wedding planning tips

How to Plan the Perfect Wedding Without Becoming a Bridezilla

Let me preface this by admitting that I am not a wedding professional. I am basing my suggestions on having planned my own wedding and on having seen way too many episodes of reality shows like “Bridezillas”, “Say Yes to the Dress”, and “My Perfect Wedding”. From the former, I learned what works in planning a successful wedding. From the latter, I learned what absolutely does not. Throw in a little common sense, and you get these three rules which will help you plan a lovely, stress-free wedding.

Be Organized

A little organization goes a long way in terms of saving you time and energy. Making a list of what needs to get done will help you prioritize your time and budget. Advance planning will help you make the most of both the expertise of the vendors and wedding professionals with whom you work, and the time and talents of friends and family who want to help out.

For example, when you go to a bridal salon to try on wedding gowns, don’t go in with no idea of what you’re looking for or what your budget is. Spend some time browsing through bridal magazines and cut out a few pictures of gowns you like. Think about what specifically you like about each one – is it the beading? The neckline? The silhouette? If you pick out your ideal dress but the salon doesn’t carry it or it isn’t flattering on your figure or you just can’t afford it, knowing the features you like will help your consultant find an alternative that appeals to you, flatters you, and fits your budget.

Be Realistic

Be realistic about your budget. You may have always dreamed of a guest list of 300 of your closest friends and family, or wearing that huge diamond ring with a center stone over 5 carats or wearing a Pnina gown and hand-beaded Jimmy Choos, or arriving in a carriage pulled by six white horses, but are those plans realistic, given your budget? Are you willing to sacrifice other aspects of your wedding for that one perfect thing you just HAVE to have? Are you willing to take on thousands of dollars of debt for it? Be realistic about your budget and be ready to make those difficult decisions.

Be realistic about logistics. Maybe you’ve always wanted to get married at an intimate walled garden in your hometown, but there just won’t be room for your fiance’s eight siblings and their spouses plus all your sorority sisters plus the other 200 guests your parents insist be invited. Or maybe you’ve always wanted fourteen bridesmaids all carrying some rare flower that just isn’t available for your November wedding. Understand that you can’t change the laws of physics or nature just to suit your own whims.

diamond proposal ring

Be Reasonable

It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of “It’s MY day, I should get everything I want,” even if everything comes at the expense of vendors and friends. Of course you want your bridesmaids to wear the dresses you’ve always imagined, but if those dresses happen to cost $750 and all three of your bridesmaids have just graduated from medical school AND live on the other side of the country, ask yourself if you’re being reasonable.

If you plan on having a destination wedding, be reasonable about your expectations of who will attend – don’t be disappointed if you only have a handful of guests. Try putting yourself in the shoes of the people you’re dealing with – if you wouldn’t want to be asked to stay up making favors till 3am, or to pay to fly to Vegas for a bachelorette party, or to wear an unflattering dress, chances are your friends wouldn’t either.

Be reasonable when you’re dealing with vendors and wedding professionals, as well. Remember that they have handled dozens, hundreds, even thousands of weddings. They’ve seen much more than you have, and they have resources you can’t dream of. If you’re ready to be reasonable and listen to their suggestions, they can help you find compromises that will suit you and your budget.

Your florist can suggest flowers similar to what you want but can’t afford or that aren’t in season for your wedding. Your caterer might know of a venue similar to your dream garden but that can seat twice as many guests. Your bridal salon consultant might have a dress style you hadn’t considered that will be more flattering than anything you’d imagined. If you’re willing to be reasonable, you’ll end up with fantastic resources you can tap into.

So remember: be organized, be realistic, and be reasonable, and then there’s no reason you can’t plan the wedding of your dreams with no stress, no strained friendships, and no burned bridges. And, just for the record, if at the end of your wedding day, you’re married to the man you love, your wedding was a success. Anything beyond that is just gravy.

wedding traditions to observe

Wedding Traditions!

I know, I know, I just posted a blog about traditions a couple of days ago. But ’tis the season, and I still have tradition on the brain. So here goes part two!

If you’ve ever seen the musical Fiddler on the Roof (or probably even if you haven’t), you’re familiar with the song “Tradition”. In it, Tevye explains how important traditions are to the way of life in his community. “Because of our traditions,” he says solemnly, “everyone in our little village knows who he is and what God expects him to do.” He turns to the audience and asks, “And how did these traditions come to be? I’ll tell you…I don’t know. But it’s a tradition!!”

Traditions give us all a sense of continuity, a connection with our families, with our heritage. There’s something reassuring about doing something the same way it was done by your parents, your grandparents, THEIR grandparents. Some traditions are passed down along with their own story, some kind of explanation of how they came to be, what their importance is, how they became significant to someone somewhere down the line, ages ago.

But the origins of some traditions, like Tevye’s, have become shrouded with mystery over the years. We do them for no other reason than because they ARE tradition. And there’s something wonderful and special about that as well.

Some traditions are beautiful and serious: a good friend of mine make a pilgrimage to the cemetery every year to lay flowers on the grave of several relatives. Some are kind of funny: a family I know finishes decorating their Christmas tree every year by having someone stand on the far side of the room and throw an ugly ornament onto the tree – wherever it sticks, it stays. Most people I know have at least one “family recipe” that someone in the family always brings to a particular holiday gathering, whether it’s Aunt Ethel’s fruitcake or Grandma’s rum balls or Great-Uncle Heironymous’s barbequed pork.

Some traditions have been passed down for decades or even centuries. My family always opened one gift on Christmas Eve, and I think that may be a tradition our ancestors brought to the New World on the Mayflower. And some have been newly created within the past few years. My husband and I go to New York City every year for my birthday, a new tradition that began with our courtship only three years ago.

But whether age-old or fairly new, whether solemn or goofy, traditions create a wonderful family bond. So as the holidays approach, tell your sweetie about your family traditions, and ask him about his. As you begin your new life together, you can choose which traditions you want to continue with your new family. And maybe even create a few of your own!

love couple engagement ring for proposal

Contemporary Vows

Getting married barefoot at the foot of a volcano instead of a church? How about underwater or by a skydiving justice of the piece? Well, traditional vows may not be for you and your partner.

Contemporary vows are just as accepted in wedding ceremonies as dressing up like Elvis and a Las Vegas showgirl. They are a personal statement about your relationship with your partner and will make you wedding day special and unique. However, not everyone has the same ideas about what vows should mean or say.

For some people, writing vows can become very difficult. Some grooms may find them to be too “mushy” while brides may not think they are romantic enough. Furthermore, words like “everlasting love” and “eternal soul mate” may not be in your natural language, and may feel strange to say in front of family and friends.

Contemporary vows may be as simple as one sentence or as ornate as a fifteen minute speech. It’s your wedding and so you can make it what you want, but the most important thing is that you and your partner both agree on them. If your partner wants to write vows that rib you about how he “promises to love you in sickness or in health, and even when you walk around the house in your bathrobe,” let him know if this would be embarrassing or hurtful. There’s nothing worse than writing surprise vows only to find out they are less than flattering at the altar.

When writing contemporary vows, you can also consider how they might reflect you as a couple. If you and your soon to be spouse enjoy kidding around and laughing, then joke-filled vows may just be for you. If you or your spouse is a singer, perhaps you could write them a song and sing your vows instead. Vows can also be said in different languages if you are creating a bi-lingual household and union, and can also mix the vows of the different cultures that you may be marrying into.

If you do decide on writing your own vows in a contemporary style, run them by a few friends first, perhaps your bridesmaids and groomsmen to see what they think. What may be hilarious to you and your spouse may be offensive or strange to others, and you may not realize it until you’ve read them to someone else. Getting a green light from friends on your vows is also a good idea so that they can time you and tell you if you need to make your vows longer or shorter.

Whether you are getting married from 10,000 feet or in a church and want to seal the deal of your marriage your own way, contemporary vows are for just about anyone. Just remember to make sure that you and your partner approve of each other’s vow before you walk down the aisle, and make them a reflection of your love for one another.