Open your eyes and ears…you're about to receive some EPIC wedding advice from a photographer bride! Burgh Brides Vendor Guide Member Eva Lin has been on both sides of a wedding…usually as the one capturing beautiful images of the big day. But last year, she had her own. And it was just as stunning as you can imagine. Today, she's guest posting with some great tips for those getting ready to make their own walk down the aisle.
As many of you know, Art and I tied the knot last year, and after our wedding I feel like I have SO much that I want to share with upcoming brides! Obviously, there are things that worked for me, and I know there are hundreds of opinions out there, so take what you need and leave the rest!
Your wedding day is one of MANY “best days” of your life. When people say that your wedding day is THE best day of your life, does that mean it's only downhill from there?! While your wedding day is a huge and super important milestone, it should be one of just many best days to come. When you think of it as this end-all-be-all-ultimatum date, it becomes this giant thing in your head, creates so much unnecessary pressure, and honestly, makes you go crazy. Try to think of it more as just planning a big party for all your favorite people, which leads me to my next point…
Remember WHY you're doing it. It's SO easy to get caught up in the details – and there are a LOT of details. Remember that a wedding is the celebration of the love between the two of you, not about the decor or the food. Yes, everyone wants to throw the best party ever, but at the end of the day, remember the WHY behind this giant party to help you stay focused.
Pick and choose what traditions you want to follow. If a tradition doesn't feel like you as a couple, don't feel pressured to do it. If it does, go for it! It's as easy as that.
Set aside 5% of your budget for last minute things the week of your wedding. So many unplanned things come up last minute (and during your “wedding week,” cost becomes a non-issue!). If you don't want to break the bank, it's better to account for this stuff ahead of time so there are no surprises!
Once you've set your budget, prioritize what's the most important to you, spend your money there, and be okay spending less in other areas. Of course for me, photography and videography were on the top of my list, so I chose to spend my money there and less on everything else. I was so lucky to find vendors who were able to work with my budget in other areas to still execute my vision! I also plan on re-selling my dress, and I bought my shoes from DSW (which no one could see under my dress anyway).
Spend your money where it counts. I've been to enough weddings to realize what is memorable and what is not. As much as I adore beautiful hand-written calligraphy, we usually throw away the envelopes. So as an effort to save on our invites, we just included one card and had our guests RSVP online. Invitations can cost up to $1000+ with all the bells and whistles, and we ended up spending $250 on them (helllllo more money for cake pops!). We chose to do a family-style dinner to avoid the need for individual place cards (we still had a seating chart – having completely open seating is kind of a nightmare). The week of my wedding, I went a little nuts and wanted to change the backs of the flower crowns for my flower crown station from a white twine to ribbon, which would have been extra. Luckily, my florist and my wedding planner reminded me that this is one of those things that people will not care about, and I would have regretted spending extra money on it (thank you)!
Do NOT compare yourself to Pinterest or your friends. Chances are, you've scoured Pinterest for ideas and also have attended many friends' weddings in recent years. And we all know comparison is the thief of joy. No comparison, only inspiration. Let you be you. Your wedding will be perfect because it's yours.
The Day of Your Wedding
Take time to breathe. I had my friend, Lauren, teach a yoga class the morning of my wedding – to get grounded, to be reminded of why we do all the crazy things we do for this one day, and to be rooted in gratitude for everyone in my life. It was AMAZING to help me be completely present for the upcoming day. Even if yoga is not your jam, take some time in a quiet room by yourself to just breathe some long deep breaths. Inhale what you need to be reminded of – gratitude, love, happiness, excitement. Exhale out what isn't serving you at the moment – anxiety, nerves, annoyance. Repeat. I did this a few times the day and week before – anytime I started to feel myself getting crazy over silly things.
Stick together. I got this advice from my yoga/life teacher, Anna, who put it so well. On your wedding day, everyone will be pulling you left and right, but make sure to stick together as you go around. When you're talking to guests or dancing, do it together. It's a beautiful metaphor for the rest of your life – as life takes you in different directions, move through it all together!
Savor each moment. It's 100% true when people say your wedding day flies by. One of my favorite parts of our wedding was when we were eating dinner – Art and I had our own sweetheart table, and we just took a moment to look around at all of our friends and family eating, laughing, and talking. It brought us so much joy just to sit, enjoy that moment, and feel grateful that they had come to celebrate the day with us.
Delegate! I was lucky I had so many helpers for our wedding. My friend was my day-of coordinator to organize everything at the venue and make sure the ceremony and reception ran smoothly (some venues offer this, but if yours doesn't – I highly recommend hiring a day-of coordinator). The last thing you want to do on your wedding day is have people asking you tons of questions left and right! And this may seem like common sense, but you also need someone, usually your maid of honor, to be your right-hand-woman for the whole weekend. My sister made sure I got everywhere on time, organized the entire day-after brunch for us so we wouldn't have to worry about it, and was just an amazing help the entire time. It also helps if this person can operate with little to no direction (#bosslady). Our friends and families also were a huge help the whole weekend – don't be afraid to ask for help!
After the Wedding
Host a morning-after brunch. The toughest thing about weddings is that there are so many people who come who you may not have talked to or seen in a long time – and you have NO time to catch up at the wedding! We originally weren't going to do this, but realized how nice it was to actually be able to catch up with the bride and groom at our friend's wedding a few weeks before. So our families helped to whip up a brunch last minute and we are so glad they did. It's also a great time to be able to say goodbye to everyone and thank them for everything!
Get a massage. I didn't even wear heels on our wedding day, but my feet and body were just so exhausted from standing and dancing all day! We booked a spa day at Bedford Springs, and it was definitely one of the best decisions we've ever made (that, and getting married)!
No regrets. What's done is done. With SO many moving pieces, there are plenty of things bound to go not as you had planned. Thinking about them over and over will not change anything. At the end of the day, if you are married and had a wonderful time with all your favorite people, wasn't that the hole point of it all anyway? If you just can't let something go – just remember – you can always renew your vows in 5 or 10 years and do it again!
Thanks for all of the fantastic tips, Eva! You're a beautiful soul, inside and out. Any other vendors have their own advice? What did you learn from being on the other side of a wedding day? Comment below!