The 5 Things You Need to Know Before You Start Wedding Planning

The must-know advice, according to a seasoned wedding planner

Updated 12/05/16

Heidi Lau Photography

Brides and their wedding planners usually develop fun working relationships over the months preceding their wedding date — we're pretty honest with you when you ask for our opinion. While not everybody has a professional planner to lean on, whether it be because of budget constraints or just the desire to DIY, there are a few things all couples should know before starting the wedding planning process. Trust me, it'll make planning your wedding a lot more fun — for everybody involved.

1. Your wedding vendor's fee is based on their estimate of how much time it will take them to service your wedding, according to their regular business formula.
Leave all the arguing, negotiating, and compromising with your fiancé (or your mom) for before or after conference calls or meetings — have to break it to you, but your vendors aren't interested in hearing your fight over cake flavors or dinner menus. Plus, it's awkward and embarrassing to witness that behavior. The pastry chef or florist isn't going to create imaginary bids for things that haven't been decided, so they only need to get an email with your final decisions.

2. Not everything can be DIY'd to make it look like a professional did it.
Some wedding tasks are best left to wedding vendors who do that job every weekend, with success. Your bridal hair and makeup is a great example. You've likely spent a fortune on photography, so your wedding is not a day for personal experimentation with your look. Unless you have a friend who is a stylist for a living, I wouldn't suggest trying to recreate an "easy DIY hairstyle" on the day of your wedding, working on a deadline, with an audience of your bridal party. A hair and makeup artist for the bride is money well spent.

3. You're going to have to tune out some of your friends' suggestions.
Everybody has an opinion (or two), and your BFFs might have all kinds of fantastic ideas that likely aren't practical for your venue or your budget. My suggestion? Nod, smile, and listen — then do whatever you wanted to do in the first place. You're the bride. You and your fiancé (and maybe your parents) are the one planning this party.

4. The groom should have a say in the wedding plans.
More grooms are actively participating in recent years, but many are still participating to the extent that they'll show up where, and when, they're told to be there, wearing what the bride told them to wear. If your fiancé isn't involved in the planning, but does actually express his opinion on some things, you should listen to what he's saying. Don't disregard his wishes, even though they might be few and far between — it's his day, too.

5. Your budget is your own responsibility.
Yes, your wedding planner (if you have one) should keep a spreadsheet for you, and if you told the caterer your "max" per person is a certain number, they should respect your wishes. But ultimately, it's your job to keep an eye on what you're spending overall, because it’s the choices you make that add up to the total. You're the one signing all the contracts and agreements — you should know what you're committing to spending.

Sandy Malone is the owner of Sandy Malone Weddings & Events and author of How to Plan Your Own Destination Wedding: Do-It-Yourself Tips from an Experienced Professional. Sandy is the star of TLC's reality show Wedding Island, about her destination wedding planning company, Weddings in Vieques.

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