Let's face it — wedding planning isn't easy. With to-do lists to check off, decisions to be made, and hefty checks to write, it can be downright chill-inducing! But it doesn't have to be, especially with a little help from the pros. Here are some of the scariest parts of wedding-planning, and how to keep them from becoming the stuff of nightmares.
Unless you're a financial pro, chances are you'll talk about money more while you plan your wedding than almost any other time in your life. Says Amy Nichols, founder of Amy Nichols Special Events and co-founder of The Poppy Group, "When you want to spend $10K and have fallen in love with a vendor that charges $20K, it can feel like discovering a rotten pumpkin on your front porch. The key is to have realistic expectations about what you can afford, and to plan a wedding based on your budget, not on your fantasy." Since around 50% of your budget will go toward the venue, catering, and rentals, Nichols tells her clients not to book a venue until they have a very good idea of how all those costs will add up — keeping them from going way over with the first big purchase.
The Guest List
Don't let a huge guest list keep you up at night. "The easiest way to make a guest list less scary is to trim it down," Nicols advises. "Ask all parties (your fiancé, your parents, his parents) to try to remove 10 people each from the list. That will reduce your guest count by 40 people which, at $200 a head, would be $8,000 in savings!" See? You're keeping your budget in check, too! And if the seating chart has turned into the plotline of a horror flick, ask your parents and his family to assign the seating for their own respective tables.
Hotel Room Blocks
"Room blocks can be a huge headache, and a financial obligation," says Becky Navarro, founder of Pearl Events Austin. "It used to be a convenience for couples, but these days couples often end up being held liable for thousands of dollars of hotel rooms that their guests don't book." How's that happening? You can thank sites like VRBO and AirBnB, where guests are finding more comfortable lodging at more affordable prices. Navarro recommends getting a sense of how your important guests will be booking, and then keeping room blocks to a minimum. "And make sure to read the contract carefully before you sign, so you know what you'll be held responsible for."
If your wedding is being held in a remote area, arranging transportation can be really frightening. "If your venue has limited parking so guests cannot drive, and they're staying at a number of scattered hotels, getting everyone to your wedding can require some savvy planning," says Nichols. "Finding a reliable company and splurging to provide transportation is an extra expense that's totally worth it, and that will save you a lot of stress come wedding day." Just remember to build some extra time into the schedule: Buses travel much slower than passenger cars!
Weather is probably the scariest part of planning a wedding because there's no way to control it. Says Nichols, "The good thing is, you're not the first person to have ever gotten married in the rain, so venues and vendors know how to work with the weather." Consider renting a tent or finding indoor alternatives at your venue — planning ahead will save you money, instead of shelling out big bucks for a tent last-minute. Says Navarro, "Be sure to allocate extra money for your plan B so that you're not just staying dry, but you have an option you really love. I often find that clients will fall in love with a venue's views, and reserve a tent in case it rains. But once that tent is up and the walls are down, the look is completely different. So make sure you've got a design scheme in place with your planner and florist so that even the last-minute rain plan is as gorgeous as you'd hoped."