Mark and I are coming up on THREE years of marriage. I have no clue where the time went but I absolutely love being married to this wonderful man. We planned a slightly unconventional wedding, and I would 100% do it all over again. Since I still brag about how much I love how our wedding day went, I thought it would be a great first blog post. So here are my top 5 recommendations.
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1. Be honest about your budget, then get creative with how you use it
Mark and I got married at 21. Yes, we were babies but no I wouldn’t change a thing. We were both very responsible, even in our young age, and I told Mark “if we feel we are mature enough to get married, we need to be mature enough to pay for it.” It’s not that I thought my family wouldn’t help us financially, I just felt it was irresponsible to assume so.
So, we set a budget and then got creative with how it was that we used it. And when I say get creative, I am talking more than just doing some DIYing. Our MAJOR money savor was that we did NOT do a seated dinner. I know, crazy. We saved thousands with that decision because we did not have to rent:
- Tables to seat everyone
- Chairs to seat everyone
- Table linens
- All of the flatware or serve ware
- Center Pieces
- A space large enough to seat all those people
With that, we also did not do traditional catering either, which meant we saved easily a thousand there. Now I am sure you are wondering what it is that we did do. We decided to have more of a cocktail hour for our reception. We rented bar height tables (only about 8-10) and market umbrellas. I also found it was cheaper to just buy table cloths rather than rent them. You can buy them here.
Mark and I really wanted our reception to feel like one big social time. I wanted to be able to stop and hold a conversation with loved ones, something I felt wasn’t always done at more traditional receptions. And for food, well we did something unique there too. We had our wedding catered by Tutte Al Forno in the Bay area and dessert was catered by Knudsen’s Ice Creamery. Tutte Al Forno makes brick oven pizzas right on site, and Knudsens offers a cool ice cream cart and attendant.
I wanted to plan a wedding that was classic and chic, all while being budget friendly. It is possible, it just takes some creative thinking.
2. DO THE FIRST LOOK
Let me tell ya, the emotions you feel on a first look are TOTALLY different than what you feel walking down the aisle. Part of the reason we did a first look is that we wanted to do all of our bridal party pictures pre-ceremony (hint for suggestion #3). The second part of that reason is that I wanted to share that intimate moment before all eyes would be on us. I am seriously teary-eyed as I type this, and it happened 3 years ago. It is a beautiful and intimate moment that I will cherish forever. I suggest if you do a first look, which you should, that you write each other notes or something that you get to share just between you two (and your photographer, because it needs to be documented).
See, a first look doesn’t ruin the emotions either of you will feel when you walk down the aisle. (Seriously one of my favorite pictures ever!)
3. If you can, do group pictures BEFORE the ceremony and Carefully Chose your Photographer!
This was such a great decision! We took all of our bridal party and family pictures BEFORE our ceremony. There is a multitude of reasons that this decision was so great.
- My hair and makeup were fresh and looking great. Yes, it’s smart to carry a touch-up bag on your wedding, but your hair and makeup will never quite look the way it does right after being done.
- We were able to finish the ceremony and go straight to the reception. Which your guests will love you for; no long waiting for the reception to start. In fact, as we walked back down the aisle our pastor told the guests “these two did it right, we get to walk right out and start to eat.”
- When we did our more intimate photos later in the day, we could do so without anyone else present. We chose to do ours after our reception, which was awesome because we could take as long as we liked.
This one is really important and relates to 2. I think most choose a photographer based off of style and price, but also consider their personality. This is a person that you want to capture your most intimate moments so be sure it’s someone that you are comfortable with. Our photographer was (is) wonderful, shout out to Marilyn. It’s also wise to schedule a shoot with them before your big day (like an engagement shoot) so you both can get a sense of how you work together. If you are in the Northern California region I HIGHLY recommend her. You can find her website here: marilyndays.com
4. Invest in a day of planner
Hands down the best thing ever! My wedding day was so relaxed and enjoyable because of this. There were no questions coming my way (or to any of my bridesmaids), I was able to enjoy being a bride while someone else took care of the day of details. Annie was awesome, she made sure all of the vendors were there on time, that everything got set up just right, and she answered any and all questions people had.
I think a lot of brides think that either they do not need, or can not afford a planner. However, I highly recommend looking into one. Even if it is just a friend who has a knack for these types of things. You just really want to avoid anyone in the wedding party being responsible for trying to pull together all the little details on the day of. While I would love to recommend Annie to you guys, she has since moved on to do big things in New York.
5. Plan your wedding for YOU two
Unless someone else is 100% footing the bill, this is your wedding so don’t be afraid to plan it based off of what you and your fiance want; even if others don’t agree. We canned a lot of “traditions” with our wedding (hello, no seated dinner), and we were so happy we did. I know so many brides who spend their wedding-planning months worrying about upsetting someone. They are afraid to ditch the things they don’t want (or can afford) at their wedding because they don’t want to disappoint someone. While that is a noble idea, it is a day to celebrate you and your husband’s union. Plan your wedding how you want, you will be happier because of that. Plus, you chose your guests because they love you.
Things Mark and I did differently:
- First, we picked our wedding day based off of when we wanted to fly out for our honeymoon. Best decision ever. Our wedding day was on a Friday at 2 pm, if you want to know. And EVERYONE invited showed up. So believe me, your guests can make time for your wedding. You don’t have to pick a date and time that works for them.
- We told everyone no kids. And I come from a Mexican family where EVERYONE somehow ends up at the wedding. It wasn’t a problem at all; I figured if they could find a babysitter for date night, they could find one for our wedding.
- Another one of our faux pas was that we didn’t allow for plus ones. We were on a budget, and I didn’t want to pay for Mr. I met him last week, and now he’s at your wedding.
- I canned the “here comes the bride” song and walked down to “She Loves Me Like Jesus Does” by Eric Church.
- I did not throw my bouquet; it was too pretty haha. ( See picture below for proof)
Actually, side note if you are in the Oakland area I got all of my florals done at Whole Foods. They have no clue I am mentioning them by the way, but ya….asembled, delivered, and all.
I really hoped this helped some of you can you are going through your wedding-planning journey. Just keep in mind that at the end of all of this, you get to marry the person of your dreams.