5 things I learned from planning our wedding

wedding planning tips

 

I’m back!
I’ve been a little MIA lately but I had good reason for that: I was planning Mister and I’s wedding and then our move to a new country. We are now officially husband and wife and live in Portland, Oregon – USA. But I am ready to come back on the blog and what better way to do so than with a wedding-related post.

We’ve had almost a year to plan our wedding (which is quite usual I believe) but with almost no help (mainly due to the distance between us and our family/friends),  I can tell you that we learned a few things along the way.

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1. You don’t HAVE TO do anything

Yes, it’s a wedding and so there is A LOT of tradition that comes with it. But one thing I learned from planning our wedding is that you absolutely don’t have to follow ANY of these traditions. If that’s what you and your future husband/wife want then obviously go for it. But if you’re not so sure about something and/or you’re just doing it to please other people (usually your parents or grand parents), don’t do it! Or find your own personal way of doing it.

And when I say ANY tradition, I am really talking about all of it. We didn’t even say “I do” during our ceremony! We wanted something very personal and didn’t want any “legal” speech on the wedding day. So we did that part in advance (just us with 2 friends as witnesses) and on the D-Day it was only us with some family members speeches. Not what everybody wants for sure, but that was what we wanted and that’s all that matters.

Other ideas of things that you don’t have to do if you don’t feel like it: first dance, wedding games, being separated the night before, walk down the aisle with your father/mother…

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2. Start everything early

There are things that you know to do in advance like booking your venue and photographer for instance (and looking for a dress if you go to a traditional bridal shop). But people usually wait to be closer to the wedding date to do things like DIY decorations, flower appointements… Do yourself a favour and don’t! Yes, starting your DIY projects in advance means that your home will be messy for a longer time but, trust me, it is worth it. We started our decor projects at the begging of the year so almost 6 months prior to our wedding date. The goal was that everything that wasn’t perishable (not flower or food related) had to be done asap. And I am so glad we did. You know why? Because you never know what’s gonna happen.

Here is my little (not so) fun story: 10 days before our wedding, I got into a pretty big car accident. It wasn’t my fault at all as I was stopped at a red light when somebody (who was clearly not paying attention) didn’t brake and crashed into me (who crashed into the car in front of me). In 10 seconds, our car became a wreck beyond repair and I was sitting there, waiting for the ambulance to come and check on me. Fun times! Obviously, what happened to me was exceptional but let me tell you how glad we were to have done all these little decor stuffs in advance as we had to spend most of our time that week either in bed (because of back pain) or on the phone with the insurance, the garage… If we hadn’t done it in advance, we would have had almost no decoration for our venue.

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wedding planning tips decorations

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3. Make a list of 4-5 priorities and STICK TO IT

It’s your wedding and, whether it is low key or not, you want it to be perfect (as in exactly like you want it to be). And it is very tempting to invest in the best for all the small details. The thing is: you can’t have it/do it all. And the truth is: not everything matters. I read that tip somewhere at the begging of our wedding planning and found it very helpful: make a list of your top 4 or 5 priorities and then have your future spouse do the same thing. Then look at each other’s list and make a common one. There you have it: the 4-5 things that you should put your money on. The rest doesn’t matter as much and you should try to save as much as possible. And please, write it down so you can refer to it later (when you’re very tempted by these little ornaments that would look so good on the tables…).

For us it was the photographer, a venue where everybody could spend the night, the food and our rings. At some point, we where looking at renting chairs because the ones in the venue where okay but not fantastic. Looking back at that list made us not do it. And guess what: nobody noticed the chairs on the wedding day!

Ideas of possible priorities: the venue, the food, the drinks, the dress, the flowers, the photographer, the videographer, the hair dresser, the make up artist, the decor, a nice car, the invitations…

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4. Do something casual the day before

During a wedding you always end up with separate groups of people that knew each other beforehand and so usually stay together (to catch up or just because it’s easier and not everybody is confortable with talking to people they don’t know).  It is not the end of the world but wouldn’t it be more fun to have everybody talking to everybody, no matter where they come from and who they know? I suggest you to think of something casual for the day before your wedding like a barbecue or games with randomly picked teams. In that environment, people are way more likely to get to know each other and so the atmosphere on the wedding day will be much more fun.

What we did is: we rented our venue from the Friday afternoon to the Sunday morning (the wedding was Saturday afternoon) and everybody slept there during the weekend. On the Friday night we just did a big barbecue with salads. Everybody was in the kitchen preparing everything and that’s always a good start to casual conversation and a good laugh. On Saturday morning some people also played volleyball outside which, again, was super casual and made it very easy to talk to new people. I can’t tell you how much fun it was during the actual wedding. Everybody kind of knew everybody and it was glorious! Lots of people actually mentioned that to us later and a few people that couldn’t make it on the Friday night told us that they regretted it.

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wedding planning tips decorations

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5. Allow time for surprises (for both you and your guests)

When planning your wedding day, you want to be sure not to forget anything. You also don’t want your guests to be bored. But please, allow some time for surprises. Even if you’re a control freak, believe me, experiencing a moment that your guests took time to prepare for you will be among your best memories. Also, even if sharing your wedding planning with some family members and/friends is definitely tempting, make sure that you keep some details top secret. Your guest will be happily surprised for sure (and you’ll be even more proud of yourself!).

For us it was pretty easy: we got married in Canada (where we lived at the time) and 95% of our guests came from France. Distance made it easy for us to keep some (a lot of, actually) details secret. The day was full of discovery and surprises for our guests and they loved it. On the other hands, some people prepared surprises for us (a video and fireworks!!) but we also wanted our ceremony to be kind of a surprise for us. What we did is this: we asked a few family members and friends to do speeches on themes we selected for them but then we didn’t want to know in advance what they will say or do. It made for a lot of emotion and fun!

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Additional tip: group pictures

This might be obvious for some people but we didn’t make a list of people we wanted to take pictures with. We were supposed to (our photographer asked me to) but with all the setbacks from the week before, I completely forgot. We love our pictures but I definitely would have loved to make some more with different people. Do yourself a favour: make a list and give it to your photographer. At least you’re sure not to forget anyone!

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And there you have it. I hope these tips will be helpful to you. If you have any more advice that you want to share, please put them in the comments. And don’t forget: you should enjoy the planning almost as much as the wedding day. It lasts longer and makes for great memories!
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All pictures are from Elisa Photography

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