There are some things that extend beyond your control on your wedding day (like an unexpected thunderstorm or your DJ coming down with the flu). But there a few common wedding planning mistakes that you can avoid up front, in the sometimes overwhelming process of booking vendors, choosing food, and keeping track of guests. Even the most organized couple can make mistakes during the wedding planning journey.
The good news is hiring a professional wedding planner can help you avoid common blunders made by couples as they go through the checklist. But if you’re wondering what to look out for, here are common wedding planning mistakes couples.
1. Blowing Off Your Wedding Budget
Money may not be the most fun topic to discuss in light of your engagement, but it’s so important. Danielle Couick, principal and creative director at Magnolia Bluebird Design & Events, tells The Knot the first step couples should take is getting the decision makers together and establishing a firm budget. Many times, excited to-be-weds start booking vendors and making purchases without having a budget in mind—and then are shocked to discover they’ve already spent most of their money and don’t have all of the things they need. Planning a wedding is serious business, so it’s important to make a budget and keep track of your expenditures so you have all of your ducks in a row and can actually relax on your wedding day. Need help? Use our Wedding Budgeter Planner.
2. Messing Up the Marriage License
There are lots of rules surrounding marriage licenses that you might not be familiar with. For instance, if you get your license 61 days before your wedding in Pennsylvania, you won’t be able to legally marry on your wedding day because a license is valid in the state for only 60 days. (You could still have the ceremony, though—guests wouldn’t ever know you weren’t legally married on that day.) Obtain your license the day before your wedding, and it’s possible you may not get it in time (some states have a three-day waiting period). A common mishap for those marrying for a second time is forgetting your official divorce papers when you get the certificate. Find other things no one tells you about getting a marriage license here.
3. Getting Attached to a Specific Flower Type
When you book your florist a year before your wedding day, they can only guess which blooms will be in your price range and available for your wedding. If your heart is set on orchids, you could be disappointed the day of. To prevent this, choose backups to your main blooms and add them to your contract. Try to think in terms of colors and shapes instead of specific flowers.
4. Letting Other People Pick Your Wedding Party
Your wedding party is yours, which means you’re the one narrowing it down to your closest friends and family members, regardless of gender, familial ties and many other factors. “Your best friends, your nearest and dearest, regardless of gender, should be standing next to you if you’re having a wedding party,” says Jove Meyer, owner and creative director of Jove Meyer Events. Picking people to please a family member can also result in a sticky situation, so it’s best to choose what feels right for you. After all, it’s your wedding day.
5. Blowing Your Fashion Budget on Just the Dress
If you have $1,500 set aside for your bridal look, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be able to buy a gown with a $1,500 price tag. Tack on tax and, if you’re not buying off the rack, shipping. You’ll likely need alterations too. Don’t forget to factor in your undergarments, shoes, veil, hair accessories and jewelry when budgeting for your overall look.
6. Sending Out Save-the-Dates Too Soon
It may be tempting to tell everyone about your wedding date as soon as possible, but don’t send those save-the-date cards until you’ve finalized the guest list. Save-the-dates are typically sent out eight to ten months before your wedding date, and only to guests you’re positive will be invited. So, there are no hurt feelings.
7. Ordering Your Wedding Dress Too Late
If you’re purchasing a wedding dress that needs to be customized or ordered, do so by the six-month mark latest. Since your dress will be custom made (and possibly shipped from overseas), buffer in ample time to receive the piece and complete fittings. In addition, most off-the-rack wedding dresses will require alterations, so make certain you have enough time for that entire process. The same goes for the bridesmaid dresses.
8. Booking Hotel Rooms Too Late
This is an easy wedding planning mistake to make for newly engaged couples. To-be-weds will leave the task of securing hotel room blocks for out-of-town wedding guests until the last minute. If you’re marrying during a busy time and you don’t look into hotel availability in advance, you can end up with no rooms for your guests so reserve as early as possible. Begin your research up to a year in advance, and make sure your block is booked at least by the eight-month mark—if not sooner. Include hotel information in your save-the-date cards, wedding website and invitations. (FYI, you’re just setting them aside—your guests will put down their own credit cards when they call to book the rooms.)
9. Skipping the Videographer
Photos are a must for most couples, but they only take you so far—videos let you hear your and your partner’s voices as you say your vows and watch your friends tear up the dance floor. By hiring a professional videographer to document your wedding, you’ll relive those special moments you may have missed on the day, like interactions with grandparents, that you’ll definitely want to treasure for a lifetime.
10. Underpaying Invitation Postage
You’d be surprised how many to-be-weds underestimate the postage stamp process with some dropping an entire batch into a mailbox without paying the correct amount. Most wedding invitations require additional postage, and the post office will return them back to you. Weigh an invitation at the post office before purchasing your stamps and be aware of any price increases too. (Note: Square invitations require additional postage not only because of the weight but the shape too.)
11. Inviting Too Many Guests
Your guest list and the maximum capacity of people at the reception site should match up. You can’t invite 400 people assuming only 250 will accept. If you end up with 300 acceptances, you may have to turn 50 guests away at the door. As much as vendors would like to accommodate you, most wedding venues are prohibited from adding 10 more tables, especially since fire laws limit the maximum number of people allowed in any room at one time. Analyze your guest list from the get-go, assume 80 percent will respond “yes” and limit that amount accordingly.
12. Micromanaging Your Vendors
You’re booking talented pros who understand your vision, so it’s important to let them do their jobs. We know it’s tempting to control every detail, but after your initial meetings, it’s best to step back and trust the pros to get it right (and keep on good terms with them). After all, you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, Couick says. “You don’t have to go over the top, but being considerate and genuinely kind will go a really long with your vendors. The nastier you are does not do you any favors.”
13. Not Asking Enough Questions
While it’s important to be polite to your vendors, it’s also important to make sure you get all the information you need. Don’t be afraid to ask specific questions so that you understand exactly what you’re signing up for. Ask your vendors to spell it out for you. “If your florist gives you a proposal that says ‘healthy white flowers in May,’ are they peonies? Are the carnations? Are they mums?” It may be uncomfortable to ask the pros so many questions, but it will help you and your partner make informed decisions throughout the process.
14. Hiring a Friend Instead of a Pro
Your friend from college may make amazing workout playlists, but that doesn’t mean he’ll make a great wedding DJ. The same goes for your friend who’s an expert Instagrammer—this doesn’t make her a photographer. Even on a tight budget, we always recommend hiring professional wedding vendors with experience. Plus it’s more fun if your friends can fully enjoy your wedding day with you anyway.
15. Trying to Go It Alone
If you’re a to-be-wed lucky enough to have been offered help by friends or family members, by all means, take it. Too many people try to do it all, which can get overwhelming. Delegate and use all the resources that are available to you. When people offer to assist, like your mom, future mother-in-law or best friend, find something for them to do, like researching a vendor or addressing invitations. But it’s important to keep in mind that these volunteers don’t work for you, so accept their contributions graciously. If you need more help, hire a professional wedding planner so someone can take on those difficult tasks throughout the whole process.
16. Forgetting to Focus on What’s Important
Keep in mind you’re getting married and starting a life together. Be good to each other (and those helping you plan the celebration). Some tension, whether it’s between you as a couple or with loved ones, is inevitable due to the heavy decisions that accompany weddings. Remember why you decided to take this leap in the first place—and don’t be afraid to preemptively download Lasting, a first-of-its-kind marriage health app.