‘Tis the season to get engaged!

With Christmas Eve & Christmas Day sharing the spot for most popular days to drop to one knee, New Years follows as a close second and Valentine’s Day is not far behind in third place. Once you have the ring and have shared the wonderful news, it’s time to get planning! But, where do you start?! Location? Date? Guest list? Budget? Bridal party? Photographer? Caterer? GAH! Before you know it you are a muddled mess with a case of wedding planning blues and an idea to elope with your sweetie. Now, elopement is not a bad idea (especially to Vermont!!), however, planning a full wedding does not have to be stressful or difficult. North Photography reached out to some wonderful couples who have been there, done that and shared their advice on where to start, how to tackle things, and how to enjoy the whole planning process. If you have additional advice to share, please leave a comment below. 🙂 Thank you to everyone who put the time into sharing advice for this collaborative post!

Where to start?

“Get organized…While some brides might opt for a traditional wedding planner, I strongly suggest creating an excel spreadsheet of things to do, complete with the due date and the person in charge (or use Google’s free one!). It’s easier to share (especially with the groom) so everyone is on the same page.” Muna & Irving, August 2011

“Make a point, early on, to talk about what your decision-making process is going to be. There are going to be LOTS of decisions that have to be made, both big and small, and knowing how to approach these will lead to happy outcomes.” Mollie & Nia, May 2011

“First thing we did was make a list of all of the people we thought we would want to invite. This will make a difference when you are trying to find a location. Once we did that we thought about the time of year we wanted to get married. We really wanted a fall wedding but with school that was not the best choice for us. So we decided on summer.” Liz & Kevin, July 2011

“Book your church…you have to get the date you want first.” Mary, Mother of the Bride: Maria & Matt, July 2011

“It’s ok to have a wedding on a Tuesday, or even two weddings. As long as the photographer is cool with that.” Steve & Brianne, September 2011 ** Steve & Brianne had an intimate ceremony and celebration with their closest family and friends on a Tuesday at their family home and then had a much larger celebration with their extended family and friends on the following Saturday. A great way to spread out the celebration and your budget!

“Establish a budget. Gather estimates and get a sense of what event services cost. By putting a price tag on photography, flowers, venue rentals etc. you will soon gain better understanding of your realistic budget. Hold a family meeting with both sets of parents to determine who and how much each is willing and able to contribute then allocate the necessary funds for each area.” Cher Goggins, Wedding Day Magazine

“Tackle one big thing at a time. For example find your venue, then Photographer (so you can do engagement shots), then DJ, then cake, etc.” Liz & Kevin, July 2011

“A few words of advice that I would have would be to get things done early…there are going to be so many people to see and fun things to do right before the big day that you want to be able to take it all in so if everything is done well in advance then you will have a relaxing few days leading up to the BIG day.” Meg & Will, November 2011

“If you are on a tight budget and want a lavish looking wedding, concentrate on the season and location. We choose December and a smaller hotel knowing that it would be decked out for the holidays and we wouldn’t have to spend a fortune on flowers. Same for a field in the spring or a farm in the fall.” Karleigh & Tom, December 2011

“Don’t sweat the small stuff, people don’t remember what they have for dinner as much as they remember the love the day had in it.” Bridgett & Eric, July 2011

“A great place to visit is your surrounding libraries to flip thru magazines and check out books, cd’s for music and any other resourceful literature. Talk to the librarian, she’ll put you to the right shelf. There are so many great books to look at.” Jeanette, Mother of the Bride: Jacqui & Jon, October 2011

“Sometimes “DIY” isn’t worth the money you may save. Your time and sanity (and your families) is worth something. Having the personal touch of DIY projects is great but don’t go overboard, realize a million little projects are hard to keep track of and organized.” Kali & Erik, September 2011

“Use www.theknot.com. Plan ahead and know what you want, however, be flexible and willing to compromise. Work as a team and remember that in the end, all that really matters is that you will be married.” Andi & Steve, July 2011

Choosing your Winning Team

“Your bridal party does more than just stand up next to you on your wedding day. They are there to offer support and help through the whole planning process and wedding day! Choose friends and family members you can count on.” Kathleen, North Photography

“Pick the right vendors and get to know them. These are the people who can either make or break your day. Make sure you pick the ones who understand your vision and can work with you before, during and even after the wedding.” Muna & Irving, August 2011

Utilize the internet and local wedding publications: “I knew that we wanted a more casual feel and also that we did not want a tent for the wedding because I was nervous about the weather being bad, so I looked for places that could hold around 125 that had an indoor reception area. I began buying Vermont Vows magazine and this was VERY helpful with my planning. I looked on-line at every venue in that magazine which is how I found Pigeon Hill.” Liz & Kevin, July 2011

“Set up meetings with vendors as early as possible. Especially if planning from afar and can’t travel to the wedding venue/area as often. We didn’t get to VT until the week before the wedding and while everything went smoothly, it was a pretty stressful week.” Muna & Irving, August 2011

“Have someone that will be the “contact” person on the day of the wedding. Everyone has questions and wants YOU to answer them. Try the best you can to relax and delegate things that come up. If no one can answer the questions but you, at least you will only have one person asking you instead of everyone. They can answer the text and phone calls from friends about directions, timeline, etc.” Kali & Erik, September 2011

“Seek out the advice and assistance of well-regarded professionals.” Andi & Steve, July 2011

“I used the internet and Vermont Vows a lot. My DJ was in Vermont Vows and I also got a recommendation for my photographer. I think it is really important to meet with everyone you will be working with for your wedding. They are very important for your big day and it is important that you like and trust them” Liz & Kevin, July 2011

Keeping it Together

“Stay organized and make to-do lists. I made a binder with a tab for each vendor and made monthly to do lists so that as the month went on I was able to know what I got done and feel like I was accomplishing things. We made a list/schedule for the wedding party and emailed it out so that everyone knew their expectations.” Meg & Will, November 2011

“Don’t lose sight of why you’re planning this all-consuming, expensive, and at-times stressful event. It should be about your love of one another, your shared commitment to the future, and a desire to have all of your loved ones together – in one place, at one time – celebrating with you. You will never have all of these people together again, ever.” Mollie & Nia, May 2011

“The most important aspect of planning my daughter’s wedding was to communicate with everyone involved. Designate one calendar book for all appointments, names, contacts, phone numbers, etc.” Jeanette, Mother of the Bride: Jacqui & Jon, October 2011

“I would suggest using a site like the knot for its checklist. It basically lists everything you should do or consider doing for the wedding and when it should be done by. It was very helpful to me in my planning.” Liz & Kevin, July 2011

“Don’t let yourselves get bogged down in the minutia. When you’re stressing about the color of the napkins and the right font for the invitation, ask yourself this all-important question: Will anyone remember in 1 year? If the answer is “no” then make a quick and informed decision and move onto the things that matter.” Mollie & Nia, May 2011

Handling Wedding Planning Stress

“Sometimes when you are stressed and feeling overwhelmed, you need to stop what you are doing, and do something fun with your fiancé. After all, they are the reason that you are getting married and you need to put it in perspective when you are starting to regret not choosing to elope.” Meg & Will, November 2011

“List out the things that you MUST have and compromise on other things. It made sense for us budget-wise. Talk to both families and decide which traditions (if any) will be included in the wedding.” Muna & Irving, August 2011

“I learned not to read wedding magazines! They were a huge cause of stress and doubt about my choices. Once you choose a dress, color, location etc. then you need to just put it down and walk away.” Karleigh & Tom, December 2011

“Relax. The most important detail, marry the right person.” James & Josh, August 2011

“Keep family members informed but too many opinions makes everything harder. You can’t make everyone happy so don’t put the pressure on yourself.” Kali & Erik, September 2011

“When we didn’t see eye-to-eye on something that required a decision, we talked about it in an open way and found ways to compromise. Compromise was key.” Mollie & Nia, May 2011

The Day is Here!!

“We made a ‘Day Of’ contact list with every vendor’s name and phone number so, if anyone was a no show we wouldn’t have to scramble for their names and numbers the day of.” Meg & Will, November 2011

“Create a list of things to pack. We forgot our cake topper back in Chicago and just remembered few days before the wedding, unnecessary stress!” Muna & Irving, August 2011

“Use the people you have around you. Family and friends are always willing to help. Take them up on it even if it is the day before.” Bridgett & Eric, July 2011

“I was really nerved up about decorating the space, but I made sure to be really organized with labeled boxes and extra things I might need — a craft box (scissors, tape, sharpie, extra paper for labeling); a dessert table box; guest book/entrance room/gift table box; a dressing room box (my makeup bag, shoes, extra heal and blister pads, Band-Aids, gifts for my mom and sisters).” Suzanne & Paul, January 2011

“On the big day take a moment to be with each other on the wedding day away from everyone. The day might be overwhelming so it’s good to just take a step back and unwind a bit.” Muna & Irving, August 2011

“The one piece of advice that my sister gave me that I took and was really glad I did was doing a first look. I was already pretty nervous so it was really nice to see Kevin before the ceremony. It was also really nice that we got a lot of our pictures done then. We actually got to go to some of our cocktail hour, which was really nice. I know that when I go to weddings I am always wondering were the Bride and Groom are and how long until I can see and congratulate them.” Liz & Kevin, July 2011

“Remember that you can never plan for everything. There will always be something in the end that goes wrong, something you didn’t plan for or that doesn’t happen they way you hoped. You will realize after the wedding that the things that weren’t “perfect” don’t matter, no one else noticed, and that the bigger picture was still beautiful!” Kali & Erik, September 2011

“Take time to dance and have fun. You will not be able to have lengthy conversations with everyone but do at least talk to and thank everyone for coming.” Liz & Kevin, July 2011

“Instead of worrying about guests that may not show up, take time during the ceremony and reception to look around and appreciate that all of those people are there to support you as a couple and your marriage. If something does go wrong, constantly remind yourself of how perfect everything else is and that tomorrow most people aren’t even going to realize what went wrong. Staying positive is key!” Meg & Will, November 2011

“Give yourself a day between the wedding and the honeymoon. Also at least one day when you get back before returning to work.” Kali & Erik, September 2011

“Remember to breathe, enjoy the planning and have fun on the Special Day and SMILE. All your planning and hard work is over in 4 to 6 hours.” Jeannette, Mother of the Bride: Jacqui & Jon, October 2011

“LET GO and IMMERSE YOURSELF in the FUN OF IT ALL! By the day of the wedding your excellent pre-planning work should ensure that everything (or almost everything!) comes off without a hitch, and you shouldn’t need to micro-manage things.” Mollie & Nia, May 2011

Let the planning begin! To inquire about North Photography’s availability for 2012, visit www.north-photo.com and submit a contact form with your wedding location and date. For other wonderful Vermont wedding resources, visit www.yourvermontwedding.com. I look forward to chatting soon!