Mistake # 1 – Be your own wedding planner – Having friends and family to help with the wedding planning is so much fun. You want to share this special experience with your loved ones and allow them to take part in the whole process. Magazines have checklists, countless books have been written, T.V. shows are abundant and you may have had some experience in planning other events yourself. You might be thinking that with all of this free information and your team of willing assistants you could pull this off and save tons of money in the process. There is, however, no substitute for a well-trained and experienced wedding planner to guide you through the many twists and turns you will encounter along the way. A wedding planner knows which vendors in your area will provide you with the best possible service at the lowest price. Planners are able to negotiate great discounted rates with each vendor. It is also extremely important to have a neutral party to act as an advocate for you when conflicts flare up with your vendors and even sometimes your family. Finally, having someone on your side on your most important day is invaluable. Thousands of details will need to come together and you will need someone with experience to make the day go smoothly. Even wedding planners who have been in business for decades hire other wedding planners to assist them when they have a wedding in their own family. Laurie Hartwell, Owner of A Wedding To Remember”, one of the most respected wedding planning firms in Florida has this to say about the subject: “In the future when my daughter gets engaged there’s no doubt in my mind that I will hire another wedding planner to assist with the big day. I want to remember, enjoy, and embrace the whole experience as any Mother of the Bride is meant to.” Don’t make your friends and family work on your wedding day, let them enjoy this time with you. You only get to do this once and your family will appreciate being guests at your wedding, not workers. Leave the work to the professionals so that you can all savor the moment free from stress.
Mistake # 2 – Have a friend bake the cake – “A cake, Haunk, is made of flour, sugar and water…my first car didn’t cost that much.” So the line goes from the movie “Father of the Bride”. It’s easy to see why George’s first choice would have been to have his sister bake the cake or maybe order one from the local grocery store. Before you go out and have Gladys with the hair net write ‘Congratulations” in her best cursive on a sheet cake consider this. On your wedding day as your guests are meandering about your reception admiring the splendor of the room, the unique centerpieces or the great tasting champagne, one of the highlights of the tour will be a close inspection of the cake. When your guests survey your cake what they will see is an extension of your personality, style, and the level of elegance you attribute to the day. Bakers, real bakers with experience, are not just bakers, they are artists. They will take the time to sit down with you for a free consultation. They will listen to all of your ideas, they will look at all the pictures you have cut out of magazines. Only a professional baker can incorporate all of those things in their edible art. Of course, let’s not forget about the way your cake will taste. You should always do a taste testing. Bring your mom, your sister, your best friend. Make a day of it! Try every flavor, texture and frosting available. Is it too dry, too moist? Was the frosting too sweet, too hard, too thin, not smooth enough? These are all things you will want to find out well before Aunt Betty rolls out her home-made version of the leaning tower of Pisa on your wedding day. Hire a professional baker.
Mistake # 3 – Have a friend play the music – Have you ever been in an uncomfortable situation? You see an old friend in the mall but you forget her name, you’re having lunch with your boss and there’s a piece of spinach in her teeth? Now imagine your wedding day, you are holding your new groom in your arms and you are both ready for your first dance. All of your friends and family are watching with anticipation, the lights are low and love is in the air. But wait… what is that sound coming from those speakers in the corner? Silence. Worse yet, your cousin Fred has a puzzled look on his face as he frantically tries to find the right song on his I-Pod. What you are feeling right now is exactly what countless brides who thought they would save a few hundred dollars on a DJ have felt when they asked a friend to play some songs at their wedding. There is so much more than just playing music that goes on at a wedding. Who is going to announce the toasts? the dances? Who is going to keep things flowing, making sure that your guests know where to go and when to get there? Who is going to let them know when it’s time for their table to go to the buffet line so the line isn’t one hundred guests long? Who is going to tell them what to expect next? Who is going to make sure there are no uncomfortable pauses throughout the night? Who will get your guests excited about the customary formalities like the mother & son dance, the father & daughter dance, the garter and bouquet toss? The answer, if you are smart, is a Professional DJ. This is YOUR wedding. Your DJ will make or break the day. You owe it to yourself to hire a professional.
Mistake # 4 – Have a friend or family member take the pictures. So your friend is a wonderful photographer. As a wedding gift they have offered to take the pictures. This could save you thousands of dollars. Before you decide to take them up on their offer you need to ask a few questions. How many weddings have you done? May I see your portfolio? What style of photography do you specialize in? If they are unable to show you photos of actual weddings then you don’t want to chance it. Photographing a wedding presents many unique challenges. Is the ceremony going to be outdoors? What time of day? Are there going to be any special lighting requirements? Are there any restrictions on flash photography at the church? After the ceremony is over you will want several shots with your family, are they equipped and knowledgeable on how to get that done in the time frame allotted? At the reception the lighting will be low so does he have the proper equipment to get the shots he needs? A professional photographer with experience will know the right questions to ask you before the wedding to ensure you are not disappointed after. Tell your friend or family member with the camera that you would rather have them enjoy your wedding and be a guest. You would never dream of having them work on your special day. If they bring their camera anyway then you’ll just have more pictures to share with your friends and family.
Mistake # 5 – Have a friend shoot the video. In today’s world of video phones just about anything that happens can be shared in cyberspace within the minute. It is tempting then to think that enough people will use those phones or flip cams or maybe even one of those real video cameras and you’ll have plenty of footage to look back on. Think again. Your guests want to enjoy your day. The last thing on their mind is pulling out their i-phone to document what’s going on. Even if some of your guests took their time to capture your special ceremony the sound quality would be less than ideal. Do you want to hear your vows or do you want to hear wind, muffled words, or worse yet… nothing. Having a professionally shot video (Preferably High Definition) will ensure you have captured the magic of your most special day in a way that still pictures could never do. Ask perspective videographers what kind of experience they have. Can you see some samples of their work? You would be surprised at how many different styles of editing there are out there. Remember, fifty years from now when you are sharing your memories with your grandchildren, you will want to show then a video that won’t make them laugh.
Mistake # 6 – Order your invitations online. From ordering pizza to checking names off of your Christmas shopping list there’s no doubt about it, we are already a society who depend on the internet for even the most basic of our needs. The average ten-year old types faster now than he writes so it’s only natural for us to look to the internet first and ask questions later. When it comes to your wedding invitations it’s time to draw the line. You’re not planning your sisters graduation party here, you are inviting people to YOUR WEDDING! An invitation specialist is well versed in all of the proper wording on your invitation. There are also so many other factors to consider. Do you need place cards, escort cards, directions to the reception, response cards, menu cards, programs? Are you going to mention his parents, your parents, neither of them? Is his dad a doctor, a reverend, a diplomat, or a senator? How many people are you inviting? How many of those do you think will really come? Is your list finalized? There are certain ways to address all of these situations and there is a certain order in which everything should be done to save your time and stress. An invitation specialist will guide you through all of your options. Make a day of it. Go out to lunch before hand with your mom and your best friend. Sit down with the invitations, feel them, smell them, hold them in your hands. If you pour through dozens of books and don’t find what you are looking for there are people who can create a custom invitation just for you. This is your one and only chance to experience every aspect of planning a wedding. Embrace it and enjoy it.
Mistake # 7 – Have a friend or family member make the food. So Grandma Gertrude makes the bast lasagna this side of Sicily. Cousin Carl has a secret recipe for smoked salmon that would make Wolfgang Puck weep. This doesn’t mean you need to put them to work on your wedding day. It also doesn’t mean that the dish they make so perfectly for a family of eight will turn out just as well when feeding a hundred and fifty-eight. There are other things to consider before you throw away that caterers card. A professional caterer will know how many plates, dishes, sets of silverware, napkins, chargers, glasses, champagne flutes, centerpieces, (are you getting my point or should I go on because I haven’t even scratched the surface) to bring. A professional knows how much food to make so that you don’t run out. A professional caterer has the pots, pans, platters, spatulas, butter, spices, the license, the refrigeration, and the staff to serve the food that your guests will be talking about long after the wedding reception is over. Oh, by the way… who is going to clean up all of those things I just mentioned? Not you if you do the right thing, let your family enjoy your day and hire a professional caterer. By the way, make sure your caterer allows you to do a taste test. If they can’t take the time to let you taste their food ahead of time then go ahead and throw away THAT card and move on.
Mistake # 8 – Order and arrange your own flowers and centerpieces – So you’ve always wanted to explore your more creative side. You have wandered the aisles of your favorite craft store. You may have even put together a few arrangements using some silk flowers you found at an “Old Time This” or a “Hobby That”. This does not give you the experience you need to be a wedding florist. Do you know what flowers are in season at the time of your wedding? If you don’t plan ahead you will pay much more than you should. Do you know when to order the flowers so they get to you in enough time to trim them and put together the arrangements but not too soon that they spoil? Have you ever created a bouquet? a boutonniere? a centerpiece? Have you ever decorated an arch on the beach in the sun an hour before a wedding? Try that and then go get into your wedding dress. If that’s what you plan to do please send me a picture. Do you have the refrigerator space to keep all of this fresh right up until the time that you walk down the aisle? I could go on and on but I hope you get the point. Leave the flowers to a professional. Again, make a day of it. Bring your mom, have a glass of wine, have fun. Most florists will sit down with you for a free consultation and will take the time to ask you the right questions to make sure that you get exactly the look you want within the budget you can afford.
Mistake # 9 – Have your reception at a park or a friend’s house. On the surface this sounds like a great way to save money. Let’s face it, hotels and country clubs charge you an arm and a let right? Wrong when you factor in these details: If you plan your reception at a neutral location you will need to bring in tables, chairs, possibly a tent, linens, silverware, plates etc. All of these items will need to be rented. You will have to pay a delivery and set up charge. You will need to consider lighting, weather, parking, noise ordinances, homeowners associations and more. What happens if someone falls on your friends front lawn? Hotels and other facilities have the liability insurance that would cover a situation like that. You would have to factor in the additional expense to get that liability insurance yourself. Do yourself a favor. Plan your reception in a place that has the staff, equipment, space and expertise to make your wedding reception a care free celebration with your family, friends and spouse.
Mistake #10 – Stress out about every little detail. If you have followed the advise in this article and hired professionals to handle the details of you big day then there should be no reason to stress. Even if something goes wrong (And it will) what you need to remember is that you are marrying the man or woman of your dreams. At the end of the day you will have made a promise to another human being to stick with them through thick and through thin, for better, for worse, in sickness and in health until one of you die! Wow, that’s a little more important than the color of the flowers on your bouquet isn’t it? Don’t stress. Finally, consider this. If you needed surgery you would call a doctor. If you were being sued you would call a lawyer. It is just as important for you to hire a certified wedding planner. They have the expertise you need to save you THOUSANDS of dollars. Take a deep breath, look around, embrace the process and be in the moment enough to enjoy it. Congratulations on your engagement. Now get out there and have some fun!