While planning your wedding, there may come a time (OK, it may happen a few times) where you'll want to throw your hands up in the air and give up. You may think that this is only happening to you, but as a professional wedding planner, I can assure you that most brides experience the same dilemmas. It's how you deal with those struggles that define your wedding-planning experience.
So, take my advice and be proactive. Use these tips and tricks to make wedding planning that much more enjoyable and to help mitigate even the most awkward situation. That way, you can focus on what's truly important: Celebrating with your fiancé!
Photo Credit: Shoreshotz Photography
While planning her wedding:
1. Location, location, location. Whether you want to throw a destination wedding or a hometown wedding, you may likely have guests who are going to have to travel. The challenge here is deciding if you are okay if some loved ones won't be able to make the trip. Once you decide that, you'll have to accept that there will be varying opinions on your choice of venue, and some guests might be offended. The solution: Make sure you have a clear reason for picking your venue that you can share with your guests. For example, perhaps your fiancé proposed in that city, or you both attended college in that town.
2. Kids or adults-only? You may feel torn between having an adults-only reception, but you know that your sister/friend/whoever will insist her kids should be the exception. Take some time to consider what is important to you. The solution: If you want the best of both worlds, create a fun, kid-friendly space or hire sitters. That way, parents won't have to worry about finding their own sitter, their kids are close by if they need anything, and your reception is kid-free. My advice is to just be clear that kids are welcome but have their own awesome space so that the reception remains adults-only.
Photo Credit: Elmer Escobar Photography
3. Plus-ones. You are bound to have single friends or relatives invited to the wedding and you want to make sure they feel welcome. However, your venue may have a strict guest count, and it would really help your bottom line to eliminate plus-ones. The solution: Extend plus-ones to those who have a significant other that they are in a committed relationship with, you've met, are engaged or married. Each of your guests should know at least a handful of the other guests, so they should be comfortable attending solo. Just make sure your invitations are addressed accordingly or that can create another problem.
4. RSVPs for unanticipated guests. Your boss filled in an invitation meant for just him and his wife for their whole family of six? Yikes! The solution: Be specific when addressing envelopes. For example, write "Mr. & Mrs. Smith" instead of "The Smith Family" if you only want to invite the parents. Also, create an RSVP line that says "___ of ___ guests" and fill in the second line before mailing them out. If anyone tries to RSVP for more people than you intended, you're going to have to give them a call. Explain that your venue has a strict guest count limit and as much as you would love to have them all there, it isn't possible, and you're sorry they misunderstood the invitation.
5. Missing RSVPs. If you get all of your RSVP cards back by the cut-off date without having to follow up with anyone, consider yourself blessed! It is more likely that you will have to track guests down to see if they are coming to the wedding. As frustrating as it can seem that they didn't bother to send the card back, it would create even more of a headache if they were just to show up on the big day. The solution: Explain that you think their card may have been lost in the mail, and you wanted to confirm whether or not they're planning on attending. If your list to call is on the longer side, enlist the help of your mom or fiancé.
6. Uncooperative bridesmaids. Even if everyone is initially thrilled to be a part of your special day, it's possible that you may run into snafus. One might overstep her boundaries by saying she hates the color of the dress or get too involved in your decisions while another might flake out even if they promised to do something. The solution: Try not to take it personally, which is easier said than done. Try to address each issue separately before it snowballs into something major. For example, we all know it can be costly to be in a wedding, so be flexible. If you have a bridesmaid that lives out-of-state and you want her to attend your pre-wedding parties, try to plan them around the holidays or a time when she visits each year.
7. Your dreams vs. that of your partners, parents, grandparents, etc. You never knew how important an inner and outer envelope was to your father, and you didn't think your mom would expect you to have a fully religious ceremony. Your fiancé is only concerned with good beer and a fun night while you want the wedding to be beautiful and classy. There is bound to be an area or two where all parties will have to compromise. They might have stronger opinions than you realized but remember that they are coming from a place of love, and they're excited for you and your fiancé. The solution: Pick your battles! For example, if the invitation is important to your father, let him help you pick them out. It'll be a great way to get him involved, and you can still make sure the overall design suits you. Wedding planning is all about being creative, so all sides feel as if they're involved in the event.
Photo Credit: Ueda Photography
8. Who pays for what? You are your parent’s only daughter, but you don’t expect them to pay for the whole wedding. On the other hand, you don’t want to offend them by not including them. Your fiancés parents can’t afford to pay for the whole rehearsal dinner, but want to help. The solution: Together with your fiancé, come up with a number that the two of you are comfortable spending on a wedding. Next, sit down with each set of parents and politely figure out what they would like to contribute and if there are specific areas they want to contribute to.
9. The wedding planner/photographer/musician friend. We all have that one friend who is an expert at everything, and once you begin to plan your wedding, you might be surprised at how many wedding planner friends you now have. However, you don’t really want their help or don’t agree. Even better, you want to hire a professional. The solution: Be sensitive to the fact that they are just trying to offer their support. Timing is everything when broaching this conversation with them! Tell them that as much as you adore them, you want them to be able to have fun with you at the wedding, and it makes you feel that much more relaxed to hire a professional team. Perhaps there is a small way they can contribute their talents prior to the big day, such as making a sweet video for your bridal shower.
On the day of her wedding:
10. The picky eater. You may have a family member or friend who all of a sudden is vegan or gluten-free or allergic to something or another. But you'll also have one or two with legitimate dietary restrictions. The solution: Try to make sure your vegetarian options are also vegan and don't get overly adventurous with food if you know your guests aren't foodies. Guests with extreme dietary restrictions will let you know, and every caterer is willing to prepare something special for them or accommodate menu requests like removing the mushrooms from all of the chicken dishes, etc.
Photo Credit: Rick Dean Photography
11. Tacky toasts. We've all cringed during an awkward toast or two, and every bride fears it will happen at her wedding. Whether it be over-intoxicated speeches or embarrassing stories, you want to avoid it if you can. The solution: Have a list of who is giving speeches and don't stray from it. Give toasting guidelines and consider having a person you trust vetting the speeches in advance. Another great tip is to make sure their speeches are towards the very beginning of dinner before they've had a chance to drink a little too much. If guests approach you at the last minute and want to say something, the rehearsal dinner or farewell brunch are more casual events that are a great fit for those speeches.
12. Guest music requests. Do you just cringe when you hear the YMCA at a wedding or want to make sure that your 90-year-old grandma doesn’t have to listen to "Get Low?" While special requests can be great (it keeps guests on the dance floor), it depends on the song choices that are being thrown out there. The solution: Make sure your DJ knows the vibe that you want for your wedding by providing them with "must play" and "do not play" lists. If a guest comes up and requests a song on the latter list, your DJ will find a creative way to suggest something else and keep the party going.
13. The way-too-drunk guest. There will always be at least one guest that over-indulges just a little too much and although it normally wouldn’t bother you on a regular Saturday night, this is your wedding. The solution: Make sure your bartenders understand that you want guests to have fun and be able to have a drink or two, but that you do not want them to go overboard. Ask if there are any precautions you can take to make sure this doesn't happen. Still, it's possible that one may slip through the cracks. Try to have late-night bites so at 11 p.m., everyone isn't running solely on alcohol and sugar from the cake. Another tip is to have taxis on call or a shuttle that can take people home early if need be.
Photo Credit: Brett Charles Rose Photo
After her wedding:
14. The gift with no name. This might be one of the most awkward wedding situations. You get back from your honeymoon to open gifts and there are a few without names or cards. You've cross-referenced the list of gifts to your guest list, and you still can't figure out who gave it. The solution: Casually call those few people that were unable to come to the wedding or that don't have a recorded gift on file. Either thank them for coming or tell them you wish they could have made it. Most of the time, the conversation will lead to the gift, and you can hopefully find out who gave the mystery gift. If this approach doesn't work, enlist the help of your mom by having her call her side of the family. She can explain that when she was moving the gifts, she might have lost a card and wanted to be able to tell her daughter whom it was from before she opens it. She can explain what the wrapping looks like and hopefully they should be able to identify it. Have your dad do the same.
15. The backlash of those not invited. Unfortunately, not everyone will understand that there was a cap on the number of guests you could have. There might be a few friends that take it a little harder than you expected and you don’t hear from. They are just hurt and wanted to be there to celebrate because they are happy for you. The solution: If they are local, try seeing if they want to go to dinner or meet up for drinks. Some people will take longer to get past this, but in most cases being understanding, remaining a friend and just letting time pass is the best answer.
Planning a wedding can be a journey with a lot of uncertainties and outside influence that could cause stress. The best way to really enjoy the entire planning process is to recognize that not every step of the way will be exactly as you imagined it in your dreams. Compromise, give a little and just improvise. Take heart that the end outcome will be the same!
— Davia Montaya
Davia Lee is a real bride, entrepreneur, lead designer and wedding planner for Davia Lee Events. She loves all things sparkly, fashionable and girly. In contrast, her fiancé, Jesse, is a "man's man" — beard and all! They are the poster couple for "opposites attract" and prove that true love knows no boundaries. Their greatest wedding-planning challenge will be finding a middle ground where all of their wants, needs and dreams will meet. We can tell you this, though — when everything aligns, their big day will be fabulous!