1. Good vendors are EVERYTHING. They basically run the show for you on the day of the wedding, so it's worth taking the time to do research & find people you vibe with and trust. We spent the most time searching for our venue, our photographer & our band. These 3 vendors played some of the larger roles in our day & those 3 elements were super important to us. I spent a lot of time on The Knot & Wedding Wire reading reviews & checking out the websites of the various vendors. All that being said, also trust your gut and give clear direction with what you want. We had a number of specific menu requests, worked with our band to choose the set list & created a detailed shot list for our photographer. It's your day! Don't settle!

2. Focus on 5 things that are most important to you, or in other words, you DON'T need to do it all & you will need to compromise on certain things. To us, the 5 most important things were: Venue, Food, Music, Outfits, Photography
We spent the most money on these 5 things and focused the most on these 5 things during the planning process.  Because of this technique, there were other things that we had to compromise on. Some things that we skipped were a traditional bridal party & a videographer. Details are also a big area where you have to pump the brakes. (more on that below!)

3.  Sometimes buying (or renting!) is better than DIY. I'm not a big DIY person - I can't cook, don't know the difference between those screw driver heads & am pretty clumsy. I wanted to DIY something for our wedding & thought I would tackle making some of our decor. My family and I made 150 ribbon wands for guests to wave following the ceremony. After that project, I opted to buy or rent the rest of our decor ha! With all of the other things I had to focus on and worry about, making decor ended up being just as costly and more time consuming than just finding a professional!
3a. RENTING for a wedding is the best thing ever! When else will you need 150 charger plates or a 36 inch tall 'LOVE' sign? If you can find rentals, I highly, highly recommend them over buying decor!

4. Don't get lost in the details. As long as there is good food & good music, people will be happy. It's so easy to go down a rabbit hole with wedding day details, especially with Pinterest, magazines & input from family & friends these days. At one point, I just had to say to myself 'STOP.' A couple of days before our wedding, we stopped by our venue & they were setting up for another wedding. That bride had a basket of flip flops in all sizes for her guests to change their shoes - I immediately thought, OH! I should do that & then reminded myself, STOP. You don't have to have every detail covered. As I mentioned above, pick a few details that are important to you & then call it a day. For me, charger plates and beautiful table settings were more important than worrying about if guests wore comfortable shoes...

5. It's 80% your day, 10% your spouse's day & 10% your family's day. Jody said this to me during planning and it stuck with me. As much as it's about the bride, it's really a family day. It was important for us to make our family members feel a little extra special on our wedding day & important to me to do a something a little extra special for my groom as well. Whether it's including them in the ceremony or surprising them with a nice gift, don't forget to include your family members who are over the moon for you!

6. When you know, you know! There are some decisions that you make or vendors you meet, and you just know, they are the one. You can stop all your research. You have that happy, comfortable feeling. Don't second guess that feeling! I had this feeling when I first came across our cake company. I had been searching for wedding cakes that didn't cost an arm and a leg. I came across Beautifauxl Cakes online and stopped looking at other bakeries. Once I met the owner, I was sold. She created faux wedding cakes made of styrofoam but fully decorated to look like a real cake. This is the display cake & the cake you take photos with, but then a sheet cake was served to our guests! It saved us a ton of money & ended up looking great! 

7. It all falls into place.  There will be hiccups during the planning process but it really does all come together in the end. There was a 90% chance of rain every hour on the day of our wedding & after being disappointed about it for a bit, I looked up 'wedding day rain photos' on Pinterest & got excited about it. We packed up rain boots, umbrellas and jackets and decided we would just go for it if it rained. Guess what? It didn't even rain! We got to take all of our photos outdoors & have our ceremony in the outdoor garden! 

8. It's OK to cry. Emotions are high during this time & you're planning the biggest party you've probably ever planned (& maybe will ever plan in your life). But remember that a wedding is really just a fun party & it'll be you and your partner at the end of the night.   I had a mini meltdown when I couldn't find the perfect invitation design (seems silly looking back on it now!)

9. Delegate tasks to all those people who offer to help. For me, I wanted to be really hands on during the wedding - no wedding planner for this gal -  but adding the shower & bachelorette party to that made planning feel overwhelming for me. Lucky for me, my sister took on the planning for both of those events. I gave her some ideas & must haves & trusted that she would do a great job & she did! My mom was also super helpful running errands for me while I was at work. Find a couple of people that you can really rely on during the planning process and enlist them with tasks. It's helpful to take some things off your plate, especially as your wedding date creeps up!

10. If it gets too stressful, stop & pick it up again later. I use this mantra in a lot of areas of life - work, at home, etc. Unless you have a hard deadline, give yourself a break! Finding a dress and designing our invitations were 2 of the toughest tasks for me. I searched every invite website and read every bridal magazine you could imagine looking for inspiration. Whenever something started to feel too overwhelming, I would just stop! Whether I stopped for 15 minutes or 24 hours or even a full week, I would just quit the task that was stressing me out and move on to something else. Once I felt like I was in the right headspace again, I would go back and pick up where I left off.

There's probably a lot more that I learned but these were the main things that came to mind! I'm excited that the next few WEDNESDAYS I will be sharing WEDDING PHOTOS!!! YAY! Stop back next week for some PREP photos ;)

Michelle Paige