Wedding Planning: Lessons Learned

Having survived planning and executing my wedding, I feel that it is time to share some of the wisdom I have gained through the process.

Do

1) Hire awesome vendors — don’t waste your time or money on vendors who are wishy-washy or ignore your wishes. We were told by one vendor that they couldn’t make a vegan tiered cake–it just couldn’t be done! Instead of giving up, we found another vendor that said, “Of course we can do that!”, much to my joy and admiration. (I may have had a crush on that particular vendor. She always gave me the best news.) It turned out to be an amazing cake! It was so amazing that I am mostly looking forward to our first anniversary for the cake.

As you can see, the cake is tiered. (Photo by Julia, my new sister-in-law)

As you can see, the cake is tiered. (Photo by Julia, my new sister-in-law)

2) Go in with a clear idea of what you want — this stems from the previous item. We did sign on with a flower place, and I was very uncomfortable with our conversations up to that point. It felt like I was being ignored. But the truth is, we’d gone in there expecting someone to bring our dreams to life…without telling them what those dreams were. The next time we met, we had a better conversation where we were more firm in what we wanted and envisioned. The end result was totally amazing.

3) Don’t DIY just to save money — take it from someone who spent a LOT of time making things for our wedding. I made those things because I wanted to, and while there were a few moments of “why would we buy this when we could make it?”, the majority of it was a labour of love. In the end, I’m not entirely sure how much money we really saved–I doubt it was enough to cover the loss of sanity if you weren’t doing it out of want.

4) Make a schedule — if you have an event planner managing everything for you, then you can ignore this one. But if you’re doing this yourself, definitely, definitely make a big ol’ spreadsheet with a schedule. One sheet per day, as long as before and after it is relevant. Our wedding was on a Sunday and we had sheets for the Thursday – Monday. The key points are “When”, “What”, and “Who”. On the actual day of, you want those “when” boxes to all be filled in–so that the person who is managing the schedule for you understands what is supposed to be going on. (Don’t do it yourself!) If you can do this, then it actually becomes possible to let go on the day of.

5) Become A Practical Bride, and ignore all the other wedding related media — the wedding industry is a big money trap. It will try to convince you that you need various things to have a “real” wedding. The truth is, you don’t. Once I stopped reading all those other blogs, I became much more in tune with what I wanted for the wedding. And a lot less panicked about what I didn’t have yet.

Don’t

1) Get caught in the DIY trap — there were a couple projects that I had planned on doing and eventually realized it wasn’t worth the sanity loss. At this point, I can’t even remember what they were, so you can tell how important they were to the overall day of.

2) Expect people to change just for your wedding day — this is an important one. You must embrace people as they are, no matter what day it is. I definitely lost a bit of sleep when I realized that, no, my wedding day was not going to be the magical day of exception. Eventually, you get over it. But it’s really better to just go into things understanding that.

3) Get attached to any one thing — the only thing that really has to happen on your wedding day is to get married. Everything else is just gravy.

4) Skip the honeymoon — it’s a pretty big event, and even just giving yourselves 3 or 4 days afterwards to take everything in is a really good idea. After our wedding wrapped up at around 5 pm, we spent the rest of the evening just going over and revelling in everything that happened. (And eating more cake.) It also took me at least 4 days into the honeymoon to stop freaking out about little things.

That’s it! But I’m sure there’s lots of other awesome advice out there, so…

What’s the best advice you would give, after your wedding? If you’re not married, does any of this advice seem particularly helpful to you?

Fan Friday #7

Given the current wedding theme, I think it’s only appropriate to talk about my favourite wedding blog / book out there.

Fan Friday Presents…A Practical Wedding!

There are so many great things about A Practical Wedding, it’s hard to know exactly where to start. Perhaps I should just keep it simple. A Practical Wedding started out as a blog, and became such a success that the creator also wrote a book. I have the book, and it has definitely helped with the planning process.

 

Image courtesy of apracticalwedding.com

The whole principle behind A Practical Wedding is awesome, and focuses on cutting through all of the cruft that has filled the wedding industry today. It is a tool against the onslaught of “you need this”: you need a wedding planner…a three course dinner…monogrammed napkins…a 400 person guest list…you get the idea.

The blog is also a great read, and covers things post-marriage as well, which means that I will probably still be following it long after the wedding day.

What’s your favourite wedding blog / wedding calm tool?

The Reception Dress

Like so many things in this wedding planning process, finding a dress to wear for the reception portion has been an adventure. Let me back up, as I’m sure you’re wondering why I’d need a reception dress at all.

When I found my wedding dress, it was everything I wanted, and everything I never wanted, at the same time. I am a practical person, who is getting married outdoors in the summer. At what point, exactly, does that make it a good idea to get married in a dress with layers and layers of heavy fabric, and a giant train? No point that I can think of. (Side note: Don’t worry, those are the only details my fiance knows about my dress, and the only ones he will know until the big day.)

But it is a gorgeous dress, and I feel like a princess in it. So the compromise with my practical side was to get a second dress for the reception–it would be knee length, and breathable, so I wouldn’t die of dehydration. After all, since going to the bathroom in my wedding dress would be a nightmare, there will be very little water drinking beforehand. Of course, since it would be my second dress, it couldn’t be very expensive.

Thus began the search. I used Pinterest and etsy and finally found something I liked. But it was so expensive that I balked and compromised on something cheaper. Instead of the lace dress with a shift underneath, I would get the same lace top with a fancy party skirt–sparkly tulle layered on top of blue satin. I got my measurements professionally taken, and waited. And waited. I really do hate waiting.

Finally, it arrived. I was so excited, I had spent months envisioning myself in that dress at the wedding reception. And then I put it on.

I have the particular body type that is commonly known as “top heavy”. As in, some styles make me look like I am all chest (not in the good way), and no waist, and maybe even adds on another 10 lbs. Yes, it turns out this particular skirt/shirt combination was exactly one of those styles. It wasn’t pretty. I felt ugly.

Once again, I had spent money on a failed wedding project. Tears were shed. Self-deprecating statements were made. Fortunately, my partner was (eventually) able to reassure me that they weren’t useless pieces of clothing, they were still pretty, I just needed to find something different for the reception.

Thank goodness for friends. One of my bridesmaids eagerly agreed to go shopping with me for this new dress. We went to a local store that I’d never been to before, but seemed to have a good reputation. And we found a dress in that first store! I know it was the right dress because I can still put it back on and feel pretty, which is really the only thing I can ask. Because if I can’t look back at my wedding/reception pictures and think “hey, I looked pretty”, then what on earth are we spending all this money for?

I promise one day we will return to the craftier posts, but you may be stuck with wedding-related drivel for awhile. I hope you will put up with it 🙂

That Thing I Just Can’t Let Go

I thought I could do it. I thought that I could get over the idea of having a veil–after all, it’s not easy for a person with my kind of hair. But I tried on that flower crown with the dress and had the realization that they just didn’t go together. No matter how I looked at it, it was just too rustic for my dress.

I stared at all of my jewelry equipment, my wire, my beads. I hoped for inspiration, and when I finally found it, it was…just okay. I put it on and thought “sure, it’ll go with it, and it looks nice with my earrings.” But I didn’t think “wow” or “that’s perfect”.

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As the wedding draws closer, so do my stress levels to my breaking point. I can’t even count the number of times people have tried to reassure me and tell me the details don’t matter that much, what’s important is the getting married and the celebration part. I try to believe it, tell myself that it’s true, but behind that thought I’m just trying to figure out that next wedding detail. That next thing that if I figure out how to do it, it’ll make everything that much more perfect.

What also bothers me is the carnage that gets left to the side of this process. I’ve bought quite a few crafty things with the intent to use them, only to realize that idea won’t fit, or there’s this other better way to do it.

Which is kind of what happened with the whole veil idea. I have had the tulle for several months. I bought the hair combs to test (and realized they wouldn’t work). I began to think that these items too, would fall by the wayside, to hopefully get used in some later endeavour.

But I realized that I want that veil desperately. It sits in the back of my mind, stressing me out because I want it to be beautiful. I want it to be embroidered, or have beads, or have lace around the edges. I want it to flow in the wind. I want it to hang properly and go with my outfit seamlessly.

Reality isn’t very much fun, sometimes. Veils are one of the most overpriced items in the industry (an average price of $350 for at most $50 worth of supplies and some work effort??). And while I did discover that a medium sized hair clip would work in my hair, I also discovered that if the veil gets too heavy, it will have the same issue as the plastic hair combs. Not to mention the fact that I have a ton of other wedding projects that are higher ranking for completion than some fancy item I’ll never ever wear again. Haven’t I already spent enough money on those?

What I truly don’t understand is why I care so much about it. I wasn’t one of those girls who planned out their wedding in every detail. I didn’t even think I had an image in my head of what I wanted it to be. And yet, I ended up with the most impractical wedding dress that has ever been made. So maybe I did have a plan after all. Now if only I could talk some sense into that little girl who made those plans.

The Plight of a Fine Haired Bride

I have fine, thin hair. It’s the kind of hair that one can easily tell where I play with it too much because the hair is shorter there. The kind of hair that doesn’t stand up well to hair-colouring (not that it stopped me very much). The kind of hair where clips slowly slide down my hair. And the kind of hair that those cloth hairbands that go all the way around your head make a weird bump in the back of it.

Yes, I have that kind of hair. For the most part, it hasn’t really bothered me, I’ve never been keen on wearing my hair up or fancy, anyway. But there are definitely times when I have wished that I could have thick, wavy hair. I can’t even fathom what it’s like to be a person who has enough hair to braid it into two thick braids.

What has caught me off-guard the most, however, is how difficult it is for someone like me to wear a veil. The hair combs put way too much pressure on a localized part of my hair–shockingly, I want to still have nice hair after my wedding day. Hair pins don’t really stay in my hair (unless a professional does it, they have a talent I do not possess). And if clips don’t work either…what am I left with?

The most logical next step would be to wear a headband and attach a veil to one of those. Unfortunately I am one of those people who also can’t wear headbands. The squeezing behind my ears gives me a headache. It makes no sense to me why all headbands try to squeeze the life out of my head. Apparently Goody used to make some “comfort tip” headbands, but no longer does. And there’s a stellar looking company in the UK that doesn’t ship to North America (even if they didn’t cost an arm and a leg). So no, headbands won’t work either.

The very last option was something I had dismissed initially, a flower crown. I had dismissed it because my dress is anything but bohemian in style. I call it my princess dress for good reason. But since I wanted to wear something in my hair, and it was my last option, I brought it out, did some googling, and found my inspiration in this gorgeous flower crown from The Honeycomb on etsy. It was simple, elegant, and just might be able to be passed off with a princess dress.

So after a 1 hour trip to Micheals (thank goodness my fiance is so patient with me!), I came home with well equipped to tackle my last option.

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A work in progress – all the big flowers were on, but the little pearl “buds” weren’t attached yet

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The final product: made with wrapped wire, brown flower tape, fake white blossoms, dried eucalyptus and fake pearls.

In the end, it turned out beautiful, but very little like my inspiration. It will be a bit of an adjustment from what I had planned on wearing, but I think there’s enough time before the wedding for me to get used to the idea.

I am still wondering whether to even bother trying to attach some tulle to it to make a veil–it may just pull the flower crown right off my head. I can just see it now, mid-vows, tears streaming down my face, and flower crown hanging partway down my back. The pictures would be memorable, to say the least.

It’s funny how we imagine our weddings to be a certain way–I never for a second questioned whether I would be wearing a veil until very recently. It’s a stupid little detail, yet somehow, it seems so significant in the mess that is wedding planning.

Nonetheless, it’s time to pick up and move on to some other stupid little detail, as the big day draws inexorably closer. There’s only 82 days left, after all.

What’s the thing you always imagined having at your wedding but had to give up?

How Is Wedding Planning Going?

It’s an interesting question, one that my partner and I receive regularly. It’s interesting because I never know what kind of response the asker is looking for. Do they want to know what project I’m currently working on? All we’ve accomplished so far? Or do they want a simple answer along the lines of “Oh, excellent, thank you!” or “Oh man, planning a wedding is so stressful!”. In reality, I can’t give a simple answer, because I don’t have feelings towards wedding planning that are cut and dry. My real, full answer, would go something like this:

Wedding planning is incredibly overwhelming. Planning a party for 50 people, each of whom is going in with expectations as to how awesome said party should be, is…intimidating. And, it’s my wedding, so I want it to be awesome. More than awesome. If at all possible (which it’s not), I would like it to be perfect.

Since Project Management has recently become part of my job description at work, it is, in some senses, good experience. I have made more phone calls in the past few months than I ever wanted to. I have pondered, exulted and tossed out dozens of ideas of how to do things (I have the pinterest board to prove it). I’ve already made several excel spreadsheets, and will probably make several more before all’s said and done.

But in between all the tears and temper tantrums (kidding…kind of), there have been a lot of fun parts. I love doing crafty things (in case you hadn’t noticed), and if nothing else, this wedding has been an outlet for that. I have completed 5 out of 16 tulle flowers, and have plans underway for a ribbon wall, not to mention the list of 2 dozen things I also want to make for the wedding. It may come to buying a bunch of them, but I’m not ready to concede defeat yet. Give me another month or two.

There’s also been the opportunity to meet our awesome vendors. We’re getting a vegan caterer that makes amazing food–and that’s after we’d totally given up on getting a caterer because all of the non-vegan ones were booked. Definitely an unexpected benefit of going vegan.

And then there’s learning how to say, “maybe we should pay someone else to make that”, which is what was recently decided for the centrepieces, bridal bouquet, boutonnieres and corsages. In the end, I only have so much time.

So, in summary, wedding planning has been going sometimes well, sometimes frustratingly, but always a learning experience. And I really can’t wait for the honeymoon!

Good news! Wedding shoes!

So, planning a wedding is stressful. The goal here was not to stress about it too much, but I have definitely failed that one several times over at this point. The good news is, it looks like we have a caterer and someone to make a wedding cake. The catch is, we’ve never tasted their wares, and won’t for at least another month or two. But the internet says they’re good, so it must be true. The internet is never wrong. Never.

What’s the other good news? I found wedding shoes. Not just any wedding shoes, but exactly the shoes I wanted. I spent a week researching. I wanted flats. I wanted them to be blue (mostly because I like blue, not because I was even thinking about my “something blue”). I wanted them to have peep toes because if I’m going to go to the effort and expense of getting a pedicure before I get married, there’s no point in hiding it in a pair of shoes. And I’m kind of loathe to spend a ton of money on shoes, so I didn’t want to spend more than $100 on them.

I was almost ready to give up.

It was out of desperation that we ventured into a thrift store. I didn’t have much hope of finding anything. I was ready to compromise, give in, just get something that worked.

And then I saw them.

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What’s this? Blue? Peep toe? Flat? $9.99??

Yes, I found my bridal shoes at a thrift store, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. They had some chunky fake stone piece attached to the front of the shoe, which I took off. But removing it leaves me with the bow and some weird black dots. The bow won’t come off without possibly damaging the shoe, but it’s kind of cute. Nonetheless, those black dots appear to be done with sharpie–they are not coming off (not even with acetone–I guess the internet isn’t always right, crap!).

I am now left in a dilemma. I’m not sure what to do to fix them. Nail polish? Just hide the dots with a shoe clip? I am inclined towards making a pretty shoe clip, but I’m not sure how to a) work it in with the bow or b) make it big enough that it covers the bow, without it concealing the shoe itself. And I really want to show them off.

This is a plea for ideas–any and all will be welcomed and pondered!