because the dress was so breathtakingly beautiful. Instead, because people are mean. What nobody directly tells you about planning a wedding is that, it kind of really sucks.
As I was insulted an umpteenth time by the evil seamstress, struggled to confirm with difficult vendors and guests, and sorted through unwanted opinions, requests, and sour faces from everyone involved, I raised my white flag. I had a long-distance fiancé, a full-time job, owned my own business, and was planning and paying for a large-scale event.
I just wanted a hug.
You asked and I answered (a lot). Here's what you wanted to know about my wedding:
- Did you do anything to save money?
- My mom did so much. I ditched my florist and had my mom do my bridesmaids' bouquets (fake flowers, what of it?) and my tablescape. My venue was historic and very vintage, so she visited second hand stores for these beautiful, mismatched crystal candle holders every week leading up to our wedding. She filled glass tubes with branches and tea lights before placing them on mirrors for a glowing ambience. She scoured Pinterest for ideas and listened to my vague ideas of what 'I didn't want.' She created the perfect tablescape that allowed for conversation, mood lighting, and it all fit on two long tables. Thank you, Teerry!
- My bridesmaids and I did our own makeup to save money, but also because we know our own faces. As a makeup junkie, I finally said, 'Why can't I do it?' My best friend and I spent the month before my wedding having sleepovers and applying different versions of the same makeup (RIP lots of false eyelashes). It was so much fun and so relaxing to spend the morning of my wedding chilling with my girls applying mascara that I approved of.
- I made my own wedding invitations. Read all about it here.
- Cut down your guest list. Don't be afraid to say no. No plus one's. No kids. Don't invite people you don't personally know if you can't afford it. No, no no. This is my biggest piece of advice! It saved my husband and me thousands.
- Simply serve beer, wine, and champagne. Not having liquor at our wedding gave us so much more room in the budget.
- I want to know everything about your ring!
Specs and dimensions:
Gem Type: Peach Morganite
Gem Cut: Oval
Gem Setting: Prong Setting
Gem Nature: Natural
Gem Millimeter Size: 8.00MM x 6.00MM
Metals: 14 Karat Strawberry Gold
It's also a long and unpleasant story.
I went through a chain jewelry store and the first location lied to my husband. They resized a ring too large for me and told him it was a 'custom made ring.' When he gave it to me ten months later, diamonds began falling out of it. I brought it back to the jewelry store, who told me it was my fault. It became a very long and arduous battle resulting in another jewelry store location, the CEO of Le Vian getting involved, and not knowing if my actual custom made ring would arrive in time for my wedding. Spoiler alert, it did. E-mail me for details on the first and downright demented jewelry location (if you live in Pennsylvania).
- What traditions are a 'waste of time'?
This completely depends on if you're a traditional bride or not! I was - to an extent - so I was willing to spend good money on a church, wedding cake, a photographer, rings, a gown, a veil, and a reception. I'm glad that I went a traditional route (it's less common than going untraditional these todays), although beware it can be more expensive. Skip out on:
- Extravagant wedding invitations and cheesy save the date cards. Mostly everyone tosses them anyway.
- Outfits for your bridesmaids the day of the wedding. I threw a ton of money at robes - which were gorgeous - but, definitely overpriced.
- Expensive transportation. Be economical when thinking about how you're getting where. I got a decent deal on my Rolls Royce, but I wasn't able to cart family and friends around on the wedding day.
- What are realistic rates for venue, cake, flowers, etc.?
Such a great question...it's based on your priorities and your budget. Rule of thumb is:
- Venue - 50% of your budget.
- Cake - $400 on average. I recommend getting a catering package with the cake included. If you're not traditional, forgo the cake altogether. We went very simple with our cake - vanilla and chocolate with jimmies.
- Flowers - 10% of your budget. I'm not a flowers person at all, so I chose to spend as little as possible. I just purchased my bouquet. I've heard that most people spend $1,000-$2,000.
- Food - Be prepared to spend more money than you're comfortable with. Food is one of the most important things at your wedding. In an ideal world, your venue and caterer will be the same and I would reserve 70% of your budget for both. Depending on your guest count, good food is around $10,000 (or more...).
- Dress - You don't have to spend a lot to get a lot! It's more about the fit than anything else. I recommend shopping around at trunk shows. If you purchase at a boutique, see if they give you a discounted rate to get your gown altered there. Alterations are the real killer. I would try to stay around $2,000 for your entire look.
- Photography - We decided to spend on our photos and they were and are and always will be worth every penny. Bri Johnson Weddings all the way! I have heard anywhere from $1,000-10,000 on photos.
- What gift should you get the groom for the wedding day?
This is a tough one! I've heard of many couples that ditch the idea to save money. For my wedding, I gifted my husband several small things. I kept a journal to him throughout our engagement with big dates (when we booked our venue, the day I got my wedding dress) and wrote him little notes. I gave him the journal and a few travel themed gifts because we love adventure (a map photo album, map printed pillow cases). Chris wound up getting me a giant map for us to hang up in our home and pin our travels. We both gave map gifts without knowing it!
- What are gift ideas for bridesmaids and family?
Because I only had three bridesmaids I went all out for my girls. Every time I had a bride-to-be event I gave them gifts to show how grateful I was. Your girls are giving up so much to support you on this day (time, money, more money...), so be prepared to pamper them. I drew custom sneakers for my ladies that matched their robes, gave them sweatsuits and robes and slippers to wear the day of, gifted them earrings for the wedding day, princess gloves for their gowns, and hair clips to finish their looks, along with a million other tiny things I'm forgetting. My mom said she didn't want anything (as moms say), so I wrote her, my dad, and my brother notes to read the morning of. I also wrote notes to my MIL and FIL for raising such an awesome son (what's up, Chris) and gave them each a little trinket (jewelry box, shaving/toiletries bag). When in doubt, always default to Pinterest.
- What are unique ideas for wedding favors?
I went so simple and did chocolate in teeny bride and groom boxes. By the time I thought about favors, the only thing I wanted was chocolate - so I figured everyone else felt the same ;) I've seen the adorable 's'more love' package with a graham cracker, chocolate, and a marshmallow. I also love the 'mint to be' favors. Try to give people something they'll actually use that night. I've been given shot glasses before with the bride and groom's names, which no one wants...
- How do you deal with nerves on the wedding day?
I feed off of adrenaline and love the nervous energy (standup comedian right here). But, for a normal person, I suggest listening to your favorite music all day long. Do things that make you comfortable. For me, that was physically driving my bridesmaids to breakfast in the Dunkin Donuts drive thru, to our hair appointment, and then to the venue the day of the wedding. This made it feel like I was in control of this super long, super crazy whirlwind. There's nothing to be afraid of - things will go how they're going to go. Just worry about looking as fabulous as you can.
- How do you avoid stress sweat?
Get married in November ;) Part of the reason I picked the fall was because I am selectively Italian and sweat more than a normal person. My wedding day was freezing, so I was shivering more than I was sweating. I couldn't feel one of my toes for three days post-wedding. If you can't avoid the sweat, use toilet seat covers as blotting paper. Place under your arms before the ceremony.
- Best way to go to the bathroom in a wedding gown?
Pick your favorite (MOH, mom, MIL) and designate them as your bathroom helper. It's not a fun job, but somebody's gotta do it. If you have a large dress, the Bridal Buddy looks amazing.
- How do you make time to dance and enjoy your wedding?
Chris and I attended our cocktail hour, where we chatted with most of our guests. This let us party, party, party during the reception (and eat!).
- How do you not be depressed during wedding planning?
LOL, this seems virtually impossible at times...remember to do what you like to do! Don't deprive yourself of everything. I know you're aggressively saving your money, but allot yourself dollars for little gifts along the way. When I gave my bridesmaids presents, I would also buy myself something. It could be shoes for the rehearsal dinner, a new lip color for work, or even just ice cream. Also, vent! If you keep your complaints bottled up, you will go crazy.
- How do you plan a wedding with a long-distance fiancé?
This was the hardest part of my planning. When your teammate is far, it's tough to make timely decisions. Google Docs are a lifesaver. Save it all on the drive and share, share, share.
- Is there anything you would have done differently?
YES. I would have had my wedding gown altered at a different boutique. The staff at this boutique made me miserable, had made several mistakes (cashed my check then told me my dress was unavailable, ordered me the wrong size gown, ETC.) and were just plain mean. It made almost every appointment like a walk to the guillotine. Feel free to email me if you want details on where not to go. PS: They messed up my MOH's dress too...I have witnesses.
I also would have taken it easier on myself. I planned my entire wedding on my own in 13 months. That was my choice and it's something I don't regret. What I do wish I had done, was give myself time to rest. Or, if I had had the money, I wish I could have had a wedding planner.
- Is there anything you want to say?
Thank you. Thank you to every person who was and is and who always will be happy for Chris and me. Thank you to anyone who told me to slow down, to enjoy the ride, and to love every harrowing step along the way. Wedding planning stinks, but marriage is pretty great.
Brides-to-be out there, it is your special day, it is your husband's special day. It is no one else's special day. *Snaps, waves, and claps* Stand up for yourself, for your vision, and for your bank account. Say 'no,' ignore asinine requests from those not contributing, and don't let anyone criticize you in your dress. You are fabulous, you are paying, you are the queen - forget Beyonce.
In the end, I planned my wedding just the way I wanted to and I hope that you do too. I'm here for a hug if you need one xx