First if you are newly engaged, or you have been engaged for awhile, Congratulations! So many emotions. Love, excitement, fear. I am going to give you advice not as a wedding planner, but as someone who has been married twice, and also been married for over 20 years. If you think I’m going to have some twist and try to sell you on all the reasons you need a wedding planner/coordinator, sorry…I’m not going to do that!

When you first get engaged there is so much excitement. I mean you are going to have a wedding of some sort and get to spend the rest of your life with this person you adore. If you are planning a big wedding there is a lot to deal with. What do you want your wedding to look like? What feel do you want your wedding to have? Who do invite? Who not to invite? The decorations and what to wear…oh….and the thought of the family getting together (good and bad). And how to seat your divorced parents as far away from each other yet close enough so one doesn’t feel snubbed.

It’s very easy to get wrapped up in all the details. You have been to many of your friends weddings and you have secretly made a mental note of what you liked and didn’t like. You now sit and make lists upon lists and spend all your free time creating Pinterest boards for every single aspect of this day. You may feel the need to go with the flow and have the same colors and style that you loved from your BFF’s wedding last Spring. You may want to do something very different and unique that it will wow and amaze everyone because they have never seen anything such as this.

So let me tell you a bit about both of my weddings…

My first wedding was in Italy. I know it sounds way more romantic than it was.  We were both in the Air Force and decided that it was the next step we should take into adulthood. We were 20 years old. We had only dated for 4 months and we could survive anything. I had a blue dress that my mother had sent over and we got married by the Mayor of Brindisi Italy in a very strange sort of ceremony. We each stood on opposite sides of a table. We had a translator and about 15 people in the room with us, only 3 we knew. We slid the rings across the table and it was done. About a year later when we returned to the States, we had a reception for everyone to celebrate. Well, needless to say, that didn’t last. And it was NOT because of the ceremony.

Wedding Back yard wedding

My second wedding was 8 years later in Kentucky. We met on a blind date. Dated for about a year and a half. Never really had a formal proposal. We had kind of talked about it, but I didn’t realize I was actually getting married until I got a call from his mother welcoming me to the family. Well. Okay. Guess I’m going to get married.  Then we were trying to figure out what we were going to do with this wedding. Because he has such a big family, it was naturally a decent sized wedding. My to be husband had just gotten a job in Colorado. So the question: Do we have a wedding now or do we wait until we get to Colorado and have one there. We decided to do it before we left because it would be easier for the family to attend.


How we picked our date: He had called the Justice of the Peace to see when they had an opening in the next month. So June 20th it was! Exactly 2 weeks away. Okay, no problem. Because I was in the midst of having to sell a house and pack I honestly did NOT have time to plan a wedding of any size. So I gave the task to my mother, to be mother-in-law and to be sister-in-law. They got all the women together and made it happen. They were THRILLED to do this. It was truly a team effort on everyone’s part. The wedding was to be in my to be in law’s back yard. Venue and reception – check. My dress was off the rack at David’s Bridal ($200). My to be sister-in-law was my Maid of Honor. I told her to wear whatever she wanted that was comfortable. My to be husband borrowed a suit from his brother. And his Best Man was his best friend who set us up on the blind date. The cake was a gift from the best man’s mother who was a baker. The ceremony music was my to be brother in law with a CD player out the window blaring Bob Marley. I did my own hair and makeup. We did not have a professional photographer. We did not have a professional caterer.  And a florist was not involved. I made my bouquet and MOH bouquet. It was a very family oriented down to earth backyard wedding. We had about 30 people. We didn’t rent chairs because the ceremony wasn’t that long. So everyone stood with us. After the ceremony, we went into the house and a buffet was ready that all the ladies had gotten together and made stuff. We cut the cake, did toasts and then I changed. After we opened presents we all went down to the local bar where a reggae band happened to be playing. We did all of our first dances there.  And thus my Kentucky wedding. The only thing that mattered was that we were surrounded by people we loved and we really had a great time.

Now some people are either thinking…wow…that’s great! or OMG! I could NEVER! Well here’s the beauty of your wedding. It’s yours. You make it fit YOUR personality and your style. Not someone else’s.  I have had mothers say that they just “don’t want to be embarrassed” at their child’s wedding. You know what? It’s not theirs. And your decisions and personal style is not a reflection of them. Nor is their desire for certain things a reflection on you. I know, I know…But my parents are paying for it and they insist.” Yes. When the parents are paying for the wedding it makes things a little more complex. I would HOPE that your parents would give you the wedding YOU want. Parents want their kids to be happy and will do whatever to ensure they are. They already had a wedding. And if they want some over the top craziness, maybe your parents should do a vow renewal or have an anniversary party to get what they want.Wedding DIY Wedding

When you are planning your wedding, PLEASE do not overextend yourself. Do NOT take out a loan or finance your wedding. Do you really want to start your lives together in debt? And sometimes that means waiting a little longer after you get engaged to save up enough money to have the wedding you want. Now if you have oodles of money and can do whatever you want, then hey…go for it. But still. DO NOT OVERSPEND. You can have a lovely wedding at any price point. Remember, the most important thing about your wedding is that two people are making a promise to share the rest of their lives together. I know there is so much pressure it seems to have that magazine wedding. You want to be featured in Style Me Pretty or some other major wedding publication because you want EVERYONE to see how fabulous your day was. And if that is your goal and you have the means to do that, then knock yourself out! But for a majority of people, they don’t have $30-60K to spend on a wedding. And they may not want to.

Regardless of what you think is your perfect wedding…embrace that it is perfect for you! The more money you spend on a wedding and the more lavish it is does not guarantee a long happy marriage! We spent about $500 on our wedding in 1998 and things have worked out pretty good.  Don’t let people pressure you into something you may regret later!