Newsflash: Weddings are a lot of work

I haven’t been nearly as active here as I would like to be, and for that I apologize.  I have been caught off-gaurd by the amount of time and energy it takes to pull one of these wedding things together.  We’ve spent the last few weeks making lots of plans, and it looks like it’s going to be nothing but craziness right up until the blessed event (which is exactly two months from today - ack!).

My best friend was married last weekend and her celebration was fun and beautiful - and a reminder of just how much Matt and I still have to do.  Outstanding deliverables include: reserve the rentals, create programs, choose readings, decide what we’re going to do about music during the ceremony, find a couple of bartenders - oh, the list goes on and on.

I’ve helped my friends and sisters plan weddings, and have been to countless others, so I should have anticipated the effort that goes into one.  I am a planner in my professional life: I have planned everything from new product launches to formal fundraising dinners for 200 - I thought that a wedding would be a walk in the park compared to these.

Boy, was I wrong. 

What I didn’t consider was that the events leading up to the wedding also require planning and orchestration.  This isn’t just a simple ceremony - it’s a multi-day event.

Between the showers and bachelorette party, meetings with the officiant and a couple’s counselor, and appointments with the hairdresser and the caterer -  it’s all I can do to keep my mind focused on work .  It doesn’t help that my job has also been extremely demanding as of late (oh, and I’m teaching one night a week, too).

I don’t mean to complain - we recognize that we’re really fortunate to have so many family and friends who want to celebrate with us.  But as the date approaches, it’s easy to see why people elope or do a simple town hall wedding with the justice of the peace. 

I’m seriously beginning to wonder if it’s too late to hire an event planner.

A question for all of you ‘smug marrieds’ out there: what’s the one element of your wedding that could have been skipped, simplified, or shortened?  At this point, I’m open to any suggestion that might reduce my stress level or bring clarity to the process.  I’ve already started a spreadsheet checklist to organize the chaos in my brain.  Do you have any other ideas?

Stumble it!

30 Responses to “Newsflash: Weddings are a lot of work”

  1. Shell Says:

    I completely ran out of time to do favors. No one noticed or cared. They came to the wedding in support of us and not to get something free. If little details don’t get worked out, just let it go and enjoy the day anyway!

  2. S.X.R. Says:

    Depends on what you want, but you can easily easily cut out the programs. When I saw that on your list my first thought was, “don’t make programs!” Most of the weddings I’ve been to where they had programs, people left them on the tables and chairs. All that money and time goes to waste! Same thing with the favors. The last wedding I was at I forgot my favor on the table.

    It might be too late to change these things, but not having a bridal shower or bachelorette party can also make things way easier and save you and your friends time and money. Same with not having a bridal party at the wedding. The brides I know that said they had the least amount of “people drama” credited it to not having a bridal party.

    But again, some of these things might be important to you.

  3. Heidi Says:

    SXR: I have considered not doing programs, especially since we’re planning an outdoor wedding. I was wondering if that’s considered ‘ok’ - thanks so much for the tip!

    The bridal party is set (my two sisters and closest friend - his two siblings and best friend), but I’m not too worried with any drama there. No tux rentals or required shoes or dresses for the wedding party - we kept things pretty simple in that regard.

    Our wedding favors are functional - they are beer steins with our logo (and they have already been ordered). They go with our Oktoberfest theme and guests will need to use them if they want to enjoy beer or rootbeer - but that’s a great idea for brides who are considering small trinkets. My friend didn’t have favors at her wedding last weekend, and I didn’t even notice until just now!

  4. make art every day Says:

    i spent a lot of time on our wedding favors: tiny flower pots that i spray-painted gold, then i wrapped tissue paper around several hershey’s kisses and then tied that with a label with the person’s name on it! they doubled as place cards, but it was a little nuts. especially because i IRONED THE TISSUE PAPER before i cut it out to wrap the kisses in.

    my point is that you can easily go over the top and not realize it at the time. basically, people want to see you get married and have some fun at the reception. don’t spend a ton on flowers. but put some $ into the food, because people will appreciate it. one of my favorite things i made (and i made a lot for our wedding) was a plain scrapbook that i used as a guest book. i put copies of pics of my husband and i from babies to the present day. guests signed wherever they wanted and i treasure what they wrote.

    just realize that at the end of the day, you’re still married, whether you had party favors or programs or not.

  5. Ellen K. Says:

    If you still want to do programs, you can assume one per household instead of one per guest, to cut down on both money spent and paper or time wasted.

    It sounds like your wedding party is a manageable size, which is good; a large bridal party means spending a lot more on flowers and token thank-you gifts. I’d advise keeping thank-you gifts simple and similar; my favorite to date (I’ve been a bridesmaid 5 times) is a simple satin Victoria’s Secret kimono. Whereas I ran around town trying to fill up personalized goodie bags for each bridesmaid.

    Speaking of running around town, a lot of brides feel it necessary to make gift bags for out-of-town guests. It’s a nice touch but by no means essential.

    Don’t bother giving your bridal party a very detailed timeline for the day; just tell them exactly when they’re supposed to show up and what times they’ll be required to be available for photos. If you have arranged for transportation between the ceremony and reception, let them know so that they can work out the chauffeuring details with their dates.

    My main advice relates to the 2 hours leading up to the ceremony: Have food and bottled water (with straws) available, as well as breath mints or the Brush-Up strips. Have at least one person around to only help you get dressed, run errands/information to the groom’s party, etc. This person should preferably have a lot of wedding experience and not be otherwise involved in the ceremony. Make your entire bridal party, including relatives, turn off their cell phones while you’re getting dressed. Nothing adds to bridal jitters like the incessant ringing of cell phones. For some reason, many people seem to find it necessary to call either the bride or mother of the bride with questions right before the wedding, forcing them into problem-solving roles. Let someone else deal with it, or let them figure it out for themselves. Last, try to keep older female relatives from visiting the bridal dressing area. I know that sounds kind of harsh, but these rooms can get incredibly crowded and hectic, and the bridal party needs the space.

  6. bethh Says:

    I’ve been to lots of weddings that have only beer and some wine. That cuts down on the expertise needed in a bar tender.. in fact sometimes guests just helped themselves, but that depends a bit on the crowd & the venue.

    Good luck!

  7. Sara at On Simplicity Says:

    Another vote for no programs! Didn’t bother and no one missed them. I also don’t regret ditching the bachelorette party or skipping favors.

    Having a pair of reliable friends was what made all the difference on the day of. They ran the errands on the day of, when I was ready to freak.

    And if it’s any consolation, I was so over planning the wedding and the night before and morning of, totally ready to lose it. But the moment I saw the groom (we did pics before the wedding), everything negative vanished. Seeing the love of your life on your wedding day really does outweigh everything else.

  8. Kristen Says:

    I just got back from my honeymoon Sunday night and have had a chance to reflect on the madness of wedding planning. I, too, underestimated how hard it would be to plan an event of that magnitude. We had about 230 guests, and I didn almost everything myself.

    I didn’t do favors. No one cared. I bought a sheet cake from a local grocery store to serve to the guests and had a very small cake for Matt and me to cut. It was 1/4 of the price, and I got compliments on how good it was. I did do programs, but kept them very simple, so the cost was small.

    My biggest advice is get someone to coordinate for you on the wedding day because you won’t be able to do it. I couldn’t afford a “real” coordinator. I had a very organized aunt who kindly made sure everyone was lined up at the church and had their flowers and that everything was in its proper place. She gathered things up at the end fo the ceremony and reception and just kept an eye on everything. It made the day so much easier.

  9. GiGiG Says:

    Please find a “day of” coordinator, or a friend/relative that would not mind executing everything the day of your event. I was an event planner while planning my wedding and still needed someone the day of (my Martha Stuart-esque cousin).

    I had little details that were overlooked/forgotten like the chocolate chip cookies and milk to be served at midnight, my 3rd cake was dropped during transport, and my limo driver left us because we were too busy partying.

    Don’t forget to feed your bridesmaids–I did, they almost died of hunger :).

  10. Debbie M Says:

    You should set up your own priorities. Mine are something like this:

    1) Pick a good spouse. (After all, if that’s the only thing you do right, it’s probably okay!)

    2) Don’t go into debt or spend way too much.

    3) Find out what spouse most wants.

    4) Find out what family most wants. (In my family, no one cares except that my mother really wants to be able to attend. No running off to Denmark like my sister!)

    5) Protection from bad weather

    6) Good planning including few or no dead times and plenty of activities (such as origami on the tables) and good maps, timely invitations, etc.

    7) Good food (and enough food)

    8) Good friends/relatives

    9) Places for everyone to sit

    10) Get some pictures

    11) Good dance music

    12) Preacher/officient who’s not an embarrassment

    13) Comfortable outfits for the wedding party that they like

    14) Good dress

    15) I admit that I also fantasize about sitting specific people together at the same tables. Not in an evil “Three Weddings and a Funeral” sort of way, but where I put people together who don’t know each other but have a lot in common.


    Not so important to me (unless fiance or his family would feel crushed without them):

    * pretty place
    * good flowers
    * live music
    * matching bridesmaids
    * 500 guests
    * pretty cake
    * programs, favors, and everything else I forgot to list

    Things I don’t want (unless others would be crushed)
    * throwing the bouquet, doing the garter thing
    * leaving the party early (while people throw rice or blow bubbles or whatever)
    * being too stressed all day to eat or visit with people
    * having more than 50 people or so–no time to visit
    * getting presents (yes, of course I will have a registry because everyone loves giving presents)
    * fancy caterer with tiny plates
    * alcohol
    * religion
    * head table (I want to leave an empty space at each other table so the groom and I (and anyone) can move around and visit)

  11. Zombie Money Says:

    Good luck :)

  12. Christine Says:

    These are all great suggestions. I planned my wedding in 3 months so I had to keep it simple. Fortunately the venue I chose was an Inn, so they have a coordinator that took care of food, setup, etc.

    We skipped:
    - Favors
    - Guestbook
    - Receiving line
    - Tossing bouquet
    - Cutting the cake (we had a dessert table of amazing pastries instead)
    - Head table (the two of us sat at a cafe table alone — that was the BEST. You get some private time, and then don’t have to worry about getting up and greeting your guests)
    - Bachelor/Bachelorette party, engagement party, engagement photo
    - Save the date stuff — I sent an email instead
    - Things like naming tables something meaningful — we stuck with plain numbers

    We simplified:
    - No ushers — I asked a friend to put a program on each chair. People are pretty capable of seating themselves :-)
    - Combined the Father/Daughter and Mother/Son dance
    - No Bridal party (except Maid of Honor and Best Man)
    - I wrote out placecards that I bought at crafts store for $2
    - Printed out simple half sheet programs on my mom’s printer
    - Simple but meaningful ceremony

    We concentrated on:
    - Good band
    - Good flow of wedding (no awkward breaks in between)
    - Good food & bar
    - Good photographer
    - Also — don’t skimp on the disposable cameras you will probably put on the tables. Some of your best photos will come from these cameras!!!

    Also.. we kept the other stuff simple. Had a “happy hour” at the Inn the night before for out of town guests (got some platters of appetizers and just opened u a tab at the bar), and a continental brunch the morning after.

    I know people suggest skip the gift bags for people staying at the hotels but honestly, I think people really appreciate it! Sometimes they’ve travelled a long way and to have a water, soda and snacks waiting for them just makes it that much nicer. They are so easy to do… enlist a friend to do it for you if don’t have the time. My hubby and I actually found it a good way to escape all the pre-wedding chaos — my family was busy with the planning, and the two of us spent some nice simple time together just delivering the gift bags.

    CONGRATULATIONS and enjoy!

  13. Miss Thrifty Says:

    My wedding prep could have been considerably shortened if, during a momentary lapse of reason, I hadn’t decided to make my own wedding cake! Even now, thinking about it brings me out in a cold sweat.

  14. Funny about Money Says:

    The wedding.

    When my father saw the plans for my wedding start to get out of hand (my mother wanted to throw it at one of the fanciest resorts in town, invite all my fiance’s law partners AND all the secretaries, receptionists, and clerks, and fly in friends & family from California), he paid my soon-to-be husband to elope with me.

    All the wedding plans were canceled. We were married in a tiny ceremony attended by my mother, a couple who were her friends, my cousin, my best friend from high school.

    In a sweet irony, my father’s ship (he was a merchant marine deck officer) was trapped off Alaska by one of the fiercest storms in recorded history, and so he didn’t make it to the wedding. My parents’ next-door neighbor “gave me away.”

    With the money, we honeymooned in Carmel and then bought a bunch of inexpensive furniture to fill up our apartment.

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