"It's been 84 years and I can still smell the fresh paint. The china..." (record scratching) Oh, wait!!! That's not my flashback.
So it hasn't been 84 years since my wedding, and there was no smell of fresh paint in the air. Only love! In fact, this week is my 5-year anniversary!!! (Hence the title of this post.) It's only been 5 years, but prior to my wedding while there was still love in the air, there was also stress. Lots of it! Why? I was that crazy bride that said, "I can do this planning all by myself!" (and work two jobs and make my dress and deal with whatever life threw at me). Thank you genes for not letting me sprout grey hairs from the stress. Let the record also show I only had one "Bridezilla" moment!
As I've now mentioned, the year before my wedding was full of planning. I had also just graduated from college which meant I needed income to not only help fund my wedding, but also start the repayment of those pesky student loans. Luckily, I was able to find a full-time job at Bloomingdales and a part-time job as a seamstress/design assistant at a bridal boutique nearby. Income was then one less thing I had to worry about. But planning a wedding in Texas while I was in California, well now, that's a whole new set of stress-inducing challenges.
When it came time to look for a DJ/Emcee, a florist, minister, videographer, and baker, I became a spreadsheet master! I had to stay organized or I would have gone crazy. With each vendor spreadsheet I made, I made sure I had the vendor-specific categories to help me make my decision (besides the obvious price and reviews/recommendations). For example, my "DJ/Entertainment" spreadsheet looked at play hours, kind of equipment used, variety in music, and personnel. Sometimes elimination was easy... they never called me back. BYE! (Lucky for my DJ, Jabari Warfield, I got a call back!) After spreadsheet making, I did a lot... A LOT of internet research to fill in my sheets as much as possible. Emails back and forth with questions also helped narrow down the choices in the end.
I know this sounds like my wedding planning was a breeze, but it wasn't. Amongst all this planning, I still somehow managed to find time to make my own wedding gown (even if I was sewing until 1 am after getting off of a 8 hour shift). Plus, I also made the invitations and anything else I thought I could handle making instead of outsourcing. The most stressful time was the month just before: I had to quit my jobs, get the final details set, fly to Austin for final meetings with vendors, and then road trip with my family for the wedding. In retrospect, I should've asked for more help and/or hired a wedding planner. Oh well! What can I do about that now?! ...Maybe throw another wedding! I mean, it's a chance to wear another beautiful gown and have an even bigger party... YES!!! And, maybe the next time I'll be able to afford some never-been-used china!
TIPS FROM THE PROS:
KEEP ON READING FOR TIPS ON FINDING YOUR WEDDING GOWN, PHOTOGRAPHER, DJ, AND TO FIND OUT IF YOU NEED A WEDDING PLANNER!
Between Gretchen and myself here are some of the best tips we have for finding THE wedding gown and not just A gown.
- Try on all the shapes! From ball gowns to a-line to mermaid and every shape in between, try them all on. Why? Because that magazine picture you ripped out to take with you may not look good on you at all. Take Gretchen for example, she thought she was going to go with a fitted mermaid silhouette (like Amaryllis), but when she tried that shape on she says she looked like, “...a hot tranny mess.” Oh boy. Haha
- Don't stress if you don't find your dress in round one. Sometimes the dress comes to you. Just in the same way that some of us find our future spouse… that is, when we are least expecting it… sometimes that is how you will find your dress. Gretchen found her ceremony dress at a vintage shop that usually didn’t have any clothes, but on that day it did!
- Don’t let others’ opinions alter your vision of yourself. While it’s great to have an “entourage” with you on the day(s) you go try on dresses, just remember that it is YOUR wedding day. Not mom’s or the BFF’s day...it’s yours! Find the dress that makes you feel beautiful even if it is a 180 from what you thought you wanted. My mom didn’t see me in my dress until the day of the wedding because I had done the fittings on my own. After the wedding, my mom told me she felt proud to be the MOB (mother-of-the-bride) because my dress was beautiful and, more so, because I felt beautiful and it showed! FEEL BEAUTIFUL! IT’S YOUR VISION OF YOURSELF FOR YOUR WEDDING DAY!
PHOTOGRAPHER TIPS FROM WILLIAM OF WILLIAM INNES PHOTOGRAPHY:
Do Your Homework. You’ll get much more out of a meeting or conversation with a wedding photographer if you do a little background homework first. Spend some time on the internet or talking to friends who’ve recently been married. Find out the average prices in your area and what services are available. Get an idea of what you like and don’t like. Wedding websites and chat rooms can be a great resource. This way when you meet with a wedding photographer you’ll be able to ask better questions and have an idea of what to look out for.
- Meet With Them. An in person meeting is the best way to interview a potential wedding vendor. It lets you get the full experience of their personality, style and professionalism. If that’s not possible, have a phone conversation.
- Ask Questions. There are no stupid questions! Make sure you get clear, specific answers to your questions. If you aren't sure what something means, ask them to clarify. Keep asking questions until you completely understand.If a wedding photographer has a problem with you asking questions, they probably aren’t the one for you. The best wedding professionals are patient, understanding and take the time to help you make the best choices for your wedding.
- Listen. Don’t just hear the words they say, really listen. Watch the photographer’s body language. Are they confident and comfortable with their response? Do they look and sound nervous? Do you get a “funny feeling” about them? Take all the sights, sounds and feelings into account along with their responses; if your gut tells you something isn’t right, it probably isn’t.
- Check References. Portfolios are hand-picked to show off the best work, but they may not represent the “average” wedding performance. Videos are edited for the optimum presentation. But real referrals from satisfied clients are hard to fake. Call up both client and professional references. Ask questions and use those listening skills. Even if they give a rave review, you’ll often be able to “read between the lines” if there were any issues or problems. Ask around and search the internet for reviews. Check the Better Business Bureau for any outstanding complaints against the business. Weigh all of this information into your choices.
DJ ADVICE FROM JABARI OF JABARI WARFIELD ENTERTAINMENT:
- A good DJ will make a personal connection with you. While in the planning stages of your event, your DJ should make the effort to stay in touch with you, either by phone or email. While everyone does use text message these days, sometimes our messages can be misread, or interpreted wrong when using text, so phone calls are still the best method of communication.
- A DJ should be open to meeting with his/her clients in person. Skype, Google Hangouts, and Face Time are also good to use in certain situations. When meeting face to face, I suggest a comfortable place, such as a coffee shop or mom & pop style restaurant with medium to large tables. Homes are good to meet, but there can be many distractions in a home, so a neutral venue is best. If possible, try to schedule your meeting BEFORE the lunch and dinner rush to avoid being in an atmosphere that is too hard to hear.
- Your DJ should be open to playing the music that you want, as well as music that you do NOT want to hear. This might also include your guests, but that is up to your discretion of course. Be open to sending music that you specifically want to hear.
- When meeting with a DJ, check their style of dress, mannerisms, demeanor, being on time, commitment to appointments, etc. Don’t be afraid to check their social media thumbprint, i.e. Facebook, Instagram, etc.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for references. Also make sure that your DJ sends you a contract with the following-
- Company name
- Your name as well as your bride/grooms name
- Address of the venue
- Time/date/year of event (yes, Year. Many people book DJ’s well in advance)
- Time the DJ will arrive/set-up/tear down
- If DJ is providing extras, i.e. up-lighting, smoke, etc
- Music agreed upon
- Style of dress (if necessary)
- You get what you pay for. Most people who hire a DJ would jump at the chance to get a DJ for free, or for a very cheap price. Keep in mind that if you hire a DJ for free, they are not committed to show up. Most DJ’s will not pass up the chance to do a wedding, because of the importance of the day, as well as repeat business; however, the old saying “you get what you pay for” applies here as well. Quality does come at a premium price, so while you do not have to blow your budget on a solid DJ, keep in mind that cheaper does not always mean better.
WEDDING PLANNER TIPS FROM LIZ ANN OF LIZ ANN WEDDING & EVENTS:
Advice to the Newly Engaged on IF and WHO to Hire as Your Wedding Planner
Brides Needing a Wedding Planner
The biggest questions brides face is knowing if a Wedding Planner is right for them? Though most Brides can benefit from the help of a planner, these situations call for one more so than others:
- Destination weddings: it’s no coincidence that 25 percent of those embarking on a destination wedding hire a planner.
- Large weddings (more than 200 hundred guests): more people, more work.
- Difficult family dynamics: the planner can serve as a neutral point person, negotiator, and mediator.
- Inflexible work schedule: if you can’t devote at least 100+ hours to the wedding a planner will be a lifesaver.
- Organizational phobia: if organization isn’t your strong point a planner can be a godsend.
- Using your local resources such as TheKnot.com or WeddingWire.com. These websites can help lead you to local planners in your area. If you happen to have a venue ask your venue coordinator if they have a preferred vendor listing. This list will lead you to planners who work with the venue often and will give you that added confidence of knowing the ins and outs of the venue.
- When looking at a planners website look at their work and their style. You’ll notice whether they have a certain style they lean towards. This will help you decide if that planner will be the right fit for what you have envisioned. You wouldn’t want to hire a planner who predominantly works beach weddings when you’re looking for a farm style wedding. Also look for the services they offer. Not every planner offers the same services. Don’t forget the check out the testimonial or applause page on their website. A website without any testimonials could be a sign of shoddy service. Most new wives and husbands are more than happy to provide a praising testimonial shortly after the wedding and honeymoon.
- Once you’ve narrowed down your favorite planners begin emailing them if they have your wedding date available (if chosen yet) and begin comparing prices. Cheaper is not always better. Some may offer more services that could benefit you in the long run versus hiring another vendor.
- Once you’ve narrowed down your choices ask to meet in person. This will help you decide if you’ll actually be able to work well together. You’d want to work with a person that understands what you’re looking for and you feel comfortable around since you’ll be working with this person for several months. Basically would you consider this person as a friend and trusted colleague?
Once you’ve realized you need a planner and chosen the one right for you the fun part begins! Have fun while working with your planner! You’ll be amazed at what all great ideas you’ll bounce off one another and create the wedding of your dreams! Happy planning!
A SPECIAL THANKS TO WILLIAM INNES, JABARI WARFIELD, AND LIZ ANN LYLE FOR THEIR CONTRIBUTIONS! TO ALL THE BRIDES OUT THERE IN MIDST OF PLANNING, GOOD LUCK!!!
If you have any other advice for brides, feel free to leave it in the comments below!