Wedding Planning Tips, Resources And Budget Friendly Ideas
Congratulations on being in theposition of planning your wedding!Believe me; I never thought I would
ever be planning my ownwedding. In fact, I was pretty sure thatI was the oldest first time bride in
North America! As it turns out, 43 years old isn’t theoldest first time bride (I wasn’t able to verify who
was) but at times I wascertain by the looks on some people’s faces when I told them I indeed
wasn’tthe mother of the bride, but the bride, that I was the oldest first timebride they had ever seen!
As someone who may be considered tobe discriminating in her tastes (I did wait until I was 43 years
old to findthe right man didn’t I?!) I feel uniquely qualified to write about weddingplanning. I am also
known in somecircles as “the info-chick” because I have a habit of researching just abouteverything,
especially when it comes to spending money. So, as a result, you are about to learn someof the best
tips that I found to be helpful when planning a wedding.
This article is designed to helpyou navigate though what can be a very stressful time. All of the
clichés about how this is one ofthe happiest times of your life, yet the most stressful, is true. It is also
true that your actual wedding daygoes by in a flash and you can’t believe that it took months to plan
and onlyhours to experience. Some of the otherthings that I learned is that it is true that a bride must
take care of herself throughout the process; good eatinghabits coupled with an exercise plan is a
must.Not just because most brides feel they need to lose a few pounds beforethe big day, but also
because healthy living keeps a gal prepared to deal withthe unexpected.
Very few brides have unlimitedresources and therefore must find the best way to make her dreams
come true ona budget. I found that opening my mindto possibilities was one of the best ways to make
things happen. Too often, we as women can get an idea lockedinto our heads and nothing changes
our minds.Sometimes the idea is extremely costly, either financially oremotionally. (Think about a
themed wedding with live songbirds and every guestreleasing a dove etc. Etc.) I wassurprised to
learn that what I thought my wedding day would be like (eventhough I had given up the idea that I
would ever find a husband) was not at allwhat it turned out to be; and I couldn’t be happier! Simply
because I opened my mind topossibilities, I was able to have a wedding that exceeded my
If you andyour fiancé haven’t done so already, make sure you have agreed upon what typeof
experience you want your wedding to be.Remember your wedding is an event for more than just the
two of you, soyou should also consider what your guests would experience as well. My husband and I
determined that we wantedour wedding to be a mix of tradition and fun (this is not to say that
atraditional wedding cannot be fun, rather we chose to put some twists on a fewthings). Between the
two of us, we hadbeen to countless weddings and talked about what we liked and didn’t like whenwe
were guests as well as members of wedding parties. This served as the basis of ourplanning. We
also evaluated what thecost of items were and if we could justify the cost for the experience that
itbought. This really became an important part of our planning, as it allowed usto evaluate if
something was truly meaningful to us or simply something that wewere being talked into by either a
merchant or a wedding magazine article oradvertisement!
Be sure tostay organized. Your wedding is a bigevent with many things to consider. Youmay want to
set up an organizational system such as a three ring binder withfolders that clip into the binder and
can hold invoices, receipts etc. Folder sections can be arranged alphabeticallyby topic for easier
handling. Sectionscan include (among others) Cake information, Service venue info (place ofworship,
beach, hall, etc.) Music information; (Disc Jockey, song selections, band/quartetetc.) Gown, tux and
other formal wear info, Honeymoon, Invitation info, travelinformation-local hotels for guests,
photography/video, gift registry,etc. Your organizational system can beas elaborate or as informal as
you desire, the main thing is to have one fornot only will it keep you on track, but it is also fun to look
back long afteryour wedding day is complete and see what went into making your big day such
Time ofday: It’s true; anevening wedding on a Saturday night during the summer or a holiday period
isthe most expensive time to have a wedding. I never thought I would be married during the daytime,
but if I wantedto wait more than a year and spend about $16,000.00 additional dollars, then wecould
have had our wedding on a Saturday night. This would not have been the best option for many of our
guests, as wewere married in San Diego, California and many guests came from the eastcoast. An
evening wedding would haveseen us eat dinner at about 8:00 p.m., which would have been 11:00
p.m. To thestomachs of several guests (this is due to the time zone differences). We figured if we
were going to spend a lot ofmoney to feed people, they better not be ready to go to sleep instead
ofeat! We chose a Saturday morning to haveour wedding because San Diego is quite beautiful during
the day with the brightblue sky and ocean backdrop. The weddingbegan at 9:30 am and concluded at
3:00 pm. We had the rest of the day to enjoy as newlyweds and had the addedbenefit of being able to
change out of our formal wear and hang out with friendsand family at different informal gatherings.
One of the best-unexpected things that happened that day was that wewere able to have a quiet
dinner together at a favorite restaurant and no oneknew it was our wedding day. This afforded us the
chance to bask in the factthat we just got married and discuss the events of the day. After dinner, we
stopped by a few places thatour guests were staying at and thanked them for sharing in our day.
TIP : Look into having your weddingduring off peak times. This typicallymeans during the daytime, or
on a Friday evening. It can also mean a weekend during the wintermonths or in the fall. Summertime
is thenumber one time for weddings in America and vendors are able to charge premiumprices.
Location:Thelocation of your wedding is certainly a major consideration. You need to determine if
you want yourceremony to be indoors or out, in a place of worship, or in perhaps even atyour home.
The choice is up to you. Each choice of course comes with some price;either financial or emotional.
You needto determine if you have always wanted to walk down a long aisle in your houseof worship,
or if you want to stand at the water’s edge or on a mountain top orhost a trendy “destination wedding”
which is a current rage. The thing to consider is that most everylocation will have some cost. It
isimperative to check into rental costs or expected user fees. Check with those in charge of the venue
andinquire as to what the costs are. It isbetter to do this right away in order to factor in what could be
seen as hiddencosts.
• YourWedding Gown: There are a myriad of choices and price tags and there are greatbargains to
be found. Consider samplesales, wearing a dress from a previous season, borrowing a dress,
checking outconsignment stores as well as Craig’s List and Ebay. I once heard it said that a bride
will chooseher gown from one of the first ten that she tries on.
• Keep that in mind when you are looking forthe perfect dress you may have found it in the first few
that you tried on butwere afraid that it was “too easy” to find your dream dress so early in thegame.
If you don’t believe the statisticask your friends who are married how many dresses they tried on
before theyfound “the one” and you may be surprised (as I was when I did my own datacollection)
that many women indeed found their dress sooner (in the first ten) ratherthan (20 or 30 dresses)
later in the process (F.Y.I. The gown of my dream wasthe fifth one that I tried on!) Keep inmind that
many wedding gowns are very heavy and it takes a lot of energy (bothphysically and emotionally) to
try them on and even more energy to try torecreate something similar after you pass on a few but
deep down know that you liked adress that was previously tried on. Youmay also want to take along
a digital camera to capture not only the dress butthe excitement about finding your wedding gown.
• Also, know that unless you arereally good at imagining what the finished dress will look like after it
hasbeen altered to fit you, it can be pretty stressful to envision just what youwill look like in your
gown. As far asalterations go, it is wise to inquire about the alteration rates when youpurchase the
gown and then shop around (by asking friends for references foranyone who does quality
alterations) and find the best rate foralterations. There are very few of us(if any) who can simply try
on a gown and not need alterations so it pays tohave a quality seamstress do the job so you will
look your best on your bigday.
• Consultthe book Bridal Bargains by Denise and Alan Fields. This gem of a book can help you to
navigate through the maze of wedding planning but mostimportantly “wedding savings”. This
book(as of this writing is in its tenth edition) covers everything you will need tohave a wonderful,
memory filled wedding while saving you a boatload ofbucks. The website also features a
verycomprehensive wedding planner which is indispensable when you are up to youreyeballs in
planning and feel the emotions of the event. Face it, few of us do a stellar job ofthinking of every
detail when we are consumed with emotion and stress let alonetrying to make sure every detail has
been thought of. This book and planner does the trick and isworth the purchase. Heck, if you
don’twant to fork out the bucks to buy the book you can either head to your locallibrary and borrow a
copy, or ask for your very own as a shower gift! (Perhapsa bit tacky but an effective way to get the
• Determinewhat your budget will be and stick to it. This can sometimes be easier saidthan done!
With weddings costing anaverage of $20,000 dollars, you want to be sure that you can both afford
thewedding and enjoy the experience at the same time!
• Continuallycommunicate. This means not only shouldyou communicate with your fiancé, but with
your bridal party, parents (step-parents)and vendors as well. It is easy to beswept away by emotions
during the planning phase but if you haven’t effectivelycommunicated your wants and desires to all
parties involved, then your dream wedding can quickly disintegrate into anightmare!
• Speakingof communication you may (as we did) find it invaluable to establish a weddingwebsite. We
chose to use The WeddingChannel as it helped to have a central spot for our gift registries (a must
unless youare fine with your guests deciding what you simply cannot live without!) aswell as a great
planning guide and forums to learn about all things associatedwith weddings.
• Investin quality photography and/or videography. This is one area that you don’t wantto skimp on.
Your wedding is meant to bea once in a lifetime event and should be captured in photo’s and video’s
as thepeople that attend come together for one moment in time and the results arepriceless! Do be
sure to conduct a thorough reference check of theprofessionals that you hire as you don’t want to
end up on the local news inone of those “problem solver’s to the rescue” segments because the
person thatyou hired disappeared with your money and your photo’s. Ask your friends and friends of
friends whothey used at their wedding and what their level of satisfaction was not onlywith the
product but how the crew treated the bride and groom and the guestsduring the event. After you
have settledon one or two picks, interview the contenders and ask them for references andbe sure
to contact the references. Itmay also be wise to contact your local Better Business Bureau
(http://www.bbb.org)to see if there are any complaints about your potential hires. This step may
seem like a needless act totake during such a stressful time (the planning phase) but unless you
have rocksolid evidence of stellar performances the time invested with the BetterBusiness Bureau
may very well be the best investment that you have made sinceyou can only capture your wedding
on film just once.
• Should you be gettingmarried in Southern California (San Diego County) you may want to check out
BobHoffman Video Productionsas the they do an outstanding job on all levels, from the planning to
filmingto follow up. We made the decision toinvest in both photos and video/DVD of our big day and
are glad that we did, asthe investment is one that will continue to pay off over our lifetime becauseof
the memories we made on our wedding day.
• Makesure any bachelor and bachelorette parties are held well in advance of thewedding. It’s not a
pretty sight to seemembers of the wedding party (bride and groom included) looking like the catjust
dragged him or her to the wedding!
• Besure to eat something prior to the ceremony regardless of the time of day theceremony will be
held. Certainly nervesare a factor (and sometimes can be an appetite suppressant) but a little
foodcan go a long way in preventing a disaster at the altar or the reception.(Think America’s
Funniest Video’s where the bride or groom faints at the altaror is tipsy at the reception) Youcertainly
don’t want your special day to be talked about for years to comebecause of the way that you
collapsed during the event!
• Considerhaving several smaller cakes using fresh flowers on the top as centerpieces foryour tables.
This was one way that wewere able to save money. By forgoing onelarge wedding cake, (which also
carried a fee for having the wait staff cutinto smaller pieces) we placed a smaller flowered cake on
each table and ourguests could take as much or as little as they wanted. The cakes were very
beautiful and served ascenterpieces (think “two for one” deal). We also provided a variety of flavors
for our cakes and our guests hadfun moving from table to table in search of their favorite flavor.
Additionally, we had a special cake on ourtable so that we could keep the tradition of saving some
cake for our firstanniversary.
• Tryto savor every moment of the event! Takeit all in, be sure to smile and remember to visit with
every guest even if youhave no clue as to who they are because you haven’t met them yet (think
CousinLarry’s new girlfriend). It is polite tomeet with your guests, if even for a few brief moments.
They want tocongratulate you and share in your happiness.
• Considera honeymoon that will provide some quiet time for just the two of you. If yougo on a
honeymoon right after your wedding, you may wish to consider somethingsimple that doesn’t involve
lots of planning or work on your part. You will be both exhausted and exhilaratedfrom your wedding
and will enjoy some time where you neither have to plan or beconcerned about the schedule of
• A friend suggested to us that we should consider taking a cruise as theyhad done so as newlyweds
and enjoyed just kicking back and being able to “leavethe driving” to someone else. We tookthem up
on their advice and were glad that we did. We enjoyed a seven day cruise that left fromour home
town of San Diego (no planes to catch and some of our wedding guestswere at the dock to see us
off) and sailed to the Mexican Riviera.
• We sailed with Royal Caribbean Cruise Line and enjoyed the honeymoon package complete with
our suite decorated withwelcome streamers, Champaign and a honeymoon cake. In the cruise line
tradition of sitting withothers for dinners we were placed with another honeymooning couple who
werealso married on the same day we were. Even though we were strangers, we hadmuch in
common and were able to share and compare our respective weddings. This was a nice bonus
because we were able toshare the excitement of our special day and knew that we were not
boringothers, rather we could relate to their stories and share in their joy and theydid the same for
• The best part aboutthe cruise was that we could disappear into our cabin and take in as little oras
much of the cruise experience as we wanted and the biggest decisions we madewere what to eat
and what, if any, shore excursions we would go on. This was a welcomed relief after months
ofplanning and stressing over our big day.
No matterwhat you decide for your wedding day and your honeymoon (should you decide totake one)
be sure to be true to yourselves, plan a budget within your means andstick to it as your wedding day
is just that- one day, and not something thatshould take years to pay for. Enjoy theplanning and the
events leading up to and including the big day. Most of all,have fun!
This article was written by Judy Richards Hunsberger and cannot be copied without my expressed
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