Wedding Advice from a Recent DIY Bride
by Shanna Pharis
I was very much a DIY bride. I did a lot of things myself, approached most aspects of our wedding very creatively, and thought out of the box as much as I could to pull off a fun, memorable, and gratifying event for about 100 guests on a budget. Lately, I've seen other wedding professionals offer advice and wedding tips around the web, and every time I do, I think of things I'd tell an engaged friend or client having just done the wedding thing ourselves!
Think about hiring a coordinator. The first thing I'd advise out of personal experience, is to hire at the very least, a day-of coordinator as your point person for the myriad of questions vendors and guests will have. Hiring a planner for the whole thing is a great idea if you can swing it, but at the minimum, a wedding day-of coordinator would be a total blessing. You need a point person because you'll be in hair and makeup and putting on your dress and people will have questions. Lots and lots of questions!
While I was getting my makeup done on the second-floor balcony, friends and vendors were approaching me with dozens of questions. It didn't help that I was a pretty laid back bride about certain things, and didn't really know where the band should set up: "Wherever they want!" Having someone attend to the last-minute details is so important. I forwent the day-of coordinator, and a few little things could have stood to have gone smoother and some details that got forgotten or overlooked could have been attended to. Throughout the day, we did things spontaneously as we felt like, but the whole thing felt unorganized and frantic at moments from the inside. No one noticed and even some vendors said it seemed organized, but I know it would have been less stressful for me with someone handling the details, as I've been to weddings with good coordinators and the brides seem so relaxed and they run very smoothly for everyone involved.
Hire a cleaning crew! I did entirely too much work at my own wedding! I also crazily planned a three-day event with a rehearsal dinner and goodbye brunch. I strongly advise you hire a crew, so you can do your getaway and get out of there, and also not strap your guests and friends with any work! The day is emotionally exhausting (and exhilarating) enough. You don't want to be physically exhausted, too, as you leave for your honeymoon!
Hire a wedding cinematographer / videographer. You want to be able to sit down and have the feelings of the day rush over you later -- the sights, the sounds and music, the scents of the flowers, the emotions and feelings, how your dad looked walking you down the aisle or giving his toast, how the groom looked when you first saw him, how great you looked in the perfect dress with your hair and makeup, how your felt during your first dance, how hilarious your friends looked on the dance floor, and how your family, your aunts and uncles and maybe grandparents looked at that moment in time.
A good film should be evocative enough to bring all of that back to you. You'll want something short and sweet to show your friends and family and those who couldn't attend, and you'll want the longer edits to watch later too, on anniversaries, when you're feeling sentimental, or even when you two are having a tough day and you want to turn it around! You'll want film or video to share with your possible future family, too. You don't want to risk all of those moments to amateur video or film! The day goes by so fast in a crazy whirlwind, and it's so priceless to be able to sit back later and relive it. I can't recommend making film or video a priority enough!
Consider a first look. I think back and think maybe I should have done this just to have helped calm my nerves! Plus I didn't really remember the moment when my husband first saw me since we had such a long procession. And looking back, I would have loved to go straight to the celebration and the champagne, rather than the awkward standing around for photos right after the rush of getting married. At the very least, consider getting the group shots with the gals and groomsmen out of the way in advance while you're looking fresh! Don't be afraid to follow your heart.
In the end, this day is the expression of you as a couple and your new lives together. Make it reflect you! I received some resistance to my offbeat ideas and choices, and in the end, I am so glad I stuck to my guns even when it was tough! Some of the decisions that were the most trying turned out to be the best and most talked about of the day!