Planning for the Big Day | For Brides | Five Things I Wish I Knew

I can't believe that Bryan and I are celebrating our two year anniversary today!! How crazy is that?!?! It seriously seems like just yesterday that we were picking out the venue, vendors, food choices, song selections, the list goes on. Planning your big day is a rollercoaster of emotions filled with so many highs and let's be honest, a few lows. Making all of those decisions can be extremely stressful and it can really test your relationship. As I reflect on our special day, there are a few things that I may have done a little differently. That's why I'm sharing five things I wish I knew when planning our big day...

Do pick a photographer whose style & personality match yours. You would think that as a wedding photographer myself, this one would be a no-brainer. However, you'd probably be surprised to know that we actually changed our wedding photographer TWO MONTHS before our wedding date. When we booked our first photographer, we based our decision largely on the fact that they were a very well-known and popular photographer in area. We loved the creativity and artistry of their work, but overlooked other factors that we later found out were important to us. When we got our engagement pictures back, we were pleased with how they turned out. However, when we really looked through them, we felt that they did not truly reflect us as a couple and our personalities. We realized that we were more drawn to images that were relaxed and candid, as well as light and airy. In an effort to respect the photographer and their brand, we did not feel that it was appropriate for them to alter their style to accommodate our personal taste. We ultimately made the difficult decision to cancel our contract and booked another photographer whose style & personalities better matched our own...and yes, we did this two months before our big day. Talk about stressful! Even though it was not an ideal situation, I am so thankful that we did because we absolutely LOVE our pictures and feel that they are a true reflection of us and our day. Therefore, we cannot stress enough how important it is to find a photographer that is the perfect fit for you. We strongly recommend reaching out and meeting with a few different photographers to ensure that your style & personalities mesh well. Not only should you pay attention to their artistry style (i.e. editing, posing, use of space, natural vs. artificial lighting, etc.), you also want to feel relaxed and at ease with them so that you will be comfortable in front of the camera. If you have any doubts, trust your gut and look elsewhere. 

Don't sweat the small stuff. Man, this one is really difficult to do. I can say it now without hesitation, but when you're planning your wedding, everything seems like a really big deal. I remember losing sleep on more than one occasion just thinking about how I wanted the napkins folded on the table! Yes, it sounds ridiculous now, but at the time, it was so important to me. Another example that my husband still brings up to this day is what I like to call "The Great Chiavari Chair Debate." Early on in the wedding planning process, I decided that I really, really, really wanted to rent Chiavari chairs for our ceremony and reception. I became obsessed with the idea and refused to believe that our day would be complete without these chairs. Our venue used white folding chairs and in my bride brain, that just wasn't good enough. Bryan and I disagreed (that's putting it lightly) about the topic over and over again, not only because it would have added an additional $3000+ to our wedding budget, but mostly because they were simply unnecessary, but I couldn't understand that at the time. Finally, in a last attempt to change my mind, he asked me to think of the most memorable wedding that I had ever been to. As I recollected a gorgeous mountaintop wedding that we had attended, he showed me a picture from that wedding, complete with, you named it...white folding chairs. It was then that I finally realized just how silly I had been and the issue was laid to rest. Looking back now, I can laugh at how ridiculous I was, but it's so easy to get wrapped up in all of the Pinterest ideas and wedding blogs. But I am telling you now, no one will remember what chairs you had, what your favors were, how your napkins were folded, or what color your table linens were. Your guests will simply remember the love that was shared that day and how much your party rocked!

Do accept help from others. I must say, I tend to pride myself on my organization skills and my ability to rock a to-do list (I'm sure someone can relate!), but when it comes to completing your wedding checklist, it can become overwhelming real fast. There were several times when my husband, mother, mother-in-law, and bridesmaids offered to help with various things, but I always insisted that had it all under control. As a very type A person, it can be hard for me to relinquish control at times...okay all the time. But let me tell you, it is crucial to accept help from others when it is offered. Your sanity deserves it!

Don't splurge on everything: prioritize. I will admit that as a bride, there were times when I was pretty irrational. My thinking was, "This is my one and only wedding. I should get everything that I deserve. Why should I have to sacrifice on anything?!" However, you will soon find out that unless you have an unlimited budget, you simply cannot splurge on everything. One piece of advice that I got during the planning process was this: prioritize. As a couple, sit down and really think about the things that are most important to you. Then decide on three or four things that you want to "splurge" on and then keep everything else in check. For example, for Bryan and myself, our top priority was obviously photography. After that, we decided that our next top priorities were the venue and florals. There were times when I wanted to go all out and spend top dollar on other things such as custom calligraphy invitations, Chiavari chairs (hehe), a photo booth, my wedding gown, silk table linens, the list goes on. But it's important to create a budget, set limits, and prioritize. Otherwise, things can spiral out of control quickly. You can still get the things you want without spending an arm and a leg to get it!

Do read all the fine print. I've been there...you find a vendor that you're in love with, you find out they are available for your date, and then you sign on the dotted line, hand over a deposit check, and everything is official. Fast forward to a few weeks before your wedding day and you're getting slammed with invoices and fees you were never anticipating...lawn fee, travel fee, bartending fee, labor/service fee, equipment fee, and so on. Don't forget the gratuity charges too! All of the sudden, you're forking over $5000 more than what you were planning on spending. This can be extremely stressful, especially as you are approaching the last few days before the big day. I'm not saying that these fees and charges are not necessary. I simply recommend reading all of the fine print in the every single contract and asking any and all questions you may have before you sign anything. If you have concerns, ask. I also highly recommend keeping all your wedding contracts in a safe place...you never know when they may come in handy!

In the end, try not to get too wrapped up in the planning process. At the end of the day, you are marrying your best friend and that's all that really matters. It will be one of the absolute best days of your life (hopefully!) so just focus on enjoying your day and being in the moment. I want to thank our dream team, all of the amazing wedding vendors, for making our day the most perfect day that we could ever imagine! We really couldn't have done it without each and every one of you! Lastly, I couldn't end this post without giving a little shout out to the man who is my everything...the man who knows the real me and loves me anyway. The man who encourages me to be a better person. The man who makes everyday better. Happy anniversary Bryan! Here's to many, many more!

xo,
Samantha

                                                                                   Photo by Maison Meredith Photography

                                                                                   Photo by Maison Meredith Photography