I love the “lessons learned” posts on Offbeat Bride, because they're always chock full of good advice. In that spirit, here is what I learned through planning and throwing our Halloween Horror Wedding…
1. Your ideas WILL evolve, change, not work out, and be scrapped — this is OKAY
Our wedding did not end up looking like what we originally envisioned. The core bones of the ideas were mostly present but many ideas and projects either looked totally different than what we'd originally come up with or they got scrapped entirely. And it was great!
2. Communication with everyone is KEY
From the person you're marrying, to family, and vendors… basically anyone involved in your wedding. We had some communication snafus along the way. And, in hindsight, these conversations should have involved everyone, so that we could have ALL been on the same page about everything.
3. If at first you don't succeed, keep trying OR ask for help
A lot of my DIY projects took multiple attempts to get right. I ran into problems with not having the right materials, or the right technique, or I would just get so frustrated I'd throw the damn thing across the room and give up.
When this would happen I would generally turn to my amazing maid of honor, who would usually show up the Saturday following my melt down and fix whatever the problem was in about two seconds. Sometimes you just need a second set of eyes to look at something. Because nine times out of ten I hadn't tried the way my maid of honor suggested, and ten times out of ten her way would work.
4. It is OKAY to do everything yourself, just be realistic
This runs contrary to what a lot of people will tell you, and even runs contrary to a guest post I wrote about asking for help. But even though I'd learned to ask for help, I still didn't. I made 90% of the handmade items for our wedding completely by myself. I did 99% of the researching, comparison shopping, and purchasing of items for the wedding as well. It was one of the most satisfying feelings in the world to look around at both the ceremony AND the reception and think “I did this.”
However, in doing most of everything by myself, I did need to be realistic. Along the way I know there were projects that got scrapped, centerpieces that were re-worked to be easier to complete, and there was a lot of stress and over-working on my part. I'm not advocating doing everything yourself because it WILL consume you. I'm just saying I know it can be done, because I did it.
5. Know what you're willing to pay
We did not have a savings account, nor any account, full of money to spend on the wedding. When we started planning we opened a joint account and transferred $939 into it, and worked on a “pay as we go” strategy. We made monthly contributions to the funds, and bought things as we needed to.
While we never had a set “budget” for the wedding, we did have very strong ideas on what we felt was “too much” money to pay for something, and even those firm ideas really helped keep our costs down.
6. Know when to splurge
My husband's Freddy Kruger glove was more than any other piece of attire for the day. It even cost more than our wedding bands. But he has dreamed of owning that glove since he first saw the movie and it was the lynch pin of his costume. And my bouquet cost more than my dress, and only slightly less than the glove. But it's an extremely sentimental item that I spent hours putting together, and will proudly display in a bell jar for the rest of my life. These splurges were important.
7. Things WILL go wrong — fix what you can, don't stress, move on — no one will notice
Thirteen things did not go according to plan on our wedding day. Some were easily fixable, some were not. I've spoken to my co-workers and some other guests about the snafus, and not one of them noticed any of the things that I felt “went wrong.”
Unless it's something huge and obvious — like a veil getting stuck in a door, or a power outage, or a blizzard — no one will notice the little things. It's not worth taking away from your happiness to stress over them.
8. Do what makes YOU happy
Just like people, weddings come in all shapes and sizes. There is no right or wrong way to throw a wedding. Ours initially made some people uncomfortable because, due to society and tradition, people have come to expect certain things of a wedding. While ours had most of the elements of a traditional wedding it looked extremely different and I think had a different tone than most.
Any time you do something different, or stray off the beaten path, you'll encounter some raised eyebrows and side eyes. Don't let that discourage you. Don't let familial expectations, or financial contributions, or what's on TLC dictate your day. Have the wedding that you and your partner want.