You’re getting married! Congratulations! I’m sure you’re going to live happily ever after, but now its time to plan the big day. The whole process of executing the perfect wedding can seem like a obstacle course of weird customs designed to stress you out and potentially turn you into a little bridezilla. But it really doesn’t have to be that way! You can have a beautiful, fun, dream wedding on any budget; and you don’t have to end up with gray hairs at the end of it. Here are 16 Things Your Wedding Planner Won’t Tell You. Check them out so you can be ahead of the game with some useful insight from our inside sources.
1. Your wedding dreams are tacky.
The engraved invitations? Tacky. Opting for a champagne gown rather than ivory? Tacky. Getting a groom’s cake? Tacky. No matter what you pick, someone is going to think it’s so tacky, so just relax and get whatever you want.
2. Cut back on the flowers, and buy wholesale.
Planners often have relationships with florists, so they’ll recommend you use their friends. But if floral design isn’t a huge priority for you, ask around about wholesale vendors, or keep your flowers to just your bouquet and make it from the blooms at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods (they can be gorgeous — trust). Love magnolias but you’re getting married in January? Well, ranunculus are going to be a quarter the price and still totally bridal and lovely. Your floral budget doesn’t have to be sky-high, but if you’re imagining Monet’s Garden, it’s going to cost you.
3. Stop telling people you’re getting married.
Fun fact: If you call a bakery and ask for a tiered cake, the price is lower than it is for a tiered wedding cake. Lower still? A couple dozen white cake cupcakes with white buttercream icing. Consider getting one small cake to do the ceremonial cut with and serve everyone else already-portioned cupcakes.
4. No one will notice your origami placecard holders.
The extras are lovely and fun to dream up, but they’re secondary at best. Here’s what they’re going to notice: (1) Were there enough chairs to sit in? (2) Was there sufficient food and drink? (3) Were there enough places to pee? (4) Did the two people getting married seem genuinely happy to be doing so? That’s it. Make sure you rent enough porta-potties, and don’t waste your money on silly stuff you don’t actually care about. It really adds up.
5. Bridesmaids dresses don’t have to be ugly or expensive.
The prom section at any department store, ModCloth, and even mall standbys like Banana Republic have dresses that are easy to order, in a gazillion sizes, under $200, and sufficiently decorous. Just say no to the long lines and open dressing rooms at David’s Bridal.
6. Pinterest is your wedded bliss’s no. 1 enemy.
Think of your wedding board as an inspiration source rather than a model. It’s like bringing in a picture of Blake Lively to the salon when you get your hair cut and leaving expecting to literally look exactly like Blake Lively. I can’t make you 6 feet tall and blonde, but we can definitely do long layers. We can totally buy peonies for your wedding bouquet, but I can’t make this suburban country club the Waldorf-Astoria.
7. Can’t afford me? You can still get a planner.
Look up a “day-of coordinator” in your area. For a fee, she’ll make sure the florist shows up on time, your gown gets steamed, the DJ never plays the Chicken Dance, and myriad other things you haven’t even thought of. You, your mom, and your bridesmaids can just enjoy the day. If your eyes bulged out of your head when your planner gave you a quote, ask if she can recommend a good day-of colleague.
8. I know better than you do.
You’re going to play a vital role in planning hopefully no more than two or three weddings in your life: yours, your sister’s, and your best friend’s. I’ve done dozens of these suckers. The biggest day of your life is my Tuesday, so trust me — I’m going to great lengths to make this perfect and it will be. When I need my taxes done or a tooth pulled, I’ll call you.
9. Don’t do business with your friends, no matter how much you like them.
You have a cousin who’s trying to get her photography business off the ground or your neighbor is an aspiring DJ? That’s great, and you should definitely support them in their dreams. That said, if Sheila overexposes every shot of your ceremony, or Steve is hungover and misses your reception, you’ll ruin that relationship and be crushed about your wedding getting messed up. If Christy the Wedding Photographer does a crappy job, well, you never have to see her again and can hate her over martinis with Sheila.
10. Your mom is so crazy.
I know what you’re thinking. No! Angie is so great! Really fun, laid-back, cool lady. She is now. Once you’re getting married, a switch flips and everything goes to hell. You’re going to call me crying because she’s convinced you that you’re not really married if you don’t have foil-stamped custom cocktail napkins at your reception. And if it’s not her, it’s your mother-in-law, Aunt Judy, or Meemaw. Trust me, there’s one in every family.
11. Buy, don’t rent.
Renting tablecloths, plates, and forks is really expensive, and you don’t get a thing out of it. Check and see if there are some on eBay you can purchase — you can get a steal on a couple hundred cloth napkins. Buy a ton of inexpensive china plates and silverware from a restaurant supply store, then keep them in your garage for when you have big parties. Better yet: if you have some friends who are getting married around the same time, go in on these items together and pass them around.
12. We really want to work with you.
Even when you’re being a nightmare. No, really. You’ve entrusted a virtual stranger to help start you off on your married life. That’s an incredible honor we don’t take lightly.
13. Don’t do a cash bar. Just … don’t.
Throw the wedding you can afford so your guests feel welcome and no one has to think about the proper amount to tip on what should be a carefree, fun day. Tight on cash? Try doing beer, wine, and a signature cocktail instead of an open bar. Really tight on cash? Make like your grandmother and do a punch and cake reception in the morning. It’s tasteful, plus everyone loves punch.
14. Buffets sound lame, but a staffed buffet is actually not a bad low-cost option.
Multicourse dinners are awesome if money’s no object, but for most of us, money is definitely an object. Buffets can seem a little casual, so try doing a staffed buffet. The cost will be lower because there’s less food waste (everyone is heavy-handed when it’s a free-for-all), and it feels a little fancier because you’re being served.
15. Read. The. Contract.
Break off your engagement? The venue doesn’t have to give you your money back. Need to postpone because you broke your leg in a bike accident? You may have lost your deposit. Get it in writing, read it carefully, and don’t sign anything that makes you uncomfortable. Any good, reputable vendor will take your concerns seriously and will help you. Conversely, a lot of the shadier vendors are actively looking to take you for a ride, so if it smells fishy, get out of there.
16. All that matters is that you tie the knot.
As long as the two intended people get married by the end, the wedding was perfect. Don’t lose sight of that.