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Learn from the first-hand experiences of others.

Slide background

Learn from the first-hand experiences of others.

Slide background

Learn from the first-hand experiences of others.

Slide background

Learn from the first-hand experiences of others.


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Planning My Own Wedding

Planning my own wedding wasn’t something I committed to doing long before my engagement. It just happened. Days after I said “yes”, I chose a date in the fall and went about contacting vendors and researching venues. I quickly learned that a full-scale wedding planner in our area was out of our budget. Most planners cost anywhere from 15-20% of the overall budget. With a budget of $10,000, I couldn’t imagine paying someone $1,500-$2,000 to plan. My fiancé and I were just starting out, and we were footing the bill for the wedding ourselves. We could use that money elsewhere, I thought. Besides, I am a complete Type-A personality. I’m organized. I’m creative. I’ve got Pinterest. Let the planning begin.

Life Happens

No one told me how ridiculously hard it would be to coordinate just two people’s schedules. Both my fiancé and I worked full-time, and it was difficult to arrange for time to visit venues and meet with vendors together. On top of that, both our families lived in a different state, as did our close friends.

I called and compared rates during my down time at work. We used lunch hours and sometimes left work early to catch the last 4 p.m. appointment time before close of business. Gradually, we secured a photographer, a venue, and a caterer. We were making progress.

Then, I got laid off from my job.

My fiancé had started an internet business, so I agreed to help him until I found new employment. Much to the frustration of family and friends, we were forced to change our date (for a second time). You would think that more time while wedding planning would be a positive factor. It’s not. Time brings with it inevitable change. Would our photographer be able to serve us on this new date? Would our venue and caterer be available? Plus, there in the back of our minds was a lingering question: would our previous budget be possible after my lay-off?

In a nutshell, our photographer was kind enough to be flexible about the date. Our venue was booked not only on our new date, but for the entire month. So, there we went, back out into the venue-less land of prospecting. Frantic that we would end up without a venue, we booked a location that we had previously visited and paid the deposit. A caterer and bartending service were packaged with this venue, so that saved us the trouble of more research.

One thing we failed to do was factor our current situation into the planning process. We still had dreams of a totally fab event filled with glitz and glam. Truth is, we were spending more than we were saving and I still had not found a full-time job.

Six months before our wedding, we mailed save-the-dates to over 125 guests and crossed our fingers that everything would fall together. Meanwhile, I learned that my mother — the seasoned seamstress who had agreed to design my wedding dress — was out of work indefinitely due to an injury. In addition to the emotional stress this added, I now had to find and pay for a dress.

This was the moment when reality sunk in. Our dreams of a fairytale wedding came crashing down and we had no idea what to do. We’d already paid deposits, booked our vendors, and sent out save-the-dates. Yet, we were sure with the additional cost of a wedding gown we would now be well over budget. What did we do?

We called the wedding off.

That's right. We got in touch with family and friends to let them know that our larger ceremony would be canceled. The stress of the wedding had created distance between us, and we felt as though our lives were consumed with wedding details.

Just one month before our scheduled date, we found a local park and invited immediate family along with a few close friends. We got married near a picturesque Louisiana bayou under the beautiful fall sky with delicious food and a terrific after-party at a casino. And, in the end, it was exactly what we had wanted all along.

Looking Back

If I could go back in time and change anything about my wedding planning process, I would have started small from the beginning. My new husband and I have discussed this, and we believe that we were planning a wedding to impress our loved ones more than anything. We wanted to show them a good time and make their travel worthwhile. Even with our smaller, more casual event, everyone still had a great time.

Advice for Others

Use the early days of your engagement to really decide what you and your partner want. Do this before you set a date or choose a wedding party. Avoid trying to please everyone. Be reasonable about your budget and what you can afford. Plus, if you are having an extended engagement, prepare for those unexpected life events to happen. Most of all, never lose sight of the goal: marrying the love of your life.

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