How did you stay organized during the wedding planning process? Did you use a particular wedding organizer/app that you found helpful?
Staying organized during the planning process is key – there are a lot of moving parts, whether you’re planning a small destination wedding or a huge wedding in your hometown. My mom and I decided very early on that we would be hiring a wedding planner to take care of a lot of the details. I knew that I wanted to choose each of the vendors and have a lot of say in the style of the day, but I didn’t want to deal with contracts and emailing back and forth and coordinating every little thing that goes into a wedding day. Our incredible wedding planner took care of almost everything, leaving just the fun stuff for me! She and I communicated a lot through Google Docs — guest list, vendor list, payment schedule, etc. Even if not working with a planner, this would be a great way to have all the information in one place for your family, fiancé, bridal party, etc. Any paper items that I had, I kept in a simple expanding file folder that was separated out by vendor.
What wedding detail did you love the most/was the best investment for your wedding? What did you do that didn’t make as much of an impact?
This is such a difficult question to answer because I truly loved every element of our day! On a very personal level, my favorite detail of the day was the fact that it was held at our family’s home, which has so many precious memories from my childhood. That is something I will never forget. On a grander scale, having a wedding planner was the best decision that we made. It took every bit of stress, responsibility, and expectation off of myself and my mom and allowed us to simply enjoy the day. My one piece of advice would be to make room in your budget for a wedding planner, and a good one, at that!
During the entire planning process, I made sure to keep everything in perspective. Yes, our wedding day was going to be one of the most important and special days of our lives, but it is still just one day. Whether everything worked out exactly as it was planned to, or everything fell apart, we would still become husband and wife and celebrate with our nearest and dearest and that was the only thing that truly mattered. Because of that, I really didn’t throw my energy or time into much that didn’t end up playing a significant role in the day. The one thing would probably be our “guest book”. We did a version of the polaroid guest book (more to come on that in a future Q&A post) and not too many people used it. It wasn’t something that I spent much time on (in fact, I just ordered a few items from Amazon and that was basically it), but it was something we probably could’ve left out altogether and nobody would have noticed.
What are some subtle ways that bridesmaids can be most helpful leading up to the wedding day and on the day?
I love this question! My best advice is to know the bride
. Does she get stressed out easily? Ask her what needs to get done and what you can do to take some things off her plate? Is she prone to bridezilla-ness? Try to step in and simmer any tension, when appropriate. Is she forgetful? Make a list of everything she needs to remember for the day of and have it on you. My sister, in her infinite wisdom and perfect matron-of-honor-ness, asked me the morning of my wedding day what would be helpful to me that day. It gave me a chance to think about how I can have the most stress-free and joy-filled wedding day, and her a chance to fill that role! I can’t even remember what I told her, if anything, but I so appreciated being asked.
Some practical things that are fun and helpful would be: (1) make a getting ready playlist for everyone to enjoy, (2) volunteer to do any ironing/steaming/prepping of any clothing or accessories to be worn, (3) take photos to document the day! (as a bride, the last thing on my mind was taking photos or having my phone on me), (4) don’t, for the love of all things, tell the bride anything that may be stressful to her. Keep the vibes light, joyful and fun!
How do you tackle bridesmaid dress shopping? How do you choose flattering dresses that fit within your vision that don’t break the bank for your girls?
Bridesmaid dress shopping can be a task
, especially if you have even the slightest idea of what you want. When I first started looking around, I had a different color in mind for my girls. Once I realized I wasn’t finding the right shade, I had to change my idea a bit to find dresses. The first thing you need to decide is if they will all be matching, coordinating, or mismatched. Aside from finding something that would make sense at our venue and with our aesthetic for the day, my main concern was finding dresses that wouldn’t break the bank. I have too many friends that have spent $300+ on a bridesmaid dress never to be worn/looked at again. Listen, when you’re the bride, you do what you want. If you know your bridesmaids will be okay with spending a lot on a dress and it’s the dream vision you had for your day, do your thing. (If you are going to choose expensive dresses, I recommend having a conversation with your girls first to make sure everyone is okay spending a bit more.) While each of my bridesmaids could
have purchased an expensive gown, I just didn’t see the need for it. My goal was to keep the dresses at $100 (or less), so that getting them altered wouldn’t be an extra huge financial burden. I also really liked the idea of picking out a dress that they could wear again, if they wanted to. I found their dresses
and they worked out great! They were great quality, a good color, AND $85. Can’t beat it! Plus, they were maxi dresses, which are flattering on just about everyone. They were able to each get them altered to fit, as needed. They were comfortable and super easy to wear, so they didn’t need to be fussing at all during the day.
If you want every girl in the exact same dress, find a silhouette that looks good on everyone! Depending on how many bridesmaids you have, you have have to choose two silhouettes. Consider the color, as well. Some girls look great in blush pink, others get washed out. Try to be as cognizant of how each girl feels in the dress. Are they comfortable? Do they feel good? You’ll feel incredible on your wedding day no matter what, so why not let your girls feel great standing beside you, too?
How did you pick a photographer?
Our photographer, Jordan
, has been a friend of my sister’s for a few years now. I’ve gotten to know her through spending time down in NC at my sister’s, so it was a pretty easy decision. She’s a incredibly talented! Mike and I aren’t the most comfortable people in front of a camera, so I knew that it would be helpful to have a friend shooting us that day. Plus, did I mention she’s incredibly talented? I remember telling Mike, well before we were even engaged, that we had to get married somewhere that Jordan could travel to so that she could shoot our wedding. I had to have her!
If you don’t know a photographer, I’d utilize websites like TheKnot.com, to see if you can find one in your area and budget that has great reviews.
What music did you use in your ceremony?
We had our DJ put together a collection of instrumental love songs to use while our guests were entering and being seated. My bridesmaids walked down the aisle to an instrumental song, my dad and I walked down to Pachelbel’s Canon in D (piano version). Mike and I recessed to, “Every Little Thing” by Russell Dickerson!
Did you have a strict budget? How did you stick to it?
We had a top line and an ideal number in our budget, with a bit of leeway in between. We stuck pretty well to it, but it is real
easy to make that top line move. Once you start making decisions and choosing things, you realize how quickly everything starts to add up! My best advice is to make a list of what is most important to you, the non-compromise elements, and choose those first. Then, whatever is leftover in the budget can be used for smaller details.
How did you decide on the color scheme?
I talk about that a bit in this post
, but I just kind of knew what I wanted. I tend toward neutrals in every other part of my life, so it made sense to keep our wedding day true to that, too. Being that the wedding was outside, I wanted everything to flow really well, which meant lots of greenery, crisp white flowers, and natural wood elements.
Where did you splurge and was it worth it?
This answer would probably vary for a lot of brides. We were lucky enough to have a free venue, so that wasn’t something we had to consider in the budget. Outside of that, what was really important to us was having delicious food. When you’re throwing a party, the most important things are food/drink and atmosphere. We knew there would be a lot of joy and happiness in the air, so the next most important thing was the food! And it was totally
How do you make sure everyone stays happy and feels heard without compromising your vision?
This is kind of a subjective question, depending on who you’re dealing with 😉 In general, I would say to be open to other people’s ideas, especially your fiancé, parents and in-laws. If it’s something that you hadn’t thought of and don’t necessarily love, but wouldn’t change much of your vision, consider compromising and including it. If it’s something that would not work with what you had in mind, think of another way that you could incorporate it into your day. Tread lightly, wedding planning can be a very emotional and sensitive thing for people. Remember that it is just one day and you will have the best day ever no matter what – you’re getting married! Don’t let small details stress you out – it’s unlikely you’ll even notice them that day, anyway.
What kind of lipstick did you wear?
I wore Urban Decay’s Vice Lipstick in the shade, Morning After.
photos by Jordan Maunder
**obviously, this as all just my opinion and my advice — take it or leave it!