Wedding Planning 101: What To Do And What To Ditch

Wedding Planning 101 What To Do And What To Ditch

By Mari O’Grady

I’m sure it’s obvious, but let me start off by saying this: weddings are hard.

Even the ones with minimal issues somehow manifest themselves into giant, glittery drama bombs. Whether it’s finances, logistics, or family members, no one escapes unscathed.

I was lucky not to deal with too many roadblocks during the planning process, but I still teetered precariously on the edge of a DIY mountain from time to time. The only thing pulling me back was the determination to not get into a position where I couldn’t hack whatever I was making. I was not going to have a meltdown over a glue gun two days before my wedding.

The good news is, I figured out ways to personalize our wedding without having to source 30 “rustic train nails” for centerpieces (Craigslist has the best resells on wedding décor), and without feeling like I was flushing hundred dollar bills down the toilet.

Here are a few ways to up your wedding game – and a few things you can ditch entirely.

When it’s worth it:

If it comes with the package:

Work within what you’re already committed to. Flowers are sometimes thought of as unnecessary; I say it’s one of the biggest décor choices you can make – much of a reception’s color palette can be anchored in centerpieces. Have your florals work for you by making style changes that deviate from the norm. If your wedding vibe leans toward country, wrap the groomsmen boutonnieres in burlap, and wind some lace around your bouquet. If you’re preppy and you know it, go ahead and break out the polka dotted ribbon for the bridesmaids’ blooms.

In addition, florists own a variety of vessels for their work. Find out if they are included in your package and if so, get into it – no need to use clear glass if you can get metallic vases or containers of varying shapes and sizes! The best part about this is that while it requires more planning, you won’t have to worry about execution.

When it comes to reception packages, create a personalized bar menu without imposing limitations on what already exists behind the bar (sneaky!). Maybe your partner loves gin and tonic, and you have a thing for vodka sodas. Or one of you loves red, and the other will only drink white. If it’s in your beverage contract, it’s fair game. Grab a bar menu template off Etsy, edit and print, and you’re done. Cost effective and personalized?

Winner winner wine for dinner.

Or in my case, five flutes of champagne followed by a vodka soda. And that was how I crashed the Indian wedding taking place next door to my own.

If it can set the mood:

If you’re hiring transportation, check if your vendor has Bluetooth or a CD player (yes, really). If all systems are go, create a Spotify playlist or burn a CD and hand it to a trusted friend who you know will be first on the shuttle. Have the driver play it on repeat to set the tone for the evening. Don’t forget to burn multiple copies of the CD if you have multiple shuttles!

If it’s strategic DIY:

Choose two areas you want to highlight, then limit your options to what creates the most impact. Can you put helium-filled balloons on either side of the altar? What about painting that quote you both love onto a backdrop for the couples’ table? Or, if you’re into that garden trend that’s hot right now, how about a faux garland draped down the length of your head table?

These are the spaces to let your DIY flag fly, and creating something large-scale will give you the most bang for your buck. Large pieces are also more memorable for your guests, so if there is something about your relationship you want to emphasize (see my quote suggestion above), this would be the place to do it.

When to ditch it:

It’s “tiny DIY”:

No need to create a huge tablescape twenty times over if crafting is not your thing. Simple upgrades are all you need. Change the napkin color, swap white candles for metallic ones, and call it a day. Your venue or catering company will have everything else, and anything you don’t use will be easier to sell online because it will be more universal than themed décor.

And at the reception, keep signage to a minimum: name cards and table numbers are good; everything else is optional. Something sentimental for your guests is a good idea, but no need to print 200 little thank you cards for each place setting. One large, pretty sign at the reception entrance will create a touching and personalized moment for everyone.

It’s wedding favors or activity-related:

Your guests don’t need knick-knacks with your wedding date on it (exception made for the overdone, but oddly utilized, koozies). If you want to send them home with something, put in an order at your local bakery for your favorite sweet treat. It’s a gift that will be less expensive than 150 personalized wine stoppers, and it tastes better. Cookies for all!

On a similar note, while reception activities are popular, think hard about proceeding. So many activities, such as marriage advice boxes or date night jars, get bypassed by guests in favor of the bar and passed apps. Best case scenario, you wind up with a handful of cards haphazardly filled out by friends that had one too many glasses of wine during cocktail hour. It may make more sense to save the money used on these items for your honeymoon.

It’s making you spin your wheels:

You need to figure out what flavor wedding cake to have (wait, do you want cake?), unearth 20 childhood photos for a sentimental display table that your fiancé’s mom is heavily invested in, deal with your crazy Aunt Louise and all her drama, and wait…oh right, did you do the other thousand things that just got sucker punched out of your brain?

Most weddings come with some level of crazy to-do lists. If you find yourself adding small items that detract from finishing the main event, it’s time to nix a few things. No one will know they’re missing out on that embarrassing photo of you from the second grade. Promise.

If you hit a point where you want to tear your hair out or you’re seriously considering elopement, take a break. If what you’re doing is a true necessity, come back with a game plan to finish. But if it’s not essential, ask yourself what it will add to the wedding that’s worth all your frustration. And if you can’t think of a good reason, consider this your permission to drop the glue gun and walk away.


Mari is part of the Contributing Writer Network at Thirty on Tap. To apply to become a Contributing Writer, please click here.

{featured image via pexels}

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