What I Wish Someone Told Me When I Was Wedding Planning

There are so many decisions to make when you’re planning a wedding. If it’s a life event that you’ve always dreamed of or held in high regard, it can also feel like there’s a lot of pressure on you to make the ‘right’ decision. (Newsflash: there isn’t one right way to plan a wedding.)

Here are the five things that I wish someone told me during the wedding planning process, because I know it would have saved me some heartache!

Don’t add items to your wedding registry that you will never use. It’s incredibly helpful to get engagement and wedding gifts based on the kindness of your loved ones. A registry is very smart because it can help give people ideas of what you actually want and will use. While you’ll register for the basics, you may feel pressured to add items to your list that you ‘feel’ you should have. Don’t add an expensive hand mixer if you know you’ll never take up baking. Or if you don’t drink wine very often, don’t get a fancy aerator. While it’s nice to splurge on things that you can use for special occasions, it will make more sense to double up on the things you’ll need and use (like an extra set of silverware.)

You don’t have to choose any details based on an image you used to have in your mind. It’s likely that you have a wedding vision made up in your mind that you may feel the need to execute on. Just remember that the wedding you once envisioned likely didn’t take personal preference (for you or your spouse), changing personalities, season, family changes or even budget in mind. It’s ok to alter your decisions (from the goal wedding dress to the wedding theme) so that the final outcome looks different from what you had in mind. The end result will be special and meaningful, no matter how much it strays from what you initially had in mind.

If you’re second guessing having someone in your wedding party, trust your gut. Choosing who will be a bridesmaid or groomsmen is a decision that you should consider thoughtfully. These individuals will not only be cornerstones to your wedding events but they will be in the photos that you keep for a lifetime. If there’s a childhood friend that’s all-drama, a cousin who you barely speak to, or an individual who you don’t see in your life for the long-haul because they don’t support your relationship, then don’t ask them to be in the wedding party. You won’t regret having a smaller Team Bride or Team Groom if it’s filled with genuine people who are lifelong friends. If it’s important to still find a way to honor this person, give them a different job like saying grace over the reception meal.

It’s ok to have an unplugged wedding. One of the reasons that some couples say they would not have an unplugged wedding is because they want their guests to feel comfortable and don’t want to ‘tell them what to do.’ Here’s the thing. An unplugged wedding (where guests are politely told not to have their phones or cameras out, for at least the ceremony) will actually lead to better memories. Guests will be more present and the videographer/photographer who you’re paying good money for will get much better results. There’s nothing worse than an auntie with her iPad behind the scenes of your wedding photos. You aren’t asking too much of your guests and if they actually have an emergency or real reason that they can’t unplug, then they will still tend to what’s needed.

Don’t get so caught up in planning that you neglect your relationship. So often couples end up fighting over the smallest to biggest wedding related decisions. Instead of being a season in your courtship where you’re brought together, you can end up at the aisle on shaky ground. Take the time you need to continue dating your spouse to be. Don’t make everything about your upcoming nuptials. And start paving the way for your future marriage. At the end of the day it isn’t about a color swatch or a playlist but about the promise of forever.

With love,

Girl with a diamond ring

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How To Protect Your Marriage For Forever

This weekend marked a day that the courts in my state recognized my marriage as ‘dissolved.’ As of last March, my then-husband and I have been going through a divorce. We had a beautiful decade-long relationship and five of those were in marriage.

During my time of separation, I’ve continued sharing marriage-related content because I still have the experience. I still have a passion and genuine desire to encourage and support those who are going through wedding planning and beyond. And I know that when the dust settles, I will be able to look back on my wedding day as one of the top 5 days of my life—so I’ll share these memories and pieces of advice with my readers. The end of my love story doesn’t take away from the beginning of it and I am still grateful for the chance to go through a marriage experience because I have learned so much.

Even though this chapter in my life is finished, I still believe in love. And I believe in lifelong fairytales. But while in a season of reflection, I have been thinking a lot about what could have gone differently. So I wanted to share tips that I think will be relevant regardless of where you’re at on your relationship journey. These are the things that I either tried to do or wished that I did to protect my marriage.

  • Remember that the vows you made are active, living and breathing commitments made to the other person. Take this seriously. Look back on the words of your vows, display them in your home or watch your wedding video together to be reminded of the promises made.
  • Recognize that there is so much that changes once you were married, outside of a dating situation. Even though you will jump right into the day-to-day, you have to find ways to keep things light, romantic and sweet. What did you both love about the season when you were dating? Try and carry some of those things through. Then come up with new ideas to keep things fun and creative. It’s never too late to reinvent your relationship.
  • Realize that ‘the small things are the big things’. Notice that they got their haircut. Ask how the meeting when at work. Complement the new outfit. Show up with their favorite meal. Aim to do something at least once a week spoken in their love language.
  • Find something that you can share at a meaningful level. There’s so much that is surface in life and you need some thing you believe in together that you can embed into your rituals. If you are faith-based, this could be a nightly prayer or joining a Bible study group. It could also be daily habits like coffee on the porch together or a meditation or exercise routine, no matter what is going on. These activities are important for your foundation and helping to keep you connected.
  • Have continued dialogue, even when it’s not what you want to hear. Speak up about what you need. Ask them how you can support them and seek honest feedback. Get to know them, especially if who they are has changed over time.
  • When you speak, make sure to also listen to one another. No matter how much chaos is around you, stay alert and pay attention to what they’re saying (and what they are not saying.) And when you are sitting together in silence, don’t pick up your phone or magazine or lean on other daily routines to distract you. Sit in these moments and cherish them.
  • Don’t lose sight of the fact that you’re individuals who bring your whole selves to a relationship. If you need to work on yourself through self care, counseling to deal with past hurts, or by joining a support group, then do it. You have to bring your best self to your relationship (but know that this will take effort).
  • Work at making your relationship a priority and ask for help when you need it. You can rely on resources like friends with more marital experience, a counselor, podcast, book or seminar. (It’s likely that one person in the relationship will not be as willing. Do what you can with self-study and change your own behavior. Share your findings but then make it clear that it’s important to you…sometimes you just need to take the time and find the medium that works for both of you.’)
  • Don’t take your relationship for granted. Enjoy the laughs at the inside jokes, having someone to go to a Christmas party with and knowing you have a built-in travel companion. If you appreciate these moments, then say it out loud and let them know. (Don’t assume they know how you feel.)

With love,

Girl with a diamond ring

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Where To Start With Wedding Playlists

I recently asked my Instagram community for blog topic requests and received this one from COVID-bride and friend, Kristin! She wanted to hear about wedding songs so here are my playlist tips. (If there are any tasks to try and tackle for your 2021 wedding during a holiday season amidst a pandemic, this is a good one!)

Don’t get overwhelmed, start with a template. Open an excel document and create three columns titles on the top row: EVENT, SONG ARTIST, SONG TITLE. Event would be things like ‘ceremony’ or ‘first dance’ and the song details don’t have to be exact, but put down what you know (even if names are spelled wrong or titles are incomplete because you can clean it up later.) You don’t need to fill this all out yet, but it will be a good template to refer to. This will also allow you to filter and sort so that you can get a quick glance of any artists repeated too many times or missing items like the exit song at the ceremony.

If you’re working with a professional who will be taking care of your music, ask them what they need along with any due dates since there will be varying levels of support. If anything, they will need some guidance and requests for specific points of the wedding, like the first/family dance song requests. You could also give them directional genre guidance, like ‘No Country’, ‘Make it family friendly’, or ‘We love artists like _____________’ or ‘Like oldies that are upbeat.’

Put down the first songs that come to mind. Once you have your template crafted, just start typing. You and your fiancé likely have songs that are important to your relationship so fill those out first. Then think about songs that you both really enjoy. You know, the songs that you turn up the volume on when you’re in the car together or is connected to a special memory. To begin to add length to the playlist, start to think about weddings you’ve been with music vibes that you enjoyed and try to emulate that. While this is your day, do consider your guest preferences. To meet diverse needs, you will likely have things on your list that aren’t personal all-time favorites but that your guests will enjoy.

When you need inspiration, do some research. You will get stuck. Here are some ways to get inspired:

  • Scroll through your own music library as well as other playlists. Music platforms like Apple Music, Pandora or Spotify have a variety of playlists that have already been created. Type in things like Wedding Playlist or Party Vibes. These playlists will help point you in the right direction and make you think of songs that you wouldn’t have otherwise.
  • Google and YouTube will be your friend, along with any of your go-to wedding planning sites (like Brides or The Knot) that you have bookmarked. When you search, try using specific search terms, like ‘Unique Acoustic Wedding Songs’ or ‘Modern First Dance Songs’ or even ‘Wedding Playlists That Aren’t Cheesy’.
  • Pinterest is one of my faves because there are TONS of entire playlists that are featured (using some of the same search terms from above). Check out the board I created with curated playlists from others.
  • Have you attended a wedding where you loved the music or are you close with a bride that just went through the planning process? Check with the couple to see if they have a copy of their playlist to give you some ideas. If you have a wedding planner or friend in the music/DJ industry, they may be able to help, too.

Don’t expect to finish it in one sitting and editing will be your friend. Keep it in mind as you hear songs on the radio or make new memories with your spouse. While this can be an intimidating exercise, music should be FUN. This is going to set the tone of the entire timeline of your event so spend some time settling in to making these decisions. When you have your playlist close to complete, play some of the songs on your list to make sure they still feel right.

If you have some extra time, don’t underestimate the joy that a ‘Morning of’ playlist will bring to you. Press PLAY when you’re getting ready with your girls and have music in the background that will put you in the right mood. You don’t have to be overly selective here, and this would be where a pre-made one on YouTube or Spotify would be suitable. Too much? Ask your MOH to be in charge of this task.

Remember that more is better. I got confused about how many should be on the list. While the number will vary based on length of your event, more is better and not all songs have to be ones that you absolutely love because there will be a lot going on that day. Most weddings have a solid 1 or 2 hours of ‘dance time’ but there will be moments where music can be played but won’t be the focal point (like when you greet your guests at each reception table). I used a DJ at a destination wedding so didn’t have to be overly prescriptive but still provided a list of 60 songs. Not all were played but many were. When our special song collections came on, they made me smile, and some of the wildcards selected by the DJ to match the energy were the best.

Lastly, if you’re able to, SAVE your wedding playlist document and then create a physical playlist on your music devices. You can play it once you’re married to remind you of your special day.

Kristin, I hope this helps! I am excited that you were able to have a micro-wedding to become a new Mrs. and know that you’re looking forward to your future wedding celebration.

With love,

Girl with a diamond ring

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How to Pick Your Wedding Colors

So you’ve selected your life partner and the ring is on your finger. Then the questions start from other people. When is the big day? How big will the wedding be? Should it be before or after your sister’s wedding, since she got engaged first? The list goes on and on. And then you’ll find that once the planning begins, you will come up with your own endless list of details that need to be reviewed and decided upon by you and your future spouse. So once you start diving in, one of the key questions is “What are our wedding colors?”

Why is this so important? Most details, from invites to wedding flowers, will come with different color options. So where do you start? Here are some questions that could get you closer to your answer.

  • Do I have a theme that I’m already set on? The theme itself, from shabby chic to magical and romantic to Alice in Wonderland, could inform your colors or begin to rule some out. (Ruling out color hues can be just as helpful!)
  • Do I have a venue that is already planned? If you already know where you want to get married, like a local country club, garden or a ski resort, this could easily start you closer down the path of colors that may make sense. For example, I always dreamed of a peacock-wedding but once a beach destination was decided then I knew it didn’t make sense.
  • Is there a texture or pattern that draws you in? If you love feathers, stripes or polka dots and expect for these to be a part of your décor, choose colors that these naturally come in so that items don’t require a lot of customization.
  • When is the wedding? While seasons shouldn’t force you down a path of specific colors, it could give you some inspiration. Soft and light colors for spring. Bright and dynamic colors for summer. Deeper warm tones for fall. Or wintery whites, blues or silvers for the end of the year. If this feels too obvious to you, go OPPOSITE of what people expect that season….like maroon and gold in May!
  • Is there a color combination that represents a specific aspect of our relationship? Informed by a favorite flower during your season of dating, a college or sports team, or vacation spot that’s important to you.
  • Is there one color that you keep envisioning? You should plan to have 2-4 colors so they can complement one another for different décor details selected but even starting with one is a good place to start. If you keep envisioning one color then that you are probably leaning that way for a reason. Find a good neutral to pair it with (grey, beige, white, black.)
  • Am I selecting colors based on influence or feeling pressure from other factors? If you and your fiancé both love warm and neutral tones, then don’t feel the need to select an dark romantic hues just because a wedding planner said that’s what makes sense. Your guests should look at their surroundings and not be surprised that it’s your big day.

Once you’ve answered these questions, you may begin getting a clearer picture. As a next step, I suggest searching for wedding color palettes on Pinterest and Instagram. Deciding specific search terms could be easier to hone in on once you have more of an idea in mind…so things like ‘summer wedding colors’ or ‘unique wedding color palettes’ or ‘dark wedding color inspiration.’ Note that you may not like each color presented in a palette and you can always combine multiple options to make it what you like.  (Don’t be afraid to get creative and try different searches because you never know what you will find.) Prefer something more tactical and not online? Go to a paint store and see which color swatches you gravitate towards. This can also be helpful to see which specific shades make sense as a stand-alone color and paired with another.

Plain and simple: your wedding space should bring you joy. Have an open mind and have some fun with this!

With love,

Girl with a diamond ring

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Weddings Amidst A Global Pandemic

I’m back after a much-needed break for a few months. A lot has changed during this time, including the beginning of a global pandemic! As we all know, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed, and continues to change, every single industry in unique ways. The wedding industry tops the list. It’s heartbreaking, knowing that couples who have planned their big day for years have had to make abrupt changes to their vision just so they could still get married. While others have made the hard choice to reschedule or cancel altogether. In a way, it’s simplified weddings and forced couples to focus on what matters: the two of them, vows, and those absolutely closest to them. It’s no longer about whether or not your third cousin needs to be invited or if the DJ can amp up a party.

I know, however, that simple doesn’t mean easy. I’ve seen a lot of creative ideas thus far and am looking forward to seeing how more couples navigate this time.

  1. Video streaming services allow for couples to bring their big day live to their loved ones. Consideration: Be thoughtful with the platform that you choose since some require logins that your guests may not have.
  2. Drive-by weddings are the new drive-by birthday parties. Allow guests to drive by when you and your spouse exist the ceremony space. The most creative guests might decorate their cars with balloons or throw rose petals out of the window. Consideration: This will work for some locations and/or sizes of guest lists. If you plan to be married in a tight urban or residential area then it may not work.
  3. If your wedding is further out (6+ months), don’t make any hasty changes. While it’s important to research specific policies to postpone or cancel, things will continue to change. If you move too quickly to make changes then you might need to adapt yet again at a later date. Consideration: Reach out to all of your vendors to find out what their cancellation policies are and specific time frames to keep in mind. Set a reminder on your calendar so you know when these dates are coming up.
  4. Even if you host a small event, you will still need to remain cautious and that might require some additional creativity. Keep an eye on your local news and pay attention to guidelines like these from the CDC on how to safely host an event. Consideration: Try to be flexible with your wedding vision. While having wedding rows that are 6-feet apart or signs on extra hand-sanitizer at the food stations weren’t likely what you first envisioned, it could be worth it if it still allows you to have an in-person event during the age of the coronavirus.
  5. You may have found that wedding planning was already getting really complicated and becoming much bigger than you had hoped. This could be your way of making your day just about you two and the love that you share. Elopement-like weddings are at an all-time high and could be done in exotic or beautiful places within driving distance. As long as you have someone to marry you and an epic photographer, this could end up being something really special. Consideration: Before you go this route, both you and your spouse-to-be need to make a list of the people who you believe HAVE to be at your wedding. This could change whether or not it’s feasible something this small. If it’s important for you to be married, you could also do something super-small now and then re-do your I do’s when things settle down.

I’m sorry for the bride and groom’s who have to quickly change their wedding logistics but have been encouraged by the resilience and openness displayed by many engaged couples during this time. Make the best of it and just know that these will make for great stories in the future! I mean, who else can say that they were married during a global pandemic?

With love,

Girl with a diamond ring

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