Insider Tips: Getting Started Planning Your Wedding
Yesterday marked exactly one month since I became a wife.
That word still hasn’t quite sunken in, the idea that I’m a “wife” and I have a “husband”. So weird! It took me long enough to get used to using the word “fiancé” instead of “boyfriend”.
Our wedding a month ago was on the shores of beautiful Lake Como, Italy, and man-oh-man it was as magical and amazing as we wanted it to be.
The day after we hosted a pool party for guests who were still in town, and I was asked repeatedly, “So what went wrong yesterday?” In all honesty I had difficulty answering the question at first. We were so incredibly lucky to have everything go our way that I couldn’t pinpoint anything that went wrong. Sure, there were things that didn’t go quite as planned (speeches had to be moved to the end of dinner, instead of beginning, due to a possible rain issue), and I wish I had been more organized in trying to get groups of friends in photos, but really, it didn’t affect the experience or mood of the day for us or our guests.
We really couldn’t have asked for anything better. I truly feel blessed.
So how did we make all this happen as we wanted?
Well, I definitely can’t take credit for a lot of it. I mean, the weather cooperating was a huge factor in the delight on the day,, and of course our amazing wedding planner and other vendors really brought everything to life.
I do think I can narrow it down to two factors that I would give as tips to any couple as they are getting started planning their wedding.
Talk about your shared vision, and get on the same page.
What are the big things that come to mind when you think of your wedding? Feeling the fresh ocean breeze on your face as you say your vows?
Get yourselves on track for as smooth and seamless a planning process as possible by discussing your dream of the big day together. Talk about the big picture things—not the small details yet—and discuss the vision that you each have. Find commonalities that allow you to build a plan of what you want that you unequivocally agree on.
For example, we always knew that with our families and friends spread out over the world, there was no compelling reason to have it in New York City (where we live), or either of our hometowns. Basically, we were able to consider a destination wedding from the get-go with Italy our immediate choice (for many reasons which I won’t go into now!).
We also both have winter birthdays so the idea of conveniently scheduling a summer celebration for ourselves was a no-brainer as well. Another thing we were adamant about was being present for cocktail hour, instead of skipping it to take photos. In fact, we planned our day so that we would miss as little of our wedding as possible, opting instead to start super early (I got up at 5am!) to get all the “necessities” like photo taking out of the way so we could enjoy the party.
Venue and timing were both easy decisions, but what about the actual wedding day? We discussed a lot of ideas, toyed with specific possibilities and plans, but ultimately we realized we were both on the exact same page in wanting to create a weekend experience for us and our guests. We couldn’t wait to have our loved ones all in the same place for the first time ever, and we wanted them all to meet and mingle. That meant that our decisions were going to be based on whether or not it would deliver on that desire for fun for everyone. The flow of the day’s events was going to be key!
LOVE your guests and focus on their experience
Think about your guests too. It almost seems too obvious to say, but you’d be surprised how many couples think only of what is easy for themselves, and not the people attending. It is your wedding, but you are still a host.
Consider if your decisions are going to be just as fun for your guests as it is for you. Are they going to be standing around in the intense sun for 2 hours while you go around and take photos? You may want to provide shade and fans in addition to cold cocktails, and maybe think about shortening it slightly. Is your venue at an unusually high altitude that may have an effect on your guests (like at a ski resort like Aspen)? Maybe think about having an oxygen bar to relieve them of any issues, and turn it into a fun feature of your reception!
The last thing you want are guests that are bored or uncomfortable. I've heard horror stories from guests that actually left weddings feeling hungry, which negated any fun they had at the event!
It goes without saying too, that if you’re looking to do a destination wedding, don’t do it somewhere that will price out half your guests, or force your family to spend more than they’d appreciate. Your guests make your wedding atmosphere—what’s the point if half of your dearest friends can’t make it?
I also encourage the idea of building anticipation. You can start with setting the tone for the day with the wedding invitations of course. But even if you don’t, I always love a slight element of mystery or intrigue to keep your guests wondering what’s coming next, or what might be in store for them. Extra points for surprising them with something unexpected, that will keep them talking and raving after its all over!
Ultimately though, in addition to these two tips, I think your attitude makes the difference. Focus on the big picture—you are marrying the love of your life!—and you'll find that the small issues and mistakes that arise on the day don't really matter.
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Planning your wedding? Read more from our Wedding 101 series of posts!