We asked our newlyweds featured in South Sound Wedding & Event magazine 2016 for advice they would give to engaged couples. These are excellent suggestions for engaged couples.
Do what feels right to you
The biggest piece of advice we can offer is to do what feels right to you. We are both very private people, so we knew that having a huge ceremony was just not right for us. We also knew that spending more than a year planning a wedding would cause us too much stress with full-time jobs and grad school! This was true for us, and may not be the same for other couples, but the message is still the same. Do what feels right, be honest with your friends and family about your plans, and remember that the day is supposed to be a reflection of your love and commitment to one another. We are so happy we went the route we did, and we wouldn’t do anything different if given the chance. — Alyssa and Jesse
Try and stay calm and enjoy yourself despite the inevitable things that may always go a little “wrong.” — Ioana and Sean
Adapt to unexpected changes
Be able to adapt. Everything will not always go as planned. Planning can also be stressful, so make sure to breathe and enjoy the moment. Remember this is your night. Everyone around you will have his or her own opinion and recommendations. In the end, do what you like and what is best for the two of you. — Sitha and Derrick
Plan details and communicate with your helpers
Even if you do it all yourself, hire a day-of coordinator. Ours was a lifesaver. Make sure they really “get” you as a couple and see your vision. Do your planning — the more detailed, the better — write tons of lists, create schedules, draw up diagrams, do setups at home and take pictures of how you want things to look. Then give it all to the coordinator and relax. Know that something will always go unexpectedly and that’s OK. It’ll be magical no matter what happens; just enjoy the day. Everyone told us it would go by so fast that we’d be lucky if we got to see or talk to every guest. We didn’t believe them, but it’s all true. So just remember to take some moments to stand back and take it all in. — Danielle and Tryg
Personalize your wedding
Find your favorite spaces. We looked at so many venues by searching for “wedding venues” and came up short. It wasn’t until we shifted our focus and made a list of the top 10 places that mattered to us as a couple, without regard to what was a “venue,” that we really saw what we wanted our wedding to be! We thought about our favorite memories and moments together, and then we shaped our wedding ceremony around those precious memories. In the end, we had something perfect, instead of trying to just fit with a place that didn’t meet our identity.
In this age oversaturated with digital relationships, don’t understimate the value of true personal interaction. We shopped online for so many things, and found great “bargains”; however, nothing could truly meet our exact expectations with our very specific budget. We were so dependent on the idea that we needed to shop online, that we began to give up on some of the things we wanted for our wedding, but then we thought maybe we could check with local businesses. It is both with pleasure and also a bit of sheepishness that we admit that of course our local businesses were able to provide exactly what we needed, when the power of the Internet could not! A great example of this is the Lego minifigures that we wanted to give our guests, which is definitely a specialty item we couldn’t create on our own. We searched Amazon and eBay and asked around without any luck. However, once we went to Noel’s House of Bricks in Olympia and simply asked if they could meet our needs, the answer was immediately yes!
The size of your budget doesn’t equal the memorability of your wedding. Prioritize the few things that matter most to you, and focus your efforts there. For us, it was high-quality photos, excellent food and live music. Those three things would “make or break” how we would feel about the wedding once it was over.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help — and say yes to help when it is offered! You will not regret having your best friend come over and spend hours upon hours making 120 paper cones! Also, when people offer to help you, if you don’t have a job for them, then just ask if you can keep them in mind. We could not have pulled off anything, especially our reception, without the help of friends and family who were willing to do whatever we asked. We can honestly say that you will underestimate the amount of work it is going to take to pull off your wedding successfully. Just keep those people you trust close by for the moments when you need to grab someone reliable and say, “Hey, can you refill the drinks?”
Do not be afraid to DIY. With the availability of high-quality paint, yarn, markers and other tools now. there is truly no reason why any person cannot pick up something from a neighborhood yard sale and turn it into a wedding centerpiece. We scoured Craigslist, OfferUp, Facebook groups and thrift stores for bargain items that seemed to be trash, but we turned them into treasure. Probably our greatest success was a vintage metal mailbox that we found just discarded. We hand-painted it into a gift-and-card receptacle. This relates to point 2, depending on local business support, because we were continually at our local craft stores picking up supplies to turn our recycle projects into successes! — Sydney and C.J.
Enjoy the process and make your own decisions
Really try to enjoy the wedding planning process. It’s so important to not stress the little things. It will be much more fun if you enjoy the decisions you get to make and think about what will make you two smile on your wedding day. I think a couple of times I was so overwhelmed with all the information, I struggled to make any definite decisions. After the wedding, I realized it was a really fun planning process and I should have savored those moments a little bit more. The planning process went by so quickly! That being said, don’t be afraid to delegate tasks to people you trust. It can be hard to not handle everything yourself; however, it also can be really helpful to have one of your family members or close friends do some of the research for you. When it’s time, you can give your opinion and make the final decision. This can really help if you do start feeling overwhelmed with unmade decisions. — Kendall and Jesse
Enjoy being engaged
Remember to enjoy being engaged, Do what you want! Not what anyone else wants. It’s your wedding, and you only get married once! Do not be afraid to change your mind on things, either. It’s OK because the decision process takes time, and you will have more than you think! Finally, enjoy your wedding day as much as you can. It goes by so much faster than you expect, and all the facets you stressed over leading up to it really don’t even matter. — Brittany and Zak
Customize your wedding to your style
When you’re planning, it’s OK to remind each other that it’s your wedding, not anyone else’s, and it’s OK to say no. It’s easy to feel like you “have” to do something, or invite someone, but you don’t. It’s your wedding. Make it your own. That doesn’t mean it has to be expensive. Expensive dresses, decorations and food are a choice, not a must. A $6,000 wedding is possible! The one thing that helped us the most was to make two lists — (1) things that are important to us and (2) things that are not important to us — and read them during the planning process. Midway through planning, Amanda wanted to change her mind and spend $400 on white chairs; Ben reminded her that chairs weren’t originally on the important list. They ended up not getting the chairs and spent $400 extra on better things like top-shelf whiskey and gin. Amanda didn’t even notice the brown chairs at the wedding. Fancy chairs don’t actually make a difference. Happy people make a happy wedding! — Amanda and Benjamin
Create a wedding you will love, enjoy the day
My advice is to know yourself and your own needs. Well-meaning people, trying to lower my stress levels, often tell me not to be so concerned over details, but I know that being detail-oriented actually makes me less stressed; having a plan in place alleviates my anxiety, and finally getting things “just right” brings me so much joy! Tim also enjoys envisioning something and then seeing it come to life in minute detail. Our detail-oriented approach to wedding planning would not have worked for everyone, but it was perfect for us. That said, my other piece of advice is to save the detail obsession for the planning process. On the day of the wedding, it’s time to enjoy the moment and your love, not worry about details. I had to remember to take that advice myself at several times during the day when some minor things didn’t go as planned!
Other advice: make your RSVP date well in advance of the time you actually need to get numbers to vendors. Almost half of our guests didn’t respond by the RSVP date, even though we’d given them both stamped RSVP cards and an online RSVP option. Fortunately, our coordinator had warned us that this problem is becoming more and more common, and advised us to give ourselves a few extra weeks when setting the RSVP date. This gave us enough time to track down all the nonresponders with phone calls and Facebook messages, a time-consuming task that our moms helped us with! Our nonresponders were divided between people who didn’t RSVP because they weren’t coming, people who assumed we knew they were coming, and people who forgot to RSVP or lost their invite! There was absolutely no way we could have guessed our final guest count without tracking them down. The RSVPs were one of the most stressful parts of the whole planning process, and we did end up overpaying for a few things, such as extra napkins and cake. (Extra cake is not the worst problem to have.) It has given me a new respect for making sure I respond to invitations on time! — Sheena and Timothy
Get everything in order a month before the wedding so that you can relax.
Relax! There are so many things that you want or envision to go a certain way, and it doesn’t always work in your favor.
On the day of the wedding, all I could think about was walking down the aisle to my husband and saying our vows. All the little things that were such a big deal to me before were not a big deal anymore.
My husband continued to remind me throughout our engagement — when I would be in tears about something I wanted or something that didn’t work out the way I wanted — that everything was going to be OK. Of course, at the moment, it was the end of the world to me, but on the actual day, the changes made our wedding better than I had imagined it would be.
If you have a long engagement and plan to hand-make things, don’t waste any time. I felt like I had so much time that the first few months we didn’t really do any planning. I wish that we had started right away, because the last month was the most stressful, trying to get everything finished that I had started.
Get a videographer! We didn’t have one, and it is my biggest regret. We chose not to get one because it was so expensive, but you could always have a friend video special moments of the wedding. A friend took a video on their cell phone of our whole ceremony, and I am so thankful that I have that small clip of our day. Of course we have all the photos to look back on, but a video is so much fun to watch and to show our children someday.
Everyone wants to talk to the bride and groom during the reception. People kept pulling Paul and me in different directions to talk or to go outside, and we lost each other for a few hours of our wedding. Make sure the two of you sit down and talk about a plan for greeting all your guests and still having all the time you want together.
After you eat dinner, go around to each table and thank guests for coming to the wedding. You can stay and chat for a couple of minutes and then move on until you’ve spoken to everyone. It is a great way to make sure that you greet all your guests and gives you a moment to personally thank them for celebrating your special day with you.
If you have a vison for your wedding dress, don’t stop until you find it! It is out there, and you will find it. — Kara-Ann and Paul
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