A Retrospective: My Top Wedding Planning Tips

Fresh from crossing the threshold from fiance to Mrs in 2014, I’m looking forward to my first year as married woman in 2015 and it’s safe to say things look a little different from here. Going from knowing absolutely nothing about weddings, to having planned and had my own (ten years in the making), it’s crazy how different I feel about it now! I was so completely overwhelmed when I started, that I was ready to give up and elope several times. But boy am I glad we stuck it out and had a great big party to celebrate! It was worth it.

10649856_10102958486236693_1545313371434746882_nHere is my perspective on the process from start to finish, from a wedding newbie starting from scratch, getting married in California and planning from Boston.

Overwhelmed: Where to Start? How about The Dress. I know it’s seems like a strange place to begin, how can you figure out what to wear if you literally have no other details? Well, it’s one of the only things you can do without a date. Most dresses can be altered to add or remove sleeves, for example, if you switch the time of year you get married. It’s also a way to ease in to the wedding world without spending money or making a big commitment, since most salons allow you to try on lots of dresses for free without purchasing right away, or at all.

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Find a Venue before you pick a Date. We went through the process of picking our ideal season, best dates and times of year, but when we started searching for venues, that all went out the window. We found the ideal place: a historic walled garden in the heart of downtown old town Monterey, CA: gorgeous, affordable, central: booked two years in advance. They had ONE DATE left for the entire year: August 9th, which at the time, was over a year away. It was the place, we took it. That was after we told most of our friends we would get married in the spring. Oh well! The bottom line: most venues book so far ahead or have seasonal restrictions, that sometimes compromising when you can get married will smooth the planning process.

Invite only as many people as you can feed. It sounds weird, but it’s not a good idea to invite more people, and expect a certain number of “No’s.” Set an early deadline for RSVP’s so you can have a good idea of headcount well before the wedding, and then invite more people as a second tier if you have less than desired. Being underspent is much less of a shock than overestimating.

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Have one thing that inspires you. For us, it was our cake. I posted about struggling to find a theme and a color scheme for our wedding ages ago, and how we saw a picture of a cake that gave us the inspiration to start planning. We decided to give that picture to the wonderful ladies at Just Cake and she did an excellent job replicating the original design and preserving our thematic inspiration.

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Seriously consider a Wedding Coordinator. I thought it would be a waste of money, with a hefty pricetag and not much value. I decided to hire a coordinator for “Day of” services when it became apparent that planning from afar I would need some boots on the ground with experience. I used Yelp to find Patty Speirs of Every Last Detail. For those unsure of what “Day of” services entail, Patty actually began coordinating two months in advance to get everything organized, interfaced with all my vendors to coordinate set up and clean up, directed the rehearsal, timed the walking down the aisle and the flow of the day, and so many more things that I would never have thought of doing. It might be different for someone else with a lot of wedding experience, but for me, I was able to enjoy the day and be worry-free: a priceless experience.

The best planning resources.

  1. Google Drive: We kept all our spreadsheets here: guest lists, research on florists and venues, made it easy to access from anywhere and plan whenever I could regardless of whether I was on a phone or computer. Not only that, many vendors emailed us documents, and it was much easier to add them directly to a Drive folder, rather than printing everything out.
  2. Here Comes the Guide: Although this is only relevant for brides planning a California, Chicago, Hawaii, or DC wedding, it’s the most comprehensive resource for venues, vendors, pricing, etc, that I found that isn’t totally overwhelming and not user-friendly. It put together details about venues that I didn’t even know I should be thinking about, but having those things itemized gave me the outline of a mental checklist to keep in mind when I visited places in person.
  3. Evernote. I use my iPhone a lot, and this tool was the best way to keep checklists organized, updated, and synced across my computer, phone, and tablet. When something struck me I could just write it down immediately, and it would be in one place, and still everywhere I needed it. It came in most useful toward the homestretch, when there were so many tiny details to think about.
  4. Pinterest. While there is an epidemic or Pinterest-perfect wedding wishes and cliches out there, it’s still a good aggregate of styles, colors, ideas, and DIY’s. On Pinterest I was able to find some wonderful ideas that I made my own, such as the aforementioned cake. I also found my invitation vendor by browsing Pinterest: Elli, which is a unique collective of designers who make customizable wedding stationery so gorgeous, I wish they did more than just weddings!

If you’re planning a wedding, good luck! I’m looking forward to NOT having to plan anymore, and just revel in memories of a happy day!

Venue: Historic Memory Gardens, Monterey, CA

Catering: Grapes of Wrath Catering

Photography: Michael Keel Photography

Cake: Just Cake

Flowers: Kate Healey of Big Sur Flowers

DJ: RockBottom DJ

Wedding Planning: Patty Speirs of Every Last Detail

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2 thoughts on “A Retrospective: My Top Wedding Planning Tips

    • Thanks Connie! Your blog looks amazing, you’ll have to teach me how you do your amazing photography. As you can see I just take all the pictures with my iPhone but I’d love to invest more time doing it.

      Like

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