Well, we did it! Our wedding was this past Saturday, and (mostly) everything went down without a hiccup. All in all, we had a great time and everything came out great, even though at the end of the night it was one giant blur.
Having finally gone through the wedding planning process, I’m able to look back at all the things I stressed about (and those I didn’t but maybe should have) to figure out which were important and which ones I could have spent less time on. Here’s my list of the Top 5 so far…more to come soon!
1. Location, location, location
I spent a lot of time trying to find a unique venue, and I’m really glad I did. Everything from the acoustics to the lighting to the flow of the space had an impact on the night, and everybody seemed to comment on the uniqueness of the building. I got married at a place called The Bath Club in Miami Beach, FL, which you can read about here.
2. Don’t skimp on the day-of Wedding Coordinator
We hired a day-of coordinator, whom we paid a little bit extra to attend the wedding food tasting a month beforehand, and the actual rehearsal before the wedding. All I can say is, I wish I had had the budget to use her from the get-go. I honestly don’t know what I would have done without her on our actual wedding day. She set up all the tables, made sure we walked down the aisle on time, and made sure the caterers were on the ball. She also kept us “on schedule” all night for things like toasts, etc. Her assistant even found my lip gloss that I had lost sometime between the ceremony and dessert. At the end of the night, she gathered up all the stuff that I would have surely forgotten (like my veil or the table numbers) and made sure we had all the gifts and checks. If you can budget to have one for a few weeks BEFORE the wedding, do it! I would have been a lot less stressed if I had used her throughout the wedding planning process. It’s nice knowing that everything is taken care of!
3. Be selective when planning your family photo wish list
If you don’t have a large or blended family, then you might not need to worry about this. But this was #1 of 2 things that seriously stressed me out at the wedding. We had decided to do a one hour session of me and my now husband and a one hour session for all of our families BEFORE the wedding. Getting everybody together for all the different shots was like a freak show. At one point I think I even snapped at my Grandma (God forgive me) to get into place. The reason was because people were showing up EARLY to the wedding! The invitation said 6:30, but guests were arriving around 5:45, which meant that a handful of them actually saw me before the ceremony. Finally, we had to cut out some shots and I had to retreat to drink two glasses of champagne. If you’re doing family photos, I advise you to cut out individual shots like “You and Maid of Honor” or “You and Sisters” or “Groom and His Parents” because it’s going to take all day. Concentrate on the biggies like “You and Bridesmaids” “Groom and Groomsmen,” “Bride and Groom with Her Side of the Family” and “Bride and Groom with His Side of the Family.”
4. Make an entrance
OK, so I like to be a little bit dramatic! And since I’ve been planning what song I was going to walk down the aisle to for years before I got married, I had plenty of time to execute it. With my mom and dad on each arm, we walked down the aisle to Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good.”
I had hired a trumpet player and a trombone player from the University of Miami to discreetly position themselves towards the back of the ceremony room, and they started playing as I walked in at around the :40 mark. I have to say, it was pretty awesome, and well worth the $200 I paid them!
Our other processional songs include the Dream Academy’s cover of The Smith’s “Please Please Please” (for the groom and his parents) and Cat Power’s “Sea of Love” for the wedding party.
5. Hire a DJ with similar music taste
I was getting married in Miami, which meant cheese central as far as music is concerned. While I thought my DJ company “got it,” at the end of the day they really didn’t. Even though the pre-ceremony, ceremony, and cocktail hour music was taken care (I made CD’s of exactly what I wanted them to play…they literally just had to hit play), the reception playlist was a bit more at their discretion. However, I picked them because they assured me that I could make my own playlist. I worked for months on this, scrutinizing every last song and picking tunes that I thought every guest (young and old) would enjoy. Unfortunately, I had a DJ who thought that Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Freebird” (which I asked to be played during dinner) was a rap song and played that version instead. While I was promised that “all” my 60 requested songs would be played, I recognized maybe 25% of them. People didn’t really seem to notice and were dancing to whatever it was he was playing, but I should have known that any DJ who asks if I want to play Savage Garden isn’t “with me” musically. Pick your DJ carefully, and ask them to come up with a sample playlist for you to see if you have the same taste. The DJ was by far my biggest wedding stressor.
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