Written by: Danielle Pasternak of DPNAK Weddings Lehigh Valley, Pa
Congratulations! You’re engaged and starting to dive into the world of wedding planning.
But planning a wedding can be really stressful and if you’ve never done it before, there can be some crucial things that you might forget to consider. After all, “you don’t know what you don’t know”.
As a wedding planner, I’m happy to share with you some common mistakes that I see couples make to help up your wedding-planning game and get you feeling super-confident as you navigate this wonderful new world.
MISTAKE #1: Finalizing your guest list before your wedding budget.
Two very KEY decisions as you start your wedding planning journey are going to be: “Who are we inviting to the wedding?” and “How much are we going to invest?”.
I recommend asking yourself the latter of those two questions FIRST. If you start off with a realistic budget, you will be able to get a better idea of roughly how many guests you can invite.
The last thing you want to do is send out your Save The Dates to 300 people, when you can truly only afford to host a wedding for 150. Once your Save The Dates are sent, you can’t un-invite those guests, so be sure to have a realistic budget in place that supports the number of guests BEFORE your guest list is finalized.
This will save yourselves from loads of unnecessary stress about finances and incoming RSVP’s.
MISTAKE #2: Trying to make your venue match your theme.
While the general location of your venue is usually an important factor, you also want to consider the overall “look” of your wedding venue. It is far easier (and much more budget-friendly) to choose a venue that already aligns with the overall vibe you want for your day.
While it’s usually possible, it’s often very costly to transform an elegant country club into a “rustic, shabby chic” cabin. In the same respect, it’s also tough to take a country barn and turn it into a swanky hotel ballroom.
It’s your wedding, so you can certainly mix and match different decor elements as you wish, but start with a “canvas” that supports your overall theme.
MISTAKE #3: Making any wedding decision based only on price.
There is a phrase I stand by and repeat quite a lot: “You get what you pay for.”
While I believe that to be true in most areas of life, I find it to be PARTICULARLY true in the world of weddings. And as you go through the process of selecting your wedding vendors, it can be very tempting to just go with the cheapest option.
Don’t get me wrong, sometimes the cheapest option IS the best option, but it’s important to take all things into consideration. Make sure to look at experience, quality, service, and reputation, along with cost when making your decision on who to select for your dream team of wedding pros.
If you hire someone who’s completely inexperienced, but comes with a low price tag, you’ll likely end up paying for that inexperience in the long run. Which means higher cost AND additional stress.
MISTAKE #4: Avoiding your “Plan B”.
If any element of your wedding day is taking place outside — even if it’s just your photos with your wedding party — it’s incredibly important to have a back-up plan (“Plan B”) in the event of rainy, windy, snowy, insanely hot or otherwise undesirable weather.
In all of my years of experience working with couples, the more we’ve talked through their Plan B options, the less we’ve needed to use them. The opposite has also been true.
While you don’t necessarily need to put the same amount of energy into your Plan B as your Plan A, make sure you DO have some type of plan in place and know who’s going to execute if the need arises. The last thing you want to be doing on your wedding day is moving 150 chairs in the rain.
MISTAKE #5: Not hiring a wedding coordinator.
I recognize that I may seem incredibly biased here, but as someone who’s been in the wedding party and a guest of weddings who did not have a coordinator, I can’t stress this enough.
A wedding coordinator (also sometimes called day-of coordinator or wedding manager) will take all of the details and responsibilities of your day and place them onto their shoulders. They will guide you throughout the process and be there to answer any questions you might have.
On the wedding day, they’ll make sure things are being set up and delivered as scheduled. They’ll be fielding about a thousand different questions and they’ll make sure to keep things running on-time throughout your day.
If and when something doesn’t go according to plan, they’ll be ready to step in and implement a solution — all without bothering you or taking you away from the moment of the day.
To me, this is priceless and not a job to be passed on to Mom or an inexperienced friend. It’s hard work and it takes a professional to truly do it right.
And remember that your venue coordinator is different from a wedding coordinator. (Check out this article to read about the differences and why each is important.)
MISTAKE #6: Not having a wedding website.
If you’re not tech-savvy, the thought of putting together a wedding website can feel incredibly daunting. However, even a very simple wedding website will save yourselves from loads of questions, confusion and stress down the road.
There are many options today for wedding websites that are very easy to use and personalize. Some websites you pay a small fee for (often less than $50, which will STILL save you in the long run) but many are free.
Your wedding website can be used to give directions, share times, deliver transportation details, offer fun facts about yourselves, give wedding registry details, keep track of RSVP’s and much more.
If you’re worried about privacy, you can password protect your site to allow only your guests to see your information.
MISTAKE #7: Oversharing on social media.
If you’re an active user of social media, it can feel very natural and tempting to post anything and everything about your wedding.
While I’m a fan of sharing some details about your upcoming nuptials (like how excited you are to marry your best friend or how much fun it is to pick out cake flavors), I recommend that you don’t overshare too many details of your day for two key reasons.
First, depending on your privacy settings, you don’t truly know who all can see your post. You may not want to broadcast to the entire world what day and time you and all of your family members will be away from your homes and where you’ll be having a HUGE party with loads of cash and gifts.
Second, there will inevitably be people that you are friends with who may NOT be invited to your wedding. Consider their feelings first when posting too many details about your plans.
MISTAKE #8: Taking on too many “DIY” projects.
Thanks to Pinterest, it can feel relatively easy to say “We’ll just make/do it ourselves!”.
While I’m a BIG fan of gathering up some friends to tackle a fun DIY project, it’s also important to play to your strengths.
If you’re a good baker, perhaps you can bake some cookies for guests. If you’re good at graphic design, have fun making your ceremony programs and bar menus. If you want some unique, non-floral centerpieces and have a bit of Martha Stewart in you, go for it.
However, I can’t stress enough that you should plan to have ALL of your DIY projects mostly COMPLETED at least one month before the wedding. I don’t ever recommend taking on projects that can only be completed the day or week before your wedding — like baking your cake or doing your own flowers. This will add a TON of stress to your plate at an already stressful time.
When in doubt, hire a professional to tackle the job for you. Trust me.
MISTAKE #9: Partaking in traditions that aren’t “you”.
If you’ve recently attended a wedding, chances are high that you’ve seen a First Dance, Father/Daughter Dance, toasts given, and a cake was probably cut.
As you plan your wedding, it’s important to know that while these traditions are typical at most weddings, it does NOT mean that you have to include them in your wedding day.
If you’re not into cake, don’t have one. If you still want to cut something and feed it to each other, you can do that with just about any dessert or late-night snack.
If you don’t want a traditional bachelor/bachelorette party, skip it and do a weekend camping or beach trip with everyone.
Just because you’re getting married does not mean you need to change who you are. It’ll be much more enjoyable and memorable doing things that feel authentic to you vs. ones you’re being forced to partake in because of “tradition”.
MISTAKE #10: Planning a wedding that doesn’t “fit” your guests.
While your wedding day is ultimately about you and your partner, you will likely make up less than 2% of your total guest list.
As you make decisions and and plan your day, it’s important to keep in mind the other 98% of the people who will be at your wedding.
What will they enjoy? What will they appreciate? What will have them leaving feeling like they had the #bestdayever?
For example, if your guests mostly comprise of people who are 55+, I might not recommend doing a wedding where there is limited seating all night or a difficult bathroom situation.
Or, if your guest list has a lot of foodies, be sure to create a menu that will excite their palette instead of the standard beef or chicken option.
Above all, you want to keep your guests fed, entertained and comfortable. When you keep those three things in mind, you really can’t go wrong.
MISTAKE #11: Not planning enough food and drink.
Your food and drink budget will inevitably be one of your biggest items in terms of cost. While this can feel like the “obvious” area to cut back on costs, be sure to keep in mind the overall experience of your guests.
No one wants to attend a party that does not have enough food or runs out of drinks.
If you’re concerned about waste, talk with your venue or caterer in advance about taking food to-go or donating it to a local shelter.
If you’re providing your own alcohol, I always say to over-buy. There is nothing worse than running out of wine and beer at 8pm on a Saturday night when most liquor stores are closed. In many cases, any unopened bottles after the wedding is over can be returned or make great gifts to wedding party and family.
And don’t forget to make plans for food for your wedding party and VIP’s as you’re all getting ready! (No one likes a hangry bridesmaid!)
MISTAKE #12: Scheduling every minute of your wedding day.
While it’s important to have a game plan for the key aspects of your day, you’ll want to take into account the “little things” that will also take place.
Be sure to factor in little pockets of time for things like going to the bathroom, transitioning from one location to the next, traffic, weather, touching up your hair and makeup, and moments where you might just need some quiet time or an impromptu dance party with your friends.
For example, if you think getting dressed will take no more than 15 minutes, plan for it to take at least 30 minutes. If the ceremony and reception are 10 minutes apart, figure on it taking at least 20-25 minutes to travel.
This way, if the unexpected pops up, you’ll have time to take care of them. And if the day runs perfectly on time, you’ll just end up with extra time — bonus!!
Pro tip: If you have a great wedding coordinator, they’ll work with you to create a timeline of your day.
MISTAKE #13: Letting your wedding take over your life.
When you’re involved in any big project, it can easily take over your personal and professional life and planning a wedding is no different.
While wedding planning is very time consuming, do your best to keep up with your usual hobbies self-care and fitness routines. Be sure to make time for your relationships and try to avoid monopolizing every conversation with talks of your wedding.
If it helps, schedule non-wedding-talk date nights with your partner. Or say you’ll talk wedding planning from 7pm-9pm and then it’s off limits for the rest of the night.
Trying to maintain this balance will also help you avoid any post-wedding blues that many couples often feel following their wedding.
Visit the DPNAK Weddings Adore Profile here.
Learn more about Danielle from DPANK Weddings in her Vendor Feature!
For real wedding inspiration that DPNAK was a part of: An “App” for Love and Pizza: Amy and Joe’s Modern Romance or Molly and Brett: Traditional Elegance with a Touch of Navy.