Rules For Wedding Planning

    Weddings are crazy! Absolutely insane! When you think about one day holding so much meaning, so much love, so much decor, so much planning, so much money, so many people, so much significance, it's literally an 'insanity bomb.' It's extremely easy to get derailed from the true meaning behind a wedding: love. Why? Well first because of Pinterest. As great as Pinterest is for wedding planning and all the cute ideas, it is dangerous. It overstimulates you and makes you change your mind a billion times because you find something better or cuter or classier. Danger. Secondly, family and expectations. This also is a danger zone. Because there is so much pressure associated with weddings, everyone pitching their 'two cents,' it can become overwhelming extremely quickly. And thirdly, dreams. Getting married is special. And right when you get engaged (or maybe even sooner), your mind runs wild. You're picturing wedding dresses, and flowers, and hearing music and laughter, and eating a 7 tier cake and feeling like a princess and soon enough you've compiled this fantasy wedding that will literally break the bank. So where do you start? How do you get it under control? How can you have your 'dream' wedding without breaking the bank? Well here we go! This is gonna be a long one!

Rule 1

    Find a theme. A theme? Yes a theme. If you don't know what kind of theme you want then this is one of the ONLY times you can use Pinterest. Make a wedding board and pin everything you like. After a few days or a week or once you have enough accumulated on your board, stop pinning and look through it. What are you drawn to? The theme should reflect the season you want, the colours you want, the style you want. 

    What we did: For our wedding we knew we wanted a winter wedding. We met in February, we got engaged in February, so it was only natural to pick a February wedding date. So theme half done. Now I LOVE glitter things 😍. So right off the bat I knew I wanted lots of silver glittery goodness. Winter. Silver. Theme = Winter Wonderland. Romantic. Classy. Perfect. But I needed some colour. This is where Pinterest helped me. I was drawn to Navy Blue. I loved how it popped with the sparkly silver and the crisp white. It kept with the wintery feel and the classy atmosphere I was going for. 

Rule 2 

    Decide if you want to DIY your wedding or not. 

Pros to DIY: can be cheaper, can be fun if your a crafty person, opportunity for lots of creativity, unique, reflects you and your significant other specifically.

Cons to DIY: TIME CONSUMING, tedious (even for the crafty folk), need to store everything before and after, can actually be more expensive if you're not careful.

    What we did: I have a crafty side and I knew I wanted to do a lot of the stuff myself. We thought it would save money (which it did) and add our personality into the day (which it also did). But I wish I would have known how TIME CONSUMING it would be. I knew it would be lots of work to make all the decor, and our flower arrangements, and our dessert table but what I didn't factor in was the time required to get all the supplies. NOT FUN. And frustrating. I don't even know how many times I went to Michael's or the dollar store and they were out of what I needed! So then I had to run around to multiple locations to get what I needed. I wasted DAYS getting supplies. 

Rule 3

    Make a budget. Budget is an absolute essential. So discuss with your other half what the number is going to be. And then plan to spend 20% more than what you've budgeted. Yes that's right plan to overspend. Because it is soo easy to. Also this is where you need to ask parents if they will be contributing or not, as this could change your budget number. Never assume you are getting anything. If you're going to stick to a budget you need to know facts and real numbers.

    What we did: We planned to do our wedding for $20,000. We didn't want to go into debt at all for it and that was what we could afford to spend.

Rule 4

    Prioritize everything. Each of you make a list of what is most important to least important. On this list should be: venue, location, guests, music, food, dance, decor, flowers, photographer, clothing, videographer, transportation, and any other little thing you can think of. This list is going to help you allocate your funds. If location is your biggest thing and you want to get married in some exotic place then perfect you will be ok with dropping some extra coin to get that. On the other hand, if photography isn't really something you care about then maybe you'll be ok cutting corners a bit and hiring a friend to do them for free or for a more affordable price.

    What we did: For us it was important to have family and friends attend and we felt the best way for that to occur was having a local wedding. So boom location picked. We also wanted a venue that tied into our theme, was central (so easy for people to get to), and met our guest capacity. This helped narrow down our venue search and we ended up going with a log cabin hall located in the river valley in Edmonton. Everything else for us was important but we knew we could be creative to obtain it without going over budget. 

Rule 5

    Start researching, booking, and finalizing decisions asap. Don't wait to do anything. The last few months before the wedding are crazy busy with last minute things. Anything you can get done ahead of time, do it. 

    What we did: For our wedding, I started making all the decor, all the floral arrangements (with fake flowers), all the wedding favours; I bought all the lights, rented all the linens, rented all the dishware and cutlery; booked the DJ, the venue, our photographer (Ashley Toon of First Glance Studios who took all the photos in this post), our transportation; decided on dresses and shoes and jewelry for my bridesmaids; all as soon as I could. And I was still stressed the last two months! So get on making those decisions.

Rule 6 

Pick your bridal party early! This can be a hard decision so make sure you start it right away. 

What we did: We picked our bridal parties within the first month. We each had 5 people.

Rule 7

    Buy your wedding dress and buy it early. Wedding dresses on average take about 6 months to come in. Sometimes even longer. And it can take months for alterations. So go dress shopping early. A bit of advice here. Pick one person that truly understands you, your style, your vision, to go dress shopping with. That's it. Just one. Then, start booking appointments. Yes you need appointments to try on wedding dresses. Another piece of advice. Go to SMALL little stores. Don't pick the big box stores, at least not to start out with. Dress shopping is overwhelming and tiring. And after about the third dress they all look the same. Another piece of advice: take a photo of you in every dress. And DO NOT buy a dress the first day. Go home, load all the pictures on the computer, make sure your designated dress shopper helper is with you, and start eliminating. Eliminate certain styles and certain fits, until you each have a favourite or two. DO NOT tell each other which one is your favourite until the very end and the bride gets to disclose first. Then discuss. What do you like? Dislike? Does it fit your theme? Your vision? Your body? Is within your budget? Etc.

    What I did: I went dress shopping with my mom. We went to boutique stores and in almost every store I was the only person! Talk about feeling special. Also no extra eyes on you, judging you = less stress. Bonus! We went to a ton of stores taking photos as we went. We shopped for 3 days. Non stop. Dress after dress. Exhausting. Some of those dresses weighed more than me! At least it felt like it! We went home at the end of each day and looked through the photos, narrowing down. And we each picked a favourite and we both picked the same dress! I knew it was the one! So day 3 we went and bought the dress. Done and done! It took 5 months to come in. And I only needed minor alterations so that only took about a month. 

Rule 8

    Pick your menu. By now you should know who is doing your food. But most places require you to pick a menu. Do you want plated? Or buffet? What kind of food do you want?

    What we did: We went with a taco bar and a baked potato bar and did it buffet style. People loved it! It was very non traditional but our guests really enjoyed the simple homey feel to the dish. It made the dining experience very relaxed and fun which was what we wanted.

Rule 9 

    Decide on vows. Are you writing your own? Writing them together? If you choose to write your own vows, start writing them early. It is challenging to find in words how you feel about your soon to be spouse. You are not going to want to feel rushed doing this. 

    What we did: We wrote our own vows and I'm so happy we did. I felt it was so heartfelt and genuine. Again it was reflective of us. It was very challenging to write them but such an awesome keepsake afterwards. Highly recommend it!

Rule 10 

    Decide on your bar. Open bar? Twoonie bar? Drink tickets? Etc. Make sure it's within your budget!

    What we did: We did a twoonie bar and sold drink tickets. It made it easier for our bartender to sell drink tickets as guests came in for the reception. We found the twoonie bar affordable and well accepted among guests. But it depends on your guests. If you've got drinkers then a twoonie bar may not be your best option.

    I think this is a good overview of steps to get you started and hopefully on your way to planning your wedding successfully. The best piece of advice I can give, is follow your gut. This day is about love. It's about you and your spouse. So if ever you're questioning things or worried about what others may think, just listen to your gut. 

    For us, we had a great day and everything came together perfectly but we definitely had our fair share of hiccups. In hindsight, I think we would probably choose to do a small intimate mountain wedding, if we could do it all again. Go more low key. Have less people. Have less to deal with in general. As amazing as our day was, it's an overwhelming process.  And it's kind of ironic that even though it's your wedding, you will hardly get any time with your other half! The day is busy and crazy and emotional. Every guest wants their time with you. Photos take all day. It's really a lot.  And if you're anything like me, being overstimulated is stressful! 

A few parting tips (that happen to be some of our favourite things about our day) to leave you with: 

1. Write your vows - I know I already talked about his one but having written our own vows, really made it special for us. Even though you're standing in front of a large group of people, you only see your spouse. It was like the entire room just froze and it was just us in that moment, declaring our love. The best.

2. Plan a day date - We arranged to do photos at the restaurant where we had our first date. We sent our bridal party off in the limo and just Papa Bird and I did a mini photoshoot. I am the most grateful for this decision! It was like a mini day date on our wedding day! It allowed us a few minutes to talk and just connect. Highly recommend allowing some time for just the two of you because if you don't you could easily go the entire day without even talking to your spouse!

3. Post wedding munchies - If you're staying at a hotel on your wedding night, make sure you put snacks in your overnight bag! The day is exhausting! Remember you are cinched into a dress that doesn't allow you to scarf down food like you want to. By the time you arrive to the hotel, you will be dead tired and starving! So make sure you have some munchies to help hold you over.

4. Timeline - Lastly, I think the ideal time frame to plan a wedding is 8 months to 1 year. Personally I wouldn't prolong the planning process. It's already long and tedious, so why make it even longer if you don't need to? It's important to stay organized to optimize time and make sure you don't forget anything. If you stay organize, planning a wedding in a year or less is definitely manageable!

    Let me know what you think! Or how the process went for you! There is so much involved in weddings so if you would like more detail on a certain area, let me know in the comments below! Happy Planning!!

- Mama Bird