Planning a wedding is f*king hard.

It’s incredibly time consuming, and stressful, and suddenly you’re obsessing over what color napkins won’t clash with your bridesmaids dresses.

Overall, I have few complaints about the entire experience. We got extremely lucky with our wedding planning process. For the most part, we had very few issues. We gave ourselves plenty of time to plan and got a jump on the big things as quickly as possible.  However, we still ran into a few snags and there was a BUNCH of stuff I wish I had known before planning such an important event. So, without further adieu, here are my best tips for planning a wedding:

Photo by Elizabeth Pence Photography

Choose a venue as early as possible.

It might be easy to sit around and bask in your new engagement, but if you’re planning on having an actual wedding you need to get to work ASAP.

My husband and I had talked seriously about getting married for about a year or so before he proposed. Once he popped the question, we started laying out a timeline. At this point, we had no idea if we wanted a huge wedding or to just elope somewhere just the two of us. What we did know, was that we wanted to be married within a year and a half of being engaged.

About a month into our engagement, we decided on having the big wedding. Once we decided how we wanted to get married, we got to work on the details.

We got engaged in October and by Christmas we knew what venue we wanted for our wedding. Two weeks into the new year we booked our dream venue for March of the following year.

The rest of the wedding planning process fell into place nicely and I have to attribute most of that to us deciding the venue early on.

Photo by Elizabeth Pence Photography

Use your gift registry.

Honestly, we had a really hard time with this one. When first planning our wedding, we were dead set on the idea of not creating a gift registry. My husband and were living together for about three years before we got married. We already had the household essentials most people ask for on a wedding registry, and asking for more things felt a little greedy.

We considered setting up a “cash registry” for our honeymoon. That was what we really cared about! We had a seven night Western Caribbean cruise planned that we were ecstatic about and knew we’d appreciate a little spending money to help us out. As much as we saw that people were setting up Honeymoon Funds and all kinds of cash registries, we just couldn’t bring ourselves to flat out ask our family and friends for money. It felt super awkward.

So, after much discussion, we decided to keep this tradition and create a gift registry. We ended up using our registry to upgrade items in our home. Most of our household items, like pots and pans, dishes were either hand-me-downs or the cheapest option we could buy from Big Lots. We wanted something a bit nicer for the start of our married life.

At the end of the day, I’m glad we ended up creating a gift registry. It was nice to have new things to begin our married life together with. Plus, guests seemed to enjoy buying us tangible things. I still have guests asking me how we like the gift they gave us, which is really nice.

Photo by Elizabeth Pence Photography.

Take as many pictures as you can before the ceremony.

I took as much advice from vendors as possible during the wedding planning process because, like most people, I had no idea how to plan a wedding. 

Several vendors suggested that we take photos with the bridal party and each other before the ceremony. I was aware of the “first look” trend, but wasn’t that into it. I felt like it put a lot of pressure on the bride and groom to have these beautiful and emotional reactions.

This is a great idea for couples who aren’t superstitious and want to actually go to their cocktail hour. It’s not traditional for the bride and groom to go to their cocktail hour as typically they are taking photos and preparing for their entrance at the reception.

My husband and I wanted to go to our cocktail hour.

We planned it and our guests came here for us. We wanted to spend as much time with them as possible! And it ended up being the best thing we did! After the ceremony we took traditional family photos, but finished with more than enough time to go to cocktail hour and socialize with our guests. When it was time for our reception we were able to actually sit down and eat because we had already spoken to all of our guests at cocktail hour.

Another advantage of taking photos before the ceremony, is it helps with your nerves! I was a nervous wreck the hour before the ceremony, but mostly because of being in front of people. I had already seen my husband, which helped a lot with eliminating some butterflies.

Photo by Elizabeth Pence Photography.

Disposable cameras make for great fun and hilarious reception photos.

Full disclosure: This is not my idea. And you probably already knew that.

This popular Pinterest idea wasn’t in our wedding plans until we went to a friends wedding and they did this. We had so much fun with these silly little disposable cameras, my husband insisted we do this at our wedding!

And it was just as fun! This is one of those things that has become popular on the internet, but is actually really awesome to do. I promise you won’t regret this. We have some really hilarious photos of our guests and some great shots of ourselves through the perspective of our guests that we wouldn’t otherwise have. My cameras came in a bundle on Amazon and had them developed at Walmart the week after our wedding.

*Remember to use flash if you’re inside! We had a lot of dark photos because I guess people forgot how to use disposable cameras.

Photo by Elizabeth Pence Photography.

Don’t make plans for the next day. Seriously.

You will be exhausted. You might be hungover. You probably didn’t sleep well the night before (I definitely didn’t!) And you’re absolutely NOT going to want to have any obligations for the day after your wedding other than resting.

And why should you?

You just got married!

My husband and I were completely useless the day after our wedding. We woke up early, checked out of our hotel, and got an Uber back to our house. Then, we completely passed out for the rest of the day. Somehow we managed to get ourselves together enough to go out to dinner with some friends who were in town for our wedding. But that was it!

I kept thinking about how a lot of couples travel the day after their wedding for their honeymoon, and I seriously have no idea how those couples do it. More power to you, you crazy kids.

Photo by Elizabeth Pence Photography.

You’re not going to make everyone happy, and don’t worry yourself about it.

This is a really hard lesson to learn. Especially during such an important time, like planning your wedding!

I like to think of myself as more of a “chill bride.” I was comfortable with people wearing what made them comfortable. I didn’t particularly care about the little things. But there is always something that pops up during wedding planning that will get under your skin.

There were a few things that our family was a little pushy about insisting we did. We gave in to some things but put our foot down on the big things that actually mattered to us. Remember, its still your day and whatever you and your partner want (within reason) should happen. However, pick and choose your battles. If its not worth arguing about, just say yes and get back to wedding planning.

Your wedding is supposed to be fun and memorable. But at the end of the day, the only thing that really matters is you and your partner and the commitment you’re making to one another. Don’t let the wedding planning stressors take away from this special time!

About Author

My name is Morgan Rundquist and I am the creator of the lifestyle blog, Unapologetically Morgs. I’m a 90s baby born, raised, and still living in beautiful Wilmington, North Carolina with my husband Kaleb, and our fur-children Teddy, Tater Tot, and Taco. Wine, writing, television shows, and animals (specifically, cats) take up most of the space in my brain. And of course, traveling. I will never pretend I am some accomplished, professional traveler (not yet at least) but I am extremely passionate about visiting and experiencing other places. Even as a child I looked forward to long car rides because that meant we were visiting someplace new. As an adult, I am fortunate to be able to travel often and share these experiences on my platform!

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