Wedding planning isn’t always easy. Or fun for that matter. It can turn even the sweetest, kindest, most generous human being into a nightmarish bridezilla who barks orders at her friends, hangs up on her Mom, and fights with her groom over the tiniest details—serif or sans serif?! What do you mean you don’t know what I’m talking about?! You don’t want to be that person…the person we all swore we would never be. (I was—I woke up in a feverish sweat one night convinced we had ordered the wrong size tables, insisting we run over to the wedding site “right this minute” to measure the outdoor patio for the third time, and crying to my groom that he was being insensitive when trying to convince me I was reading the tape measure wrong. Gah!) Chalk some things up to being overtired, overworked (it’s like having a second job!), and an emotional wreck because of it all. But other things are just flat-out mistakes that brides could so easily avoid—if only they knew what they were. Well, ladies, here they are…the 12 mistakes (almost) every bride makes when wedding planning. Don’t let them happen to you and maybe, just maybe, you will be one of the lucky ones who gets to enjoy the process, not just the product.
1. Going overbudget or not having a sense of budget. You know the #1 thing couples fight about, right? You guessed it—money. One of the first things you should do when you get engaged is decide on a budget—and stick to it. Are you paying for the wedding yourselves? Are your parents contributing? Figure out what the bottom line is and then create your own budget graph (if you’re an Excel whiz) or find one online like this one from TheKnot.com. Make sure you put the percentage you wish to spend next to each item (flowers, invitations, band, venue, food and drinks, etc.) You can’t just spend, spend, spend. When you find out your cake will be 10% more than you had anticipated, you’ll need to shave 10% off something else. Make the concession—it’s not worth having your first financial fight before you even say ‘I Do.’
2. Not having backup plans. Clearly you haven’t read this or this. Kidding—but really, you probably should read them at some point. Any wedding planner or already-wed will tell you that you MUST have backup plans for rain (ceremony needs to be moved indoors), technical failures (sound system isn’t working), or other emergencies (your makeup artist didn’t show and your officiant is late)! Don’t worry—most of your guests won’t know anything is going awry if you zen-out and mask your stress with a smile. One quick “help me” glance at your trusty wedding planner and she’ll know it’s time to get to work.
3. Trying to do it all without help. Speaking of wedding planners, HIRE ONE! You very well might need a fixer-upper. Wedding planners can ensure that when something does go wrong (and it always does), you won’t have to lift a finger. But wedding planners do so much more than keep disasters at bay on the wedding day; they’re there every step of the way. Whether you’re struggling with time management, finding the right invitation wording, trying to get in touch with caterers for a tasting, too bleary-eyed to pick the right ceremony chairs (need we go on?), a wedding planner will guide, advise, and make sure your wedding is everything you dreamed it would be. Even if you don’t have a wedding planner, don’t be afraid to ask for help from your family and friends, especially if you’re having a bridal party. Make it fun! No one has to suffer through stuffing envelopes without being rewarded with cocktails. Better yet—have your friends help you pick the perfect wines for your reception with a wine tasting party.
4. Being bridezilla to your bridesmaids. Stressed? Get a good scream out in the shower. Sign up for a weekly spinning class. Whatever it takes to release that anxious energy. But don’t take it out on your bridesmaids. These are your closest friends and family. While your sisters might be a bit more forgiving of your outbursts, some friends may not. And truthfully, when all is said and done, some things that seemed like the most important detail in the whole wide world (you said ballet flats not kitten heels!) just won’t matter in 1, 2, 10 years, or even 10 minutes into your amazing wedding day. Don’t ruin a friendship because she wants to wear a sexier shoe.
5. Not involving your groom. Your groom WANTS to be involved in the wedding planning. Say WHAT?! It’s true. Read this. It’s imperative that you involve him somehow even if you’ve had every last detail planned for the better part of your life. He’s not just playing a part, filling a suit. It’s his day too, and he needs to be more than just “there.” Heck, involving him in the wedding planning process (so long as you’re not acting the part of micromanager and he the intern) may even bring you two closer.
6. Losing too much weight before the final fitting. Calorie-counting and a new obsession with yoga is all part of the plan to look your best on your wedding day. We know, we’ve been there. Well, I haven’t. I, unfortunately, got a horrible flu a few months before my wedding and ended up losing about 10 pounds from involuntarily not eating for weeks (silver lining). Otherwise, I would have been right there with you. It’s fine to shed some of your midsection, tone your arms, tighten your butt. Leading up to the big day, it’s normal to have a goal weight in mind and gradually drop the pounds (your dressmaker should be able to easily make alterations to take in the gown). But don’t go on a crash diet after your final fitting—an ill-fitting dress is an unflattering look, no matter how skinny the bod underneath. And please—don’t do anything crazy—feeding tube?! I can’t even go there. No dress is worth that.
7. Not trusting your wedding vendors. Everyone knows who is boss. You’re cutting the checks, deciding on the tips, giving a final okay on each and every detail. But there’s no need to nit-pick at every little thing your vendors are doing. There’s a fine line between being appropriately inquisitive and flat-out annoying. First, trust yourself that you picked the best-of-the-best vendors and then TRUST THEM. They will do their jobs exceedingly well when they have room to think, breathe, and create. Plus, the happier, kinder, gentler you are with them, the more eager they’ll be to please.
8. Second-guessing your color palette. Details are addictive. You’ll find yourself Pinning in your sleep. So it’s easy to understand that you may have a mint green-themed wedding plan one day, then see a MUST-HAVE peach detail on Style Me Pretty the next and want to re-plan your wedding. All. Over. Again. From. Scratch. Don’t do it! Pick a color palette and COMMIT (yah, you know, that word you were just begging your groom to add to his vocabulary). Don’t try too hard or get swayed by trends; just pick a signature color or combination of colors that feel very “you” and is something you think you’ll love on your wedding day and in 20 years too.
9. Making the months leading up to the big day ALL about the wedding. This is a biggie! You don’t want every free moment you have for months leading up to the big day to be ALL ABOUT THE WEDDING. No one wants to hear about it or even think about it to the extent that you do. And if you make it all-consuming it will engulf you. It’s great to have a checklist and a plan and actually find yourself checking things off that list. But find time to see friends (and not discuss wedding details). Make a date-night every week with your groom (dance classes do not count). Be the fun bride who hides inside all of us.
10. Procrastinating on all the little details. Never leave anything to the very last minute. There will be enough going on in the couple weeks before the wedding so you definitely don’t want any to-dos that could have been done in advance still haunting you. Make sure your place cards are calligraphed and boxed. Have your wedding night booked. The bridesmaids gifts purchased. Anything that can be done well in advance of the big day should be complete so you can enjoy a stress-free night out with your cousin who came all the way from Italy just to celebrate you.
11. Serving too much alcohol at the rehearsal dinner party. These days, rehearsal dinner invites are often sent to anyone traveling far and wide for the wedding. Many times, the group tends to be a large portion of those invited to the wedding itself. So it’s less of a rehearsal dinner, more of a pre-party. A mini reception. You really need to be careful how much alcohol is being served here. How up for partying are guests going to feel the next day if they’ve had too much to drink the night before? Surely you don’t want people partying into the wee hours the night before your ‘I Dos’ only to try to sneak out before the cake is cut the day of. Cut the party off at a reasonable hour and don’t join your guests for any after-partying. What they do once you say your goodnights is out of your control. You crossed your Ts, now cross your fingers no one is in rare form the following day.
12. Losing sight of the big picture. Last but most certainly not least, remember what this day is really all about. You’re having a wedding to initiate a MARRIAGE. Don’t lose yourself so much in the details that you lose sight of the big picture: Love. Life. Happiness. A white picket fence. No, really. At the end of the day there are just some things you shouldn’t fret about on your wedding day. Yes, it’s discouraging when something you had planned for so long falls apart at the last second but it’s likely so minor that you’re the only one who even notices. It’s more important that you let it all go and just enjoy your day. It will go by in an instant. So don’t waste a nanosecond worrying. JUST. HAVE. FUN. And remember to kiss often.
For more wedding planning advice read about writing your own wedding ceremony, ordering your accessories online, and questions to ask yourselves before booking your wedding photographer.