Lessons Learned -- Some thoughts on our wedding after the fact

Our wedding was best described as classic, and our goal was to have it be simple, elegant, and fun. We planned it in 3 months while we both worked full-time jobs. Our original goal budget wasn’t feasible, but we did manage to have a nice wedding for roughly half of what a typical bay area wedding costs. We paid for the entire wedding ourselves, without assistance from either family. As a result, we made our own decisions rather than deferring to our families. Overall, we had a wonderful time (despite many things being hectic because we had to move our outdoor garden wedding indoors due to rain) and are so glad that we did it.


Some tough decisions we made to save time, money, and/or stress:

* We kept the guest list smaller than we would have liked, inviting fewer than half of the people we wanted to invite

* We eliminated bridesmaids and groomsmen, settling instead for a MOH and Best Man

* We selected a venue with a package that included many of the items we wanted/needed

* We opted out of centerpieces and favors, and donated all that money to 4 nonprofits that we care about – we placed a tabletent on each table telling which nonprofit and why


Things I would do again:

* Both of us picked a “top 3” things we really cared about for the wedding – we agreed to focus on those and let the other items fall into place

* As a result of the previous decision, we scrimped on things like invitations, programs, etc. and used simple nice cardstock with a consistent font – we spent that money of things we really cared about

* I bought $5 white strappy sandals on eBay, a $1 veil, etc. for items that either no one would see or where imperfections wouldn’t matter

* We made a guest book that told the story of us (we’ve known each other nearly 8 years) through pictures and words – it took longer to make than I would have liked, but our guests had a great time reading it before signing it and we love the end result

* We bought all our alcohol from BevMo’s Vineyard Partners, because they have flexibility to accept returns on unused liquor (we ended up returning a full case of champagne and a full case of mixed wines) – this enabled us to overbuy to ensure we had enough, without having to pay for it if we didn’t use it

* We bought our wine during BevMo’s 5cent sale and held it in a closet for a month – huge cost savings

* Periodically through the day, we stopped to relish the moments and drink in the sights, sounds, smells, etc. of our wedding

* We met our photographer for pictures about a month before the wedding – it was good to see the end result so we could many changes as desired for the wedding (plus, it was such a big expense we wanted to make sure we liked her, and her style of pictures)

* We had a day of coordinator included with the venue – so helpful


Things I would do differently:

* I might have found a dress on a forum, Craiglist, etc. and had a seamstress tailor it to fit me (I was lucky to find my dress on clearance, but this was my back-up plan instead of forking out the dough for a dress)

* I would have RSVPed to my caterer with a headcount of 10% fewer than the number of guests who RSVPed – we had a destination wedding so most people flew in and we expected we’d have fewer no shows but a full 10% of our confirmed guests didn’t attend the wedding for various reasons (our contract said they’d make enough food for our final number plus 5%, so we would have had enough food if even half those no shows had attended)

* I would not give any tips the day of the wedding, I’d write thank you notes and provide tips after the fact – the groom and I didn’t have enough time to talk about the service we received and we ended up giving people tips who frankly did not deserve them

* I would tell our families (at the rehearsal dinner) we are getting the rights to pictures from our photographer and we would give them copies of any/all pictures they wanted, so they wouldn’t be trying to take the same shots with their cameras – in far too many family portraits one person’s eyes are looking at someone else’s camera instead of our photographer’s

* I would start to get ready a full hour before I expected I needed to – I didn’t realize so many people would come in to visit, and I would have liked the time to enjoy their company

* Insisted that our caterer save us 2 pieces of cake – we never got back to our table after cutting the cake so we never tasted our cake though everyone tells us it was delicious

* I wish we could have had another hour for our reception, because it went way too fast

Re: Lessons Learned -- Some thoughts on our wedding after the fact

  • edited December 2011
    This is a wonderful post with great insights.  We had some very similar thoughts of our wedding as well.  Other than the headcount part, I would say I agree with everything else and would have really benefitted from this insight!  CONGRATS on a wonderful wedding :)
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