1. Trying to decide between an open bar or a cash bar can be a tough decision. What we suggest is having an open bar, but just sticking with beer and wine (and maybe a specialty cocktail if you can swing it). This is much more cost effective than having liquor, and your guests will just be happy they're getting free drinks! Purchase an appropriate amount of alcohol, and when you run out, you run out!
2. In order to minimize unwanted advice from friends and family, learn how to communicate with them the correct way. Instead of asking “What do you think of this dress?”, say, “I found my dress! Just wanted to share it with you!” This lets people know you want them involved in the process, but aren't asking their permission or their opinion.
3. Talk to your officiant about the kind of wedding ceremony you would like. Do you want a fun, laughter-filled vibe? Or a more serious, emotional one? It's very important to talk with your officiant about your expectations as it's not something most couples focus on, but wish they had...
4. If you are going to hire a wedding planner, make it the FIRST thing you do. The most important decisions are made early on in the wedding planning process, like securing a venue. Hiring a wedding planner and letting them breakdown your budget in the beginning will allow you to correctly prioritize every budget category.
5. Don’t DIY. Let us clarify- if you are naturally super crafty and talented, then one or two reasonable crafts is okay. But if you’re just trying to save money and you’re thinking you can do everything yourself- don't! A majority of people end up spending more time and energy for a mediocre result.
6. Talk about feeding each other cake at the reception. We have seen some marriages almost end as soon as they begin when a groom shoves cake all over his bride's face!
7. Think about whether you want your officiant to skip the line, “Does anyone object?” More and more couples are leaving this line out of their ceremony.
8. Discuss the kiss. Are you going to wrap your arms around each other? Are you just going to lean in? What are you going to do with your hands? It's not something you would think you would have to discuss, but there's something about being in front of everyone you know that makes people do awkward things, so we suggest practicing!
9. Talk to your wedding photographer about what style of photography you like. Do you like posed photos or more candid, behind-the-scenes type photos? A photographer who does mainly portraits is going to have a very different style than a photo journalist, for example. Two photographers can photograph the same wedding and end up with very different types of images, so be sure that your photograph is in line with you and your fiance's vision of images you're wanting, not just that they take good quality images. And pay special attention to how they edit as well. Some photographers have a very light and bright editing style, while others have a more moody style. We love both of these styles but make sure you will still like the style you choose 20 years from now!
10. Buy your fiancé a new cologne, and have him buy you a new perfume, to exchange as gifts on your wedding day. Put it on for the day, and because smell is such a strong sense, every time you wear it (we suggest every anniversary), you two can reminisce on your wedding day!
11. Assign someone your phone on the morning of your wedding, because you will not be able to phone! And guests will text you asking for the venue address (yes) and congratulating you, but you need to be focused on getting married. Assign a bridesmaids, or better yet, your wedding day assistant, to answer text messages for you.
12. Don’t let a friend officiate your wedding. 1 out of 3 couples are now having a friend get ordained in order to marry them. We love the idea and meaning behind this, but it often leads to a memorable ceremony, and not in a good way! The most common fear in America is public speaking, and officiating a wedding is one of the most unique forms of public speaking. You want it to feel intimate for the couple, yet you also have an audience and want them to feel a part of the experience. Even a well meaning friend or family member can turn a ceremony into a very awkward speech filled with long pauses and "umm's", and a story about how they met the couple, instead of what it should be. What we suggest instead, is having that person do a short reading of some kind so they are still incorporated into the ceremony, while leaving the the important parts to a professional. We've seen even the most charismatic, smooth-talking friends turn into deer in headlights. If you simply must have a certain person officiate your wedding who isn't experienced, there’s a great book we suggest, “How to officiate a non-denominational wedding ceremony” by J.P. Reynolds. Even if you’re having a religious ceremony of some kind, there are a lot of great tips!