• Mental Health Check-in

    I thought this would be a good time to do a quick mental health check-in. Mostly because I’m currently struggling with my own mental health (thank you seasonal depression). But it was also about this time in my wedding planning journey that my mental health started to take a toll. I had pretty much all of my big vendors booked and there was a lot happening outside of wedding planning that was taking an emotional toll on me. Wedding planning was a nice distraction, but at the same time I’m glad it slowed down when it did to give me the time to process everything else going on.

    Me, my family, and my husband and his family have all generally been in very good health in recent years. No major health concerns, so nothing to really be worried about. So it was completely unexpected when my dad experienced a heart attack in October last year. Thankfully he is 100% fine now, but still extremely scary and stressful when it first happened. Then me, my husband, and his family all got Covid after Thanksgiving. I had it pretty bad and was down for the count for pretty much the rest of the year.

    In January, my dad started having additional health issues which required him to get a Foley catheter. For the first few months, he was in and out the hospital with UTI’s. He was also diagnosed with Parkinson’s a few years ago, which also involves a decline in his cognitive abilities. Unfortunately his hospital visits threw him off and he would quite literally lose his mind almost every time. It was extremely heartbreaking to see him in that state. And selfishly I kept wondering if he would even make it to my wedding. If he did make it to my wedding, I wasn’t sure that he would even be in the right state of mind to walk me down the aisle. I am forever grateful that he was not only there for my wedding, but able to participate the way I had hoped he would.

    Then in February I unexpectedly had to have my gallbladder removed. I had never had surgery in my entire life, so the anxiety leading up to surgery was all-consuming. I couldn’t focus on anything else. So wedding planning kind of came to a halt. Thankfully everything went fine with the surgery and recovery didn’t take long, but I was also dealing with ongoing issues from Covid, and was frequently making doctor’s visits and having tests done.

    I did try throwing myself into wedding planning again to keep myself distracted. It did help for a bit, but eventually I hit a wall and just had no motivation. I think part of that was the procrastinator in me – I tend to procrastinate when I know things don’t have to be done right away. But the other part was I was just emotionally and physically drained.

    I also have seasonal depression. The cold, dreary weather pretty much shuts me down. So the fact that all of this nonsense was happening during the winter was not helping anything. I realized I needed to take a break. After Save the Dates were sent out, I pretty much “quit” wedding planning. From February to May I didn’t do much planning. I knew there wasn’t anything that needed to be done immediately. I admit, I was still obsessively trying to check off what I could off of my list, but anything that required more effort than me sitting on my couch wasn’t happening.

    When May came around, we had to get working on the invitations to make sure they were sent out before we left for vacation in June. I was addressing all of my envelopes using my Cricut (total lifesaver). I knew if I waited too long, I would stress myself out by trying to get all of the envelopes done in a short period of time. So I made sure I gave myself plenty of time to allow myself to start out slowly. I worked on a few a day, rather than throw myself completely back into planning mode. I also pretty much solely focused on the envelopes, realizing that I could start working on everything else once we got back from vacation.

    And that’s exactly what I did. When I was on vacation, I realized I was excited to get back into planning. Up until I hit that wall, I had been enjoying it. So my mental health break allowed me to take the time I needed to regroup and get myself back on track, and most importantly find my motivation again. Once I got back from vacation, I started with all the DIY things I was planning to do. I worked on signs here and there, and worked on my bouquets and figured out centerpieces.

    Knowing that I still had time to get all of this done was a huge help. I was able to go at my own pace and work on things when I wanted, not feeling rushed or stressed. I hit a few more walls here and there, but I was able to easily recognize when I needed to take those mental health breaks this time, and allowed myself to just take time.

    Wedding planning can be stressful. And it can really break you down. Especially if you’ve never planned anything on this level before. Fortunately, I truly enjoyed the wedding planning process (for the most part). But not everyone loves it, which creates an even bigger challenge in making sure everything comes together for your big day. Whether you’re a Type A personality, like me, or someone who has no interest in planning anything (sometimes I wish I was that person), consider these tips throughout your wedding planning journey to keep your mental health intact!

    Plan ahead

    Everyone has different wedding planning timelines. Make sure whatever yours looks like, you’re allowing yourself sufficient time to meet whatever goals you want to meet. Book as much as possible early on so that you can rest easy knowing that your vendors are locked in. Once those are out of the way, you can give yourself a break knowing that not everything needs to be done right away.

    Make sure your timeline lines up with your plans

    Some people take years to plan a wedding, and some people take months (maybe even weeks). Whatever your timeline looks like, make sure it lines up with your plans. Make sure your plans are realistic for whatever timeline you’re trying to meet. I planned my wedding in just about 11 months. For me, this was entirely possible given our goals and vision for our wedding. Depending on yours, that might not be enough time. And the less time you have, the more stressed you’ll be and the more you’ll be putting your mental health at risk.

    Take a break every now and then

    It’s important to realize when you’re pushing yourself to the limit. You have to be self aware of when your body is telling you that you need a break. It’s okay to pause wedding planning in order to keep your mental health in check. But this can be challenging when there are tight deadlines, which is why it’s so important that you set realistic timelines and goals when it comes to planning. Trying to cram everything in in a short amount of time will burn you quickly, and you’ll end up just trying to survive the wedding planning process, rather than enjoy it.

    Ask for help

    Depending on your personality, this one can be challenging. If you’re like me, you’ll want to do everything on your own – the planning, the creating, the executing. I chose to do it all myself, but I also wasn’t afraid to ask for help with certain things when I started feeling overwhelmed, like putting my flowers together.

    Others have no interest in planning, and that is completely okay! But sometimes even they attempt to do it all on their own, which ends up feeling like a chore or a work project to them. This takes away from the excitement of it all, and sadly many people end up throwing in the towel and giving up their dreams of their “perfect” wedding. In these cases, I recommend recruiting someone to help with the planning. It can be a family member, or friend, or split between several people. If it’s within your budget, hire a wedding planner or coordinator.

    Asking for help doesn’t mean you’re going to end up losing your vision for your special day. You still have a say in everything, but now you get to keep your sanity.

    Remember the end goal

    So many people get caught up in the planning, and when we hit those walls it can be hard for us to see the light at the end of the tunnel and remember what all of the effort is for to begin with. Many end up resenting the planning process and wish their wedding day would just be over already. Others end up downsizing or scrapping their wedding altogether because the planning just becomes too overwhelming. In other cases, I’ve seen couples actually break up from the stress of it all. These stories always made me extremely sad. Like many other situations in life, not taking care of our mental health can affect our ability to think straight. We make rash decisions, or we feel so hopeless that we believe we can’t accomplish something. When in reality, we need to take a step back and just give ourselves some time to breathe and reset our mindset. When it comes to wedding planning, we need to remind ourselves that the end goal is for us to marry the love of our life. This helps us put everything back into perspective. That the whole process will be worth it in the end.

    Whatever your wedding planning process looks like, make sure you take the right steps to maintain your mental health. Check in with yourself often to make sure you haven’t reached your limits. If you feel yourself hitting a wall, prioritize taking time to yourself – whether that be a spa day, a night out with friends, or even a whole month of no planning. The last thing you want is to resent your wedding day. It’s the most special day of your life, and you should be able to feel that as you walk down the aisle.

    And remember to keep these tips in your back pocket for all aspects of your life. The world is a crazy place these days, and it’s definitely becoming increasingly difficult to keep your mental health in check. But hopefully your wedding day can be the one light in your life that gives you a slight reprieve from it all.

  • Finding Your Wedding Day Look

    Finding the perfect look for your big day can be stressful. Especially when you have zero makeup or hair skills, like me. But you obviously want to feel your best on your wedding day – despite your future husband/wife telling you that you’re beautiful just the way you are.

    I faced a few challenges when it came to finding my wedding day look. I’ll share those below, as well as the steps I took to overcome those challenges to help me find the perfect professionals to help me look amazing on my special day!

    Hair

    When it comes to my hair, it is THICK. I’ve had people do my hair for weddings and other events before, and it never comes out the way I had hoped. For my best friend’s wedding, my hair started coming out the second the stylist walked out the door. It wasn’t her fault, she just underestimated how truly thick my hair was.

    I’ve been going to the same hair stylist for years. I’ve followed her to many salons, and even one point when she was doing it out of her house. She just knows my hair, I fully trust her, and she knows what she’s doing. So it was a no brainer for me to ask her to do my hair for my wedding. And I’m thankful that I had someone like that, but I don’t know how I would have found anyone else that I could feel 100% confident to do my hair.

    Even though she was familiar with my hair, we still did a trial. Always do the trial. Do more than one trial if you have to, especially if you’re working with someone who hasn’t done your hair before. I know trials cost money, but I think it’s worth it so you can feel confident that your hair will look amazing on the day of your wedding. The last thing you want is to start your day full of doubt and be stressed about whether or not it will come out right.

    But my biggest piece of advice is, if you have a consistent hair stylist that you love and has been working on your hair for a while – ask them to do your hair for your wedding rather than finding someone new. I think there’s a few benefits;

    ⁃ They’re already familiar with your hair.

    ⁃ You likely already trust them and know their expertise.

    ⁃ They can help you prep your hair for the months leading up to the wedding. For me, we stopped adding layers 6 months before. She also stopped thinning it out (probably the hardest part for me haha).

    ⁃ They might give you a discount. My stylist ended up not even charging me on the day of my wedding. Of course, I gave her a rather generous tip to make up for it.

    The other point to consider is how many other people will be getting their hair done. Different stylists have different comfort levels for the amount of people they can handle. I had four people, and two of them were only getting blowouts. So only two of us were actually getting our hair fully styled. So it was “simple” for her. We were done in two hours. Depending on the amount of people, it could take several hours and possibly more than one stylist.

    Makeup

    I’m not a makeup person. When I used to work in an office, my routine consisted of washing my face with soap and water, throwing on some eyeliner and maybe a little foundation. I work from home now, so I rarely wear makeup at all, except for the occasional social gathering that I might attend.

    I also have pretty bad cystic acne. I’ve been on prescription medicine since forever for it, but it never seemed to completely help. So aside from my top worry of having my period on my wedding day, I was stressed that I would have a major flare up for the wedding. So I needed to feel confident that whoever did my makeup would know how to cover that mess up.

    I found my MUA on The Knot. She had great reviews and was very responsive when I reached out to her. I reached out to two others, and they both took over a week to respond. So I set up a trial with her about 9 months out from the wedding. I know it was early, but I wanted to do a trial before I actually signed a contract with anyone.

    She was very friendly and I could tell right away that she was experienced in what she did. After taking one look at my skin, she told me my skin was extremely dry (which I honestly didn’t know, because it didn’t feel dry). I didn’t have any breakouts at the time, but she asked if I had cystic acne and when I told her I did, she informed me that it likely had to do a lot with my dry skin and that I needed to find a good skincare routine. I thought she was just trying to get me to buy the product that she sells, so I kind of just agreed with her and let her go on to do her thing. I asked for a more natural look, and she gave me exactly what I asked for. I signed the contract once I got home.

    I also got to thinking about what she said about a skincare routine. Mine consisted of soap and water, and then applying my prescription topical cream. I was afraid to try anything else. But then I started thinking about it and figured I had nothing to lose by trying something different. So I ordered a few products from her site, and never looked back. She was absolutely 100% correct: I needed a skincare routine, and it was a game changer. I didn’t have anymore flare ups after I started with a consistent routine.

    I was so thankful that she gave me that tip, because it gave me time to prep my skin for my wedding and I was no longer stressed about having a flare up.

    Just like with hair, we only had four people getting their makeup done, so my MUA was doing everyone’s makeup herself. Just like with hair, it only took her about two hours to complete everyone. And we all looked amazing.

    So when it comes to makeup and skincare, find someone you trust and feel comfortable with. Ask them for tips on skincare maintenance. Start with a skincare routine ASAP, so that your skin looks its very best on your wedding day. My MUA also recommended getting a facial, which as it got closer to the wedding I just completely forgot to do, but I’ve heard of many others doing this a few weeks leading up to the wedding and it made a big difference for them.

    General considerations

    If you have a full wedding party plus others needing their makeup and/or hair done, your MUA or hair stylist may or may not prefer a second person to assist. Hopefully if that’s the case, they have someone they already work with that can help out. But the other thing to think about is if a MUA/ hair stylist tells you that they can handle a big group on their own. It’s important to recognize whether or not you feel comfortable with that. If you feel like they may be overly confident, it’s okay to speak up and request a second a second person. You want your day to go as smoothly as possible. Which also means being able to trust the professionals who are helping you get ready.

    The other thing I’d like to point out is that your trials likely will not truly reflect the full effect of what your MUA/hair stylist will do for you actual wedding day. I know this is a hard one to get past, and to be honest neither my makeup or hair trial was exactly what I was hoping for, but they weren’t bad and I wasn’t unhappy with them. They both just seemed unfinished. Which, both my MUA and hair stylist pointed out the things that they would do on the actual day to pull my look together. And they absolutely delivered on that promise. Go with your gut on this one. I didn’t hate how my trials came out, and I trusted both my MUA and hair stylist when they said it would all come together the day of. But there are a lot of people who truly hate how their trials turn out, so much that it ends in tears. And I think that says a lot. In those cases, I think it’s totally worth it to try to find someone else who can help you achieve the look you’re going for.

    There’s also always the question of who should pay for these services. Do you pay for your wedding party? Do they pay for you? Does everyone pay for themselves? And I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer. I think this is a personal, and financial, preference. I’ve heard of it being done all different ways. The important thing is to make sure your expectations are clear up front. When asking everyone who plans to get hair/makeup done, be very specific about whether you expect them to pay for themselves or if you will pay for them. Don’t wait until last minute to give them that information, because it could end up putting someone in an uncomfortable position.

    Here’s a breakdown of the cost for hair and makeup:

    As I mentioned, my hair stylist has been doing my hair for years. Also my mom’s hair and my sister’s, so she did give us all a very steep discount and these prices don’t reflect actual prices you’ll typically find. But as I mentioned, it could be a potential benefit of having your usual stylist do your hair for your wedding.

    ⁃ Hair trial for myself: $25 (plus tip)

    ⁃ Day of hair for myself: Free (plus tip)

    ⁃ Day of hair for my sister: $50 (plus tip)

    ⁃ Day of hair for my mom and MIL: $25 each (plus tip)

    Here’s a breakdown of the makeup costs. I found my MUA’s prices to be average compared to some of the others I had looked into.

    ⁃ Makeup trial for myself: $125 (plus tip)

    ⁃ Day of makeup for myself: $125 (plus tip)

    ⁃ Day of makeup for my sister, mom, and MIL: $90 each (plus tip)

    Overall, you should feel your absolute best on your wedding day. For some people, that might mean skipping these services altogether. But if you choose to have your hair and/or makeup done by a professional, make sure you find someone that makes you feel 100% and 100% beautiful!

  • Finding Your Photographer

    I admit, I don’t have an eye for photography. I can tell the difference between pictures from two different photographers, but I have no idea why they’re different. And when I started looking for photographers, the pictures all started to look the same to me anyway. Of course, they weren’t and every photographer I looked at had their own style. But I had no idea exactly what I was looking at.

    Thankfully, my husband is a web designer and has a natural eye for anything creative. So, he was in charge of finding a photographer. Especially because this was on the top of our priority list. The challenge was, he didn’t want our pictures to look like the “common” pictures that you see all the time. He wanted someone with a really good eye, who had a more natural style. But that wasn’t exactly what we were finding. On top of that, we were paying for the wedding ourselves and had to stick to our budget. So spending thousands of dollars for a great photographer who produced amazing pictures seemed pretty far out of reach.

    By some miracle, my husband found a local photographer whose pictures were beautiful. The bonus was, he offered a 4 hour package. Which, we felt would be plenty of time considering the events of our day and a lot of the things we were skipping out on. We also ran through the timeline with him before committing to anything, and he agreed that 4 hours would be plenty of time.

    Weddings weren’t his main gig. Which made me a little nervous, but the wedding pictures he had on his website and that he brought with him when we met were beautiful. And since he didn’t shoot a ton of weddings, he had a pretty flexible schedule which meant he was available for our wedding, and was extremely flexible with us when it came to our engagement pictures.

    We initially were going to skip engagement pictures, but it was included with our package and he highly suggested doing them so that we could all get comfortable before the wedding. We had never had professional pictures taken together, and we definitely felt awkward at first. So I’m glad he talked us into doing them. He also had our pictures back to us the next day, which my not-so-patient self greatly appreciated.

    The day of the wedding, he showed up about 15 minutes before the ceremony which allowed him to get a few shots of me pretending to get ready. From there, he covered everything we asked him to cover and we never felt rushed or like we were missing anything. He was extremely laid back which helped us to relax, and he preferred to capture more candid photos as opposed to posed. I was grateful for this when we got our pictures back because you could see the true joy and excitement on our faces. He also had our wedding pictures back to us the NEXT DAY. I was shocked, but again very appreciative because I don’t know how long I would have been able to wait.

    He even helped me with my bustle when he saw that my mom and sister were struggling. Talk about going above and beyond!

    Photography is pretty subjective, and everyone looks for different qualities when they’re trying to find a photographer. And considering they’ll be capturing the moments from the most special day of your lives, you want to find someone that checks all of your boxes. So, while our “boxes” might look a little different from yours, here are some considerations we kept in mind when finding our photographer:

    Quality

    Because my husband has a natural eye for photography, his standards were pretty high for finding someone who checked all of his boxes. He wasn’t willing to compromise on the quality of our pictures, and I’m glad he stuck to that since we’ll be able to cherish these pictures forever. Our photographer was really good at finding the perfect lighting, and there was very little editing he did on our final pictures. The “natural” quality of the pictures gave them a more unique look which we loved.

    Budget

    This one was tough. Since we wanted a photographer who produced great quality pictures, prices were high. Like at least $3,000+. But those were also for 6-8 hour packages. I knew we didn’t need that much time. But the struggle was finding someone who offered anything less than 6 hours. We started looking for photographers who either specifically offered 4 hour packages, or offered hourly options. Both of those were hard to find since the full day packages that a majority of the photographers offered make more sense for them in the long run. We were extremely lucky to find out photographer, but it was due to persistence and not backing down from what we wanted.

    Timeline for the big day

    As I’ve mentioned, we didn’t necessarily have a typical wedding day timeline, and we skipped out on a lot of the “traditional” moments. One of the biggest chunks of time is the getting ready pictures. This is a personal preference as to whether or not this is a priority, but we didn’t feel paying for someone to come watch us get ready all day was completely necessary. Our photographer showed up about 15 minutes from the ceremony and snapped a few pictures of me pretending to get ready, and this was more than enough for me.

    Our ceremony was small, only 10 people. And those were the only people we felt we absolutely had to get pictures with. So after the ceremony, our photographer went through our list and made sure we got the pictures we wanted with all of those people. This took about 15 minutes.

    After family pictures, we went off with our photographer to capture just me and my husband. This took about half an hour, so we were only about 45 minutes post-ceremony. And since we got through pictures so quickly, we were able to mingle with everyone as they started arriving for cocktail hour. This couldn’t have worked out any better, because we actually had time to enjoy ourselves the rest of the night since we weren’t going table to table to say “hi” to all of our guests.

    We also chose to do introductions, the first dance, and father/daughter and mother/son dance at the beginning of the reception. This all took maybe half an hour. Following dinner, our photographer took us outside to get some pictures in the dark. Since we weren’t doing a cake cutting, bouquet/garter toss, or an exit, we didn’t feel a need to have him there to capture a bunch of drunk people dancing. That’s what hashtags are for, apparently.

    He left after exactly 4 hours. And it was plenty of time as he had promised. Our package was $1,800 (plus tax). Since this was his “business”, we did not tip him. Before you come at me, I did a lot of research on this. Had this not been his own “business”, we absolutely would have tipped him. But since it was just him and he did this on his own we concluded it was not necessary. Of course, you can also provide a small gift or even a small tip if you absolutely wanted to. But a full 20% tip is not expected/necessary in this instance. However, always check your contract. In some cases, it might be included in your quote and you’ll have to pay the full tip as stated in the contract.

    Videography

    I wanted to quickly cover this topic, as it’s usually something that people go back and forth on. One of the main reasons, from what I’ve seen, for people choosing to have videography at their wedding is the fear of regret. Many people are afraid that they’ll regret not having a video of their special day to look back on, so they put this at the top of their priority list. And end up having to dedicate a pretty good chunk of their budget to make it work.

    For us, we were pretty much set on not making this a priority. My husband’s brother and SIL celebrated their 10 year anniversary a few years ago, and that was the first time they ever watched the video. I have several other friends or family members who have maybe watched their video once right after the wedding, and never watched it again. For us, the fear of regret from spending all of that money outweighed the fear of regret from not having videography. Instead, we had someone video parts of our ceremony (primarily our vows). But we haven’t even watched it. This is a personal preference, and everyone will have differing opinions on it. But I can tell you, we have not once regretted skipping out on videography.

    Just like anything else with wedding planning, finding your photographer is all about priorities. Sit down together and figure out what you’re looking for, what your budget is, and what your wedding day timeline looks like. When you’re ready to start looking, do your research and don’t settle for just anyone. Like everything, good things take time and effort to find – and finding someone to capture the most special day of your lives is no different!

  • Finding the “Perfect” Dress

    I’ll start off by admitting that I HATE shopping. I’ve never enjoyed it. Every so often I’ll get the urge to browse a store, but I’m typically over it within 10 minutes. Especially if I can’t find what I’m looking for. And especially if it involves shopping for clothes.

    Like many women, I’ve always had a negative image of my body. I have wide hips and am pretty much in a constant state of bloat – I swear even a crumb can make me look like I’m 6 months pregnant. So the idea of shopping for my wedding dress made me slightly apprehensive. But I also knew that I absolutely wanted a wedding dress. Of all the things I was willing to compromise on and forego for our wedding, the dress was not it.

    I wanted to stay open minded when I was looking for my “perfect” dress. I knew I preferred lace, but I tried to stay away from committing to any style of dress before actually trying any on. To be honest, I figured I’d end up in an A-line just because a more fitted dress would show off all the parts of me that I didn’t love love.

    I booked an appointment with a local bridal shop near me. I had been there previously for prom, and my sister and best friend had shopped for their wedding dresses there as well. So I knew they were well established and had good consultants. I was also pretty set on only going to one bridal shop. With my dislike of shopping, I didn’t want the stress of trying on dress after dress at several different shops.

    When I went to the bridal shop and met with the consultant, I immediately fell in love with her. She was bubbly and made me feel confident that we would find my dress that day. We briefly discussed the styles I would prefer to try on, and I basically told her that as long as they had lace she could pull whatever she wanted (except ball gowns). She came back with 10 dresses. Most of them fitted.

    I told myself I would be open minded, but inside I was panicking. I would try the fitted dress on, but I was also afraid they would crush my self esteem even more than it was. But I tried on the first dress and HOLY CRAP. Why had I been so opposed to this style? Everyone was gushing over it and I felt absolutely amazing.

    Part of me thought maybe it was just the excitement of trying on dresses for the first time. So I continued to try them on. I didn’t dislike any single one. I was shocked.

    Ultimately I was torn between the very first dress I tried on and the very last dress I tried on, both of them fitted. In the end, I chose the last dress. Everyone, including myself, could just tell from the look on my face that this was it.

    The whole process was much less stressful than I imagined it would be. I think there were several factors that played into that – my mindset, my consultant, the people I brought with me, and my willingness to keep an open mind.

    Here are my tips for a stress-free and successful experience:

    Keeping an open mind

    As I mentioned, I assumed I knew what wouldn’t look good on me. But I was still willing to try anything and everything on. Except ball gowns, as I had mentioned previously. I just knew that absolutely was not my style or what I envisioned myself in. It might sound contradictory, but sometimes you just have to listen to your gut. While it’s perfectly fine to want to try on your preferred style first, don’t let that be all that you’re willing to try on. Even when you think you’ve found something you like, keep trying a few more on so you’re confident in your decision.

    Be strategic in who you invite

    Trying on dresses for the first time is exciting and people tend to want to bring as many people as they can with them. Typically they invite their whole bridal party, and close family members. But those situations can often lead to tension and confusion. With so many differing opinions and personalities, it can quickly become overwhelming and stressful.

    Since I only had one person in my bridal party, my sister, I invited her. In addition, I invited my mom and my future mother-in-law. I also invited my two future sister-in-laws and best friend who ultimately couldn’t make it. I was very careful in who I invited. I knew that the people I invited would not force their opinions on me. They would be honest, but not brutally honest. And they would support whatever decision I ended up making.

    In the end, my sister, my mother, and my future mother-in-law were there to cheer me on and gave me a serious boost in confidence. They were extremely excited and happy for me when I found “the one.”

    Working with an amazing consultant

    My consultant was beyond amazing. She was friendly and supportive, and made me feel absolutely perfect in every single dress. I have never felt so confident in my life. I joked that I wished I could bring her shopping with me all the time. I know that’s her job, and her goal is to make a sale, but she seemed so genuine.

    If you’re not getting a good gut feeling from your consultant or even the bridal shop, don’t feel obligated to buy from them. Sadly, I’ve heard horror stories of many bridal shops, including the popular bridal shop chain (I’m sure you can guess which one), that is clearly only there to make a sale. They belittle people and do nothing to boost anyone’s confidence. And that’s the complete opposite of how you want to feel when you’re trying on dresses for your big day.

    Find someone who will listen to you and cheer you on. And someone who is just as excited for you as you are for yourself. It sounds like a tall order, but these people do exist, I promise!

    I also want to point out that a good quality shop and a consultant that goes above and beyond does not mean that you will pay significantly more for a dress compared to those chain shops. I paid $1,500 for my dress, which was below my budget. There were less expensive ones that she pulled for me as well. So you don’t have to sacrifice your budget in order to shop at a reputable shop.

    Additional tips to consider

    I had my sister take pictures of me in every dress I tried on, whether I was in love with it or just in like with it. In the end, it was those pictures that helped me choose my dress. I was able to look back at all of them and knock out all of them except two. When I looked back between the two, my face and my smile were dead giveaways for the dress that was meant for me. I just looked completely happy in the last dress and I knew that wasn’t something I could fake. So the last dress is the one I chose.

    My last tip is to try not to over think your decision. I’ve heard of so many women who experience dress regret after buying their dress. But this is how I see it;

    There are millions of dresses out there, just like cars or houses, or jewelry. So many styles and so many options. The more you look, the more you’re bound to find one that you like more than what you already have. But that doesn’t mean you have to have it. And it doesn’t mean that the one you chose isn’t the one for you. Of course there are situations where you might have been talked into a dress or made a rash decision, and I can completely understand the desire to keep looking. But in cases where you were sure of your decision and absolutely loved the dress you chose, I highly recommend being satisfied with your decision and withhold looking any further. Many times, women have dress regret until they end up going back for a fitting and fall in love with their dress all over again.

    One important thing to keep in mind is to not pay attention to the dress sizes. Thankfully, my consultant warned me about this before I started trying anything on and I was extremely grateful for that. Many dresses will not reflect your everyday “street clothing” sizes. In many cases, the size of a dress will be several sizes bigger than what you’re used to. This means absolutely nothing, and you should not get discouraged or feel less confident. I’ve seen far too many women who feel horrible about themselves after trying on dresses simply because of the size, and it breaks my heart.

    Overall, your dress shopping experience should be something enjoyable and fun. And the dress you choose should be one that makes you feel like the amazing and beautifully woman that you are! So I hope my experience and the tips I provided help you achieve that same experience.

    Happy shopping!

  • The Flowers

    Don’t get me wrong, you can’t go wrong with real, fresh flowers for your wedding. They’re a great compliment to the overall look of the day. And if real flowers are at the top of your priority list and within your budget, then real flowers are the way to go!

    But the reality is, fresh flowers are freakin expensive! Depending on the amount of flowers you want, you’re easily looking at $1,000-$5,000+ and with the cost of everything else in the wedding industry, it’s usually an expense that we end up having to sacrifice in some way.

    So when I started planning my wedding and joined a wedding planning Facebook group, I saw a ton of posts about people who were using alternatives to fresh flowers; silk flowers, wood flowers, fresh flowers from grocery stores.

    People have gotten pretty creative in finding alternatives to ordering fresh flowers from a florist. One stood out in particular – the wood flowers. I had never heard of such a thing, but the professional wedding photos I was seeing with wood flower bouquets, I could hardly tell the difference.

    Sola Wood Flowers was the website I had seen recommended several times. I decided to check it out right around Black Friday. I can be pretty impulsive with my shopping habits sometimes, so when I saw the deals they had going on I pulled the trigger. I ordered a pack of 100 undyed variety flowers and some dye. All for less than $100. I figured I would try it out, and if I didn’t like how they turned out I would figure something else out. They also offer the option of dying everything for you, so I could always do that if I completely sucked at DIYing them.

    Me, my mom and my sister had a flower dying party, and in about one hour we had successfully dyed 100 wood flowers. And I was in obsessed. I had ordered dye that went best with the colors I had chosen for the wedding, and the colors weren’t necessarily colors I would have been able to get with real flowers.

    I loved them so much I ended up ordering another two packs of the variety flowers, so in total I had 300 flowers. I ordered some additional dye, but in the end I didn’t end up needing all of it.

    Once the flowers were all dyed, I ordered some wire stems and stem covers and found some greenery to assemble my bouquets. I had watched a bunch of tutorials online, but procrastinated putting these together because I had absolutely no idea what I was doing and I was afraid of messing it up and hating how they came out.

    But of all the tutorials I watched, there was one that made me feel about 75% confident that I could pull this off. It was a tutorial from the website Oh! You’re Lovely, and it was a game changer. When I finally had the guts to attempt to put my bouquet together, it was just as simple as the tutorial made it seem. And to my surprise, I actually loved doing it and I was absolutely in love with how it came out. I quickly started on my sister’s bouquet as well and was quite proud of the outcome of both of them.

    For anyone interested, here is the link to the tutorial I used. They have a ton of other tutorials for dying flowers, stemming, and other bouquet assembly tutorials as well.

    I had it pretty easy only having to put my bouquet and my sister’s bouquet together. But I’ve seen women with full bridal parties that make a night out of assembling their bouquets with their bridesmaids.

    Once the bouquets were out of the way, I started on my centerpieces. I kept it super simple, putting two flowers each in small amber bud vases, along with some greenery. I also put some mini bouquets together to put into large vases that were displayed at the end of the aisle at the ceremony. I then made the boutonnières for my husband and best man. Lastly, I put together a small arrangement to hang on our welcome sign since I had plenty of flowers left over.

    Overall, I had ordered 300 wood flowers, several bottles of dye, wire stems and stem coverers, and two types of greenery. All of this cost me about $400. I still had leftovers of everything.

    I didn’t need a ton of flowers at our wedding. I wanted to keep everything fairly simplistic since our venue had a lot of its own unique features and decor. And since I only had one person in my bridal party, I only needed two bouquets. These factors helped keep the cost down, but regardless of how many flowers you’ll actually need, wood flowers will significantly help keep your cost down.

    Here’s a breakdown of the companies I ordered from for all of my flowers and greenery;

    Sola Wood Flowers

    https://solawoodflowers.com/

    I ordered all of my flowers, dye, and wire stems from here. They also have greenery, but in my opinion didn’t have a huge selection so I ordered my greenery elsewhere.

    They run several sales throughout the year, so if you miss Black Friday or other holiday sales, chances are you’ll catch another one soon.

    Tip: I started buying my flowers about 11 months before the wedding. As long as they’re stored at room temperature and in a breathable or open container, they’ll last forever. Otherwise you’ll end up with moldy flowers.

    Oh! You’re Lovely

    https://ohyourelovely.com/collections/sale?gclid=Cj0KCQiAgribBhDkARIsAASA5bujwIEmAJVhTTCYRGUik-mkm9-IDRxXRyiA52bgU9FCZAkQRjz-Wm4aAt7LEALw_wcB

    This is where I found my greenery. For me, they offered a good variety and it was the most realistic looking.

    They also sell Sola Wood Flowers through their website. I had heard differing opinions on ordering Sola flowers through other sites, so I stuck to ordering directly through Sola for my flowers. But it’s probably worth checking out the pricing and comparing to Sola.

    Luv Sola

    https://www.luvsolaflowers.com/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=paid&utm_campaign=10029517825&utm_content=101342418616&utm_term=luv%20sola%20flowers&gadid=634261936535&gclid=Cj0KCQiAgribBhDkARIsAASA5burZc1_VkiKmf42IBICQng3_x5PTTasMhb0eBqYflSNFGExxgzw8poaAk7EEALw_wcB

    I ordered my stem covers through here. I had a difficult time finding ones I liked. The first set I ordered through Sola was bright green, and probably would have been fine for a spring wedding bouquet. But Luv Sola had the dark green ones, and they weren’t as flimsy as the ones from Sola.

    Luv Sola also sells Sola Wood Flowers, but as I mentioned above I didn’t try those out. But again, it wouldn’t hurt to compare the pricing!

    Other flower alternatives

    In addition to wood flowers, silk flowers also seem to be pretty popular. You can easily go to your local craft store, but one of the popular companies out there is Ling’s Moment. I briefly looked into them, and while they had a lot of nice options, the wood flowers stood out to me more. I also saw professional pictures of the silk bouquets, and for me they just didn’t have that same look as the wood flowers. So, I personally preferred the wood over the silk. But they are definitely another good alternative to consider!

    Lastly, I’ve heard of several people going to their local wholesale grocery stores and picking out their own fresh flowers and assembling everything themselves. I was not opposed to this idea, but I didn’t want the stress of having to put bouquets and the rest of the arrangements together days before the wedding.

    Flowers can definitely cause some sticker shock when you get to that point in the planning process. If you’re set on fresh flowers, shop around and get different quotes. Also consider where you might be able to cut down on flowers (such as skipping out on boutonnières/corsages).

    But if you’re open to alternatives and want to save a huge chunk of money, I highly recommend looking into the options I listed above. With Black Friday right around the corner, there’s bound to be some good deals that you can snag and save yourself even more money!

  • Let’s Talk Wedding Parties

    When I first started dreaming about my wedding as a little girl, I had a bunch of friends standing up by my side as my bridesmaids. And my soon-to-be husband had his friends standing by his side. I don’t know if that’s because that’s how weddings are always pictured, or if because that’s something that I truly envisioned for myself.

    I wasn’t popular in school growing up, didn’t have a lot of friends. The ones I did have didn’t tend to last long. It’s something that stuck with me for a while and I spent a lot of years lacking confidence in myself and my friendships. But as it usually happens, those sorts of things hopefully become less important as you get older and you naturally begin to gain more confidence in yourself despite your past experiences.

    I’m thankful that was the case for me, and my experiences with friendships became more positive the older I got. But that’s because my idea of friendship shifted over the years, and I began to realize that friendship was based on quality and not quantity. I have a few good friends from my high school and college days, and one or two friends I’ve met throughout my career. My other friendships are my family and my husband’s family. And I am 100% happy with that outcome.

    The point of all of that is, there was an expectation in general that we would have a wedding party. That expectation came from family, friends, people inquiring about our plans. It seems natural to ask “who are your bridesmaids” when you hear someone is planning a wedding. And to be honest, I thought we would have a wedding party…up until we actually started planning our wedding.

    I actually started giving some thought to who would be my bridesmaids a little before we got engaged. Stressed is the first word that comes to mind when I think about myself trying to figure that out. There were two people I was certain of, but certainly two people weren’t enough, right? So I felt “pressured” to try to come up with more people. I had a draft list ready to go. Was I happy with it? Not really. It seemed silly that I felt pressured to include people in my wedding that I didn’t really want in it. All because of traditions and what is typically seen in weddings.

    When we got engaged and started thinking about the ceremony, we landed on the idea of a small ceremony with immediate family only. Perfect idea for two people who hate having attention on them.

    But wouldn’t it be ridiculous to have a full wedding party, with only 10 people at the ceremony? But if we don’t have a wedding party, it kind of looks like we don’t have friends. These were actual thoughts going through my 33 year old brain. I was suddenly concerned with how it would look to other people if we didn’t have “friends” standing up at our sides at OUR wedding.

    I knew my husband didn’t want a wedding party either. He has plenty of friends, but he didn’t care for many of the traditions of a wedding and wanted to create our own wedding rather than feed off of everything that’s already been done. So we came to a conclusion: we would have a matron of honor and a best man – my sister and his best friend since childhood.

    This was by far one of the best decisions we could have made for our wedding. One “bridesmaid proposal”, no coordinating colors and dresses/suits with 10 other people, and most importantly ZERO drama.

    I had joined a wedding planning Facebook group, and I can’t tell you the amount of people posting on there daily about the “problems” they were experiencing with their wedding parties. And to be honest, most of the time it wasn’t anything to cry over. It was mostly them expecting their bridesmaids or groomsmen to care about their wedding as much as they did. Or to spend thousands of dollars on dresses and parties to help them celebrate THEIR wedding. I do understand the stress of planning a wedding has a tendency to make even the small things seem like a catastrophic event, but these unrealistic expectations that are placed on wedding parties these days just suck the fun out of everything.

    I’ve said it a million times throughout my wedding planning journey, it pretty much became my motto: “no one cares about your wedding as much as you and your future husband/wife.” Sure, people can be excited for you, but they won’t end up putting your wedding above their family, career, etc. And that absolutely should not be the expectation! END RANT.

    Aside from my sister, the other person I considered having as my bridesmaid is my best friend from high school. I was in her wedding and it was a blast, and I wanted to be able to share that with her for my wedding. But the reality was, Covid had just begun to simmer down, she was recently married, and had just had a baby. I didn’t want to put that pressure on her to feel obligated to come to wedding events, or spend additional money. I explained all of this to her and she totally understood. But my point is, I didn’t want anyone to feel obligated to do anything for our wedding. I just wanted people to show up and have a great time celebrating with us!

    Anyway, as I mentioned, this was one of the best decisions would could have made. We had two people standing up with us who fully supported us, loved us, and we’re genuinely happy to be there with us on our special day. We couldn’t have asked for anything more.

    So whether you want to have 20 people in your wedding party or not having a wedding party at all, go for it. Just give it some serious consideration, and try to block out all of the expectations and feelings of obligations. Like I said, no one is going to care about your wedding more than the two of you, so whoever you choose to have stand up there with you should be someone that 100% without a doubt is there for you and happy to be there up with you! Forget the traditions and how you think it’s supposed to be done. The last thing you want is to look back on your day remembering how much drama was involved, or wishing you could crop someone out of a picture because you’re no longer friends with them.

    https://www.instagram.com/p/Ck04x7hONX5/?igshid=YmMyMTA2M2Y=

  • Developing Your Guest List

    Following up on the topic of priorities, you’ll have to determine priorities for your guest list. Depending on several factors, your guest list could be unlimited or you might have to cut it off at a certain number. I think most of us are in that second boat, and it can be a challenge trying to figure out where to start and how to narrow it down.

    Me and my husband had different ideas on what size wedding we wanted and we had to stick to a budget. On top of that, the venue we chose had a maximum capacity. So we honestly didn’t even know where to begin with the list.

    When we started envisioning our wedding before we even got engaged, we were on the same page about having a small wedding. Close family and friends only. Once we got engaged, it was like a switch flipped in my head and the reality hit that a small guest list might not be possible. I have a big family – my aunts, uncles, and first cousins alone quickly added up to at least 60 people. My husband’s family isn’t entirely small either. So we were already looking somewhere close to 100. My husband would have been completely happy excluding anyone but his immediate family, but it honestly just didn’t sit right with me to leave all of those people out. The people who were there supporting us and cheering us on all our lives.

    Breaking that news to him was hard. I wanted this to be as much his wedding as it was mine. And telling him I thought we should extend our guest list to all of those people was pretty much the opposite of what he wanted. Thankfully, he was at least open to the idea of working on our guest list and seeing where we landed. Also, if you haven’t noticed by now my husband is pretty much a saint, and there’s no doubt that he did a lot more compromising for this wedding than I did. I love him even more for that.

    One of the first things we did to get started was write out our separate lists including everyone that we would invite to our wedding if money and capacity was unlimited. We brought our lists together and went through to try to narrow it down. Here’s some considerations we kept in mind when eliminating people from the list;

    ⁃ Are they close family/friends?

    ⁃ Have we talked to them in the last few years?

    ⁃ Have we seen them in the last few years?

    ⁃ Has my husband met them? Have I met them?

    ⁃ Have either one of us met them (aka plus one’s)?

    ⁃ Do they bring drama with them wherever they go?

    These seem like simple questions to answer, but there was also the challenge of not wanting to upset or disappoint anyone. If we invite this person, then we have to invite that person. Even though I haven’t seen/talked to this person in 5 years, she’s still my dad’s family so I should invite her. We don’t want people feeling uncomfortable if they don’t know anyone, so maybe we should give them a plus one.

    It took us a long time to pin down our final guest list. In the end, we ended up with a total of 134 people on the list. I don’t remember how many we started out with, but I know we narrowed it down quite a bit. There were a few “rules” that we tried to stick to in order to get our list down as much as possible. Some of these are unpopular opinions, so don’t come at me, I promise they’re worth some consideration!

    Invite who you want to invite

    We were paying for our entire wedding, so we had the advantage of not owing anyone anything, including having a say in who is invited. We of course consulted our parents just to make sure we weren’t leaving anyone super important out, but with the exception of a few family friends that they requested be invited, me and my husband had the final say.

    Exclude friend’s family

    We didn’t invite parents/siblings of our friends. There was one exception made for the mother of our best man who my husband is still close to. But our list would have gotten out of control if we had invited parents and siblings of our friends. Especially considering we haven’t seen or talked to a majority of them in years.

    Avoid repaying the “favor”

    We didn’t people just because we were invited to their wedding. This mostly applied to the siblings of our friends. My husband had attended a few of his friend’s sibling’s weddings, so he felt they should have been invited to ours. Totally understandable, but just not realistic for our wedding. Again, in most cases he hadn’t even seen or talked to them in several years.

    Restrict your plus one’s

    And this is probably the most unpopular one of all: don’t invite plus one’s that you don’t know. I admit, I bent the rules on this a bit once we knew we had the capacity, but I still stuck to some guidelines. Initially I had said that if we weren’t aware that one of our guests was dating someone serious by the time our invites out, they wouldn’t get a plus one. By the time I sent them out, I did end up giving plus ones to older cousins and other relatives that I knew were responsible and smart about who they date. Plus, they had been single for years so the chances of them bringing a date were pretty slim. I know this is unpopular because in some cases people might not know anyone, so bringing a plus one helps easy any uncomfortable feelings they might have. But our fear was certain people would find a plus one for the sake of bringing someone, and they would be full of drama or a hot mess and cause trouble. We especially didn’t want the embarrassment, and also didn’t want to waste money on someone like that. In the end, no one was offended if they weren’t offered a plus one. No one even questioned it.

    All of these “rules” and considerations can be tough to work through. There is no right and wrong way to do this. It’s your wedding and you’re the one who should have the final say in who you invite.

    One of my biggest tips is to avoid inviting people out of obligation or expectation. I made this mistake with some people in my dad’s family who I hadn’t talked to in several years. I was making an exception to one of the considerations I listed above out of obligation. There was no expectation from anyone, it was a choice I made. Not one of them came. I certainly didn’t mind that they didn’t come, but it was about 8 spots on our guest list that we could have saved for other people.

    So if you’re feeling guilty considering eliminating someone from your guest list for whatever the reason, keep in mind that this is your day and you shouldn’t have to invite anyone that you already know isn’t 100% invested in celebrating your special day with you!

    I’ve seen several people who have “back-up” lists. And while I think this is a great idea in theory, I don’t know that I would have been able to handle it. For me, by the time we finalized our guest list and sent invites out, I was completely over the guest list. I just wanted to be done with it. The thought of having to create another guest list and send invites out last minute to those “back-ups” caused me too much anxiety and stress. So I chose not to go that route. But it’s been successful for many others, and I do think it’s a great idea if you’re willing to wait until last minute!

    In the end, out of the 134 people we invited, we had 86 people attend our wedding. It was the perfect amount. With the exception of one valet umbrella-stealing couple, there was zero drama or incidents. If there were such a thing as the perfect guest list, I think that was it! It took a lot of work to get to it, but it was worth it.

    https://www.instagram.com/p/CkynbG4OM0g/?igshid=YmMyMTA2M2Y=

  • Set Your Priorities

    Priorities are a part of everyday life. We set priorities for work, for family and friends, for our relationships. Planning a wedding is no different, and setting your priorities up front makes a world of difference.

    Once we started planning, I quickly realized that we didn’t envision the same kind of wedding (and that’s totally okay!). Along with compromise, as discussed in one of my previous posts, I realized that we could come to a mutual agreement where we were both happy by setting our priorities.

    Since we were having a difficult time choosing a venue, or if we even wanted a venue, I made a list of each element of a typical venue: price, food, set-up/clean up services, etc. We went through the list separately and prioritized each of those elements. Once we looked at them together we realized our priorities weren’t as far off as it seemed. Food was definitely at the top of our list.

    Based on our priorities for a venue, we were able to quickly narrow things down. It ended up being a no-brainer when it came to making a final decision on our venue.

    This strategy is helpful for all other parts of wedding planning as well. What’s most important to both of you when looking for a photographer? Is it the price? Is it the quality, is it the number of hours they can provide their services? You’ll be surprised how quickly you can knock out vendors or other decisions just by listing out your priorities.

    Setting your priorities is also extremely helpful for sticking to a budget, no matter how big or how small that budget may be. But it’s especially helpful when you have a smaller budget, since there are likely vendors or other services you’ll have to skip out on.

    For us, our top priorities were the venue, the food, and photography. Here’s how we chose each of those;

    ⁃ I’m not sure if you’ve gotten the picture that I was set on an all-inclusive venue. I didn’t want the stress of having to do literally everything myself, because let’s be real…no matter how much my husband promised he would help, it just wouldn’t be the same. So let’s just save us all the stress and have someone do it for us! After touring several venues, and falling in love with one specific one, we went to our priority list. The venue had a great price for everything they offered, it was very unique and had a quaint feel to it, and they had fantastic food. On top of all of that, they had an on-site DJ, florist, and baker. And they offered several other amenities and decor for our use. So this decision ended up being a no-brainer for us. And it automatically checked off another one of our priorities for us – the catering!

    ⁃ My husband is very creative and artistic and has much more of an eye for photography than I do. So it was a top priority for him that our photographer shoot and edit in a specific style. Because we were on a tight budget, we knew we wouldn’t likely be able to afford a photographer for 6-8+ hours that was also great quality, so we started searching for photographers who offered smaller packages, which was a bit challenging. But somehow, possibly by a miracle, my husband found a truly talented photographer who offered a 4 hour package. After meeting with him and discussing our plan and priorities for pictures, he agreed it was totally do-able. So we chose him to capture our big day.

    Now that our biggest priorities were checked off of the list, we could start focusing on the smaller ones and figuring out which ones weren’t really priorities at all.

    I’ll go into further details in a future post all about budget, but for now I’ll provide some examples of priorities that were either low on our list, or not priorities for us at all:

    ⁃ Cake: we opted to go with cupcakes.

    ⁃ Photo Booth: We skipped out on this altogether, and not one person question if/why there was no Photo Booth.

    ⁃ Real flowers: I DIYed my own wood flowers. HUGE money saver.

    ⁃ Transportation: I admit I struggled with this one. I thought it should be a priority so that our guests had another option to get back to the hotel, but due to a scheduling conflict with my venue we weren’t able to secure transportation. It ended up working out perfectly, because no one stayed at the hotel anyway.

    ⁃ Favors: I can promise you that any favors I ever received from a wedding were either thrown away or are sitting in a drawer somewhere waiting to be thrown away. Ask anyone else, and I’m willing to bet they’ve done something similar. It’s a nice gesture, but I was all for saving some money and skipping out on the favors!

    Everyone’s day will look different and some of these might actually be at the top of your priority list. It doesn’t matter what differences there are between my list and your list, because at the end of the day it’s YOUR wedding and everything should be according to how you and your future husband/wife want it.

    The important thing is to make sure you’re both on the same page as read as priorities go. And make sure to prioritize making this list as early in the planning process as possible. It will save you both a lot of headaches and extra stress down the line when you realize what you should and shouldn’t be focusing your energy and spending your money on.

    Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram to stay up-to-date on all of my tips and advice for wedding planning!

    https://www.instagram.com/p/CkwQM2sOrwT/?migshid=YmMyMTA2M2Y=

  • Post-Wedding Blues

    It’s been exactly one month since our wedding, so I thought it was only fitting to change gears and talk about something that happens after the wedding that I wasn’t really prepared for: the post-wedding blues. They are REAL.

    Sure, I’ve heard plenty of people being sad or bummed once their wedding was over, but I didn’t realize the true effect of those emotions.

    Growing up, my favorite holiday was (and still is) Christmas. The joy and excitement leading up to the holiday is something that’s always made my heart happy. The decorations, the Christmas songs, the food, spending time with family. It was all my favorite. But Christmas night, after everything was all said and done, my mental health would take a turn and I would get really sad and stuck in a funk. The post-Christmas blues. I still experience them to this day despite being older and Christmas looking a bit different over the years.

    But the post-Christmas blues are extremely similar to the post-wedding blues. Except the post-wedding blues are on another level. Think about it: most of us spend nearly our whole lives dreaming of our wedding day. When we get engaged and start planning, we spend the next several months or years pouring ourselves into every detail to ensure that our day turns out as we had always dreamed. Countless hours of making decisions on venues, food, colors and decorations. Time spent celebrating your engagement and bridal shower with family and friends, only escalating the excitement leading up to the big day. Shopping for wedding dresses and suits. If you’re like me trying to save money, you spend hours and hours DIYing anything and everything.

    And then the big day comes, and before you know it, it’s over before you even had time to figure out that you were married. You’re on a high for the rest of the night thinking how you’re finally a wife (or a husband). You go to bed blissfully happy, and wake up in the morning replaying every moment over and over again in your head because it was the best day of your life. And then before you know it, you’re suddenly sad that it’s all over.

    All the planning, celebrations, money spent – all for a few hours on one day. And now it’s just over. It was post-Christmas blues times 10. It was a vicious cycle of replaying my favorite moments from the day and then getting depressed that I’ll never have that day again.

    It was hard to process. My husband didn’t understand because this wasn’t something that he thought about for his whole life. Sure, he was happy to marry me but if it was solely up to him we would have done it much differently. He was more relieved once the wedding was over rather than sad. So I couldn’t really share in those emotions with him, since he couldn’t relate to how I was feeling. I could express my emotions, but he didn’t truly get it.

    So in order to save my sanity, I had to take steps to protect my mental health. The continuous cycle I was in of allowing myself to be happy one moment and sad the next was going to do some serious damage in the long run. Here are some steps I took:

    ⁃ Keep yourself busy. Find projects to work on or a way to keep your mind from wandering. Silly me decided I would write out all of my thank you cards, and while my hand is still numb from doing so, I’m thankful that it gave me something to do for a bit.

    ⁃ Talk about the day out loud to others! This might seem counterintuitive, but I think there’s a difference between replaying everything over in your mind and sharing in your excitement of the day with someone else. It was extremely gratifying to hear other people’s perspectives on the day and how much fun they had. We had several people tell us that it was one of the best weddings they had ever been to, and that was amazing to hear.

    ⁃ This one might also seem counterintuitive, but I found it therapeutic for myself. Getting your pictures printed. I had a photo album made, and also had some pictures framed to hang up in our home. It gave me something to look forward to as I waited for them to arrive, and once they did I was excited to display them so that I could look at them when I wanted and think of those happy memories that we made that day.

    ⁃ Look forward to the future. I’m not saying to harp on the future, but don’t lose sight of the fact that the whole point of your wedding day was to marry your husband/wife and to start your lives together. Putting all of your energy into remembering your wedding day becomes draining. It’s already in the past and now you need to shift gears and focus on all of the exciting things to come with your future!

    These are just some things that helped me to get back on track. I know they sound easier said than done. The passage of time does help as well, just like everything else. But you can’t let one day keep you from moving forward. It was absolutely the best day of my life, and I’m so grateful that we had a perfect day. And I’m thankful that I can look back on it with a sense of pride and happiness. But there’s so much more to look forward to in our marriage. That day was just the beginning!

    Since I talk about my love of Christmas, figured I’d post a festive picture!
  • Compromise, Compromise, Compromise

    That’s a word you’ll hear a lot. You probably have already throughout your relationship, but you’ll hear it even more in relation to your marriage. “Marriage is all about compromise.” While I don’t necessarily believe that’s 100% true, I do believe it is a big contributor to a successful relationship and marriage.

    You’ll get to practice this a lot in your wedding planning journey. Trust me, the biggest obstacles me and my husband have faced so far throughout our 6+ years together are as follows; getting a puppy and wedding planning 😂 And I fully admit that my anxious-self is the main contributor to that.

    From the very beginning of wedding planning, I knew it was going to take a whole lot of compromising to create the wedding that was perfect for both of us. Sure, the whole point of the day is that we’re marrying each other and that should be all that matters. But if we’re being honest, it comes down to down to more than that.

    Before we got engaged, me and my husband thought we were on the same page on what our wedding day looked like – a small backyard wedding with our closest family and friends. We both despise attention, so a traditional wedding just was not in the cards for us. Or so I thought. When he proposed and we started planning and trying to produce a guest list, I realized there were a lot more people that we felt should be at our wedding to celebrate our special day. I come from a pretty big family, so my guest list alone was already more than we planned for with a backyard wedding. And I couldn’t imagine not having them there to celebrate with us.

    On top of the guest list, the idea of planning a wedding, and then having to literally do everything on my own the day of – setting up/cleaning up, worrying about weather, etc., it stressed me the hell out. I even added everything up for what it would potentially cost to do everything and rent/buy everything ourselves and to me it just didn’t feel right.

    I know it broke my husband’s heart a little, and gave him a permanent panic attack for the next 11 months. And I hated that I was letting one day cause such friction between us. But again, this was a day I had dreamed of all my life. There were things I was willing to sacrifice, but I wasn’t willing to sacrifice the whole day.

    I started thinking of ways to have our wedding at the all-inclusive venue that we both loved, while limiting the amount of attention and tradition. Here’s where we landed:

    1. We did immediate family only for the ceremony. It was tricky because our ceremony was in the same outdoor space as our cocktail hour. So it took some coordinating with our venue, since they had only ran into that situation once before. In the end, it all worked out perfectly. We had about 10 of our closest family at the ceremony. My husband was still unfortunately sweating bullets, but I was cool as a cucumber! But this idea alone helped keep him calmer throughout the rest of the planning process, so I think that’s a win.

    2. We did the first dance, father/daughter dance, and mother/son dance right after the introductions at the beginning of the reception. Doing those dances immediately helped us relax for the rest of the night. We weren’t stressing about what would come after dinner. We were truly able to enjoy our dinner and dancing for the rest of the night!

    3. We didn’t do cake cutting, bouquet toss/garter toss, or a grand exit – for obvious reasons. Those would just add attention to us that we really didn’t want. And while I completely forgot to grab a cupcake or a s’mores, it gave us more time to mingle with everyone and just enjoy ourselves.

    4. Because my husband had a much lower budget in mind, I took it upon myself to DIY as much as possible. I had purchased a Cricut machine a few years ago, so I was able to make all of my signs with that. I also knew flowers were a huge expense, so I bought Sola wood flowers and dyed them myself and put my bouquets together. We didn’t have a Photo Booth. We did cupcakes instead of a cake. I’ll make a separate post on these budget-saving tips later, but these were all a compromise to try to meet my husband’s budget somewhere in the middle. In the end, I could not be happier we went this direction!

    So regardless of what your wedding planning situation is, there’s likely going to be some form of compromise that will need to be considered. I’ve seen a lot of posts in wedding planning groups on Facebook about how people didn’t think they could marry their significant other because of the challenges wedding planning poses. And honestly, I get it. I don’t want to call wedding planning a trial run or anything, but it kind of is in a way, isn’t it? If you can’t even make I through wedding planning, what other serious life challenges will you struggle with as a couple? But on the other hand, if you learn to work through these challenges now and learn to compromise, maybe you’ll have the confidence to face those other challenges together once you are married.

    I’m happy to say that despite all of the disagreements and compromising we had to do throughout our wedding planning journey, we got through it – especially with communication! We both had an amazing day, and in the end we’re married and that was the ultimate goal. Although after the wedding was all said and done, I told my husband I wanted to do it again and he said even if he was reincarnated he would never do a wedding again 😂