I am a different person than I was when I got married and when I planned my wedding. Of course I’m still an avid planner, I like to be prepared and I love to be creative. But when I was in the thick of ‘yay I can’t wait to be married’ season, I was a borderline irrational and impractical planner.
First of all, I booked my venue and bought my wedding dress before my husband (then boyfriend) had even popped the question.
I KNOW RIGHT.
Luckily, my boyfriend (now my husband) loves me for me and I him for him. But the parts that we would do differently have little to do with timing, they’ve everything to do with the values that have now become the crux of who we are as a couple.
Say hell to MINIMALISM and SUSTAINABILITY.
Since getting married, and since creating (and having it fulfilled) a mammoth registry, we’ve started pursuing minimalism. Living with less. That means less china and fewer appliances, less linen and fewer knickknacks.
In the midst of that journey we’ve really tried to be better Earth dwellers and the combination of the two, as well as our understanding of how much debt (a mortgage) can really make you feel bummed, here are the things that we would do differently if we planned our wedding again.
CAVEAT: We LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE our wedding and our wedding memories. We love our marriage and being married, but we also realize that some parts of our wedding day were over the top and would no longer speak to who we are as a couple. Thank you to everyone (dad) who made the day possible and memorable.
SMALLER DANCE FLOOR
Our reception was in a hotel ballroom, that could be split into three spaces. Our guest count was on the verge of too big for using just two of the spaces, so we used the whole thing. It made moving about easy, but knowing what I know now about dance floor sizes and the probability of people dancing, I would opt for that divider wall and make that dance floor more reasonably sized.
SMALLER GUEST COUNT
Which begets the conversation about guest list size. My dad, growing up Catholic, had, I think, always envisioned a big wedding for his only child. This could not be argued, because we had a hard time narrowing it down to 300 as it was. Being the first to get married out of his cousins on my husband’s side, and having a multitude of cousins (first, second…fifth, sixth) on my side of the family, we were apt to open the floodgates.
But if we were to get married today, or just not first, I definitely would chop that list down to under 100. Under 80 even. Less guests means more funds to spend on things that would have a bigger impact on the relationships present. Although 9.9 out of 10 people will agree, our wedding was SO much fun.
I will pat ourselves on the back for spending more money on fun things, and less on the centerpieces, but I’m pretty sure we got chair covers… #foreheadsmack.
We loved having our ceremony at the golf course, with Mount Si in the background (it felt very Fiji-esque with the clouds obstructing the foreground), but a smaller guest count would have meant a reception venue with some character and even could have meant a beach wedding (without giving up the mountainous backdrop either).
A smaller guest count would have meant fewer logistics and we could have even opted for a park, somewhere that connected to my childhood memories or experiences. We definitely made that happen for our rehearsal dinner (at my parent’s house) and our engagement party (in the town where I went to grade school), and that was because of the smaller guest list.
A reception and ceremony closer together would, however, take away something that we really enjoyed and that was the bus for the bridal party (which could have been filled with friends and family just the same) and the party bus for guests (which we heard was a BLAST and included snacks).
NO WEDDING PARTY
Sorry friends, but weddings without the party and just friends getting ready with you, are weddings which I envy. So much less stressful, fewer details (and people) to manage and more cost effective for your friends! I also TOTALLY went overboard on the wedding party gifts, if I did it again and had a wedding party I would instead have paid for their hotel room or meals or dress or something.
Which means, no head table, just a sweetheart table or a harvest table (totally got married before that was a thing) with family.
We would, however, like to have those ADORABLE flower girls and ring bearers. They were fun and we love them.
This is where my husband and I differ. I would love to have gotten a few more shots, with the stunning backdrops (uh, like Snoqualmie Falls!) and with no wedding party (more time for pictures) and an experienced photographer we could have gotten that.
No shoes pictures or individual bridal party pictures, though I loved going to the lighthouse in Mukilteo for extra photos.
Although I will gladly proclaim that I LOVE the wedding photos that we have framed in our house. I LOVE them.
One thing I’m not as crazy about: our wedding video. I think I had just really wanted it to be something that it isn’t. And of course, a smaller guest count and more funds, we could have flown someone in to give me the cinematic product I was looking for, but as it is, we hardly watch our video and will probably keep it tucked away until we’re older (and more nostalgic about our wedding day).
Post ceremony we had a mimosa bar which was very popular. Wish we could have had it bottomless (and we could have with fewer guests - oy, see the pattern!).
I also wouldn’t have been such a biotch and would have ensured that there was ample alcohol on the party bus for the bridal party (which would have just been friends).
CUT BACK ON THE FLOWERS
This one is my husbands big fist shake. When we first got the quote for flowers, we were albeit a tad hungover and moderately cranky, we were floored. My husband still can’t believe how ridiculous the price was. While I love flowers, I really struggle with how disposable they’ve become and if we did it again we’d definitely explore alternative options, though with no wedding party and a smaller guest list we’d already be cutting that floral list in half (or thirds!).
I also failed to have a plan for my bouquet. So that was a bummer.
USED OR ALTERED WEDDING DRESS
That thing stares at me from it’s white glove box every time I get into the car in the garage. God damn expensive-wear-only-once dress.
Yup. This is back when cupcakes were starting to rise in popularity and the cupcakes we had were the size of muffins. Way to big and we had way to many left over.
Avoid planning things that you’ll later regret, go for meaningful, go for less and even, go for eco-friendly. Here’s what some fellow wedding planners would do differently if they planned their weddings differently:
Gretchen of Rocket Science Events emphatically states, “Less guests.” Oh boy. Me too. It isn’t just the cost that accumulates the longer your list gets, its the ability to have a meaningful experience with all 256 guests.
AIN’T GUNNA HAPPEN.
Erica of Piece of Cake Minnesota Weddings says, “I’ve been married almost 7 years. Loved our day but there are so many things I’d do differently now that I’m in the industry! But at the time, had no idea.” I think this sums up the importance of having a planner by your side while you make the plans for your own day. Because we’ve seen a LOT we can think of those less enjoyable scenarios and keep you from planning yourself into a corner. Erica also points out that she missed a lot of her day because she was acting as her own day of coordinator.
Erica would have less guests, so that her wedding could be more intimate. She’d also choose vendors based on quality and reviews and not solely budget based. “I could feel the lack of quality on wedding day. Especially with our DJ.”
Todd of Woodland Events says, “I would have wanted more than one bite of my cake. Did the cutting, got fed by my wife, and we were whisked away for sunset photos, only to find a devoured cake when we returned.”
TWO THUMBS DOWN.
Danielle of Onyx Event Planning wants you to “Invest in a quality photographer. Something you can never get back are the pictures that were never taken. 🙁”
Heather of Sunkissed Travel says, “Don’t do your own flowers/centerpieces. I was so hands on crazy that I thought I could do everything myself. I ordered faux flowers and a week before my wedding I just hated them but already spent all the money and designed it all. All the boxes full of decor was such a pain in the ass too. Ugh!”
Couldn’t agree more! Are you already married? Leave some advice for engaged readers below in the comment!
Prosperity, Love & Happiness,
Photos by my cousin Nick Casten