I've been a wedding and event planner in New Orleans for the past 10 years. I've given countless tips and pieces of advice to brides, grooms, mothers, fathers, flower girls, bridesmaids and so on. If it's a wedding related question—from budget worries to family drama—I can answer it, and I probably have answered it multiple times. But then it was my turn, and I finally got to see if I would take my own advice.
The number one thing I preach to my clients, or anyone getting married, is to hire professional vendors you trust. When you meet with someone or even speak with a potential vendor over the phone, you have a feeling in your gut. If you know nothing else about them, you at least know how they make you feel. Trust that. If you're in a consultation and you feel like they're not understanding your vision or hearing you, get out and move on. You have to feel like they "get you" and if they don't, they're not the right vendor for you. For me, it was a bit easier. I knew I'd need the best of the best so I'd be able to relax and leave the work to them on the day of the wedding. Everyone assumed I would be at the venue all day micromanaging, but I wasn't—I knew I was in good hands.
I've always been a bit against the first look, mainly because I feel like photographers push it on couples a lot. I never want someone choosing something just because the vendor said so. I was dead set against it while planning our wedding. I love the tradition of seeing each other the first time as you walk down the aisle. But weeks leading up to the day, I had so much anxiety that I decided to see my husband before the ceremony thinking it would calm me down—and it did! Ultimately, I'm glad we did it because it was the right decision for us.
My only regret for the wedding day was the actual day of the wedding. I loved the time I had with my friends and I certainly didn't have much to do that day, but I did leave it until the day of the wedding to finalize/write my vows. Technically, I was just transferring them to the card from which they would be read, but still, it was enough to give me something to do that day, and I want to pass the lesson on to others that you shouldn't do that. Leave the wedding day for nothing but champagne and having fun! Be the person who has her dress hung up, her shoes and jewelry displayed on the bed and her reception bag packed so there's nothing else to do that day but relax and be pampered.
Part of the anxiety that I had the day of the wedding was not just because I had not yet physically written my vows. For me, I built up the fear that sharing my feelings and reading my vows in front of so many people would be embarrassing. Once I got in front of everyone and I was standing with my husband and my brother, all of my fears went away. When I looked out into the crowd, I didn't see anyone that I should be embarrassed in front of or anyone that wouldn't support the two of us. Surrounding yourself with the people who'll make you feel comfortable enough to enjoy saying those vows starts at the beginning of the planning process. Be the couple who ignores the hundreds of people that think they should be invited just because you "like" each other's posts on Facebook. Invite the people who are listening to your words and embracing your happiness, not the people who are judging your flowers.
Planning a wedding can be stressful, and the opinions and unsolicited advice can be overwhelming. For me, I felt like I had a pretty good grip on our plans and the way the process would be. And then came the pressure. I found myself having so much anxiety over things I didn't even care about. That's when my now-husband gave me the best piece of advice: Stop worrying about what everyone else was expecting. I'd put so much pressure on myself worrying about what other people were thinking that I had lost sight of what we really wanted. That's the cardinal rule of wedding planning: Don't lose sight of what matters—and that's the two of you. Be the couple that calms each other and keeps each other grounded and focused. That's the key to a successful wedding, and a successful marriage.
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Planner Kelly Sherlock LLC | Ceremony Gazebo on Fulton Street | Reception Venue The Chicory | Photographer Brandon O'Neal | Videographer Shotgun Films | Florist Bella Blooms | Rentals Luminous Events | Staging, Linen and Flooring YUR Events | Officiant Lance Sherlock | Wedding Dress Romona Keveza, Wedding Belles, New Orleans | Shoes Aminah Abdul Jillil| Hair Trish Popovich Seeling | Makeup Makeup by Meggan | Tuxedos John's Tuxedo, Metairie, LA | Ceremony Musicians Harry Hardin | Second Line Kinfolk Brass Band | Reception Band Groovy 7 | Photo Booth Boogie Booth | Video Booth Kelly Sherlock LLC and Aught 5 Productions