Well, it’s happening. You’re in the thick of prepping for your big day, and you don’t want to make any wedding planning mistakes. Whether you’ve been planning your own wedding for years, or you are just beginning your journey into the wedding industry: welcome! As a professional wedding photographer AND recent bride, I’ve been to nearly 100 weddings, and planned by own. Though weddings vary greatly, all have a thing or two in common. Here are 10 extremely common wedding planning mistakes you can easily avoid.
Avoid These Wedding Planning Mistakes
1. Spending More Than You Can Afford
Holy smokes, weddings are expensive. I’m the first one to admit it. Weddings have always been expensive, but it seems that social media and the internet have taken the pressure for extravagant weddings to a whole new level. My dear friend, let me be the one to emphasize it: your budget is important. Please don’t set an unrealistic budget in the first place, and please resist the temptation every step of the way to exceed what you can spend. Putting yourself in a stressful financial situation is one of the most common wedding planning mistakes I see brides make, and it hurts my heart every time.
Your wedding will last one day. Your marriage will last a lifetime. Please don’t give in to the pressure to have the PERFECT dress, the PERFECT flowers, the PERFECT venue, in exchange for months — years? — of financial stress down the road. There are tons of ways to hack the system and save money on your wedding. For example, try using instant printable wedding signs and invitations, instead of paying extra through the big companies that come up on Google, plus shipping. The designs are gorgeous, and your wedding will be 100% “you”.
2. Ignoring The Ceremony
Everyone loves wedding receptions, and it’s no surprise why. Good food, friends & family, and a dance party are hard to beat. But have you taken a step back to remember why you’re planning a wedding in the first place? Yes, today is about you & your fiancé. But, more importantly, today is about you & your fiancé committing to each other for the rest of your lives. Putting minimal thought into your ceremony is one of the more heartbreaking wedding planning mistakes, though all too common.
It doesn’t have to be over the top. Adding touches like personal vows, honoring your family members in unique ways, or putting a goofy twist on your first kiss: these gestures can all add up to make your wedding ceremony meaningful, interesting, and memorable. My husband and I weren’t afraid to make our ceremony uniquely our own — laid-back, goofy, and extremely heartfelt vows that resulted in the entire audience (and most of the vendors!) crying with us. Our entire wedding day was a dream, but dare I say it? The ceremony took the most special place in my heart. It can for yours, too.
3. Skimping on Wedding Photography
Please, please, for the love of pete — do not skimp on your wedding photography budget. I know, I’m a little biased here. But it’s not just because I’m a wedding photographer. It’s because I get so many emails of former-brides who skimped on wedding photography, and ended up with horrible photos, and now are reaching out to pros like me to see if we can fix them. The sad truth is, once the sub-par photographer is hired, there’s nothing that can be done about the disappointing photos. The best I can offer is a new portrait session, but it never comes close to the real thing. Your wedding is one day, once in your life. After all is said and done, the flowers will be gone. The venue will be gone. The cake, music, stationary, and dress will be a thing of the past. The photos, however, are what you have to remember your day forever. The effects of skimping on your wedding photography are probably the longest-lasting out of all other wedding photography mistakes.
So, how can you afford an awesome wedding photographer if you don’t have a sky-high budget? Option 1: Save money in other areas. Take some money from the dress, DIY some invitations & decor, and consider reducing your guest-list to keep it intimate & save BIG money. The photos are worth it. If you’re still coming up short, consider an elopement in whatever location you desire. (The forest? A horse farm? The Grand Canyon?) Elopements are awesome because they provide the coolest venues, you can invite your closest friends & family, have insanely awesome wedding photography, and save major dough. Whatever you do, don’t make the wedding planning mistake of skimping on wedding photography.
4. Spending Excessive Time on Pinterest and Wedding Blogs
The internet can be a beautiful thing. It can provide tons of inspiration, and help you avoid wedding planning mistakes. Unfortunately, it can also create unrealistic expectations for your big day. This is a serious warning: limit the amount of time you spend on wedding blogs, wedding-related Instagram accounts, Pinterest, and the like. Try to remember that the photos and events being posted on these sites are literally the best moments out of the best weddings. To try and fit it all into your own day will only leave you feeling let-down when you can’t. Even more upsetting? A large percentage of the images aren’t even from real weddings. They’re from “styled shoots” where vendors get together to contribute their best ideas for a “fake wedding” photo. Often, what it would actually cost to re-create these styled shoots in a real wedding could easily be triple or quadruple an average wedding budget — which isn’t cheap to begin with.
The occasional glance is fine, and can be great for getting inspiration. But try talking to your family members & best friends for decor & ideas, based on your own unique relationship. This prevents a recreation of someone else’s day, or worse, a mish-mash of 20 different weddings that never were cohesive when blended together in the first place. Do yourself a favor and try to stay away from wedding media leading up to the big day. It will may your own wedding that much more special, I promise.
5. Refusing to Let “It” Go
Whatever “it” may be. And “it” is different for everyone. What am I talking about? You know what “it” is right now, and you just cannot let it go, no matter how hard you try. In fact, there are most likely more than one “it”. It may be that your never-invited great uncle Joe somehow RSVP’d that he’s coming, and bringing his 4 kids. It may be that family member who is planning on wearing wildly inappropriate dress to the wedding, and refuses to hear otherwise. Or that family member who seems to make the planning process 500% harder than it has to be.
Letting “it” go isn’t easy, but it’s all too common out of all wedding planning mistakes. That resentment will bleed into every bit of joy your wedding will offer if you can’t wrap it up and throw it out. Whatever you can do to deal with “it”, do it. But whatever is out of your control, do your best to wash your hands clean from there. Once you do, you will be free to enjoy your wedding for the very, very special time it is.
6. Forgetting Your Wedding Party
While you’re probably worried about wedding planning mistakes that will disrupt the flow of your day, it’s make sure to be conscious of wedding planning mistakes that will have more lasting effects. It’s all too easy to get caught up in the planning process, and let your relationships fall to the wayside. Some of this isn’t preventable with the increased workload, but some relationships are worth maintaining. Your wedding party is excited to be part of your day, so don’t forget to include them in the planning process.
It’s not always smart to ask the entire group’s opinion. Everyone will have a preference, and feelings can get hurt if theirs isn’t chosen. However, you can include different wedding party members in different areas of wedding planning. Try asking bridesmaid 4 about invitations, bridesmaid 3 about your hairpiece, bridesmaid 2 about jewelry choices, and include your MOH in the dress. Or any combination you choose! If you include your wedding party in the planning process, it will help ward of feeling overwhelmed & alone, too.
7. An Unrealistic Timeline
Everyone says the same thing, I know. But it’s true: your wedding day is going to fly by. Planning an unrealistic timeline is all too common on the realm of wedding planning mistakes. I always offer my wedding photography timeline tips to my brides, because without them, the day almost always runs behind schedule. Always, always, always plan more time than you think you need. There are bound to be curve balls thrown in: hair & makeup takes longer than expected, the shuttle driver is late, etc..
It’s better to err on the safe side & be prepared than to be rushing & panicked all day. The best way to be able to sit back & enjoy your wedding day is to be realistic about the timeline, and not try to cram in every aspect from every other you’ve ever seen. If there isn’t time for a first look or photos at a location 30 minutes away, it’s not a disaster. It’s just your wedding. Stay local where possible, focus on the marriage, your family, and your friends, and your day will be so much more relaxing.
8. Neglecting Your Relationship
Anyone who is married knows it. Wedding planning can take over your life. Before you know it, your schedule, your finances, and your relationships are all falling to the wayside. These wedding planning mistakes can be prevented, of course, with consciousness. Beware of the wedding that hurts your relationship. It’s been said that wedding planning exists so that couples have to endure a fire before saying “I do”, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Be aware of outbursts and tempers running short due to wedding stress. Plan a time in the day (after 7pm?) at which point wedding planning talk is cut off. Or, at the very least, one date night a week where no wedding talk is allowed. It’s important that you & your fiancé actively plan wedding-free time where you can just focus on your growth as a couple, together.
Remember. Your future spouse is there and willing to help you through stress, to be sure. But don’t wear them out with it. The occasional vent-sesh is understandable, but be careful not to be a 24/7 dump of wedding problems on your fiancé. Remember what it’s all about: you two, and your love & commitment towards each other. When all is said & done, wedding details don’t matter. The human you love most in this world does.
9. Sacrificing Your Guests’ Comfort
Ignoring guests’ comfort is another one of the wedding planning mistakes that can have enormous effects. The wedding day is about the bride & groom, no doubt. But the bride & groom have a responsibility, when planning a party, to make every effort to ensure their guests’ comfort. Outdoor ceremonies can be beautiful — but if it’s too cold, no one will remember the scenery. They may just remember that they were freezing the entire time & couldn’t wait to get back inside. The same goes for feeding your guests. Don’t make them wait. Cocktail hour can help tide people over, but not for as long as you might think If you opt to have speeches before dinner is served, your guests may be dying for it to be over. I’ve seen it happen too many times, and heard many under-the-breath comments from uncomfortable guests as I’m walking around the room.
Dealing with harsh elements? There are things you can do. For example, on a freakishly hot day, make sure to offer personal fans and/or water bottles to help keep guests cool. If you have the option to change to a location that will help protect against the elements, it’s worth the switch every time. There’s no point in spending tens of thousands of dollars to put on a party, where people only remember how uncomfortable they were. Don’t get too caught up on picture-perfect wedding blogs. Make sure your friends & family are happy, comfortable, and fed. It’s better for everyone — including you two — in the long run.
My dear friend, I’m right there with you on this one. I want everyone to experience happiness to the fullest — and so badly wanted this regarding anything wedding-related. The sad truth is, you cannot please everyone. And you will drive yourself crazy trying. While it is your responsibility to make sure your guests are comfortable & fed, the details are up to you & your fiancé. Much of the time, inevitably, one bridesmaid or groomsman won’t like the outfit. Your parents may want to add in a receiving line at the last minute, when there is zero room in the schedule.