My cousin is getting married and she mentioned asking me for help later on. Instead I typed up the following letter:
#1 Budget, know it and stick with it.
And in order to stick with it you need to know what is important to you. Favors at the reception and bubbles after the ceremony can easily be rid of and no one will notice. Recruit friends and family with talent. Offer to pay them a small fee and usually they’ll do it for cost - labor as a gift, or completely free.
#2 Food served at a buffet is usually better than plated meals. It's also less wasteful and soooo much cheaper.
#3 Bridesmaids, wait to pick them.
As in wait at least 4 months. You’ll want to see how friends react to your engagement and if they’re supportive or not. You’ll also want to see which friends you remain close to. When you move to the next part of your life some single friends may resent you and other friends who are also married, engaged, etc will become your stronger allies. Life changes and some friends change with it, not good, not bad, it’s just the way it works.
#4 Wedding Cake, to save or not to save.
We saved money by having a smaller “display” cake and serving our guests sheet cakes. The “display” cake, the one we cut, was served the following day at the present opening party and the topper was frozen, of course. Having sheet cakes also allowed me to have a variety of cake flavors. But if a big beautiful cake is important to you then do it! Friends who have had the centerpiece cakes (one on each table) have had a lot of left over cake or wasted cake at the end of the evening. But if that’s what you want then do it!
If you need a DJ in Central Illinois I strongly recommend Absolute Light & Sound (309-275-5100). They are the absolute best in this area and reasonably priced for how great the quality is. A good DJ makes or breaks your reception. Believe me.
#6 If you’re going to splurge on anything I suggest it be a dress you love and photography.
You’ll look at your pictures for the rest of your life and you want to like the way you look in them. A friend of mine and her husband have their own business and take great pics. Morris Photography is the name, 309-363-1450, http://www.sethmorrisphotography.com/.
a) make sure your photographer can politely boss people around. If the photographer isn’t assertive then it will take forever to get pictures done – which can be stressful
b) assign someone (girlfriend of a groomsman perhaps) to take pictures at your rehearsal.
c) Make up a list beforehand of pictures you want taken and make sure the people in them know they are supposed to be there. Most photographers will have you do this with them, but if you recruit a friend to take pics it doesn’t always happen.
#8 Wedding Coordinator – have one!!!
Some churches will have a wedding coordinator, in which case you still might want to have a personal attendant / gopher. A wedding coordinator can just be a friend who is assertive, polite and can make things happen. She should also know how to run a rehearsal and a reception. Seriously, this will make your wedding day go soooo much better!!!! She can tell the bridesmaids when to walk down the aisle, coordinate the ushers, make sure the programs are getting handed out, run errands if needed, and she should field all questions so you aren’t bothered. (You will be so sick of questions by the time your rehearsal comes.)
#9 The Marriage
In all of this make sure you’re preparing for the marriage – which is way more important than just the one day. In detail discuss things like debt, credit cards, kids (spacing, number, discipline, schooling), holidays, hobbies, contraception, budgets, on and on. Pray together. Have fun.
And on that note, I strongly encourage you to look into Natural Family Planning. It’s cheap, eco-friendly and most importantly, it has really strengthened my marriage, my trust in God and Travis, and my knowledge of my body. Travis and I have successfully used it to achieve and put off pregnancy, so we know that it works. It forces us to have serious, meaningful conversations about things like money, sex, attitude, prayer and goals. I honestly don’t think we would still be having these conversations 3 years into our marriage if we weren’t convicted about NFP. There are several different methods, www.cdop.org has information on all of them and classes, if you are interested.