8 Mistakes to Avoid When Planning Your Wedding

After getting engaged, we wanted to keep the news to ourselves. We told our immediate families shortly after returning from our trip, but we did not share this development in our relationship with our friends or extended circles. We wanted to figure out what our wedding might look like first. 

When we eventually did share the news with our entire social circle, we made the error of asking all of them to save the date. Serious faux pas, especially as time went on, we realized that they couldn’t and shouldn’t all be present at our destination. Our plans changed several times over, and honestly it would have been much smarter for us to keep mum on the whole affair until we had our plans set (other than our immediate social circle).

So I’m going to share our mistakes today, and maybe it’ll help you or your friend down the road — most of these can also be applied to large events, not necessarily a wedding.

  1. Announcements are different from Save the Dates/Invitations.
    • There’s nothing wrong with wanting to share your news. Just be aware that there are lots of different types of stationary/invitations and you’ll want to use the appropriate one.
    • Don’t invite everyone in your excitement. You will need time to figure out what you can afford and what that means for your ultimate guest list.
  2. Before sending out Save the Dates or Invitations, be sure you can afford acceptances from all invitees.
    • Once you have your final guest list, make sure you can afford everyone saying yes. This means different things based on your individual wedding plans, but don’t invite 100 guests because you believe half will decline. Don’t bank on people declining! 
  3. Don’t feel pressured to invite anyone just because others think you should.
    • If a friend says it will be awkward that Penelope is not invited, or asks you to invite Miguel so that they are not alone — don’t feel like you need to. This is your celebration and you should have only the people you want to celebrate with present.
  4. Be clear about Plus Ones.
    • This is a tricky situation, but if you cannot afford to host new/casual partners or wedding dates, be firm. Your invitation should state whether your guest can bring a plus one. If you didn’t allot for a plus one (for whatever reason) have an honest conversation with the guest requesting the plus one. My personal rule is if we as a couple have not met this new partner and/or the relationship is less than 3 months, they cannot attend.
  1. Register Your Weddong!
    • People will begin asking about your registry soon after hearing about your upcoming nuptials or upon receiving an invitation — this can cause some couples anxiety. You don’t have to go the traditional registry route; we didn’t. But you should take the time to think of how your loved ones can help set your marriage up for success. This may sound silly, but when people got married in the past, they were moving into new homes, requiring full sets of cutlery, dinnerware, home appliances. While this may not be true in your case today, especially with many couples living together prior to marriage, upon reflection you may find that you and your partner could use help in some area. Today, many couples create future home or honeymoon funds, or even collect donations for a charity of their choice.
  1. Determine your budget together, and honestly.
    • So we didn’t have a hard budget for our wedding, but I was constantly trying to bring costs down. In 2019, we spent nearly $12K of which, $2K was covered by my parents. We did not have a traditional wedding, and we knew we would be spending a lot of money in 2020, even with a miniscule guest list.
    • It’s important to discuss finances with your partner, and I’m a big believer in not starting your marriage in debt. Big weddings look like a ton of fun, and yes, a part of me wishes I had gotten a taste of one. But a larger, more level-headed part of me is so happy we didn’t go that route. In fact, that part of me is a bit disappointed in the route we did go, because we could have been smarter with our money. Alas, that’s hindsight for you.
    • Be clear on how much you can and are willing to spend. Determine which parts of a wedding are more valuable to you, and spend accordingly.
    • For me, the photography was very important, so half my wedding costs covered the photography. Videography on the other hand seemed like an excessive expense. Do I wish I had a video? Sure, but do I regret not spending the money on it? Not one bit.
  1. Understand and accept that you cannot please everyone.
    • This is your wedding. Know that if you accept financial support from family members, they will feel like they have a right to decide what your wedding looks like. It can be very hard for parents/family to step away from your wedding planning and let you have full reign.
    • Your family will have certain expectations about your wedding. It’s their child/sibling/parent/grandkid’s wedding after all! Navigating their desires and expectations will not be easy unless you are in agreement with them already.
    • This was a huge motivation for us to fund our own wedding. Between our parents, there are 3 different religions and 3 different cultures, and trying to satisfy everyone’s desires and expectations would have been impossible. Moreover, neither set of parents had real expectations or understanding of what a wedding (like the ones they’ve imagined in their minds) cost. In fact, they still don’t, despite our attempts to educate them on the costs of a wedding.
    • It was simply easier for us to have full control. Despite this, I made things more difficult by trying to attempt to please our parents in some capacity — as I said, this was an impossible task and gave me endless headaches and stress. Don’t be me, commit and stick to your decisions!
  2. Continue to make time and space for each other through the process.
    • Remember that this is a celebration of a decision you’ve made as a couple. Planning a wedding can start off fun, and then quickly become stressful and overwhelming. While you run through the gamut of emotions wedding planning brings out, don’t forget to enjoy being with each other.
    • Make time for yourselves (i.e. dates!) where you don’t discuss your wedding at all.
    • At the end of the day, your wedding will be summed up as a celebration of what will hopefully be your lifelong marriage. So it’s important to continue to develop the relationship that will last a lifetime.

It may sound harsh, but I wish I had taken a bit more time and really considered some things or been more ruthless in my decisions last year. While I did not make all 8 of these mistakes, I feel like this is a solid round up of etiquette and logic that can be overlooked or lost in translation during the planning process. I hope my tips help, and if you’ve gotten married and have any other major takeaways, I’d love to hear what your tips might be!

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