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The holidays are such a magical time of year – full of memories and family and celebrations…and, depending on which statistics you reference, for 19% of engaged couples, the December holidays mean proposals, too. The joy of sharing the beginning of your new life together makes for memorable moments. Cut to a few months later, and you’re fighting with your parents about the venue, freaking out over the costs of catering, and so stressed you barely have time to focus on your job, friends, and hobbies – you know, your actual life? Wedding planning can be a very complicated thing, and as a former bride myself, I found it shockingly tiring and stressful, and I was already knowledgeable about event planning when I planned my wedding! For the layperson, it’s vital to take into account these wedding planning tips before you throw yourself into all things matrimony:

Wedding planning tips and engagement rings
Photo by Brady Puryear Photography

Hire a wedding planner, or at least, a wedding coordinator.

I cannot state this enough, I really can’t. Now, if you have a low-guest count wedding (say, forty peeps), at a hotel where everything is included (food, chairs, tables, linens, lighting) and the property has an onsite coordinator to run logistics, you might be okay. But, especially if you rent a ‘unique’ venue where many items need to be brought in – from valet parking to generators – you will literally save yourself money and the quality of your venue by bringing in an expert.

As a wedding planner, the majority of my job was actually logistics – like plumbing/power/permitting type stuff, the stuff you never see in all the pretty photos on Pinterest or ‘to do’ lists on the web. Did you know Malibu is on a septic system and nearly every property there requires a temporary restroom, costing a few hundred dollars on up? Well, you do now! But trust me, as a bride or groom walking a beautiful home or venue for rent, you may not know the specific details pertaining to that venue that ultimately can cost you a few hundred here, a few hundred there…and next thing you know, you’re over budget and managing way more vendors than you ever expected. So, at the top of all my wedding planning tips is, one more time…hire a planner (or coordinator, at the least!).

Reality check your wedding planning budget

It’s all about money, isn’t it? And it goes fast when planning a wedding. So, wedding planning tip number two: Don’t just make up those numbers on your wedding planning spreadsheet- back them up with hard data. A planner can help you with this, as can a coordinator, but it’s also smart to do your due diligence and check for pricing online. Most caterers won’t price out packages online – there are too many variables from one wedding to another to consider, and they need to create a concise proposal – but you can certainly ask recent couples you know in your area what they spent, too.

Bridal wedge shoes silver badgley mischka
Photo by Ryon Lockhart Photography

Make sure your money is well spent

Think carefully about all your expenses, and what has the most effect on your wedding. Paying for a couple extra hours for your reception probably won’t be worth it – after about five or six hours, guests are usually ready to head home – but risking street parking in a packed neighborhood instead of hiring a valet can cause liability issues, irritated guests, a late start to your ceremony, and overall, sour memories of your big day. Another example of choosing your financial battles wisely: I’ve advised clients not to go crazy on decor if it allows them to avoid a cash bar. Guests really care about the tangible things- food, drink, and convenience. Be a good host and don’t be penny wise/pound foolish.

With all the details involved in wedding planning, it’s best to tackle the project with common sense and a little help from the experts. Most of all, it’s about sharing an amazing day with your family and friends. Following the above wedding planning tips will help you do exactly that. Happy planning!

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