I am a wedding planner who does not have her wedding planned! Yes, I am getting married in five months and my wedding is not planned. I have been engaged for a year and it took me six months to even pick a date. Every bride has her challenges, especially in the beginning. I know that brides always feel overwhelmed and wonder where to start. They worry about the budget, the family dynamic of everyone planning together, the bridal party and who is in and who is out. All of these things are stressful, but I thought I was lucky that I would have the planning taken care of with no stress at all and it would be under budget and under my control! But being in this industry for so many years has certainly presented its own set of challenges that I did not think about prior to getting engaged. I was never really particular about what exactly I wanted for a wedding, but I knew it would just come to me when the time came. Wrong! That has not been the case.
Here are the most relevant challenges that have surfaced in the planning process, and I think many brides can relate for many different reasons:
For the past (almost) ten years I have seen wedding dresses week after week on my clients and the clients of my friends throughout the industry. For the past five years I have featured a “dress of the week” on my blog every week, and for the past three years I have attended bridal fashion week in NYC, swooning over hundreds of dresses coming down the runway. So to say that I am seasoned in the wedding dress world is an understatement. I was sure that I would have no problem finding the perfect dress. I knew the designers that I wanted to focus on, I knew the fit that I wanted and I knew the stores that carried my favorites so I had a plan. The only problem was that I was wrong about every single bit of it.
What it took me six months to figure out is that this is not a blog post or a runway show or a styled shoot for a magazine. This is my wedding so I had to start changing the way that I think. I was thinking about how much I loved specific designers and the looks of their dresses but when I put those dresses on they fell flat or seemed a bit uncomfortable on me. Finally I realized that the perfect dress has to fit my personality. Who I am as a wedding planner or blogger is not who I am as a bride-to-be.
I want to shake things up a bit and have fun! I want to be able to move around and dance all night and, most importantly, I want to eat!!! And then I want to eat some more. Some of the most beautiful Berta gowns, for instance, would fit me beautifully for a styled shoot but those gowns were not going to seem "right" for me to wear all night in the environment that is just a few days shy, yet one step up, from a Mardi Gras block party! There are some dresses that are perfect for the Ritz Carlton and I love that, but I am not that bride!
What I learned and want to share with all of the brides-to-be out there is to think about how you feel in these dresses when you try them on. It is not just about looking good. It is about feeling good and feeling like yourself more than anything. It took me five bridal shops and over fifty gowns to figure out why the most beautiful dresses were doing nothing to give me that "moment" that so many brides feel. Once I realized that what I was looking for had nothing to do with what I thought I'd want, I was able to find my dress!
The guest list:
The guest list is something that is always hard for couples getting married. I hear it time and time again. I was prepared to be pretty cutthroat with the list, but I was not prepared for the guilt that would be thrown our way! We have all heard the unbelievable stories regarding people inviting themselves to someone’s wedding, or reaching out on social media asking where their invitation is. My brides used to tell me this all of the time and although I believed them I thought their family and distant friends or co-workers might not know any better. Wrong! My family, friends and co-workers in particular should definitely know better. In this industry, we all know that you have to make cuts somewhere. The guest list is always impacted by budget, but you also have to consider your venue and it’s capacity. Our goal was to keep the numbers down and have the most intimate wedding that we could without leaving out the key players/ guests that we know we could not live without.
At our age, with large families and a so many friends in the wedding industry for both of us, this was a hard process, but we eventually had to draw the line. Besides our immediate family and our closest friends, here are the criteria that we used when making final cuts to the guest list.
First, you have to know us as a couple, not just individually. Secondly, we have to have hung out outside of work events. Third, we had to ask ourselves if you are someone that will be with us in 15 years, even if we are not still in the industry in which we currently work.
And last, and most importantly, you have to know the names of our dogs. If you do not know the names of our puppies, we cannot possibly be that close. Yep – these were the deciding factors when thinking through the guest list. As hard as it was, we knew where we needed the numbers to be so we were limited in each of the three categories of family, friends and co-workers. We are hopeful that everyone will remember what it is like to have to make these decisions and we hope that those not invited will understand that we wish we could have everyone with us, but it is just not possible.
Choosing the vendors:
I think that picking vendors is something that is hard for everyone when looking at all of your options on the internet although, I believe it is a bit easier when you are working with a planner, so I do not see this problem very often! Imagine this: all of the strangers that are overwhelming you with the beautiful work that they can do to create your perfect wedding day are all your friends and you had to choose between them. For us, this is our reality and choosing among the many talented professionals in our industry has been, by far, one of the hardest parts of the planning. As a matter of fact, I still do not have everyone chosen, hence why my wedding is not finished being planned.
Part of the reason that it took me six months to pick a date, besides working around our schedules, was that I did not want to have to pick a venue and start the vendor selection process. My fiancé, Kevin, finally came to me and reminded me that everyone is professional in this business and they will understand that we have to pick someone. It is not necessarily personal - or maybe it is - but decisions have to be made.
Obviously, throughout the years we have gotten very close and developed personal relationships with many of the vendors that we work with every weekend. For Kevin, he and his family have been in the industry for thirty years as well, so we have friends in every realm of this industry. With that being said, for me, the working relationship was something that I worried about a lot. Not only was it simply that hard to pick between six florists that all do beautiful work and that I trust, but it was also scary because I never want to hurt anyone’s feelings. I eventually had to put pen to paper and pull the trigger.
Obviously, the photographer was a hard one. While we were very appreciative of all of Kevin’s friends offering to shoot the wedding, one main thing that Kevin mentioned time and time again is that he did not want our friends working the reception. I could not completely avoid that in all areas of the wedding, but we could definitely make sure we chose a photographer that we love that was not personally related to either of us. We were happy to finally both agree on a wonderful choice!
While we still have a way to go to finalize the wedding plans, I am happy to say that things are coming along and we are pushing to get everything done before wedding season starts. Oh wait- this happens in two weeks. We are in overdrive for sure. Sometimes having too many options at your disposal can make things confusing. I think we are definitely running into that. And we are certainly trying to stay away from things that we see every single weekend, but we will not be able to avoid that completely either.
At the end of the day, we are going to do what works for us and create the feel that we are looking for. And the vendors that contribute to that look and feel will be our picks. Now all we have to do is sift through the magnitude of ideas in our minds generated over the past decade or more, millions of Pinterest pictures, and the countless number of talented vendor images showing off what they can do so we can create a design plan. I will keep you posted on that one!