Tuesday, 9 April 2013

10 Things I Learned From Planning Our Wedding

After planning our wedding, I thought that it might be nice to pass along some advice about things that I thought went well for us. I am so pleased with how our wedding went, and it was an absolutely perfect day! We are so blessed to have each other, our wonderful family and dedicated friends. Hope this advice is helpful to someone! I had too many pieces of advice, so I am working on a post about ways to save money on your wedding as well so stay tuned. :)

1) PINTEREST!!!!!!!! 
You seriously need to get on Pinterest if you aren't already. I am so happy that I discovered Pinterest before our wedding. There are so many great ideas that we incorporated into our big day, so take a look! One thing that was also helpful about Pinterest was that my photographer and I both followed each other, so when one of us was explaining a pose, we knew exactly what each other meant. I also have a ton of great wedding ideas pinned, check them out here.
2) Don't skimp on photography 
One of my pet peeves in considering other people's weddings is if they have really poor quality photography. To me photography was a really important aspect of our wedding. After all is said and done, all you have to show for your wedding are the pictures (and your husband of course!). Beware of people who call themselves photographers but are really just people with a nice camera who will take pictures for you if you give them money. Some of these types of people can do good work, don't get me wrong, but you are more likely to get good quality photography if it is from someone who is a full-time photographer. Compare different photographers online and make sure that you get someone whose work is what you are looking for. If you are in the Hamilton/Niagara region, check out our photographer, Emily Foster Photography!
3) Do an engagement session 
I personally found it really helpful to do an engagement session. Most people aren't used to posing for pictures with their mate, so it was nice to get used to posing, and working with the photographer. We were able to get comfortable with what the process was like, and you can see what you look like compared to what you thought you would look like while you were posing. I also think it is great to have nice photos of you and your spouse that aren't wedding photos (profile pictures for life!). This will also give you a heads up of what your wedding pictures might look like. If you aren't impressed, then you at least have the chance to find a new photographer.
4) Do what YOU want! 
Throughout the whole process, my husband and I made it clear that this was our day, and that we would do things the way that we wanted. Of course you should not purposely try to offend people, but in the end it is your day, and it should be the way that the two of you want it. We tried to strike a balance between having traditions and being different. For example, neither of us were keen on doing the garter/bouquet toss, so we skipped it, and I don't think that anybody cared! We like ice cream better than cake so we got a $30 one from Dairy Queen and had an ice cream sundae bar instead of wedding cake. We had fireworks at the end with our sparkler send-off. If someone has a problem with something, it's your wedding in the end and they can get over it (easier said than done of course). 

5) Write your own vows
I am very thankful to have a very sentimental husband, who was actually excited about writing our own vows. To me, this is the most special part about your wedding, and that's the reason that everyone is really there! We had our minister read over them before the wedding to make sure they were comparable in length and that everything was OK. It was a really special moment for us as a couple to make pledges to each other that were truly from the heart. After the wedding, I printed out our vows on vellum and have them framed above our bed so we can always remember and look back on what we said.

6) Treat your guests well 
One thing that was important to us in planning our wedding was to treat our guests well. The people you love are taking their time, and many of them have traveled to be there with you, so don't forget about them! A few things we did to make this happen was to provide finger foods and drinks immediately after the ceremony for the guests before heading over to the reception, putting out games for people to play at the church while waiting for the reception to start, and putting baskets in the bathrooms with toiletry items for emergencies. One thing that I don't like about weddings is when you have to wait for 3+ hours between the ceremony and reception. I think that it is important to have that time to get pictures for sure, but I have been in situations where I went to someone's house, or went to Tim Horton's in between while waiting. For our wedding, I wanted people to feel welcome to hang out at the church building before heading over to the reception.

7) Have it indoors 
I know that lots of people dream of having outdoor weddings, and if you want to do that then that's great. I just knew that it would not be worth it for us to worry about the weather for the trade-off of having it outdoors. I have found that outdoor weddings are either beautiful, or horrible. A lot of the time it can be difficult to hear what people are saying. The weather needs to be absolutely perfect: sunny, but with shaded areas, warm, but not too hot, not too windy, not too humid. It would have been too stressful to wait until the day of to find out if your wedding was going to be ruined. A wedding I went to it was thunderstorming the morning of, but by the afternoon it was a beautiful sunny day. I can't imagine what the bride was going through that morning! It was very relieving to be able to set up everything in the church building the day before, and to not have to worry about these sorts of things. We used tulle with white Christmas lights behind- I think that it looked pretty good!

8) Limit the speeches 
Another pet peeve of weddings is unending speeches. Most of them are saturated with inside jokes that nobody gets but the lovely couple, and everyone else is left bored. A short speech can be just as meaningful as a long one, and will be appreciated much more by your guests. We were very intentional in limiting the number of people who would do speeches (parents of each side, maid of honour, best man, and us). We asked them to all have something written down so that they wouldn't just get up there and ramble.
9) Lists, lists, lists! 
I am such a listy person it's ridiculous. I had so many lists going of what needed to be done, ideas, brainstorming, and many other things. Near the end I had lists all over the place and was feeling a little overwhelmed, so I brought home a piece of chart paper from work and put all of my lists into one place. I found it really helpful having everything in one place (and colour coded of course) because I knew that nothing would get missed and everything that needed to be done would happen. Another thing I did was make a list of all the photography poses and combinations of people (family etc.) that I wanted for my photographer. This worked out great for both of us because there were no poses or people missed.
10) Plan a relaxing honeymoon 
Jordan and I spend our honeymoon in Ontario's cottage country at my grandparents' cottage. Part of the reason was to save money, but even if we had unlimited resources I don't think I would have done it another way. I would have found it really overwhelming to plan a wedding and to hop on a plane to a foreign country the next day. It was really nice that we could just hop in the car for 3 hours with the GPS and go to a place that was familiar, comfortable, private, and relaxing. After such a busy time planning our wedding (and moving to a new city two days after we got back), it was really nice to just be able to do nothing for the week without having to worry.  Our plan was to go somewhere warm in the winter, but this hasn't happened yet (hopefully next year!)

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