Wednesday, February 26, 2014

We Got Married: Could, woulda, shoulda

I've mentioned before that I didn't hire a wedding planner.  Ben and I planned our wedding completely on our own, partly because we had a really tight budget, and also because we've known people who have planned incredibly beautiful weddings without professional help.  I've recounted the many trials I had trying to make decisions, get things done, and stay within my budget and also the many victories that we celebrated during the planning process and on the wedding day.  But you know what...I'll be honest, not EVERYTHING was perfect.

FACT:  the most important part, and BEST PART, of the wedding day was actually marrying Ben and saying our vows to each other in front of all the people we love and care about.

FACT:  many of the details that were at our wedding most likely faded out of many of our guests' memories as soon as the sun rose on the day after our big party.

FACT:  I am one of those brides who says "not everything was perfect," and that's OK.  

I've had about eight months to think about it and look at pictures over and over again, and I can now think back on my wedding day and really look what I would have done differently had I known better.  Now, I don't want to get too critical.  I'm just going to point out the main things, the ones that have stuck in my mind since the wedding ended, and even since before the wedding happened.

Looking back, I coulda, woulda, shoulda:
  • put more thought into what I wanted the ceremony programs to look like.  My family and I hand made them, and Ben wrote "Ben and Jewel's" wedding on them. And that's what we passed out.  This is really a tiny issue because honestly, I don't think anyone cared.  I barely even care.  But when I think about what I could have done, this is the first thing that comes to my mind.
  • started saving for my wedding earlier.  Overall, I'm really happy with the amount of money we spent on our wedding.  At the end of the day, Ben and I spent 15 percent less than the average cost of a DC wedding for 100 people AND we paid for 180 guests.  We paid for half our wedding out of our own pockets. Which apparently is still rare?  Apparently, people still take that whole "the bride's family pays" thing to heart.  Which, in my opinion, doesn't make any sense.  But anyways, the point is, our wedding wasn't expensive by comparison.  But, it would have been nice to pay for our wedding, and  still have some money left over to start saving for another big purchase, like a house.  We've had to start from square one on that. 
  • started my DIY projects earlier.  I didn't have many but the few that I did have, I felt like I was rushing to get them done.  During wedding planning, there were a few times where it felt like there was nothing to accomplish really, mostly in the early stages.  Those would have been great times to get a head start on some crafting/printing items, instead of going batS&#t crazy during the last three weeks leading up to the day.
  • purchased Ben's suit at a different retailer.  While the final product came out great, I feel like we could have alleviated some of the stress of getting Ben into the perfect suit by just finding another store/designer who could have given us exactly what we wanted exactly when we asked for it, even if it meant paying more money for something a little more high end.
  • overrode Ben's choice for the last dance song (The Reason, by Hoobastank).  
  • ordered more bouts.  I think I was short about one or two for the men!
  • vetted some of my vendors a bit more before hiring them.  Sometimes, my desire to just get things done hinders my ability to determine if something or someone is really the right fit for me.
  • ordered a wedding album with my photography package.  Now that I have my wedding pictures, I really just wish I could look at them in a book.  And looking back, why didn't I just order the album?  Yes, there is the sticker shock that comes with comparing the prices of a photography package with an album and one with out.  And during planning I felt like I just couldn't commit any more dollars to that area of the wedding.  But when you factor in the overall cost of everything, is an extra grand really that big of a deal?  I should have figured out a way to shrink costs in other places, even though I really did have the bare minimum in just about every category.

So there you have it.  Those are the top things that I regret/want a do-over on/would change if I could go back in time.  The next wedding I have will hopefully be a vow renewal, and of course not nearly as big.  In fact, it'll probably be in Disney World actually. So maybe I won't have to deal with any of these issues. 

OK enough about regrets.  To end this series on a happy note,  

5 things I would not change about my wedding day and the planning experience:
  1. The number of people I invited.  I complained throughout about the cost of having a big wedding, but in the end, it was awesome and fun. I'm a fan of big weddings.
  2. The length of time for the open bar.  I thought people would think we were lame for closing the bar during dinner and then opening it up again, then closing it an hour before the reception was over.  It actually worked out fine. I didn't hear any complaints from people.
  3. The amount we spent on flowers.  BIGGEST LESSON LEARNED:  real, live flowers are EXPENSIVE.  EX-PENSIVE.  I'm glad I stuck to my guns and my budget, and most importantly found a really great flower vendor to work with.  That goes a loooong way.
  4. Choosing to skip fancy transportation.  We saved so much money by just having everyone drive themselves.  
  5. Not hiring a wedding videographer.  While planning my wedding, I'd read a couple things about people really regretting their decision to not hire a wedding videographer. Ben's and my budget, didn't allow us the luxury of hiring one.  And this made me sad.  So I prepared myself for the regret and the disappointment in the months following our wedding, when I'd kick myself over and over again for not biting the bullet and blowing some more savings to get a fancy schmancy wedding video.  Well, Ben and I have been married for eight months now. And guess what, I haven't even thought about having a wedding video until now, as I'm writing this blog post. And I'm not even sure I care.  In the past eight months, I have never said "Oh, I wish I could watch a video of my wedding."  
And that's all folks.  I am officially closing the chapter on documenting my wedding.  I just want to say that I love you readers so much.  Thanks for going on this journey with me and letting me talk about "first world problems" like dessert bars and color palettes.  Unless any of you send me specific questions about aspects of my wedding, you probably won't see another post on the big day.  And I'm OK with that. I've realized that my wedding was definitely a great day, up there with some of my best days.  The good news is that since that day ended, I've had several other "best days" come to pass.  And I'm thankful for that.  The wedding is just one day.  A marriage is forever.  And so far, "forever" is pretty awesome.