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Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Wedding

before your wedding

Ask any bride. She will tell you that — after the wedding was but a memory and the dust settled — she thought, “There were definitely things I wish I knew before my wedding.”

You might not be able to plan for every last detail, but you can still learn from newlyweds who went before you so you can avoid a wedding day disaster.

Whether you just said yes to the proposal or your wedding day is just around the corner, these tips will make your special day memorable for good reasons and not for something that might end up on the blooper reel at your tenth anniversary party.

Make It Your Day

You have read all of the wedding etiquette. You probably have aunts, grandmas and possibly even future in-laws telling you what you should do or who you need to invite. But do not forget the wedding event is ultimately a day to celebrate your love. If you worry too much about pleasing everyone and trying to do things the “right way,” you will likely find yourself stressed and ready to elope.

Of course you want your guests to feel comfortable and have fun, but do not let others’ expectations force you into decisions you do not want. Inviting everyone your parents have ever known when you really want an intimate wedding with close friends and family increases the odds of unexpected problems — creating a wedding you will remember for all the wrong reasons. Throwing a stuffy, formal soiree when you really want a laid-back, casual event will leave you feeling out of place.

casual vs formal

On the other hand, compromising on some things to make family feel included can prevent family friction without disrupting the big day. For example, you might agree to carry your great-grandma’s handkerchief even if you are not sentimental about the tradition: This decision will not affect the outcome of the day, but will make the holidays with your family a lot easier.

Sit down with your soon-to-be spouse to figure out which traditions you want to include and which you would rather leave in the past. Do you not feel like throwing the bouquet? No big deal. Want to wear sequin tennis shoes instead of heels for your walk down the aisle? Go for it. Do you not have something old, new, borrowed and blue? Your marriage will be just as blessed without the tradition.

Be true to yourself, and be prepared to kindly but firmly refuse people if they try to force their opinions onto your wedding day.

Know What You Want

Since most people do not have an unlimited budget for a wedding, setting your priorities early helps you get the best of what you want. Go into the wedding planning process knowing that you will likely need to make some compromises or scale back your original plans. Having this flexibility will make you less disappointed if you do have to give up some of the items on your wedding wish list.

typical wedding reception

Knowing what you want is also helpful when meeting with vendors. Gather pictures or lists of ideas that you find appealing before meeting with vendors. Make a list of the different poses you want, and give the list to your photographer ahead of time. Do the same for other vendors, such as the DJ or the entertainment. This gives you a chance to discuss the options with the vendor and make changes if necessary. It also ensures you do not forget something you really want in the rush of your wedding day.

Working out a basic timeline of events on your wedding day helps with the planning process and helps you avoid bumps in the road. On average, a wedding reception with a full meal lasts for about four hours. Factor in additional time if you have special entertainment.

A typical wedding reception might follow this basic timeline:

  • Receiving line
  • Cocktail reception
  • First dance
  • Toasts and speeches
  • Dinner
  • Wedding cake cutting

Remember Most People Will Not Notice Those Little Details You Stress Over

In fact, you may not even notice the details on your wedding day. You will be so busy experiencing the day that you probably would not notice if the roses in the centerpieces are not just the right shade of pink. Your guests probably will not care if you skip favors altogether. No one will know if the cake decorator piped the wrong style of border on the cake.

While the little details make the wedding special and express your personality, do not get so wrapped up in them that you only remember the stress. In the end, the wedding will still bring up fond memories even if the custom napkins did not exactly match the linens or if Uncle Sal had a few too many drinks at the open bar.

Planning for the unexpected can help you avoid some wedding day disasters, but others can be unavoidable. Just know that someday the mistake will make a great story to share.

Spend Wisely

The average wedding costs $31,213, according to The Knot’s 2014 wedding study. And because that is an average, some couples spend a lot more. Some of the biggest expenses: The reception venue averages $14,006, the ring averages $5,855, the photographer costs about $2,556 and the florist comes in at $2,141 on average.

wedding costs

But do not let the numbers make you feel like you have to keep up with the Joneses. In reality, most guests will not know or even care how much you spend.

So where should you spend your money? Spend it where it counts: the things people will remember. In most cases, this includes the food and entertainment. For you, the photographer likely ranks high on the list of splurges. You will want beautiful images to capture all those little moments and details you are likely to forget.

However you choose to spend your wedding budget, use your money where you want and not where it will most impress your guests. Overspending leaves you without a cushion for the unexpected last-minute expenses that always come up for a big event like a wedding. Spend wisely, and give your wedding budget a buffer to handle those unexpected expenses.

Remember DIY Saves Money but Adds Stress

Before you decide to DIY your entire wedding, consider the time and creative commitment you will need. Planning a wedding eats up your time. Add in DIY invitations, floral arrangements, decorations and other aspects of the wedding and you just significantly increased your time commitment and stress level.

Weigh the cost savings with the amount of stress and work each DIY project might cause before committing to making things yourself. Many brides find a balance of DIY and commercially produced ideas helps save money and sanity.

A test run can help you decide if a DIY approach is best. Try making your own bouquet and a sample corsage before deciding to skip the professional florist. If you realize you cannot do it yourself at the last minute, you may have trouble finding a pro who can step in and fill your order.

Pay Someone to Coordinate

Many brides want to plan every last detail, while others turn it all over to a wedding planner. No matter where you fall on the spectrum, a wedding coordinator is an invaluable resource for avoiding those unexpected issues.

Even if you want to plan the details of your wedding yourself, hiring a day-of wedding coordinator is worth considering. Check with your wedding venue: Many reception venues use event coordinators to help you plan the details of your special day.

Having a pro on your side can help you avoid a wedding day disaster. An experienced coordinator can prep you for any unexpected wedding detail you might not consider.

So what exactly does a wedding coordinator do? Their duties vary based on the type you choose and what you want the coordinator to handle. Here are the tasks a wedding coordinator commonly handles:

  • Managing the wedding budget
  • Finding and securing vendors
  • Finding and securing venues
  • Attending cake tastings, bridal fittings and other appointments
  • Creating a planning checklist
  • Helping make decisions
  • Developing a timeline for the wedding
  • Coordinating the wedding rehearsal
  • Keeping everyone on track on the day of the wedding

How does a day-of coordinator differ from a full-service wedding planner? Most day-of coordinators meet with the couple ahead of time but do not handle decisions, budgets and the other pre-planning aspects. They review contracts and find out the plan for the wedding so they are informed.

The day-of coordinator’s primary purpose is to be the point person on the day of the wedding to ensure everything runs smoothly. This option works well if you want a designated person in charge but still want to plan most of the wedding yourself.

Research Your Vendors

You will likely find many qualified and even exceptionally skilled wedding vendors in your area, especially if you live in a metropolitan area. However, a vendor with good reviews is not necessarily a perfect match.

Start by eliminating vendors with consistently poor reviews. One or two negatives could simply be a case of a disgruntled bride taking revenge, but several bad reviews likely show a pattern of poor performance.

Once you have found the cream of the crop, do more research. Look for vendors who are willing to work with you and can see your vision. Review the photographer’s portfolio to see if her style of photography matches what you want. Run some ideas by the cake decorator to see if she is willing to design the cake of your dreams.

You are bound to enjoy the results and run in to fewer problems when you choose vendors who share your vision, provide excellent customer service and are willing to work with you to create the day you want.

Delegate to Stay Sane

ask for help

It is natural to want control over every little aspect of your wedding, but being in charge of everything keeps you from just enjoying the process. Hiring a wedding coordinator or choosing a venue with an event coordinator is a good start. Passing on some duties to friends and family is another way to delegate.

Asking for help or giving up control might not be easy. Still, delegating to your wedding party or family members ensures the planning gets done on time and the event goes off without a hitch. The key is making thorough checklists and deciding which tasks you trust others to handle.

Not sure what to delegate? These wedding tasks are easy to delegate with or without your supervision:

  • Assembling things (wedding invitations, favors, welcome bags, wedding day emergency kits, programs)
  • Making DIY decorations
  • Addressing envelopes
  • Choosing songs for the DJ to play (with your input for those songs you want to hear)
  • Paying vendors on the day of the wedding
  • Bringing items to the reception location

Delegating is more than just telling someone to do one of the tasks on your wedding checklist. Here are a few tips for successful delegation:

  • Match the person to the task based on skills. Do not ask a sister who has horrible handwriting to address your wedding invitations. If you have a friend who is a pro with a hot glue gun, ask her to help make your centerpieces. If your father-in-law loves woodworking, suggest he help build a custom wooden arch for your wedding vows.
  • Know exactly what you want each person to do ahead of time. This saves everyone time and keeps your helpers from getting frustrated.
  • Ask nicely. It seems basic, but if you are polite, your potential helpers will be a lot more willing to lend a hand.
  • Provide a sample so the helper knows what you expect. Sometimes the vision you have in your head is lost in translation if you only give verbal directions. Other times the helpers might cut corners if they do not know your rigorous quality standards. Assemble a sample of the item your helpers are making if possible and let them know about any potential problems or items to avoid.
  • Set a deadline. If you let each bridesmaid pick out her own dress, let her know when she needs to choose. Do not set the deadline for the last possible date. If your best friend is helping address wedding invitations and you want them sent out by May 1, set a deadline of April 20 to give yourself a time cushion.
  • Have a party. Invite several friends over and tackle all of the DIY wedding projects together. This makes the work go faster and allows you to keep an eye on the process.
  • Thank your helpers. Buy them pizza after their hard work or simply thank them sincerely.

Soak in as Much as You Can

The event will fly by. You will not get to talk to nearly as many people as you think you will. You will forget to eat. The ceremony and reception will feel like a blur. Make a conscious effort to soak in the moments.

Gaze into the eyes of your new spouse. Look at the expressions on the faces of your guests. Marvel in the beauty of your decorations. Remember how you feel. You will be glad to have those memories after the wedding is over.

Let Us Handle the Details

Are you planning a wedding in Delaware? Consider Dover Downs Hotel & Casino for your big day. Our event specialists help you handle all the details, from dining and decorations to entertainment and accommodations for your guests.

Contact us to start planning your wedding at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino.