So i wanted the most possible blinged out card box without spending a fortune. I finally finished...
First let me say that this isn't really a rant, more like what I would have done different... I'm always trying to "sharpen the saw" and learn from my own blunders. The several will be about me and all the things I screwed up.
1. Artificial flowers, order way more than you need. Way more, double the order. You can always use them elsewhere. Or between yet sell the leftovers and recoup some of your funds. My girls used them in their hair. The shipping costs on small orders will kill you. And most bulk orders have free shipping if you order more that $75 - $100.
2. Make a budget early and stick to it. Talk with whoever is footing the bill, in my case me and my FH. Make sure you’re on the same page with payments and money matters. And get it in writing. Don't make them sign anything, just write down a payment plan so there's no confusion about what has to happen and when.
3. The travel agent in me says if you are flying to your honeymoon; get your tickets early as possible. Why I gave that task to someone else I'll never know. But it cost me an extra $300 because he (hint, hint) waited.
4. If you are going to get wedding planner/coordinator help. Do your homework and get references. I hired a day-of coordinator without really doing that much research and things went less than perfect. Hired is a loose term. She offered her services and told me what she had done before she moved to Florida. Since we talked a lot early on I figured I'd give her a shot to upstart her business here since the price was right. Everyone noticed how she was seriously lacking in ability at the reception. Not a good sign. In hindsight, I think she had done floral and décor at weddings, not coordinating. She was lost.
5. Keep it simple. DIY brides have a lot on their shoulders. Don't overwhelm yourself with trying to incorporate every tradition and idea you come across in magazines and online. You WILL drive yourself crazy and add extra stress. Concentrate on what truly important. Make a list of all of your “Must Haves”, “Wants” and “Likes” for the wedding. If you find more ideas along the way, appropriately add them to the list . So when its crunch time, you won’t feel pressured to do all those Likes and Wants – as long as your Must Have list is completed, you will know that the rest doesn’t really matter. This way it will be way easier to priorize things. Dont' sweat the small stuff.
One of my Likes was to have pictures of us up at the Sign-In table. I envisioned framed childhood pictures instead of a photo in the matte signature frame. It didn’t make it to the To Do List before the big day. And although I liked the idea, I don’t feel too bad that it didn’t get done. We had the matte frame out for everyone to sign with the “Please sign here” inserted inside it. – I never liked the photo inside the frame before it’s signed, IDK – just me. I'm afraid the picture will get written on.
6. The Dress - if you decide to order a replica dress online, please research the heck out of the company and get their reviews from other brides not on their website. Find photos of the actual dresses they have made. If there's smoke, there's definitely fire. A few bad reviews are a symptom of a much larger problem. AND order early giving them a wedding date 6-7 months before your actual wedding date. That way if they don’t come thru or the dress isn’t what you wanted you still have time to get a replacement. If paying with paypal, make sure they will get you your dress within 45 days of your payment. Also ask if you can pay a deposit and make the final payment after seeing a photo of your finished dress.
7. Recap with all your vendors what your expectations are the week before the wedding. Especially if they are not at the rehearsal. Doing it in writing is even better. Emails work wonders!
For example: I spoke with the caterer about drinks, which I provided. However, she was to bring the cups and ice. There was no ice. And she had the food uncovered when guests arrived. I asked that the food remain covered until we were introduced because it was out in the lobby while the guests waited on us to arrive. Those types of things weren’t in the contract. They came up long after the contract was signed. Luckily, I knew the people at the reception site and we got 2 bags of ice. But that was it and once it was gone, it was gone. We were able to stop people from eating, but who wants to tell a guest that they have to stop eating.
8. Organize and label every box. Plan your packing way in advance and get everything out the night before. Case and point: I left the steam iron at home. We had to use it the day before and I never put it with the wedding items. The linens didn't get steamed. That wasn’t a problem, they were still in the original packing and had perfect square creases. But my dress didn't fare as well. I wasn’t able to recreate all the swirls that my dress has in the skirt. I had to put it in the garment bag for transport, so it was a little deflated.
9. Infinity dress blunder - take photos of everyone in their dress the way they want them tied and bring the directions with you. We forgot how to tie the different styles and go stuck with the few we remembered.
10. Setup - do a complete mock-up of your reception tables and bring the photos. That way everyone is on the same page. I left the reception site to get ready when things were about 80% done. I noticed that a few things were out of place once we got back. No biggie. I'm just a perfectionist that likes everything where it belongs. Some of the centerpiece flowers were not centered and the tea-light candles were lined up at the fronts of the head tables instead of going around the centerpieces.
11. Practice makes perfect. We did not reverse the introductions with the bridal party. Big mistake - Our party was mostly our kids. They just ran down the steps, out of order. Oh well. Everyone knew who they were. We were all family.
12. Make sure you go over what “Must Have” photos you want with your photographer. Even talk about what style of photography you’d like, if you're not sure show them examples from other weddings. Candids, formal, editorial (my fav) or a mixture. Make sure your photographer gets all the little details from your day. As a DIY bride, all those little labor intensive details you will want to remember. And your photographer may not know how long it took to perfect those “Tears of Joy” packets. And a good photographer will capture moments that you don’t even notice.
13. Enlist a clean-up crew. Our venue needed the trash taken out, etc. But who’s going to get your presents. Where are all your candy buffet jars going? Who’s going to pack them? Do they know where the boxes are? Make sure you’ve got a dependable crew that you can count on, that doesn’t have sticky fingers – lol.
14. Keep your card box where you (or someone you trust) can see it. Ours was right across from the security guards desk. Yes, there will be lots of money in it!
15. The cake - if budget is an issue, look for alternatives to the $600+ wedding cake at boutiques. I was lucky enough to find someone at my church who makes cakes. Ask family and friends if they know anyone who does. But if I hadn't I had several other plans up my sleeve. Here they are:
a. Publix or your local grocery store - always tasty. Not too expensive layered wedding cakes start around $200
b. Wholesale clubs - Sams. BJs, etc. if you are doing cupcakes, go this route. Where else can you get 48 cupcakes under $40. Have them make pretty flowers that match your theme or add your initials. If the bakers aren't that crafty or nice, maybe buy pre-made letters or some other fun edible topper. I saw a website where you could get custom cupcake toppers made and shipped to you. But I don't remember the site - google or ebay it.
c. Buy regular round cakes and rent or buy the stackers. How much is a round cake at your local baker - $30 or less, right. For under $100 you could buy 3 cakes and the stackers and assemble them yourself. I would suggest watching a u-tube or two before the day of and maybe baking a few cakes to practice on, say for your bridal shower. Add fresh flowers or some silk flowers from your centerpieces/bouquets and voila - you have a cake.
16. Think outside the box for decorations. I used candle warmers from Bath & Body works as my centerpiece bases. I saw where one bride use the practice balls that come with baseballs (from the dollar tree) as the bases for pomanders. Be creative
17. Sales, clearance and coupons. I'm the self proclaimed Online deals queen. I always have coupons whenever I shop. If you know you are going to order from a website. Sign up or register with the site and see if they send you a new customer coupon code. And always go down the clearance aisles. You never know what you fill find. EVERY store has one. Michaels, JoAnn, Walmart, Target, Biglots. And not just the wedding aisle. I found my picture frames that I used on the head tables in the Christmas clearance.
ADDITIONS - 7/31/12
18. Candy Buffet on a budget – I did a chocolate buffet and cookie bar. They were a huge hit. We all see the nicely coordinated candy buffets in all white and and/or matching the wedding colors. If you haven’t already found out, that’s expensive. Lots of online store sell candy by the color, but a pound of single color M & M’s can run you over $10. Large containers will hold 4-5 lbs, which that adds up quickly. So here’s what I did to cut down on costs. First, I expanded my color from just pink to colors in the same family like red, fuchsia and all shades of pink. It yielded the same effect and opened up my options when shopping. I shopped after the holidays that I knew sold candy in the color I needed.
-Valentines Day has red, white and pink. (I scored heart shaped marshmallows for the chocolate fountain or smores bar.)
-Easter has pastel blues, yellows, green and pink.
-St. Patrick’s Day has green and white.
-Independence Day has red, white and blue.
-Halloween has black and orange
-Thanksgiving has orange, brown, and red
-Christmas has red, green, and white
-New years has silver and black.
Target had a huge selection on clearance after Valentine’s Day and I stocked up on white chocolate raspberry hugs for $1.24 per bag. That’s over 50% off. I also mixed in some regular color into the huge jars of M & M’s and used some milk chocolate items too. The chocolate covered cookie dough from the Dollar Tree was the most popular item!
Candy goes on clearance the day after or the day of, depending on the store. Candy has a long shelf life, but be sure to check the labels and store it in a cool, dark place until the wedding.
19. Don’t forget the perishable items in your timeline. Fresh flowers need 2-3 to bloom. DIY cakes and cupcakes need special transport via an extra car or extra trip. If you are picking up the cake and/or grooms cake, add that trip to the list. Pack your candy buffet items last. You don’t want them to sit in the hot car too long. I forgot to order the chocolate buffet sign from Peterbrook’s and grooms cookie-cake until I went to pick up the cookies for the buffet at Sam’s Club. With less than 24 hours to go I had to pick a cookie-cake that was in stock and the chocolate sign’s writing looked like something I could have done myself while blindfolded, but I digress.
20. Schedule some relaxation time before the ceremony and allow yourself to live in the moment and enjoy everything. I know a lot of DIY brides plan on doing their own make-up before the ceremony. However, I enlisted a fabulous make-up artist and used that time to sit down and reflect on the day, all the planning, preparation and what was about to happen. It was a small splurge for me ($100) but well worth the valuable time of reflection and relaxation. Here’s an excerpt from a previous post - “I think I was too excited to concentrate on such tedious tasks (close my necklace and bracelet). The ladies all came to my rescue and got me put together before turning the attention on themselves…For just a little while I let the attention fall on me, which I never do. This was something that I wanted and had planned and prepared for over the past 6 months.”
21. Catering - I was fortunate enough to have a friend refer someone to cater for us. However, we looked into having a few other places cater it too. About the only thing I didn’t do was cook and sew for the wedding. Crazy enough, our local grocery store, Publix, does cater for large events and was only going to cost a little over $500 for what we wanted, less drinks and paper products. I’ve even been to luncheons that Winn Dixie has done with a huge salad with all the fixings, baked chicken, rice and veggies - All at a descent price. You just have to pick and set up the food. I know atleast one of the stores didn’t provide food warmers, but you could pick those up at any party store.
22. Paying Vendors - If you have any vendors to pay the day of the wedding. Prepare their payments in envelopes atleast 1 day before the wedding. That way you are not writing checks at the end of the night, like me. I borrowed this tip from another bride who organized all her final payments and didn't have to worry about a thing.
Hope some of these tips help you along the way. If you have something to add, please do :) Always looking to pay it forward.