Wedding planning can be overwhelming and down right scary, especially when you have family, money and obligations pulling you into what feels like a million different directions. But it doesn't have to be! Ditch the social wedding politics, stat, and plan your wedding for YOU. My husband and I did, and here's a few tricks we learned along the way - steal and share as many tips as you like!
TIP #1: PICK A WEDDING LOCATION THAT MATCHES YOUR AESTHETICS. For us, it was The ACE Hotel in Palm Springs, a timeless retro oasis in the middle of the desert. The scenic mountainous backdrop made for stunning photos and the modern design made it easy to decorate for the reception (just add desert flowers!). We also opted for a destination wedding to keep the guest list smaller.
TIP #2: TAKE PHOTOS BEFORE THE CEREMONY. I know, I know, you're worried about losing “that moment,” the first time the groom and bride see each other, right? I was too, but we didn’t. We still had our moment; it just happened between the two of us and the photographer, which actually made it more intimate and exciting. Also, taking photos before walking down the aisle meant no rushing or worrying about holding people up at the reception. NOTE: I still consider the moments we shared right before I walked down the aisle - just us, our St. Bernard and two flutes of champagne - as one of our more precious moments of the day. Although I did kick my fiancé out five minutes early to slip on a veil. (I still wanted to keep something a surprise!)
TIP #3: HIRE A WEDDING DAY COORDINATOR. I'm stubborn and wanted to do everything myself. But on the advice of former brides, I hired a coordinator for the wedding day and it was the best money I ever spent. While I guzzled champagne and got down on the dance floor, my lady carried my lip gloss, gracefully took care of any party hiccups and provided a plateful of desserts in my suite once the night was over (which was the yummiest surprise ever!).
TIP #4: TRY NOT TO OVER-PLAN. The night before my wedding day, my best friend set up a bridal brunch at a neighboring hotel. More than fifteen of my favorite women showed up with just twelve hours notice. It was an incredibly special moment that came as such a surprise on my wedding day, and I doubt it would've worked out so well if it had been planned in advance. So keep your wedding day schedule light and leave time for spontaneity!
TIP #5: BREAK TRADITIONS. It was my husband’s idea to not use traditional invitations. “Why waste resources on something that will eventually be thrown away?” he asked, making a very valid point. So we opted for an eco-friendlier route and bought more than 100 vintage Palm Spring postcards at the Rose Bowl Flea market, slapped a directive to our wedding website on it and felt good about saving money and trees in the process.
TIP #6: DROP THE BRIDAL PARTY AND JUST PARTY. I could have had twenty bridesmaids standing by my side; He could have had two or three. So we chose to have...none. With just over sixty guests, we considered everyone in attendance part of the “bridal party” and consequently didn’t have to "rank" our friends or unintentionally hurt feelings.
TIP #7: CREATE A CUSTOM PLAYLIST. A friend created both a dinner and reception playlist for our deejay. She claims the perfect party soundtrack consists of 70s funk, 80s new wave, 90s rap and a few present-day hits, and I must agree. Not telling your deejay *exactly* what you want will lead to those awkward group dancing moments, when everyone stands on the sidelines awkwardly waiting for the next song.
TIP #8: CAPTURING REAL WEDDING MAGIC. Corralling all of your loved ones into one room is no easy feat. We had guests travel from New York, Florida, San Francisco, Illinois, San Diego, Michigan, North Carolina, South Carolina, Missouri and Los Angeles to attend our wedding in Palm Springs, CA. To have all of our favorite people, chapters of life and circles of friends collide into one celebration of our love was extraordinary. The magic is not in the seating chart or in how much money you spent on your dress; it's celebrating your love with loved ones.
TIP #9: HAVE THE RIGHT PARTNER. Once your wedding day memories are all packed in a time-capsule keepsake, it's your partner (and maybe that blingy wedding ring!) that will stand by your side through the test of time. So don't rush it and choose wisely!
Wedding Photos: Dave Richards Photography