We are officially under 1 month away from the big day! Having just gone through a bit of a crisis (more on that later) in my career, I am so ready to finish the last mile of my wedding planning process on a high note and in 3 weeks, walk down the aisle and marry my best friend!
In the next coming weeks, I have a hair appointment, final dress fitting, video shoot to finish up, and an appointment to apply for a marriage license. But I wanted to share some REAL insight and advice on what I've learned in the last 11 months with you today. If you're a bride to be, listen closely.. and if you've been there and done that, read on and laugh with (at) me!!
By the way, these photos are actually part of my Engagement Shoot, taken by the amazing Jen Fellows from Acqua Photos. We decided to capture something real and AUTHENTIC of what's actually going on a few months before the wedding - looking at details of the wedding and enjoying every moment. Instead of dressing up and trying to act all lovey-dovey (we did that, too, for the record, and I didn't love the end result), we decided to capture what's REAL. I can't tell you how much MORE I love this kind of photo shoot; it tells a story without me having to try at all!
So here are the things I've learned in the last 11 months that I wish I knew before I started:
1) Starting earlier is ALWAYS better than starting later
And I don't just mean the wedding planning process itself, but the bits and pieces of the process. It's never too late to get that MINTED order in (especially knowing sometimes they mess up!! I had such nightmares dealing with them), start thinking about your guest list, and finalizing your seating charts... These are things that you think you can't do until later in the process, but start laying them out! You can change your mind later, but at least you won't be starting from scratch when time is all of a sudden limited. Which, trust me, WILL happen to you!
2) Select the right wedding planner
This is kind of an obvious one on the surface. Depending on what you need, you may be looking for a day-of, month-of, or full-service wedding planner. Some specialize in ethnic weddings, other specialize in design. I personally interviewed 6 different wedding planners myself within a 2 month period and eventually decided to go with Nicole George Events.
The reason I picked Nicole over all the other ones I interviewed was because she seemed more 1) organized 2) calm and composed 3) stylish when it comes to personal style. Honestly, that's about how much you can glean from a 30-60 minute meeting with anyone. If you ask me, hiring a wedding planner is such a tricky business because you can't really "try out" their service. You have 1-2 meetings to determine whether you like them, and after you've signed with them there's pretty much no turning back. I am extremely lucky that Nicole turned out to be everything she was during our initial consultation. She is always prompt and responsive in terms of communication, and understands my vision, and listens more than she talks. The most important thing has been that she provides feedback at the right moment - she understands to complement my vision, and not to overpower it. These are such important traits for people in the service industry, especially wedding related business because everything is so personal. I love that about Nicole.
So when you're looking for a wedding planner, I'd say look for people that click with you personally, someone whose demeanor you can work with (they're not talking too fast, taking 3 days to respond to your email, wearing a lip color that you could never imagine wearing, or proposes ideas that are surprising to you in not-so-positive ways). If you should be judgemental ONCE in your life time, this is the time to exercise judgement.
3) Have a theme, but more importantly, tell your story
With Nicole's help, we defined the stylistic theme of our wedding very early on. It was blush and midnight blue in terms of color, and the overall style is romantic, soft, and gardenesque. This was all Nicole's work, so it was easier on my part.
What was more challenging is how to weave the story of how Victor and I met, how we are as a couple, and what binds us together, all into this look and feel. If you're trying to do the same, I'd recommend
A. Work on your vow first, even if you're way early in wedding planning. Write down the things you have to say to thank and appreciate your significant other. What comes to mind and what is the glue in your relationship.. what holds you together? Go from there.
B. Think about the touch points on the wedding day - a cocktail napkin probably won't have as much impact as a sign displayed at the front entrance. Pick and choose the aspects of the wedding day where you want the story to come through. You can't have EVERYTHING tell your story.. that will be sensory overload for your guests!
C. Much like what I did for our engagement shoot... think about ways to capture you guys in your most natural and authentic state. Having anything that's less posted and scripted is always better!
4) If you don't have a vision, tap into Pinterest. But only moderately.
Every wedding planner I interviewed said that they have a love-hate relationship with Pinterest. And it's true! It's the best tool there is when it comes to perusing the different options out there, but it isn't always the easiest to organize and keep track of things.
I personally liked to go to StyleMePretty.com or TheKnot.com to look for aesthetic inspiration. Or I go to a big/established wedding planner or famous photographer's websites to get ideas. Unless these people have been paying special attention to SEO, not all of their material land on Pinterest.
5) Don't forget to involve your significant other
Depending on the significant other's personality, they may or may not be heavily involved in the wedding planning process. I say involve them anyway, but gauge what the "right level" is. It's very common for the bride to take on most of the responsibilities and make most of the decisions. But it's BOTH of your big da, so you don't want him to be surprised about what happens during your wedding, especially financially related items, haha. Yes, be on the same page regarding your budget, and involve him in your decision making process.
All Photography by Jen Fellows at Acqua Photo