Yay! You’re Engaged!
What now? There is a ton of pressure put on engaged couples to have this huge, perfect, storybook wedding regardless of what you can afford, or would even really enjoy. Hell, I actually like planning parties and the over the top production that is the “Traditional American Wedding” is just about the opposite of what I would want for my own wedding. But then what do you want? If a country club wedding with 300 people doesn’t fit your personality, what makes sense for you and your fiance? That is actually a big part of why I started Folie à Deux Events. Weddings are not one-size fits all or even one-size fits most, regardless of what the Wedding Industry and Pinterest will have you believe. My goal is to help couples figure out what their dream wedding actually looks like!
The best place to start is to think about events that you and your partner have enjoyed in the past. Nail down what makes you happy and comfortable and start there with your planning. If you are both introverts, a 200-person guest list and a larger-than-life banquet hall are probably not your thing. To make things harder, most couples are not going to be exactly alike in their preferences. It is going to be a balancing act between what you enjoy and makes you both comfortable.
Budgets & Guest Lists
I know some people say budget should be the first thing you decide when planning a wedding, but that is wrong. Figure out who you want to invite and the type of event you want to throw, then get down and dirty with the budget. You can honestly make any budget work for any number of people, so the people come first. Cutting a guest list just to fit a budget is the last thing you should be doing. That said, never feel obligated to invite someone to your wedding if you aren’t feeling it. Obligation invites are the worst! Also consider cutting down on the plus-ones for single friends or family. If you are on a tight budget, cut out the folks you either don’t know or only know tangentially, no one will be mad.
Fitting a budget to your guest list sometimes means getting creative with the type of event you throw. A few ways to keep the cost down if you want to invite a lot of people is to throw a weekday or daytime wedding, serve hors d’oeuvres and cocktails instead of a seated dinner, throw a pot-luck wedding, or use a non-traditional venue like a park or a community center (though be careful, this can get expensive if you don’t do your research!). Another option is to have a cash bar, your guests are adults and will understand. Alcohol is pricey and will be one of the biggest expenses at your wedding after the venue, food, and photographer. If you want to have a champagne toast, you should probably shell out the cash for that, but beyond that, do not feel that like you have pay for everyone to get wasted.
Pro-Tip: When doing guest lists and budgets, use Google Docs! It will help you organize everything in one place and its shareable with your family and vendors!
Do you actually want to DIY?
When it comes to decorations and event design, if you are on a shoestring budget, simple is best. You may actually be better off finding a venue that is already decorated or naturally pretty. Everyone thinks that if you are on a budget that you can just DIY your decorations and save a ton of money, but DIY is not always cheaper. You will invest a ton of time, energy, and money into a project that may not turn out like you saw on Pinterest. If you love creating and crafting then go for it, take your time and try to do most of it well ahead of time. But if its not your thing, buy it on Etsy or commission a local maker (like me!) to do it for you! Be careful to not take on too many elements of your wedding as DIY projects, if you try to do it all yourself, you will likely be mega stressed out or possibly even run out of time! You do not want to be pulling all-nighters with your bridesmaids trying to finish hot-gluing the centerpieces together. DIY the things you are most passionate about and that you will enjoy working on, and hire someone else to do the things you don’t care about as much.
You want your wedding to feel authentic and personal. This may mean stepping back from all the magazines, wedding blogs, and inspiration boards for a bit until you have worked out what you and your partners priorities are for this wedding. It also means not giving into the pressures put on you from family members. If your mom bullies you into spending a ton of money on a wedding that is more her dream than yours, you are not going to be happy. If your families are helping to pay for the wedding, you may have to make some compromises, but do not let them steamroll all your ideas, be gracious and find a middle ground that makes everyone happy. It is easy to fall into the cookie-cutter trap of the wedding industry and be tricked into thinking you MUST have a $600 Peony bouquet, or a 4-tier fondant covered cake, or monogrammed silk robes for your bridesmaids, or even bridesmaids at all! You have to remember that wedding magazines, Bridal Expos, wedding tv shows, and even some wedding blogs are in the business of selling you WEDDING THINGS. They are also the ones to blame for perpetuating the myth that everyone spends $27,000 on their wedding (hint: that’s the average, not the median). If they convince you that “average”couples spend nearly $30k on a wedding, it becomes much easier to sell you on custom beer koozies emblazoned with a kitchy rhyme and your wedding date. Here is a secret, “average” people like you and me DO NOT spend $30k on their wedding, and no one needs a beer koozie with your wedding date on it. Another thing you probably don’t need? Wedding programs! Your ceremony is likely only 15 minutes long and programs can add $100+ to your budget! Better things to spend that money might be a Day-of-Coordinator, more booze for your guests, or be a little selfish put it toward your honeymoon! In the end, its all about determining what things are a priority and what aren’t.
The tl;dr of Wedding Planning
- Who you invite is more important than how much you spend.
- Throw the party you want, not the party you feel like you are supposed to throw.
- Don’t waste precious time DIYing something you don’t care about.
- Get help where you need it.
- Listen to input from your family/friends, but don’t let anyone hijack your wedding.
- You can throw a wedding on any budget, normal people do not spend $30k on a wedding.
- Rhymes are the worst.
Those are some of the basic things you need to keep in mind when beginning your wedding planning. It doesn’t have to be this crazy stressful thing if you approach rationally and work together with your partner to figure out exactly what you want your wedding to be like. Get help. Don’t try to do everything yourself. Whether you hire a pro or just get some friends to lend their talents, no one person has all the skills required to pull off a whole wedding (except maybe Martha Stewart), so save the stress and ask for help!
I plan to go into further detail about specific elements of wedding planning for future posts. If you have a specific question or topic you would like answers on, hit me up in the comments or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.