1. NOT HAVING A CLEAR UNDERSTANDING OF YOUR OWN EXPECTATIONS REGARDING YOUR WEDDING
Many problems are caused by conflicting expectations. Until you've planned a wedding, you have no idea of the number of choices and decisions you will need to make, and the great emotional turmoil that can be attached to many of them. Attempting to separate fantasy from reality will help minimize the source of many problems and is the key to defining your own expectations.
Before you begin making specific wedding plans decide what is truly important to you. Do your reading early on. Buy a wedding book and some bridal magazines, then attempt to separate fantasy from what is reality for you and your situation.
Decide what your priorities are, what are potential compromises, and what is not worth your time and energy. Doing this will help you in establishing the formality of your wedding and your budget. It will also help you in communicating more effectively with your family and wedding vendors, ultimately, saving you the time, stress, and money.
2. NOT SETTING A REALISTIC BUDGET
Issues relating to money usually cause more stress than anything else in the wedding planning process. Probably the most important thing you can do in planning a wedding is to a set a realistic budget and stick with it.
Many brides and parents get so stressed out over the cost of the wedding that they completely lose sight of the joy and excitement of the time. Don't let the almighty dollar ruin what should be one of the most enjoyable experiences for you and your family. Set a budget and follow it.
A budget would have been helpful to one overly generous bride who offered to pay for all of her bridesmaids dresses, then did not have enough money to pay for the necessary alterations for her own bridal gown. When you set a budget, you set a plan of action that will save you untold stress and that gives you the freedom to be flexible in the areas that are most important to you.
Most people do not have a clue what a wedding will cost, so in order to set a budget you should first do an overview of all expected expenses. Budget for the wedding, reception, clothes, gifts, honeymoon, etc. Make some calls to gather your information. Most wedding professionals will be happy to give you some estimates by phone. Be mindful that you do not take advantage of their time and goodwill.
After gathering your information, decide what's most important to you about your wedding and reception. Then it's time to meet with those who will be helping financially. Discuss and decide on the formality of your wedding, a budget, and who is responsible for what. This will help avoid misunderstandings later, which leads us to the next most common mistake.
3. NOT COMMUNICATING EFFECTIVELY
Communicating openly with both sets of parents, your fiancÚ and anyone else who is helping you financially with your wedding is of the utmost importance. Once you have gathered your information, and given some thought to what is important to you, it is time to sit down with everyone who needs to be involved in the finances.
Determining the formality of your wedding helps you decide what's important and enables you to establish a realistic budget. Etiquette holds that the division of expenses is mutually agreed upon. No one should be expected to cover particular expenses. Also, to ask someone to pay for something they don't approve of, no matter what it is, is inappropriate. The Golden Rule here is, the person with the gold rules.
Clear communication is important through out the entire wedding planning process. Whether you are speaking with family, friends, or wedding professionals, express your desires and expectations clearly. Remember, it is not what is said and done, as much as it is how is said and done. Feelings can be hurt and there can be life long ramifications depending on how things are handled.
Clearly communicate those areas in which you feel comfortable making your own decisions, and those areas in which you will need and want others input. Gentle reminders may sometimes be necessary when someone is intruding on your territory or desires.
In a confrontation your should respond in a calm, gentle, yet firm voice: "That's a good idea, however, John and I discussed it and we've decided to do this." Or, "I appreciate your help (opinion), however, I really think we're going to do it this way."
Remember: Take a deep breath, be calm, be kind.
4. NOT HIRING WEDDING PROFESSIONALS
This is the one time that it is certainly true, there is no substitute for experience and expertise. Experience relates to the training and the number of years of practice of a wedding professional. Expertise is how well the wedding professional has exercised that experience. References are important here, but that gut feeling of "woman's intuition" can serve you well. If it feels right, it probably is. If you have lots of doubts or unanswered questions, you would probably best be doing some more shopping!
If you want a smooth and relatively worry free planning process, wedding, and reception... rely on the experts. No one knows their business better than they do. They've seen it all, making them the best source of creative ideas, and experts at handling any challenge.
Many a bride has thought she was saving money and expected a professional job, only to be disappointed on both counts. Susan asked her good friend, Cathy, to take care of the floral arrangements. When Cathy arrived with the flowers, not only were the colors all wrong, but the arrangements looked nothing like the picture that was provided. In addition, she also forgot the centerpiece for the head table. Not only was Susan's friend not up to the task, but it placed a severe strain on their friendship.
Think twice before you ask friends or accept offers from relatives for major responsibilities for your wedding. There are literally thousands of stories of relationships being stretched to their limit, due to well intentioned friends and relatives causing wedding catastrophes that range from major to minor. From the dry wedding cake that was noticeably being held together by toothpicks, to 36 important pictures being missed by the brides amateur photographer friend, whose camera was not loaded correctly. It has been said, "It's better to make a friend out of a wedding vendor, than try to make a wedding vendor out of a friend."
There are wedding professionals to fit every budget. Check references so you feel confident that you are choosing a professional that you can count on. With weddings, you don't get a second chance to get it right!
Important note: don't wait until the last minute to hire your wedding professionals, the good ones are often booked six months to over a year in advance.
5. ASSUMING YOUR WEDDING PARTY KNOWS WHAT IS EXPECTED OF THEM
Some of your friends may have been in numerous weddings and think they know the "routine". However, never assume anyone in your wedding party knows what is expected of them. When you first get engaged and are bubbling over with joy, resist the urge to ask your 25 closest girlfriends to be your bridesmaids. Just as you need to give some thought to your budget and the formality of your wedding, thoughtful consideration should be given in choosing your wedding party.
Choosing your wedding party among close friends, family, and now your new family can be tricky. Even though it is an honor and a privilege to be a part of someone's wedding, it is also a responsibility, financially and otherwise. This is an instance where following your heart, can hopefully serve you well. Remember to be considerate of you wedding party, and mindful of your expectations of them; however, at the same time, consider their dependability, especially that of your maid of honor.
A list of wedding responsibilities is a good starting place in determining your own expectations of your wedding party. You can usually find this in any bridal magazine or you can purchase a set of "Wedding Responsibility Cards" by Elizabeth and Alex Lluch for under $7.00 at most anywhere bridal books are sold.
The least you should know about traditional bridesmaids responsibilities are:
Assist the maid/matron of honor in planning a bridal shower, Assist bride with errands and addressing invitations, Participate in all pre-wedding parties, Arrive dressed one hour before the wedding for photos, Stand to the left of, and slightly behind the maid/matron of honor, Dance with ushers and other important guests, Encourage single women to participate in bouquet toss, Stand to the left of the maid of honor in the receiving line (receiving line optional). Sit next to ushers at the reception.
The least you should know about traditional groomsmen responsibilities are:
Arrive dressed one hour before wedding for the pre-ceremony photos and to seat guest, Seat brides guest in left pew, seat grooms guests on right, if possible, try to keep the pews balanced, Stand to right of, and slightly behind bestman, facing officiate, Check for any items left in pews, Dance with bridesmaids and other important guests, Encourage single men to participate in garter toss.
6. BRINGING THE WRONG PERSON TO HELP SHOP FOR YOUR BRIDAL ATTIRE
Shopping for your bridal gown and bridesmaids dresses is one of the most fun and enjoyable experiences you can share with someone. Unfortunately it can turn into a nightmare, if friends or family try to impose their own style or opinions on the bride. This unfortunate experience is usually due to ignorance, but sometimes it is a lack of caring for the feelings of the bride so choose your shopping companion wisely.
To get the most from your bridal shopping experience:
First, shop at a reputable bridal shop that has an experienced bridal consultant. After gathering some information from you and observing you, an expert bridal consultant can usually choose several gowns that you will not only love, but that will flatter your particular body type and style, and be appropriate for the formality of your wedding. An expert consultant can also help you put together your "complete look" for your wedding.
Second, shop for your bridal gown, if possible, at least six to nine months before your wedding. Ordered gowns can easily take twelve to sixteen weeks for delivery, plus time should be allowed for alterations and any contingencies. Depending on the manufacturer you choose, bridesmaids dresses can take six to twelve weeks for delivery. So it is a good idea to order them a minimum of five months before your wedding date.
Third, shop with only one or two people at the most. Whether it is your mother, maid of honor, or your Aunt Suzie, you should choose someone who knows your style and personality, and that you can trust to be honest with you and most important, be supportive of you.
7. NOT TAKING INTO ACCOUNT THE 7 SHOPPING TIPS BELOW
Saturday bridal shopping. Forget it. You will get much better service shopping on a weekday, as well as, feel less pressured and rushed.
Taking children shopping with you. Do yourself, and everyone, a favor by leaving them home. Everyone will be happier!
The $350 Gown versus the $1200 Gown. Brides should consider carefully the quality, styling, and price of their gown. While the price of bridal gowns range from $300 to $5000, the average cost is between $600 to $1500. A bride may ask, "If I can get a gown for $350 why should I buy one for $1200?" However, the question you should be asking is, "If I normally shop at 'better quality' clothing stores do I want to buy my unique, special gown from a bridal warehouse that has row after row of the same gown?" Why would you trade down, when this is the one day in your life you will truly be the center of attention and want to show your own unique, signature style?
Ordering the wrong size. When ordering your gown, chose the size that matches the largest part of your body measurements. It is not unusual for your body measurements to fall into different sizes on the manufacturer's size chart. For example, your bust measurement falls into a size 12 but your waist is in the size 10, if this occurs it is usually best to choose the larger size and take in the other areas.
Ordering a smaller size because, "I'm going to lose weight". Order the size that you are that day , regardless of your weight loss plans. It is usually easier, and much better to take in, than it is to let it out. A gown too small can usually be made only one size larger.
Inappropriate gown length. Your gown should just gently touch the front of your shoes' toe area.
Not budgeting for gown cleaning and preservation. Have your gown cleaned and preserved immediately. Many stains/spills may not appear for several months and by then may be impossible to remove. Bridal gown preservation includes the cleaning and usually costs $100 to $160.
8. NOT HAVING AN ASSIGNED OVERSEER OR CONSULTANT FOR YOUR WEDDING DAY
The least you should have is one person to see that all services and details proceed as planned. (i.e.., The tent is set up correctly, the flowers are the ones ordered, the cake has arrived and is set up, etc). You and your immediate family should not have to worry about details on your special day. A dependable friend, or preferably a wedding day consultant, can relieve much from you and your family, so that you may enjoy your wedding day.
A wedding consultant can help you as much, or as little as you think necessary. A consultant can help you plan the whole wedding from beginning to end, or just help you for your rehearsal and/or wedding day. A good consultant can actually save you money by suggesting less expensive alternatives that still enhance your wedding. However, the biggest advantage of a consultant can be your savings in time and stress. Also a good venue or catering manager can be of great help to you. But the person who is worth his weight in gold to you is the full service DJ Entertainer who will lead, coordinate, and sequence your entire event.
9. NOT BEING FLEXIBLE
To remain sane while planning a wedding you must decide what is important to you, think positive, and then be willing to go with the flow. Compromise is the key in planning a wedding. Be willing to give and take. If you want a dinner reception for 800 of your closest friends, and can't seem to figure out how to afford it, see where you can cut costs to make up the difference or... cut the guest list.
If having the #1 rated photographer, who costs $3000, is important to you, you may want to consider reducing your flower bill or some other expense.
Do express your desires and what is important to you, but don't get hung up on all the details. Be open to other peoples ideas. Nurture spontaneity, it's a great way to avoid stress. If your personality tends toward having to be in control, do yourself a favor and choose only one or two things to obsess over, and let the rest go. Obsessive brides tend to squeeze all the life and joy from wedding planning and their own wedding.
Hire wedding professionals you trust, give them direction, and then trust them to do their job.
To save you untold time and stress, never second guess yourself. Be positive about your choices. Once you've selected a site, stop thinking about other better locations. Once you've chosen the florist, photographer, etc. don't continue to do research. Trust yourself to make the right choices think positive about them, and then move forward. You have a lot of other things to do.
Also, don't try to do everything yourself. Delegate responsibility to your family, fiancee, and members of your wedding party.
10. LOSING YOUR SENSE OF HUMOR
Planning the biggest party you will probably ever give in your entire life, is an awesome task. However, if you are clear on your expectations, choose true wedding professionals you can trust, stay close to your budget, break large areas into smaller more manageable ones, and look for the humor in challenging situations, you will be a winner. One way to keep your sense of humor is to work with only those you like. Hire wedding vendors only if you respect their skills and find them congenial. This occasion is too important, and stressful anyway, to be spending time with those that are difficult.
Having a sense of humor is really an asset in wedding planning. Use it. Look for humor in every situation. Take a deep breath and smile. If you find yourself becoming too stressed out, take some time off by yourself and regroup. Remember what your wedding is really all about. On your wedding day, if something goes wrong, remember you are probably the only one who will notice. Relax and let it go! Set aside family conflicts on your wedding day. Even if your brother-in-law is a big jerk, give him a hug anyway. Have a good time at your wedding. Surround yourself with people that you care about, good food, beautiful flowers, and music that makes you happy!
Happy Wedding Planning!