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Our team has gathered the 46 biggest wedding planning mistakes that you absolutely must avoid while you’re planning your wedding day. Wedding planning is a crazy, crazy, bonkers thing to do. There are so many mistakes that you can make during the planning process – ones that could easily be avoided if you know what to do. But let’s face it – planning weddings probably isn’t your regular full time job (heck even part time job.) There’s a reason professional wedding planners exist – and why a great one is sometimes hard to find. Even if you do hire a professional wedding planner – you’ll still need to do your part to help avoid any of these wedding planning mistakes.
1. Not keeping a handle on your guest list
You might think that You have TOTAL control over your guest list. You might think that who attends your wedding is YOUR decision. You’re wrong. Kind of. Sure it’s your decision – somewhat – but there are other major ‘stakeholders’ involved (using annoying business jargon there). Although you may have to invite more people than you want – when it comes down TO IT – hold your ground. Allowing your parents/grandparents/friends invite people you don’t want is totally up to you. It’s also totally up to you (and your partner) to kill it. Don’t want to allow any +1?s ? DON’T ALLOW IT. Dont want to extend the invite to co-workers? DON’T invite them. I know this sounds easier than it is – but you should remember that SOMEONE is paying $70 a head to feed these people that you don’t really care about. Cut those people out.
2. Taking on too many duties
A wedding is a big event. Even small weddings are big events. Delegate. Delegate. And at some point just don’t give any F*cks.
3. Booking a photographer based on price only
The general rule is true that cheap photographers are well, cheap. Sure there are the ‘budget’ wedding blogs/magazines that’ll tell you to find a student or beginning photographer (heck I was one of those obviously) – but you know that the truth is if you want fucken amazing photos then you have to hire a fucken amazing photographer. Meaning – you have to pay decent rates for an amazing photographer. Please note that I said decent. By that, I mean “make-living-rates” not Rockstar Photographer rates. Because really – why should the photographer be the rockstar on YOUR wedding day?
4. Trying to please everyone
Let’s repeat this together – it’s YOUR wedding (well you and your partners’). I know your parents are helping to fund the thing but it’s no their wedding. It’s not your Aunts wedding, or your sister, or your brother’s wedding. It’s definitely not some distant relative’s wedding. And hellz to the no to any of those distance relatives giving you Sh*t about ANYTHING regarding your wedding ( btw I know no one says hellz to the no anymore). You’re not going to please everyone. So pick the few people you want to please – at the top of the list is your partner and then you have 5 more spots. After that everyone can sit down and shut up.
Mistake #98 – not including Iowa cornfields into your wedding portrait session.
5. Including things you don’t want
There are things you must have, things you want, things you’re okay with, and things you DON’T want. That’s a lot of things. Which one are you gonna cut out? The things you don’t want of course! So why are you including putting that ‘religious’ reading in your ceremony? Or even doing a garter toss? Or speeches/toasts? ( these are just examples okay?)
6. Putting up with problem guests
If any of your guest give you grief about anything – fire them. Do it. Even your mom… Just say “You’re fired.” First, it’s kind of joking. Second, it’s a little pushback. Third – they’re your guest and remember that their attendance is optional, not mandatory.
7. Not making sure you’re on the same page with your partner
Chances are one of you will take the lead on the planning and execution. That’s of course fine. At the beginning of the planning you should talk and discuss what kind/type/look of wedding you want. Discuss how you want it to feel. Maybe she doesn’t want it to ever hot trendy piece of decoration so it doesn’t feel like the wedding industry vomited all over her reception. Maybe he wants to be the one to pick the floral designer. However you divvy up duties or move things along – start out on the same page with your partner and regularly update/check back in with them on the progress.
8. Not setting a budget
You need to have an idea of how much money you have to work with – even before you start looking for a dress, or a venue, or a photographer. It all easily adds up and although you’ll probably be able to splurge in a few key areas, you’ll need to know when you should cut back. Talk to everyone involved in your budget and see what you have to work with. It doesn’t take as much time as you might be thinking and it’s not as painful either. Just sit down, have a drink and start writing everything down so you can see what it looks like.
It’s your wedding! Have a drink!
9. Assuming money from parents
It’s money. You should never assume it will be given to you. Unless you’re RICH. Then go ahead, assume. For everyone else – don’t assume your parents will kick in any money. Hope for it. Maybe even be çonfident about it – but don’t assume. You should still ASK. I don’t care if you already unspokenly know the money is there for you – STILL ASK. Asking is not assuming and it’s way nicer. Remember, your parents are people too – probably with jobs and bills ( again, unless you’re RICH) – so they might not even be able to kick in as much as they would like to. Don’t assume, ask.
10. Focusing too much on the details
It sounds like common sense right? Don’t focus too much on the details. But we need to say this err. Don’t focus too much on the details because it’ll drive you bat sh*t crazy. What’s too much? It’s different for everyone. Some people are career project planners so their wedding is another project, to plan. The can probably focus on more details without it affecting them – and more importantly, everyone else around them. It’s when you focus on the details so much that you drive everyone around you (including your partner) to the point of wanting to quit. Which means that probably no one is having any fun anymore. YOU WANT TO HAVE FUN. So if you’re not having fun then maybe you’re focusing on the details too much. At that point yo should pick the major things you want to worry about and just delegate the rest. DELEGATE IT.
11. Not letting your vendors do their jobs
You’re paying $10k+ to your caterer to handle all of the food stuff. You’re paying $5k+ to your photographer. You paid $2k for your DJ. Let them all do their jobs. Get the f*ck out of their way and let them do what you paid them to do. Let them take care of their department. That’s why you hired wedding professionals right? That’s why you paid good money – so other people can do those jobs and you can just go get maried and be AWESOME.
12. Having no rain plan
If you can have a rain plan – HAVE ONE. No matter how small of a rain plan. No matter how UN-Likely you’ll need it. Most venues will have SOME KIND of a rain plan – but chances are that it won’t be pretty. But even if it’s not a pretty rain plan, you want there to be one – otherwise you might be stuck having your wedding in a hallway. Of course – no matter how good or bad the rain plan is – you’ll still get married and I suppose that’s all that matters… right? RIGHT.
13. Asking All Your Friends to be on your wedding party
ALL of your friends don’t have to be in your wedding party. You don’t need 10 bridesmaids. You don’t need 10 groomsmen. I mean – you CAN have that many. Heck – you can have more than that if you want. Just don’t do it if it’s because you can’t say no. Do it because you actually care about these people standing up there with you on your very important day. It’s your wedding day! And you should feel blessed that you have 10 friends close enough to you that you’d ask them to be in your wedding. That’s Awesome. So F*ck the naysayers. Wait what just happened?
14. Not scheduling time for photography/videography
You paid $5k for your awesome wedding photographer. You need to make sure they have adequate time to make all of the AMAZING that you hired them to make. Not the whole day, but adequate (or a little more than adequate). Consider travel time if you’re going to multiple locations. Think about locations that are more picturesque than the hotel lobby. Or even your reception location. Maybe there’s a beautiful spot in between the hotel and the church/reception location. MAKE TIME TO TAKE PHOTOS THERE. Your photographer will handle all of the logistics if you help with making sure that photography time is built into your wedding day schedule.
Tip #109 – Always hire a photographer that makes EPIC wedding photos. Don’t settle for anything less.
15. Assuming there aren’t any discounts available
ASK. Always Always ask for a discount. I’m not saying that you’ll get one. I’m not even saying that it’s likely. Some places are very strict and don’t offer any discounts or friendliness of any kind. Some photographers are too rockstar and aren’t flexible at all on the price of their rockstar photography services. Still. ASK. You never know if they offer a discount. And even better, (for you) you never know if you’re asking at the exact PERFECT time for a discount. Maybe the photographer really wants your wedding because it’s not like any wedding they’ve photographed before (kind of unlikely if you’re going with a PRO) – or maybe you just ask at the right moment when the caterer/venue director/florist is in a damn good mood and wants to help you out. Just never know. Oh – but don’t ever be offended if you’re not given a discount. And when you can – ask while you’re making them laugh – that’s a PRO TIP.
16. Booking yourself too busy before your wedding
Don’t book 30 sales meetings at work. Try not to have your wedding the weekend right after finals. I know you won’t listen to me – but try to minimize your obligations during the week of your wedding day. Anything that’s not absolutely necessary for taking care of your wedding should be pushed off or flat out rejected. You don’t want to arrive on your wedding day all ragged because you were stressing out all week because you were obligated to OTHER PEOPLE’S needs.
17. Taking too much time to make a decision
Professional wedding vendors book pretty quickly. There’s a reason they’re the best. There’s a reason everyone wants them. So they get booked soon, and early. They might be available when you make your inquiry but nothing is locked down until you sign a contract and give them a deposit. So once you have all your information – make a decision. MAKE THE DECISION. Sure there are always other venues, other vendors – but you don’t want to miss out one your first choice because you couldn’t say YES. (see what I did there?… eh it wasn’t that good anyway.)
18. Not hiring a photographer
Wait wait wait. You’re making everything yourself, all DIY crafty-like, with a Sherlock/Supernatural/Hannibal theme and you’re not gonna hire a photographer? Because your friends will take enough photos? Best of luck with that. Hope you have a great memory ’cause you won’t have many photos from your wedding – if any come out at all.
19. Not listening to your gut
Your intuition tells you many things – and often times you ignore it. Only to realize that you were right all along. Trust your gut. Especially about your wedding. If something doesn’t feel right – take note of that feeling. Don’t immediately jump to a decision – but don’t ignore that nagging feeling either. Take a moment to see if you can pin point the source of what’s holding you back. Maybe it’s not the venue itself but the staff that you did the walk through with. Maybe you can request a different onsite coordinator for your day? Maybe it was one article in the videographer’s contract that struck a wrong chord with you. Talk to them about it. Maybe they’ll adjust the contract to make it more acceptable to you, and still meet their legal obligations. In the same fashion – when you feel good about a choice – GO WITH IT.
20. Forgetting about your transportation
It takes maybe 10 minutes. Make sure you know how you are getting to each location. To the salon, back to your house/hotel, to the ceremony location, and then over to the reception venue – ESPECIALLY how you’re going to get from the ceremony location to the reception venue. You can plan on your ride at the end of the night too – but I’m sure you can find someone to give you a ride.
21. Not telling the hotel that it’s your wedding night
You’re booking a room for your wedding night. Let the hotel know. They’ll probably do their best to give you a better room, whether just an upgrade or a discount – or free amenities, or they’ll have a specific ‘wedding’ package for you. At the very least – they won’t give you a room right next to the elevator or ice machine.
22. Not putting enough items on your registry
Whether or not you believe in the whole idea of the wedding registry, you should have one. Stuff it with things. Start with the normal items – and then if you run out of stuff to put on there – Just say F*ck it and start putting appliances on there. Always wanted that espresso machine? Put it on there. Want a new fridge? F*ck it. Put it on there.
23. Planning a wedding in the style you don’t want
Don’t get pushed into having that southern antebellum wedding if you don’t want it. Don’t feel pressured to have it look rustic and DIY with a gazillion mason jars (so two seasons ago). It doesn’t even have to be GRAND. It doesn’t have to be ANYTHING. You just have to get married (because you want to of course.)
24. Not giving yourself enough time for the planning
Some people can plan their wedding in a week. Some people can do it in 6 months. Others require a year. Whatever your case – give yourself enough time to plan the wedding you want.
25. Skimming over contracts
– READ Your vendor contracts (both of you). If you’re not good at reading contracts – do your best but still read them, AND then also have some who IS good at reading contracts look them over. Your parents, your friends, your boss – whoever. Just make sure SOMEONE on your side has read the contract. You’re spending too much money to be signing contracts you haven’t read.
Let others focus on Every. Little. Detail.
26. Hiring inflexible vendors
The truth is that there are A LOT of wedding vendors. If you don’t like one – you can find another. Find the one that will work with you and do what they can to meet your request. The best vendors will never say no. They might charge you more (a lot more) but they won’t say no (as long as it doesn’t violate the law and/or risk injury). If a particular vendor doesn’t seem to budge at all and only ever give you a flat NO answer, you may want to think hard about hiring them. Weddings are crazy events and there is always a need for flexibility from everyone involved.
27. Scheduling too little time for hair/makeup
Ask any photographer/videographer or wedding planner where a lot of time in the schedule often gets sucked away into a blackhole, never to return. The answer 90% of the time is in hair and makeup. The key is to hire enough hair/makeup people for the number of persons getting made. Don’t think that one person can work on all six of your bridesmaids AND you. Lock this sh*t down. Confirm exactly who is going to have their hair/makeup done and then hire the appropriate number of salon crew. And no matter what – make sure YOU get finished on time. Your bridesmaids can catch up. YOU need to be finished and ready on time.
28. Not accounting for travel time
It takes time to go from here to there. Hotel to salon, back to the hotel, over to the ceremony location and then over to the reception venue. Be realistic. It’s not 8 minutes. It’s never 8 minutes. It’s never 5 minutes.
29. Booking a venue before making your guest list
You need to have a ballpark idea of how many guests will be attending your wedding. You definitely do not want to book a venue that can’t hold everyone. And you don’t want to pay for lots of empty, unused space.
30. Trying to be absolutely unique – with everything
Look. There are A LOT of weddings every year. I know you want your wedding to be uniquely, unique – and it probably will – but don’t drive everyone and yourself crazy by wanting EVERY. SINGLE. THING. to be original and never-seen-before. Pick a few aspects to make ultra-ultra personal to you and you as a partnership and let everything else be just regular-amazing.
31. Putting off too many things until the morning
On the morning of your wedding you should be at the center of a calm storm. Everything and everyone swirling around you, doing their thing, while you are guided serenely from place to place by your wedding party, wedding coordinator, and your photographer. You shouldn’t have to be making decorating decisions, you shouldn’t have to roll up your sleeves and put together the centerpieces. Do as much as possible and get it all read BEFORE the morning of your wedding. Anything else should be delegated to someone else.
32. Not assigning or meeting the master of ceremonies
The emcee role often defaults to your wedding dj. They’ll introduce the wedding party, they’ll announce the first dance, cake cutting, etc. Whether you want your DJ to take on this role or a friend or family member – you definitely want to confirm who this person will be. This is mostly for the benefit of your guests so that they can direct their attention to whatever is happening and feel included. Otherwise you may be in the middle of your first dance before half of your guest notice mid-conversation.
33. Thinking a backyard wedding will be a lot cheaper
Whether it’s a big or small wedding, you generally have the same ‘parts’. You’ll still need an officiant, you’ll still need food, and everyone will still need to use a bathroom throughout the night. There is a benefit to volume and wedding venues specialize in minimizing costs. All things being equal – you may decide that the cost difference for a backyard wedding and one at a professional wedding venue isn’t worth it.
34. Hiring family without a contract
Anyone who’s ever had to ‘work’ with family knows it can be tricky. Have a contract – even a basic one – to make sure that you and them understand exactly what needs to happen and/or be delivered. Make it as binding as possible – with a payment component. “Contracting” services and paying even a small amount such as $1 reinforces the ‘realness’ of the binding contract between family members. It’s always easier to fall back on written agreements than ‘conversations’.
35. Assuming your wedding party knows what is expected of them
If you search the internets, you’ll find many different job duties assigned to different members of your wedding party. Some are completely outdated, some won’t apply to your wedding, and some might be very useful to know. Whatever the case – don’t assume your wedding party automatically knows what you want them to do. (Of course you may want to just stack the deck in your favor and select a few people that have done this before…)
36. Not hiring a wedding planner or day of coordinator
Unless you’re used to running events, or you have a friend that does it regularly – you should seriously consider hiring a wedding planner. At the very least, a day of wedding coordinator – just so that YOU or your mother don’t have to be the ones pushing the schedule along. Of course – if you don’t hire one, your photographer will probably push things along since they’ll want everything to be on time to make sure they get all the photos they need!
37. Telling everyone, everything about your wedding
It’s not that you want to hide your wedding or your wedding details. It’s that telling everyone about your wedding plans invites them to provide their opinion – and you may not be ready for that. Or you may not be planning on inviting everyone you’re talking with but after you’ve told them every minute detail of the centerpieces and all of your other plans – they’ll begin to assume that they are invited – why else would you tell them so much about this great wedding you’re having?!
38. Not getting creative
There are so many different types of weddings these days that having a boring wedding is almost very difficult. But it still happens, so while you may not want the magical purple unicorn type of weddings (super unique and um, different) – you should find a few spots to get a little creative and make it more, you (well the both of you anyways).
39. Not bartering not negotiation
– Money is not the only way to acquire things and services. If you have something to offer or trade – then try to barter. If the vendor’s offer is close what you want to accept – negotiate. Just ask if there is any flexibility or offer a slight alternative agreement. Just be open, and be brave.
40. Picking your wedding party too soon
– I know you’re excited. Take your time picking your wedding party. Obviously don’t take forever, but you should spend a few minutes thinking about who you really want to share this day with you (other than your partner). Because remember – it’s a big investment of time and (probably) money for anyone you ask to be in your wedding party. They will feel honored – but it is still asking them to put forth effort and resources for your wedding.
41. Spending your whole dress budget on just the dress
Rare is the wedding dress that needs few alterations. For some reason, the higher the price of a wedding dress, the MORE alterations it needs. So definitely include the cost of alterations into your wedding dress budget. OH – and watch out for that scam where the store pushes you to buy a dress that’s like a billion sizes too big so that you HAVE to pay for a million dollars in alterations.
42. Selecting venues too far apart
Reduce the distance and travel time between your ceremony venue and your reception venue as much as possible. You don’t want to waste any time on your wedding day and reducing the travel time is an easy way to do that.
43. Letting ANYONE steal your thunder
This one time at a wedding we photographed, a guest (cousin) showed up wearing what was essentially a wedding dress that kind of matched the bride’s dress. Not only that – this cousin wore a shawl similar to the one the bride wore. We as wedding photographers (and just normal people) were like WTF?! OH HELL NO! This is YOUR wedding. Remember that. Don’t let anyone steal your thunder – whether it’s before, after, or even during.
44. Forgetting to feed your vendors
This is mostly about feeding your wedding planner (and her team), your photographers/videographers, and your DJ. They work ridiculously hard (well not the DJ – they’re just there to party) and your photographer/video crew have been working SINCE YOU WOKE UP THAT DAY. Feed them. FEED THEM.
45. Not booking a space to get ready
If you want beautiful photos and/or video from your ‘getting ready’ time – then you need to get ready in a space that isn’t ugly. Sure your photographer will always be able to make the most of any situation and sometimes you’ll just want it to be all documentary/editorial/real life style. Just remember that wherever you decide to get ready will affect what those photos look like. You want amazingly serene and beautiful preparation photos? Don’t get ready in a basement.
46. Forgetting that this is a celebration of your love
Dammit. You’re getting married. The wedding is a celebration of your union and your love and blah blah blah blah blah blah. Ha. Just kidding – no really – don’t forget that no matter what, you’ll be married at the end of all this planning and craziness. And if anything – you’ll at least have amazing photos.
Wedding planning is crazy, bonkers, and again, crazy. There are many wedding planning mistakes that you’ll not only want, but need, and MUST avoid. We hope this list was helpful and if you have any questions or need any help with any portion of your wedding planning – just ask us in the comments section. Thanks!
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