With fifteen years experience in the wedding industry, I thought I knew it all. I was wrong! As I wrap up my own wedding planning journey, I realize how much I didn’t know I didn’t know. Along the way, I’ve made some good decisions, some I wouldn’t make again and a few I urge you not to! So before you start planning your wedding, keep in mind where we went right (and wrong) during our planning experience.
1. DO make an appointment before you register.
I showed up at several stores, armed with my sister-in-law (an expert in the kitchen and at her own registry) and although we had made plans to meet, we didn’t think to call the stores. Three of the four stores we went to could not assist us in registering that day. It was an afternoon wasted that could have been avoided had we called ahead.
2. DON’T wait until the last minute to plan your rehearsal dinner.
We were so focused on finding our wedding location, we didn’t put much time into planning a rehearsal dinner. We figured that could wait. But when the invitations had to go to print we found ourselves scrambling to secure the details of the rehearsal in order to include everyone at our destination wedding in it.
We booked our destination wedding date less than three months from the big day. Unfortunately that meant many of our loved ones couldn’t change commitments to catch a flight. The more time you can give the people that matter most, the better.
4. DON’T worry about everyone else’s schedules.
I found myself trying to coordinate so many requests for bachelorette weekend dates, wedding dates and shower dates that it really delayed the planning for everything…and made it more difficult. I encourage you to cross check your plans with your immediate family and bridal party and know that you can’t and won’t please everyone else.
5. DO get the dress you want!
When I went to try on wedding dresses, I brought my favorite ladies with me. They all gave helpful insight and all fell in love with one dress—a different gown than the one I wanted. Ultimately I opted for the wedding dress I couldn’t get out of my head and I’m thrilled with my decision. I got the gown I wanted, not the one everyone else did.
6. DON’T forget about your wedding bands.
Start this process early so you get the look or custom creation you want. Your wedding bands should be in your hands with plenty of time before the big day (and don’t forget to get your engagement ring cleaned so it sparkles as much as your new band will).
7. DO give yourselves extra time for invitation design.
Triple checking spelling and dates, designing back and forth with a printer or invitation designer, looking for little details to enhance your invitation and stand apart, all of this takes time. To get the look you really want, give yourselves a few months to plan and not rush through this process.
8. DON’T forget about your wedding website (and do have fun with it!).
We loved creating our wedding website, reliving stories, sharing photos of our wedding party and engagement and it saved us a lot of time when guests asked us questions—we simply referred them to the site instead.
9. DO work with a wedding planner.
It has been SO nice to have someone to call and make me feel confident about my decisions, to bounce ideas off of, to look to for new ideas, and to tell me things like how long dinner really should last or what makes people get up and dance. I know how valuable a wedding planner is the day and week of the event but leading up to that time, ours have made us feel relaxed about the entire experience too and that makes a big difference.
10. DO put some money aside for unexpected overage charges and budget items you might forget about.
Even little details like getting your shower hosts thank you gifts, postage and transportation, all those small things add up over time.
11. DO keep a list of personal and creative ideas as you plan your wedding.
Keeping a file in my phone has allowed me to bring some of my personal ideas to life. Without that running list, I’m confident I would have forgotten most of them! You can’t rely on your vendor team to come up with all your personal ideas, you know the two of you best, so share that information and collaborate on something completely unique.
12. DO make a Pinterest board before you meet with your team.
Everyone will ask to see what you like. I was surprised how many categories of wedding professionals needed to see our Pinterest board before they could move forward with their own ideas. Take some time to curate photos you love and let your team edit and design around it.
See more: The Ultimate Wedding-Planning Checklist
Sometimes a simple decision, small change, or setting time aside to be prepared makes all the difference in your wedding planning experience. To plan for a stress-free wedding season, keep these dos and don’ts in mind and you’re well on your way to a wonderful big day!