I just got married in August without a wedding planner OR coordinator. It can be stressful, especially getting closer to the wedding, but it can be done. The following are some tips that helped me get through it.
1. Enlist Help/ Let people Help You
- My dream wedding could not have happened without the help of my amazing family and friends. Although I enjoyed being in control of my wedding and doing most of the planning, it was really impossible to do everything (especially when you're in medical school).
- My sister-in-law works with trees so she made our centerpieces. She's also the one who I dumped my "day-of list" on which she then delegated to others (THANK YOU).
- My MOH made our slideshow (among MANY other rockstar things that she did) which was amazing.
- I made the groom in charge of things that I knew nothing about or didn't want to deal with like the PA system and the shuttle service (yes, the groom can help too!)
- A groomsmen made a last-minute playlist of great songs the day before the wedding because I figured we could just put Songza on and have a great time (Tip 1.5: take the time to download your own playlist- it was so much better)
- My mom found my jewelry for me, from Stella and Dot
- Many family and friends worked up to the ceremony time making sure everything was perfect
2. It's who you know
- Someone might just have exactly what you need to put together the perfect guest book table or know someone who does, saving you a fortune at Michael's
- My sister-in-law has a friend who grows a lavender farm, so I was able to have beautiful dried lavender sprigs at each place setting and as an alternative to throwing rice after the ceremony
- My father-in-law is a master carpenter and built us a perfect wooden frame with strings crossing it where we had guests clothes-pin polaroid selfies of themselves. He also built our cupcake stand
- My brother-in-law does wedding videos and he offered to do ours as a wedding gift- so sweet!
- Many other people gave us great ideas to save money and connected us with great vendors
3. Make a Budget
- I really don't know how you can plan a wedding without a budget unless money really isn't a concern for you. Having it was the only thing that kept us in line with deciding what we really wanted. It's also a good way to keep track of the status of the different tasks. My MOH made us an excel spreadsheet listing all the things that needed to get done with columns like: status, cost, and deadline.
- Don't forget things like tips and taxes, and leave some room for unforeseen expenses. We had to upgrade our tent at the last minute due to the weather which was not cheap!
4. Meditate on Your Decisions
- It's easy to get caught up in fun ideas to include in your wedding, but it's important to really think about whether they will be worth the time/energy/money to make them happen. I found that meditating on an idea and visualizing the wedding with or without it, or sleeping on it, and discussing it with my partner, helped us both think more clearly and rationally about it and decide if we really wanted it. I think this helped us not feel guilty after the wedding, thinking about how much money we spent, because we knew it went to something that helped the day be as awesome as it was.
5. Have a backup plan- and get excited about it
- Leading up to my wedding, the weather was threatening rain and cold (with sun and heat for the days surrounding it, grr), so we had to come up with a plan B that was starting to have a real possibility of becoming plan A. This meant having the ceremony in the tent rather than outside on a beautiful farm in the country with a gorgeous gazebo built just in time for the occasion- by my father-in-law. This would also mean we would have to do all of our photos under some sort of shelter instead of in epic locations around the farm or we would have umbrellas in all of our photos. I was getting a little depressed. But I wasn't going to let it ruin my day because there was nothing that could be done. Everyone put their heads together and started coming up with ways to get great photos at sheltered, yet creative spots, and I knew our love would shine through the pictures no matter the location of the ceremony.
6. Do a first look
- Ever been to a wedding where the bride, groom, and wedding party run off for 2-3 hours to do their photo session and everyone is either left waiting around or has to go entertain themselves (usually at the bar) until the reception? Yeah, I didn't want to do that, nor could we since both our ceremony and our reception were so far from town (AND the weather wasn't amazing, so everyone would have been huddled in the tent rather than playing lawn games and soaking up the sun like originally planned).
- Doing a first look allows you to have your pictures taken without worrying about your waiting guests. Not only did it allow for us to rejoin our guests shortly after the ceremony but it allowed us to see each other for the first time, alone (plus photographer and videographer ;)) which was really special. It also reduced some of the nerves during the actual ceremony- which were high! I highly recommend doing it this way.
Hope these tips can help another do-it-yourself bride out there!