It’s not my fault I’m not an expert, this was my first rodeo after all. But wow, I wish I had known about wedding planning before I got started! I learned a lot along the way, from wedding dress fittings to our vows. Here were my biggest takeaways:
Flexibility is a Superpower when Wedding Planning
I remember growing up watching programs about Bridezillas and dealing with family/friends that want to have an input. I genuinely thought, “that won’t be me.” In part, because I’m already an event planner. I just assumed all of this would be so easy and I can’t even tell you how wrong I was. Haha!
One thing that took a while to learn but gave me a lot of relief was being flexible. I think my Mom and I changed the venue a dozen times before we landed where we did. I had a few frustrating and tearful calls, but as soon as I started saying “sure” to everything they threw at me I was much more relaxed. This didn’t mean compromising the things I really wanted, but I learned that the less I push back the more likely it’s going to get convoluted into something I absolutely would be unhappy with.
Size Doesn’t Always Matter
The most common conversation I had with people while wedding planning:
Person: “How many guests are you planning for?”
Me: “Oh, not many – max 10.”
Person: “Oh wow! That will make it so much easier to plan.”
Me (before September): “Right!? We’re so excited to save money and keep things chill.”
Me (after September): “LIES, IT’S ALL LIES!”
But for real, we quickly realized it doesn’t matter if you’re planning for 10 guests or 100 – this shit is complicated. Especially when you want all the same details as a regular wedding, you still have just as much coordinating to do. So, if you’re thinking a small guest list will keep things more manageable – think again! It certainly helps in different areas, like cost and space. For us, it was all the same.
Wedding Dresses: Easy Mode
We booked 3 appointments at different salons in Denver and ultimately landed on the gorgeous Rhapsody gown by Watters from Emma and Grace Bridal. I really thought “cool, it’s all downhill from here!”, and I was so, so wrong. Picking the dress is just the start of the fun!
Given the pandemic, the whole situation was a bit different. First off, if you’re anything like me and have no idea what you’re DOING – the first appointment is your “initial” appointment. Your second appointment is your first fitting. You will want to bring your shoes or at least a heel that is comparable. Your third appointment is your second fitting – basically, all your measurements need to be final and this is your last chance for any updates. Your next appointment is your third fitting and usually when you take your dress home with you! I didn’t know any of this and felt like I had no idea what I was walking into for every appointment, so hopefully, this helps!
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Referrals
I knew before we were engaged that Kimberly Crist would be my wedding photographer. She’s a great friend and I’ve been working with her for years, so I knew we’d be comfortable. Plus, she’s just hands down the best. Since I hired the best, I had Kimberly’s brain in my back pocket. She helped me to narrow down potential locations and even hairstylists! Don’t be afraid to ask your photographer for referrals to vendors. They’ve likely worked with several and can point you in the right direction.
The same goes for anything you need! My hairstylist and make-up artists were a referral from another stylist and my flowers were a referral from our cake designer. You never know who is going to have someone awesome in their back pocket.
Focus on What’s Important to You
I think our primary saving grace between all the opinions, changes, and COVID madness was that Drew and I had a very solid understanding of what parts of the wedding were most important to us and what we were willing to expend our energy fighting for. This helped me to put my foot down when my Mom or others tried to weigh in on areas they shouldn’t. It also ensured that there was no part of the wedding we were feeling forced to do. We loved every moment of it!
I recall my Mom saying multiple times through this process, “Well Lauren, I don’t see why you’re trying to do this. You’re not having a traditional wedding so why do you keep trying to keep things traditional?” To us, it was so simple. We did want tradition or we wouldn’t be having a wedding in the first place, but there are a lot of parts we felt were not necessary for this low-key but gorgeous day we were planning with family. Keeping our intentions set really made the whole weekend perfect.
Only Compromise on Temporary Things
Another element to planning a wedding that I wasn’t truly prepared for was compromise. In regular event planning, I’m ready to compromise at the drop of a hat if it means getting what I need for my guests. With wedding planning though, it’s so deeply personal you may find yourself unwilling to compromise. Or that compromising feels like you’re sacrificing. I found myself in this spot a few times while planning and, honestly, I got really discouraged several times. At one point I was told, “you’re going to have to compromise or this isn’t going to happen.” It crushed me, what do you mean I can’t have it my way? It’s my wedding – it’s my money! And my groom!
The thing is, when you’re relying on others to help – you may have to bend here and there. I eventually beat it into my head that I wouldn’t compromise on anything that wasn’t temporary. Anything that would be immortalized in photos or time. This included things like my dress, the cake, the location, having the dogs there, my photos, etc. Things I would compromise on included the food, the guest list, and the timeline. By knowing exactly what I was going to control and what I would be lenient on, I was able to remove a lot of stress for me and others.
In the end – it’s your big day! Do it however you want, whether that’s an elopement or a full affair. It’s your day.
TLDR; here’s my 8 tips for having a perfect pandemic wedding.