For many brides, the wedding planning process can quickly take a turn for the worse. As the big day approaches, a nearly constant headache grows in intensity until you reach what I like to call the breaking point. If you’ve ever planned your own wedding, you know what this feels like. It’s the panic induced I-need-to-pick-a-vendor-because-time’s-running-out mentality.
Max and I had quite a lengthy engagement (not by choice). With both our careers and sky high ambitions, our wedding ended up being pushed to the backburner. He wanted to finish pilot training and I wanted to
get through survive grad school. Can you blame us? Things got really interesting when Max deployed for the last six months and we weren’t even sure he’d make it home for the big day! He did, thank goodness. And I survived…er…graduated grad school.
I tackled planning our wedding like any other massive project. It was the same thing I do on a daily basis at work. Programs and weddings have budgets, schedules and certain expectations that both parties are liable to uphold. There are binding contracts and a considerable amount money on the line, not to mention if “performance” or “expectations” aren’t met, there could be legal or monetary ramifications, if not both.
With my background in planning and the help of my mom, I knew we could plan my dream wedding. My mom and I were quite the team 🙂
Here are some of our lessons learned from the wedding planning process. Hopefully, these tips help you steer clear of any headaches on the road to your big day!
- Figure out your wedding style. Use Pinterest, flip through countless bridal magazines, snap photos with your phone of items that inspire you. Before even thinking about planning anything and setting it in stone, you should have your wedding style finalized.
- Determine budget and criteria for each vendor. Without knowing how much you’re aiming to spend for each vendor, how can you do your research and select potentials? There are tons of great websites out there that will help you determine approximately how much to spend in each area. I used TheKnot’s budget breakdown tool.
- Do your research! ProjectWedding, TheKnot, WeddingWire, WeddingChannel, Yelp, Google, WeddingBee. The possibilities for researching are endless. If you already have a specific vendor in mind, make sure you read feedback from other brides – positive and negative. If there are multiple reviews on difficulty, unresponsiveness, lack of professionalism or any other negative quality – steer clear!
- Narrow down your list to no more than four vendors in each category (florist, cake baker, events rental, caterer, DJ etc). You’ve done your research and there are 8 potential photographers you’re interested in. If they fit all of the criteria you originally outlined, then it’s time to revisit your criteria. You need to eliminate half of them. It doesn’t matter how you do it, just narrow your list down to no more than four vendors. Trust me, you’ll be happy you aren’t driving all over kingdom come to meet with fifteen cake bakers. That’s a lot of cake to consume, even if it’s only a taste testing! And honestly, fifteen cake bakers and their scrumptious desserts will begin to blur together if you meet with more than four. And that’s the last thing you want!
- Meet with potential vendors. Ideally, each category should be scheduled on the same day or weekend that way all perks and packages can be compared equally. For example, schedule all cake tastings for the same weekend or even day. The meetings should all be somewhat fresh in your mind so you can compare them equally. Make sure to think of a lot of questions beforehand that way you come prepared to each meeting!
- Once all vendors from a single category have been met with, set aside your notes for an evening. This helps you avoid any snap decisions.
- Discuss each category and vendor with your wedding planner, parents, or bridesmaids – whoever is helping you plan your wedding. Solicit their input, especially if they went with you to each of the meetings. Brides tend to be overwhelmed when planning their weddings (can you blame us? Soo many details!). Your parents or bridesmaids may notice subtleties that you overlooked.
- Select your vendor! Once you reach a decision, definitely stop looking! If you’ve found a top notch caterer, don’t keep researching caterers and setting up meetings. That only wastes your time. No regrets and no looking back! If you’ve done your due diligence in the research mode, selection mode and interviewing mode, then I’m sure you’ve settled on quality vendors!
Happy planning brides to be! And good luck with picking your vendors!