Decide early on what is worth the money.
The wedding industry is no doubt a booming one. If you're getting married, there are many vendors that you must have and since these vendors know this.. they will charge an arm and a leg simply because they can. If you're pulling the funds, sit down with your husband to be and talk about what you are willing to spend on what and where you want to splurge. Stefan and I were not about to spend a lot on flowers or a cake. I refused to. I just couldn't justify spending what some people were asking. It took me a lot longer to find what I wanted at a price I was okay with, but by being frugal in some areas it allowed us to spend a little more on other things. Our photographer deserved every penny. She wasn't the most expensive, nor was she the cheapest, but we loved her style and we really just loved her. She did a lot more than capture our day and I'm so glad we spent the extra to go with her.
Block off rooms at hotels early.
Waiting until four months before was not our best move. First of all, we already live in a tourist area during summer time so hotels are always full. Secondly, we live near a drag strip that holds events on weekends. There was a huge race that weekend. Huge. So that was causing problems. Lastly, there was a big baseball tournament in a surrounding city so hotels were turning us down for blocking off rooms. It was a nightmare. So bypass the problem and call a lot earlier!
Make a capsule.
I'm so glad we did this! It's a website and app where you create a join code and people can use that join code to upload pictures taken on your day. We paid the extra 19.99 to get our personalized join code and hashtag. All of our friends hashtagged our code on instagram and it automatically sent it to our capsule album! A lot of people took pictures through the app too. We made little cards to hand out at our wedding. It was so much fun looking at our day through the guests' eyes and now we have even more pictures to help us cherish the day!
Don't be afraid to stick with what you want.
I was always nervous to ask for help because I was afraid that people would change my plan. I didn't want to delegate jobs because I wanted to be in control yet I was drowning in the stress of it all. Don't do that to yourself! Ask for help. When people offer to help or to take care of appetizers and the cake for you.. let them! All you have to do is put your foot down. Be gracious, tell them you would gladly take the help but that you really want it this way or that way. Tell them you'd really appreciate if they can do that for you and if doing it that way is a problem, you would rather do it yourself. Be open to suggestions. Sometimes people just want to help you do what's best. Just make sure you know what is and is not open for discussion. Pick and choose what you want to control and what is important to you.
I know I just went on and on about how it's your day.. but that shouldn't give you the go ahead to act like you're some royal princess and everyone else is below you. You're getting married. You're name is changing but you aren't. If I need to use the restroom and a porta potty is my only option.. I use it. The barn had restrooms but we had a porta potty to accommodate more people. I had to use the restroom and there was a line for the normal restroom so I set off for the porta potty. Someone told me that I was the bride and that everyone would understand if I went to the front of the line to use the normal restroom. I refused. My dress was not pouffy enough to not handle the porta potty. There was no reason that I had to pull the bride card like that.. so I didn't. I would've waited in line like everyone else if I wanted to use it that badly.
Let your bridesmaids be pretty.
What is with brides choosing less than pretty dresses for their bridesmaids? My whole goal was to find a gorgeous dress that would flatter all of my girls and be something they could wear again. I let them do the make up they wanted and told them to wear their hair however they would like. I wanted them to feel pretty! Plus, our wedding party pictures look amazing because everyone looked great! Our wedding party was picture perfect. Don't let your own pride and fear of someone looking better than you sabotage your own wedding. Everyone will know if you "uglied" your BMs to make yourself look better and honestly, it wont be your pretty face people remember.. it will be your ugly personality. So do everyone a favor and let everyone shine. If you're in their wedding party one day.. I'm sure they'll be more inclined to return the favor.
Take a few minutes to enjoy your new husband.
Stefan and I decided that we were not going to talk all day until we saw each other at the altar. It did make the whole day a lot more exciting because I was dying to talk to and see him by the time the ceremony rolled around. Then after the ceremony the hustle and bustle began and suddenly everyone wanted to talk to us! Of course it was to be expected as everyone was there for us. Our pictures were a life saver. After the formals, Stefan and I snuck away to the other side of the pond to have our couple photos taken. It felt as though our photographer wasn't even there and it was awesome. It doesn't matter when your time is taken to yourselves.. take it! Everyone will understand.
Don't sweat the small stuff.
I can't stress this enough. It is beyond easy to get caught up in the smallest of things when it comes to planning. If you're like me.. you spend countless nights planning everything just so and put a lot of work into making sure things go exactly as planned. But guess what? It wont. Plain and simple. There are things that are out of your control and you just have to let it go. For example, two days before our wedding the caterer called to let me know that the company that provides their cloth napkins discontinued the blush color I had wanted. I chose the best next color and laughed it off because really, what else could I do? Throw a fit that she hadn't checked on that sooner? Made her track down 215 blush napkins? Heavens no! No one was going to care about the napkin color and if someone did.. I would tell them to get a grip! There are far more important things to worry about in life. And let me tell you.. the color of napkins I ended up with actually went perfectly!
Your big day will only be as perfect as you allow it to be.
Everything in the world could go "wrong" but as long as you and your husband are married at the end of the day.. does all of the "wrong" stuff really matter? No! Sure it's annoying that you put time and effort into making the day perfect.. but what is perfect? It's your day, and ultimately the attitude you have about it is what determines how perfect it really is. Our ceremony was outside so the wedding party, my dad, and I walked from a barn to the end of the aisle. Everyone was supposed to walk around me so that our guests wouldn't see me until I walked down the aisle. When the moment came.. it simply fell through. People forgot and just started walking without me. I walked with my daddy and had an ivory umbrella covering my face. To my surprise, I had multiple people compliment my idea of having everyone walk and then how awesome it was that I was only partially hidden. They thought it was that much more exciting to only see the bottom of my dress and my shoes because it became that much more suspenseful! I hadn't thought about that but I'm glad it worked out that way on it's own! There were a lot of things that did not go the way I had planned such as the one I just shared. Some things could have gone better but I choose not to focus on that because it isn't what is important and it all ended up being perfect to me anyway!
Make it your own.
Etiquette aside, do things the way you want! It doesn't have to be a cookie cutter wedding and reception. Change the wording on the invites, choose non traditional songs, have cupcakes instead of cake. I walked down the aisle to "Tale as Old as Time" from Beauty and the Beast. Not usually something you hear at a wedding.. but I wanted it because it was special to me. My favorite princess was always Belle and my parents called me Hailee Belle. Since my daddy was walking me down the aisle and giving me away I thought it was a very fitting choice. It was more sentimental and I felt like it marked the end of all of the previous chapters in my life as a single girl. It was what I wanted. A lot of people didn't get it.. but those closest to me did and I wouldn't have had it any other way.
The things you couldn't have planned will be the things you wont forget.
During the reception, one of my flower girls and another little girl came up to me at two different times. My flower girl said "Hai-wee, you are a pwincess," and the other one told me "Are you a princess? You look like a pretty one." I will never in my life forget that. I remember being little and looking up to the bride and admiring how beautiful she was. It hit me then.. I am that bride little girls are looking up to. I'm all grown up and this is all really happening. It was one of the coolest and most flattering moments. At the end of the night, our friend and groomsmen Logan grabbed the mic after the last song and gave a speech about how awesome Stefan and I are and how we were meant to be together. It was hilarious and extremely touching. We'll never forget it. You don't have to look for moments like these. They will happen on their own.
Have fun at your reception.
The reception was a blast. We went around and chit chatted with as many people as we could during dinner because we knew we wanted to have fun with everyone else on the dance floor. A lot of people leave after dinner and all of the special events are over anyway.. and we didn't want to spend the night worrying about entertaining everyone. The reception is a celebration and we definitely celebrated. I honestly didn't drink much.. just the glass of champagne for the toasts and I did half a shot toward the end of the night. I wanted to enjoy the moment and remember it all. Everyone told me it would be a blur anyway so I didn't want alcohol to further blur my memory of the biggest day in my life! I had a blast without it. I was out on the dance floor almost all evening dancing with Stefan, our friends, and family... getting down, laughing, and taking it all in. I'll never have as much fun as I did that night. The key is not worrying about what other people were thinking. I knew eyes were on me and Stefan all night simply because we were the bride and groom. That thought would start to really make me self conscious but I nipped it in the bud right away. Eyes were on me because it was my day, and if it's my day then I should do what I want without worrying what other people think! So I danced during dinner with just the little kids, sang my heart out, shook my booty a little harder than usual during "crazy in love," tried to take care of one of our beyond tipsy groomsmen, and danced with as many people as I could. And it was awesome.
It will go by so quickly and you will miss it once it's over. My ultimate advice is to smile, take it all in, and remember that even if everything doesn't go perfectly.. it will all still be perfect!