Thursday, January 31, 2013

My Top Ten (um, well Fifteen) Tips for Surviving and Enjoying Wedding Planning

Jake looks things over right before
the big event.
This last year we had a daughter and a son get married within six months. 

Looking back, I'm not exactly sure how I survived, especially since I was working two jobs and keeping our family going at the same time.  Don't get me wrong, the jobs were a blessing, because they allowed us to be able to PAY for the two weddings. It was tough at times, though, and I learned a lot. 

Here are my tips for surviving, and yes, even enjoying wedding planning, whether for yourself, or for your kids (it really was lots of fun, most of the time):

15.  Get started early.  Look at sites such as Pinterest for ideas on color schemes and decorating.  Be careful with attending bridal shows, they give the impression that you HAVE to have everything they are advertising, and you really don't.  

Outside the Salt Lake Temple
14.  Book your venue ASAP.  If you are getting married in a popular church or LDS temple, for example, spots may fill up fast.  Also call around to reception venues for their prices and availability. Consider a mid-week reception to save money, or ask family/friends if you might be able to host your reception in their beautiful yards.  They may be happy to oblige, especially if you offer to pay for additions to their landscaping (flowers, lighting, etc) that they can enjoy even after the event.

13.  Enter contests to win freebies.  Even if you don't win, you may get valuable discounts.  My daughter did this with wedding photography, and even though she didn't win the "grand prize" she did get a voucher for a $250 session.

12.  Have something to do at your reception.  We had a photo booth at my daughter's wedding that was a lot of fun and only cost a few hundred dollars.  The groom's aunt and uncle brought a wonderful sound system and had a great time putting together a playlist for dancing that was perfect.  People even danced! 

Me doing a hip check with the groom's mom

11.  Give relatives the wedding colors far in advance of the event, so they can wear color coordinating clothes if they want.  It helps nieces, nephews, etc. feel a part of things without you providing them with an outfit.

10.   Use local websites such as or Craigslist to find deals.  We found our linens, chair rentals, and photo booth this way.  We saved money and were very happy with the service.  Ask for references before you book with an unknown company.

9.  If things go wrong, ask for a discount or "freebie".  The TV at the hall where we held Mikell's reception wasn't working on the day of the reception and so we had to bring our own TV, which was a hassle.  I expressed my frustration at the inconvenience, and we got two extra hours to set up at no cost.

Grandmas linens on the tables and chairs
8.  Speaking of which, allow plenty of time to set up your decorations.  It will take more decorations, and take longer to set them up than you think.  Bring extra decorations along with you when you set up- you may end up using them, and you will be glad that you don't have to make an extra panicked trip. Raid your house, and ask your friends if you can borrow decor items from them that fit the wedding theme.

7.  When people volunteer to help, take them up on their offer.  Let them run an errand for you, help you clean your house for guests or help serve at the rehearsal dinner.  Don't ask for too much- say "Could you help serve from 6:00-8:00pm?".  Be specific. Have everything they need ready for them when they come to help and be sure to thank them afterwards!

6.  Assign people to be in charge of things like food, decorations and music on the day/night of your event.  You will be too busy during the event to be in charge of everything, and besides, you want to be able to enjoy yourself and visit with guests.

5.  Don't put things off until the last minute.  If you are sewing or buying clothing for the wedding party, for example, make sure that you are done well in advance of the event, so that minor adjustments can be made if necessary. 

The "sibs" catch a dance
4.  Keep the food simple.  Very few people really care or remember what they eat at a reception.  Have something savory as well as something sweet, if possible.  We did nice meats and cheese from Costco on borrowed platters, chocolate dipped strawberries that we made ourselves, and water with lemon in it in pretty decanters.  That, plus the cake, was PLENTY, and cost us a fraction of what it would have been to have even the simplest food catered. When it comes to the cake, get recommendations from people you know and trust before you go with an unknown to save money.  Just because a cake is cheaper doesn't mean it will be a better deal if it is late, doesn't taste good or doesn't look as promised.

Mindi's Floral did a beautiful job
3. Ask for favors/discounts.  If you have friends/acquaintances who are in wedding related fields (florists, cake decorators, photographers, etc.) see if perhaps you can come to a mutually beneficial agreement.  People who are building their businesses may be willing to work for a discount if you give them promotion at the event (put out business cards, etc.) and through social media afterwards if you are satisfied with their service.  We did this, and it worked out really well for us, and got more business for our friends.  Its a win-win.  

2.  Let the bride/groom make their own decisions.  This can be hard for the Mom, but you don't want to be THAT MIL.  It is THEIR day, after all, even if your day, way back when, wasn't all that great and you really wish you had done XYZ so you REALLY want them to do it.  

And, (drum roll please)....

My most important tip-  REMEMBER THE BUDGET!!
1) Set a budget
2) Share that budget with others who are helping you plan
3) Use your budget to help you make decisions 
4) Keep track of your expenses and... 

This will save endless amounts of grief, stress and conflict before, during and after the big day. When its all over, whether you had the perfect wedding favor or hors d'oeuvre won't really matter anyway.  Its the people you will remember.

Speaking of people, THANK YOU AGAIN to all of those friends and family who helped with our 2012 weddings.  We couldn't have done it without you.

Our family on Matt and Mikell's big day

Do you have any wedding planning tips I may have forgotten?  Please leave a comment.


  1. I'm so sad we weren't able to make it to the receptions (with Evie's sleep issues attending anything after her bedtime is so difficult!). Congrats to your children, the photos look lovely. That hall is gorgeous and I love the details. So beautiful.

  2. Simple to the point and informative enhances my knowledge a lot and this use of plastic business cards shows me new dimension..

  3. Such a beautiful cards Thanks for sharing..;

    Discount card Printing