Updated: Nov 2, 2018
Let me introduce myself. I am Michayla, and if you didn't know, I am Shelly's favorite daughter and best friend forever. I would love to say that writing this post was easy for me and that I have an overwhelming amount of wisdom to bestow upon you, but I have to be honest. This was hard. First, I don't consider myself a great writer, and second, in the age of Pinterest you probably have read fourteen blog posts that all said the same things about being a bride. With that being said, I will try my best to share some more personal experiences from my time as a "bride-to-be". Here are some things I learned, some things I knew, and some things that I just think are important to talk about.
1. Establish boundaries before you start planning.
When Logan proposed to me, I knew that it was coming. We had talked about getting married for most of our dating life. This let us talk about what we wanted from our life together and what we wanted for our wedding. We decided before we got engaged that we would be in complete charge of our guest list and our choices as long as the other person agreed. After our engagement, we let everyone know what would be happening, and Logan and I did most of the planning and decision-making together. There were little details that I cared more about, so Logan didn't give much input, but the big stuff was decided by the two of us.
Now, I know this can't be the case for everyone. Money and politics play into weddings a lot, but I would suggest that you decide with your fiancé who is going to be involved and to what extent. A practical thing that Logan and I did was ask both of our parents to give us a list with who they wanted to invite. From there, we took the list and made the cuts based on our maximum number of 200.
2. Budgets suck.
Okay, this one isn't really advice, but it is something I learned. I thought I was super great at budgets until I planned a wedding. They are SO expensive, and I didn't realize how much money would be going into a mostly DIY wedding. I wish I would've done a better job at keeping track of all of our expenses. I ended buying a lot of things myself that weren't in the official budget. It was really easy to lose track of those purchases. Budgets are stressful and it's a lot of money. There will be times where you will get overwhelmed by it. Just be prepared for it to be expensive and stressful. There isn't anyway to get rid of the stress besides eloping (which I would never discourage). There are more budgeting tips I may share in the future in a more in depth post about our DIY wedding.
3. Get off Pinterest.
Seriously, please get off Pinterest. We did a lot of projects ourselves for the wedding. Pinterest was so very helpful in lending ideas and instructions for some of these projects, but it also started to give me a little bit of anxiety. There were so many options and ideas popping up in my face that I second guessed so many things. Even my dress. I would say once you make a decision, stop looking. You can't have it all, and once you stop looking at all those pictures of those perfect weddings, it really is a relief.
4. Decide what's important to you and what is not.
Early on, I learned to prioritize the things that I wanted out of our wedding and let go of things I didn't care as much about. This is a great way to save money and to reduce stress. For example, I didn't really care about our wedding food that much, BUT I really, really cared about dessert. I put my time, effort, and part of our budget in creating a dessert and coffee bar. We had our own sound equipment so we created our own playlist and ditched hiring a DJ. That money was used towards other things that we may have not been able to afford otherwise–like a videographer. Write down your top must-haves and start planning your budget around those things. It will really help your vision come to life!
5. Pick the right venue.
If everything went wrong on our wedding day, I don't think it could have been a bad day. Our venue was absolutely incredible. The space itself was gorgeous, but the staff there went above and beyond. At one point we ran out of hot water for our coffee bar because the caterer didn't bring enough. Our venue coordinator for the day went and microwaved mason jars full of water so that our guests could keep enjoying the hot chocolate. How crazy helpful is that?
When you're looking for a venue, it is easy to get caught up in a pretty space. Make sure you do lots of research on what they offer. Our venue was very clear on what was included in the price, but some venues have hidden fees. Ask lots of questions at a venue tour, and make sure you connect with the staff there. They will make all of the difference on your wedding day.
If you're in the St. Louis area and looking for a venue Haue Valley is the absolute best. We adore them.
6. Be clear on what you want from your guests.
We didn't really care if our guests took pictures during our ceremony, but some people want an unplugged wedding. We have been to weddings that had their preferences written on the program, and had it on signs. If you want something, be super duper clear about it. We had lots of signs for our gift table, our hashtag, etc. We also had our officiant give instructions on what will happen after the ceremony ended our whole wedding party exited. This was really helpful and we would definitely recommend it.
7. Make clear lists for your vendors.
I had a picture list and schedule for my photographer and videographer. It was the basic timeline of the day and a list of our family members and wedding party. I would recommend going a step further than that. You may not know you want a specific picture with a specific person until after you get your photos back. On your list, I would write down who each person is. If your bridesmaids are your best friends or sisters or sisters-in-law, let your photographer know. This will help them know how you're connected to each person, and they will be able to do their job without you having to ask. My photographer was amazing and captured those moments for me (Emmalie Christine Photography).
8. Life happens.
This one was a really hard lesson I had to learn during wedding planning. Logan and I were engaged for almost eleven months. During those months we lost two close family members, switched jobs twice, traveled out of the country, and we were both still in school. Wedding planning seems like a dream at times, but there are other times where life just gets too heavy, and you have to put that planning on the back-burner.
Another thing that I did not expect was dealing with all of the emotions that life would bring. I have always dealt with anxiety and periods of depression. When you're getting married, you don't think you're going to get depressed, but it happened to me. And it sucked. I was too busy and didn't process my emotions well. Please, please, please take enough time to reflect on what is going on around you and how you are feeling. Journal your thoughts, read a good book, go get your favorite cup of coffee and just relax. Once I started to do that, it got a lot better. There are a lot of layers to what I experienced during that time, but the simplest advice I can give is to not just let life happen, but experience it fully. The good and the bad.
9. Take time with your spouse.
One of my favorite memories of our wedding day was getting to spend alone time with Logan. We didn't do a first look, but we did pray together without seeing each other. The spot I wanted to do this was a big beautiful tree outside of the bridal room, but it was right in front of our ceremony space where all of our guests were. Oops. Make sure you find a spot that's close to where you are or leave enough time for you to go somewhere to have a first look or prayer. We also went right after our ceremony to take pictures. It was just the two of us. Our venue coordinator drove us around on their gator and had a cozy blanket for us to cuddle up with (it was COLD). Again, our venue staff was incredible. Anyway, those moments were so special to me, and you can really see that in the pictures we got during those 20 minutes.
10. Go somewhere in your wedding clothes.
This last one is kind of silly, but Logan and I really wanted to go somewhere all dressed up. There was a Steak n' Shake right down the road, and luckily our photographer was up for a little adventure. Our first date was at Steak n' Shake, so it just seemed like the right place. Our waiter was so sweet and hilarious. He totally went along with it and made our experience there so much fun. It's lot of fun to go somewhere unexpected in your wedding clothes. And the pictures are even more fun!!
Our Amazing Vendors
Venue: Haue Valley
Photography: Emmalie Christine Photography
Videography: Cassandra Isbell
Dress: White Traditions