Y’all… I get married in TWO MONTHS! Maybe this doesn’t seem that exciting, but when it’s been almost a year since Brian popped the question, you better believe I’m eager as can be to become his wife!
Those who know me, know that I’m a type-a organizer (all jokes aside, I cannot survive without my Lilly Pulitzer planner). Despite my “expert” planning, this 13-month engagement has come with its fair share of ups and downs as we prepare for both an incredible wedding, and an even more amazing marriage. For the love of all things bridal, I’ve decided to share a few lessons I’ve learned along the way.
Don’t let them order your dress THAT big
Wedding dress shopping can be one of the best experiences of your engagement, especially if you’ve brought your loved ones and they are committed to supporting you and making sure you enjoy it. That being said, purchasing the most expensive and important dress you’ll ever wear can be stressful.
When I said “yes” to my dress, I was so excited, and then overwhelmed when coming to terms with the price tag, that everything at the end of my appointment was a bit of a blur. The consultant took my measurements, let me know what they were, and then recommended getting a dress at least two sizes up so that they could “size everything down together.” At the time I thought to myself that these ladies obviously knew what they were doing and the dress would be perfect when it came in. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. After my first dress appointment, the bill for alterations was nearly half the price of my dress because it was ordered so large!
I can already tell what you’re thinking… “Of course it was too big! Why didn’t you demand they order the right size?!” Well, you’re right! Apparently this ordering up happens frequently because bridal salons can make even more money on alterations. With that in mind, don’t be naive like I was – make sure the size ordered is the closest to what you actually need!
If you have a long engagement,
double triple check addresses
Tracking down address changes and updating our guest list was probably my least favorite part of preparing for the wedding. Chances are, especially if you’re in your 20’s, if your engagement is for over a year, several of your friends’ addresses will have changed between the time you send your Save the Dates and the formal invitations. Trying to keep track of who moved, where they moved, and then hunting down new street addresses is quite the pain, especially because accuracy is so important!
One tip would be requesting that your friends let you know of their new addresses as soon as they finalize a move. Yes, this may seem a bit overbearing, but anticipating these changes and having that information ahead of time can save you a lot of frustration, and wasted envelopes with incorrect addresses. Don’t be afraid of speaking up and triple checking if need be. It might be annoying to your friends in the moment, but I guarantee they’d rather you pester them than not get an invitation to the big day.
Organize your swatches and see everything in person
Oh the disaster of your bridesmaid dresses arriving in the wrong colors. How would I know this tragedy? Well, it happened to me about two months ago. All I can say is “Praise the Lord for refunds, free returns, and the very patient sales consultant who helped me pick new dresses.”
I thought I had done everything right. I ordered fabric swatches for the bridesmaid dresses, brought them to all of my appointments and thought my plan was foolproof. The only issue? I didn’t see the dresses in person before ordering and the swatches were incredibly deceiving. The worst part? We will have different hues of pastels for the bridesmaid dresses, which with the first round of dresses looked like a confused rainbow. Fortunately, the company through which we ordered the unfortunate dresses really stepped up and made sure all of my girls had free returns and received full refunds. The Lord really had his hand over this situation, because the consultant I ended up working with at a local salon couldn’t have been more perfect and helpful in making sure I had exactly what I had envisioned and any concerns were alleviated.
So what’s the lesson here? Do as I did when it comes to keeping your swatches with you for every wedding planning appointment with your vendors. Coming to those meetings prepared with your colors in hand will ensure everything meshes well. BUT, make sure you see more than just swatches before pulling the trigger. Especially if fabrics are layered, colors can turn out drastically different in person as compared with the swatches you plan for.
Don’t skimp on your trials
My advice? Do a run-through of everything that you can: hair, makeup, menu, etc. Whether you already have it planned out in your mind or have no clue what you want, go to these vendor meetings prepared (with swatches of course!), but with an open mind. These are your opportunities to explore all of the possibilities, preview important parts of you wedding and communicate clearly to ensure things run smoothly during planning and on the big day.
Here’s a great example… Brian and I had done a lot of research about caterers within the first few months of our engagement. It was important to us that every aspect of the wedding mesh well, even the food. We really wanted to give our guests a taste of all that we love about the South, without showering them with fried okra and including “Southern-isms” in our vows. When we were fairly certain we’d found the caterer we wanted, we were thrilled to see that they had chicken and waffles as hors d’oeuvres. Fortunately, we attended a tasting right away and discovered that these were “classy” chicken and waffles… with goat cheese. You may disagree, but we both believe that under no circumstances should goat cheese ever be affiliated with chicken and waffles. Despite our disappointment, we loved some other options at the tasting and couldn’t be more excited about our menu. All thanks to trial and error!
Space out your expenses
Whether every piece of your wedding is being paid for by someone else or you’re having to budget your own money, space out big expenses as much as you can. If you’re both forgetful and visual, like me, something as simple as making sticky notes in your planner can help keep those expenses top of mind. This is especially important in the last few months, when you are finalizing all the little details and purchasing things you may not have accounted for in your original budget.
A side note to this lesson learned… talk with a few newlyweds about last-minute, unexpected expenses they had to deal with. Then, make a list of all those things. This will help you to prepare and make sure all of your bases are covered, so that you stay right on track with your overall budget from your first dress appointment to the day you say “I do.”