Planning Your Wedding: Expectations vs. Reality

So, you’re getting married. Congrats bitch, you did it, you actually found someone who wants to put up with you for the rest of their life. Your mom is proud, your friends are jealous and your ex-boyfriends have been liking your ishh all over Instagram ever since your beau popped the big question. People have finally stopped liking your cliché “He asked… I said yes!” Facebook post and you are wondering what the hell to expect on your big day.

I’ll be honest, I’m not a wedding professional but I did just get married two short weeks ago to my best friend, so I’m basically a professional. Here’s some proof that I’m not a very single scam artist.

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(Photo Credit: Lorenz Photography)

Or am I? Nah, I’m just kidding, that’s really me and the husband, looking all model-like. Shocking right? But that’s what the professionals are for people, but more on that later.

So, you think you want a big wedding. 

Your invite list currently consists of 250+ guests. Do you really even know that many people? Do you really want to shake 250+ hands? That’s a shitload of Purell to buy, especially with the Big E floating around. I’m just kidding. You aren’t going to get Ebola.

Okay, I’m not totally against a big wedding, you might have a huge family and therefore having a small wedding is completely out of the question, but doesn’t the idea of an intimate ceremony in the beginning of autumn strike you as absolute perfection? No. Okay, fine. Have your big party! But just remember that financing a party for 250+ people won’t be cheap, sister. So start saving your pennies.

So, you think you have a budget in mind.

Think again. Work in a contingency, ladies. “Contingency? Uh, what’s that?” Contingency means planning for the future realistically. Wedding swag costs a lot more then what you think. You might think you will only spend $500 on misc. items but you’re probably going to spend more like $1,0000. Trust me, I know. I went over my budget at least five times and it was annoying and stress provoking. “But I’m really fortunate and I have parents that are kicking it ol’ school and footing the bill.” That’s amazing but my advice to you is to do yourself and Daddy Warbucks a favor and over budget. Sitting Mr. and Mrs. Warbucks down and explaining to them that the wedding is actually going to cost 50% more is not going to be a fun conversation.

“But I’m paying for the wedding myself and I don’t have that much money.” The same holds true for you. You are going to be less stressed out if you over budget. Don’t be naive, weddings are expensive and you are better off being over prepared than under prepared. We all know you are going to be on Etsy and Pinterest every day, all day, sourcing a ton of cute wedding decorations. More likely than not,  you are going to have absolutely no problem justifying spending $150 on tiny, little luggage tags that say “S’more Love” on them for your s’more favors (even though you didn’t budget for them). Yes, I did that, they were just so damn cute and I’m a complete sucker for paper products. Sorry Mother Nature, I love the trees, I swear.

My point is, budget for the over priced tiny, little luggage tags. You’ll be happy you did.

So, you think you want a DIY wedding. 

I did a lot of DIY projects. I practically lived in Michael’s for two weeks straight, but just know that you can’t possibly make everything you pin on Pinterest. You are only one person and if you are truly adamant on making your own signage, favors, table runners and ceremony canopy, make sure you recruit your maids, husband to be and family members to help you with your arts and farts and crafts. Any Wet Hot American Summer fans out there?

“But I’ll save money, so isn’t it worth it?” Yes, DIY projects are generally more cost effective but make sure you budget enough time and money. You’d be surprised at how fast you can blow through a budget when buying craft paint and glue. And wine. Every crafter needs wine.

Now, this might sound a little crazy but you don’t have to technically make everything in order to create a DIY wedding vibe.

“But I don’t want to be an impostor.” Believe me when I tell you that no one is going to know what you made or frankly care. “But Erin, I don’t want to buy impostor DIY stuff, it’s expensive.” Then don’t. This might sound a little nutty but you can rent impostor DIY stuff. Say what?! Renting decor items such as old wine crates, mason jars, and chalkboards with ornate frames, is a great cost effective option. Also, you won’t be stuck with 250 hand painted mason jars the day after your wedding. With that being said, I hope my friends and family are aware that they are getting hand painted mason jars every year for Christmas until they are all gone. I can hear it now, “Thanks for the present, you shouldn’t have, Erin! Oh. (voice drops) Another mason jar, wow, thanks. Really. You shouldn’t have.”

If that’s not enough to persuade you, another upside to renting decor is that the rental company will drop off and pick up the rentals. Yay! That means you don’t have to worry about transporting all your knick-knacks and paddy-whacks to and from the wedding venue. That minor detail might not seem all that important right now but when it’s the week before your wedding and you are pulling your hair out trying to coordinate how you are going to transport everything, you will wish you listened to me.

Transportation aside, storing all the stuff you buy throughout the planning process is a bit daunting. Fortunately for me, I had a spare bedroom to store everything in and I still had major anxiety over it.  Picture an unorganized mountain of boxes and bags. Not a mound, not a hill, a god damn mountain. Trying to store all your DIY decor in your one bedroom condo is going to prove disastrous. I don’t know about you but I picture you and your fiancé not-so-happily eating dinner on a stack of string lights while tripping over yards of burlap and twine. Sounds fun, doesn’t it?

So, you think your wedding is going to look like your Pinterest “Dream Wedding” board. 

Think again. It’s not, but it will be better I promise. “But they are so pretty and perfect, and that’s exactly what I want my wedding to look like.” Okay, breathe. It’s not going to look exactly like those pictures but that doesn’t mean that your wedding isn’t going to be absolutely gorgeous. So, before you start crying into your glass of Sauvignon Blanc because life isn’t “fair”, please remind yourself that those infamous Pinterest weddings are $75,000+ affairs and I swear people upload the pictures just to torture us. Please don’t lose hope, instead of wallowing in self-pity, use those amazing pins as inspiration. Take bits and pieces from each individual pin and create decor that fits both your style and budget. And remember you don’t need $75,000 in order to have a beautiful wedding.

So, you want amazing flowers but you don’t want to spend the money. 

Three words. Spend. The. Money.

Flowers help create dimension and depth in any space, as well as a romantic ambiance. I don’t regret a single penny that was spent on these beauts.

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(Photo Credit: @littleflowercottage)

So, you think you can do everything on your own. 

You can’t. Sorry, but it’s true. You might be a bit of a ‘Type A’ control freak but dear god, let your mom help you. Let your sister help you and let your friends help you. Better yet, consider hiring a wedding planner. A professional wedding planner will help alleviate more stress then you can ever imagine. They can also answer any and all questions you may have, make or source decor for you, help set up the day of and most importantly, help you taste cake so you don’t single-handedly gain 10 pounds before the wedding. Let her gain the weight, that’s what you’re paying her for after all. I wish someone paid me to eat cake.

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(Photo Credit: @lolagraceevents)

We didn’t eat cake together but Rachael was everything and more as my wedding planner. And I know she would have gladly gained 10 pounds for me.

So, you think you want a more non-traditional affair but are nervous about what people might think. 

Don’t be afraid. Do what you want, this is your day after all. People will always have an opinion but remember that your opinion is the only one that really matters. This day is about you and your significant other. The most amazing weddings are the ones that really capture a couple for who they are.

So you want a donuts instead of a traditional wedding cake? Do it. I did, it was amazing.

So you want a folk-punk band to play your cocktail hour? Do it. I did, It was even amazing-ier (yes, I just made that word up).

So you want a banner that says “Party Time, Excellent” (any Wayne’s World fans out there?) hanging above your head table? Do it. And yup, you guessed it, I did that too.

There is no right or wrong way to do a wedding. Just do you!

So, you’re nervous you are going to look basic AF. 

This seems nerve racking but really, it’s a no brainer. If you want to look Beyoncé level hot, be prepared to spend a premium on a talented photographer and on professional hair and make-up services. You won’t regret it and you will look incredible.

So, you’re worried guests won’t have a good time. 

Relax! It’s a huge party after all. There is going to be booze, music and desserts. Everyone is going to have a blast unless of course you invited your sober Paleo nun gal pal, Margo. Margo might not have a good time, but hey, that’s only one guest and she’ll probably leave early. So don’t stress. Enjoy every minute of this process. It only happens once (fingers crossed) and it’s going to be great.

Erin Jean

Erin Jean is a Boston based smart mouth who lives in suburbia with her kick-ass husband, yes you read that correctly, I'm a married woman, people! She graduated from Endicott College in 2010 with a degree in Contemporary Journalism. She loves tattoos, writing, and slush (it’s an addiction people). When she is not working for the man, she is riding on the back of motorcycles, online shopping, and reminiscing about her younger years. A typical week consists of watching too much Bad Girls Club, mentally preparing for a zombie apocalypse, and trying to get a body like Mila Kunis (please insert laughter here). Feel free to stalk her life via pictures @mrsbadnews13 or on twitter @erinlissa

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