10 Most Common Wedding Planning Mistakes
Doing Anything...Before the Guest List
The problem: You're engaged! You're excited! You're ready to send out save-the-dates, book that reception hall, choose those flowers -- now! Well hang on a second, because we're afraid you're forgetting something. Who's coming to this affair, exactly?
The solution: It's not the most fun part of planning (and we'll be honest, it's one of the most likely to lead to a fight or two or twelve), but you shouldn't make any wed-day decisions before you have your wedding guest list somewhat firmly in place. Why, you ask? Well, do you want to have a nonrefundable deposit down on that cozy restaurant room that fits 75 when your mother-in-law's additions bump your list up over 200? Exactly. Once everyone's in agreement, then you can move forward. That said, this means that one of the parts of your wedding you can plan immediately (or at least talk over with your fiance) is what kind of atmosphere you'd like for your wedding. Do you want an intimate, close friends and family-only affair, or do you want to throw the event of the season for 300-plus people? Later, when you're in the guest-list trenches, this bit of planning will help back up your gut instinct about whether to say yes (or no) to guest-list additions.
Reading Aloud to Your Fiance ... From Bridal Magazines
The problem: Look, we know it's not the Stone Age, and there are plenty of guys out there who want to see their wedding as an event that reflects their style too (or at least one that isn't dripping with pink froufrou). But there's likely to be a limit to your fiance's ability to cope with an infinite array of invitation choices.
The solution: Here's how to defuse a potentially sticky situation (and a minefield of fights you don't want to have). Take a night off to go out to dinner and talk with him about all the different parts of the wedding, and try to get a concrete idea of his interest in the various details. Does it sound like flowers are flowers in his book? Okay, then you can more or less leave him out of that decision. And if he's cramming lettuce leaves in his ears to block sound, you definitely don't want to drag him into it.
Moving forward, save his sanity (and yours) by designating one night a week as wedding-free. Talk about the weather, your friends, the dog -- whatever you want. He'll be psyched to see that the girl he fell in love with still lives there, and you'll appreciate the breather yourself. And who knows? Left to his own devices, your fiance just might surprise you with a great idea for your cocktail hour or the perfect solution to a guest-list dilemma.
Freaking Out Because Someone Else Has Your Gown
The problem: These days, to-be-weds spend so much time personalizing their weddings and trying to find really unique big-day details that it does seem reasonable to freak if another couple chooses the same favors or flowers or food. Before you decide to arm-wrestle for it, let us suggest a different way of dealing.
The solution: If someone else steals one of your ideas, you'll probably hear a lot of imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and It will be at your wedding, not theirs, so it'll be totally different. Whether these statements are true or not (they are), they're probably not going to make you feel better -- but neither will stewing over it. Instead of worrying about someone else's wedding looking the same as yours, think about how you can make the copied detail different. If a friend chooses the same gown as you, add details to make yours unique: Accessorize with a brooch, add a sash, accent the train with some embroidery (you get the idea). Has someone else swiped your fun favor idea? Find a way you can package yours to set them apart. And if you're really that worried about copycats, here's a thought -- just keep mum. If you don't divulge every last big-day detail, you won't have to worry about your bride friends snatching them.
Realizing That Grape isn't Your Color ... With Two Months to Go
The problem: When you started planning your wedding, you knew just what you wanted: pink bridesmaid dresses, peonies, and classic, engraved invites. Now that you've been hard at work for a few months, you know just what wedding colors you want: jewel tones, orchids, and funky, bold invites. Too bad -- you're stuck with the wedding style you first chose ... or are you?
The solution: You should feel free to rethink, redo, and revamp any element of your wedding that you want -- unless you've accepted a ring from it (just kidding). This doesn't have to mean yet another huge investment or reneging on a bunch of contracts -- you'll be surprised how easy it is to make simple additions or subtractions and change your whole style. Already ordered those pastel bridesmaid dresses? Think about adding a bold sash or accessorizing with chandelier earrings to liven them up a bit. Unsure about the color scheme you chose? Pay an extra visit to your florist and work out changes to your bouquets and centerpieces -- adding new blooms in all of your arrangements will introduce a new color throughout the room. Same thing if you've already ordered the linens -- spice them up with bright table runners or overlays. If you decide you really can't live with it, chances are you can go back on your first choice -- just remember that it will have a cost. A good rule of thumb is that if you've already signed a contract or seen a proof, you will have to pay extra for any changes or additions you make. But if it's still relatively early in your planning process, don't be afraid to make the change. Remember, you're getting married to your husband, not your centerpieces.
Trying to Drop Two Sizes Before Your Final Fitting
The problem: You've found the wedding dress of your dreams -- though it's not exactly a perfect fit on the real-life you. Your plan: Order the dress two sizes too small, and then do whatever it takes to make it fit. Or so you think.
The solution: Making a commitment to eat right and exercise is great whether you're planning your wedding or trying to stave off the newlywed nine. On the other hand, crash-dieting and chaining yourself to the StairMaster is a course likely to end in disaster -- and a gown that doesn't fit.
Instead of losing more sleep than weight, find a gown you love and order it in your current size. If you want to work on your body during your engagement, that's great -- go ahead, but be sure to make your goals are manageable (toning up but not dropping 20 pounds, for instance). You're more likely to stick with a routine that doesn't require superhuman willpower. And if you still find that you are freaking about your figure, just remember that you're about to get hitched to someone who can't get enough of the way you look (really, truly) right now.
If you do drop some weight, this slow-and-steady approach will help you big time (and help you keep it off long-term). You'll want to lose those extra pounds before your second fitting -- any big changes after that, and though you might be lighter, your alterations bill will be pretty hefty. Your final fitting should be for last-minute tweaks, not a total overhaul.
Doing it All Yourself
The problem: We love nothing better than seeing the clever projects that couples come up with to make their weddings unique. But even we have to draw the line somewhere. There's doing it yourself, and then there's overdoing it yourself. After all, there are plenty of benefits to DIY. You can be sure no one else has the exact same thing, you might keep your budget in check, and (before you actually sit down to hand-tie 200 tiny ribbons) you probably think that it will make a fun story.
The solution: Rather than taking on too many projects, pick the one (or two) that you're really in love with and put your resources (both mental and monetary) into working on those. For the others, do a little research and try to find a ready-made version that makes you happy. With so many great prefab goodies out there, chances are you'll find one that fits your style -- and saves you a whole lot of time!
Overloading Your Mom's Big Day To-do List
The problem: So you can't do it all yourself -- fine -- but you've got to have someone you trust double-checking with the caterer and the florist, steaming your veil, or making sure the limo company's got directions. Most brides turn to good ol' Mom (or their sister or their maid of honor) to make sure things go as planned on the big day. These folks are usually happy to help in any way they can -- but hey, didn't they come here to party too?
The solution: No matter how worried you are, most wedding-day (and day-before) chores can be trusted to any competent adult, and aren't there a slew of them coming into town just for your wedding? Before you hand your mom or MOH a mega-task list, consider splitting jobs among a larger group of people -- friends, cousins, aunts. They'll be glad to lend a hand (and likely flattered that you asked), and it's a great way to include more people in your celebration. If you're worried about losing track, simply take the to-do list you already have and note who's who next to each task. Check in with each person at some point, then check off the chore from the list.
Another option: Hire a professional wedding coordinator for the final weeks before the wedding. They're experts at making sure those last-minute details get done, and having the extra hands around will help you (and mom) decide what you really want to be in charge of and what you can happily hand off. It's more affordable than you might think -- and really, can you put a price tag on alleviating that kind of stress?
Crying Over Mismatched Linens
The problem: The place cards just came back from the printer, and the color of the ink is a little off from the print on your invites. Or the best man's boutonniere has a hint of baby's breath where you'd specified berries. Let's face it, even the most perfectly planned wedding is sure to hit a few bumps along the way.
The solution: When you've worked so hard for so many months on your wedding-day details, it can be hard to deal when you find a flaw among them. The key is that when you spot one, you'll need to take a deep breath and think: How important is this going to be to me in a year? Not in 10 years, not even in five, but in one. Chances are, most mishaps that are causing you so much agitation won't really matter to you once you're at your wedding (let alone after it). If it's a serious snarl, go ahead and deal with it. But if it's a minor mess-up, just move on. You can't give up all of your resources to every little crisis. Pick your battles wisely and they will be better fought.
Blowing Your Budget
The problem: You came up with a number. You did some research. You revised the number. You started planning ... and now that number's not going to cut it. Budgeting for a wedding can be the stuff of nuptial nightmares -- but that doesn't mean you should elope.
The solution: If you find you've underestimated some expenses, don't panic. Instead, sit down with your fiance and try to reach a constructive solution. Maybe you can give up an item or trade one for another (for example, dahlias over Black Magic roses saves about $4 per stem). If you're coming up short overall, you may have to take on some debt. To make it as minimal as possible, consider obtaining a low-interest loan or using a low-interest credit card. And to keep it from becoming a source of tension between the two of you, make a plan to deal with the debt and a deadline for paying it off so it won't hang over your heads.
Saving Your Place Cards for the Morning Of
The problem: Right now, it might seem weird to have a basic sketch of your seating plan or all of your favors tagged and ready to go. But other than taking up a little extra space in your closet, they're not causing any harm -- and they will actually save you a ton of stress a month or two down the line. The closer the wedding gets, the busier you'll be, so making (and sticking to) your timeline is essential.
The solution: Worried you're jumping ahead on the wedding planning timeline? Don't be. You're in the best possible situation. If you're set on saving tasks until the appointed time (rather than going ahead and doing a little of this or that when you've got the time), you may wind up with way too much to accomplish in the last month (or week) before the wedding. That's exactly the time when anything (and everything) can happen, when everyone will have demands on your time, and you'll -- well, you'll just want to take a hot bath and dream about your honeymoon. With check marks beside all your biggest to-dos, you'll be able to relax and enjoy your wedding -- and the days leading up to it. Make no mistake about it.