I just thought it'd be fun to go back, look at the wedding planning experience and see if I can offer some words of wisdom for newly engaged. I have lots of friends in this boat so maybe these words of wisdom will be helpful!
Things I'm glad I did:
We're glad we picked a season right away. Tom and I knew we wanted to get married in the fall for several reasons. Cooler temps, warm colors, and not as busy as spring time with graduations, proms, and spring is just a popular wedding time in general. A lot of our teacher friends picked summer because they had lots of time for last minute details and a honeymoon. With our schedules, no one time of year is best, and we liked the fall so easy decision.
Something to think about, maybe should have thought of more:
Seasons can play a big part in cost, as well as day and time. Thursday, Friday and Sunday weddings are becoming more and more popular becase of cost. August is too hot for most people so a lot of sites offer discounts to fill up their August schedule. Because we wanted fall, we didn't look into these options as much, and since it's during the school year, Saturday seemed like the best option, so we didn't take advantage of all the discounts. We did book early though and we got discounts for that at the hotel and reception site. We also had no problems with dates because we booked a year and a half in advance so if you're not in a rush, and have a day and location set, planning ahead can still help you get some bargains. Tom made fun of me for starting planning practically minutes after we got engaged, but I just wanted to get the big things nailed down in order to avoid the stress, cost, and having to settle for something because it was all that was available.
More things I'm glad we did:
I'm glad we booked all the vendors right away. Some of them were no questions...the church (where I went to elementary school at), the florist (a family friend). But the reception site took a little looking, thinking, debating. Being such a small town some things were harder to find. But we had lots of time to look and figure out and once it was done, most of the big decisions were made and we could relax. We finished all that over a year a head of time, so it wasn't very stressful at all. I haven't had much stress at all during the planning and I think a lot of it was just giving us time to shop around and figure things out. I picked my colors right away too and it was easy to make everything go from there. Picking a fairly neurtal base color made things easy because we didn't have to find just the right perfect shade of pink to go with the bridesmaids dresses. Black is black and as long as you're not the kind of person to stress about mild shades of black, it's an easy match.
Look at lots and lots of wedding pictures from lots of books, blogs, magazines, and websites. I would probably change my colors a bit if I had looked around more. I went with simple and easy, which is fine, and I like it a lot, but maybe I gained more confidence as planning went a long because looking online now, I would have picked colors and items a little differently than I did.
I also learned more about Ebay and Etsy. I didn't use either before the wedding, but since then I've become an ebay auction junkie. Etsy has a million trillion crafty and creative people there and I just learned about it in January? What world was I living in? It has so many great ideas and so many people on there who are willing to help! You say you like their yellow flower, they can make pink and blue and green if you talk to them! A lot are willing to help and use their talents to fit your style. So great. I'm in love. I wish I had known about it earlier though!
What we plan on doing: (I'll let you know how it works out)
I am using some items hand-me-down to save money and make my mother's nostalgic side happy. We're using my parents champagne glasses, my mom made me a garter out of part of her dress. We also plan on selling some things on ebay after we use them if they're in good shape, especially the chair sashes. This way, if we get some money back for them, they'll be even cheaper than we originally thought. Because I'm not quite the sentimental type, we'll probably sell some of our other handmade or random purchases, or at the very least give them to a church or goodwill. No matter how great our wedding is, I don't think I want to be lugging around picture frames or decoration pieces we use across the country every 4 years. Renting is also a great option out there for a lot of these items, if your wedding is in a more metropolitan area I'm sure there are more options than we had. It's kind of the country, so renting items is pretty much impossible. We're renting items from the florist and using things the reception site has, so we tried to rent when we could. But I think we've found some great cost effective ways to make the wedding really great! :) We'll see how it turns out in a little more than 4 months!