Wedding Planning

Aisle Survive: Tales of a Former Wedding Planner Podcast | FAMILY THERAPY

Ever feel like you're a professional arbitrator or MFT?  When what you thought you were doing was planning a wedding?  When family drama gets too much and we planners are in the middle of it, it can make our job exhausting and stressful. Here's how to get everyone to behave and treat you not like a member of the family, but like the professional you are. Tips start at 4.57.  Music is "She's So High" by Michael Holowatch of the Replicas. They provide outstanding live music for any event and are simply amazing. Many thanks to Michael for letting me use this track.

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You're Engaged!! ...Now What? Kicking off Your Wedding Planning

Your significant other popped the said yes...Now what??  It can seem overwhelming deciding the what to do first, but if you take things one at a time it'll help cohere the wedding planning process into something manageable.

Create a budget - preferably with a pro's help.

Photo by Sally Pineira.

Photo by Sally Pineira.

You don't need to hire a full service pro for wedding planning to get the most valuable aspect of their services - setting a realistic budget.  Many times, couples underestimate their budget, because people just don't realize how much these damn things cost.  Hire a planner on an hourly or a-la-carte basis to discuss your ideas on decor, venue, time, date, and main components of the event, and have them create a budget scenario so you know what to expect. You may decide to postpone the wedding planning until you save more money, or it could help show parents and relatives the true cost and formalize any contributions.

Don't get carried away by Pinterest.

You will see so many great ideas on Pinterest, and the next thing you know you're pinning everything in sight and have 500 photos, that all represent different ideas and themes. Instead, pick your aesthetic (modern? Vintage? Rustic?) and let that guide your venue choice, and wedding decor, and don't get distracted by anything that looks off-theme.

Consider a small bridal party.

Anecdotally, I'm finding more and more couples are doing this.  It cuts down on the workload of wedding planning considerably - managing tuxes, gowns, and navigating inner-circle drama takes up a lot of time.

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My Favorite Wedding Planning Blogs and Websites

When you're scanning the web for wedding planning advice, be careful - a lot of sites out there have recycled information, or just SO MUCH of it that it's confusing or overwhelming.  And it's super important to make sure experts are quoted in the articles.  When individual brides and grooms are giving advice in articles, remember, they've had experience with one (maybe two) weddings, and while they may have outstanding information to share, it's good to remember that wedding vendors have worked on hundreds to thousands of weddings.

  Here are our fave blogs for pragmatic, entertaining wedding planning advice:

Every Last Detail

This blog is run by an actual wedding planner, Lauren Grove, which I love, because a lot of wedding how-to content is written by editors and writers who, while they definitely do their research, may not have been elbow-deep in the trenches of wedding planning.  A wedding planner has seen so many situations play out, that they have a breadth of knowledge that makes planners like Lauren the top experts to follow.

The Budget-Savvy Bride

Jessica Bishop's website has tons of solid advice and real-world examples of how to save money but still have a great wedding.  Too often, budget advice is without context - but she brings in background information that makes sense. Also, fellow smart and practical brides bring honest feedback to what it's like to plan a budget-friendly wedding.

The Off-Beat Bride

This website is all about weaving a couple's personality into the wedding without breaking the bank.  It's the perfect antidote to the super-glossy, almost unreal glamour weddings you see online. (Not that I don't like seeing those, but it's nice to see something a little more unique.)

The Best Recipe for Handling Too Many (Wedding Planning) Cooks in the Kitchen

This frozen expression of plastered-on polite smile is the look I have when a client mentions something that is 98% likely to go horribly wrong, but I DON'T WANT TO PANIC THEM.

This frozen expression of plastered-on polite smile is the look I have when a client mentions something that is 98% likely to go horribly wrong, but I DON'T WANT TO PANIC THEM.

How many family members involved in wedding planning is...too many?  Listen, I've worked with 5 different family members and it's been fine; I've also had to deal with just 1 maid of honor who almost ruined everything. It's all HOW you do it, not WHO does it.   For example, I am happy to work with parents, but I don't sign contracts with them - just the couple.  That draws a line, as if to say, "You may be paying for it, but it's the bride and groom's wedding!"

Here are a few wedding planning - slash - family therapy (???) tips for success.

If there's already drama, don't Collaborate.

If you already have a history with family that want to be involved - and it's not GOOD history - back away.  Get a second job, elope, do whatever you can to pay for the wedding yourself and keep them from hosting.  When a family member hosts, they can sometimes unfairly leverage that to control the event to the -inth degree. There was one wedding in particular that I planned, where the parents of one of the couple hosted, and whenever I spoke with them it was as if the bride and groom weren't even involved.  The mom dictated the wedding colors, I had to remind them to invite the bride and groom to a table mockup - it was bizarre.  On top of that, I had multiple people deciding on different things in several different emails - not an orderly 'decide by committee' way.  If a family member wants to get involved and is hosting, make sure they know it's not THEIR wedding!

Sisters lovingly drape a tallit over their siblings during this wedding at Calamigos Malibu. Flowers by McCann Florist.  Photo by True Photography.

Sisters lovingly drape a tallit over their siblings during this wedding at Calamigos Malibu. Flowers by McCann Florist.  Photo by True Photography.


Divide and conquer.

"Sis, you work on the ceremony music and flowers.  Mom, negotiate the venue and oversee rentals.  We'll choose the officiant and DJ.  Communicate directly with the planner or vendor and don't loop in all of us on every single email." That's called delegating - and it works!  Back-channel chats about taste and style among all parties works for decision making, then the person in charge of that one element emails the vendor or planner directly with the final call. Done!

Tell your peeps:  It's not a contest.

It makes me groan when I meet a friend or relative who tries to out-plan the planner. They're not a wedding planner, but they've done some parties and are really creative, and they go on Pinterest all the time, and now they try to take over at a walk-through or design meeting with a bride and groom. A good wedding planner has no ego and loves input, but not when it's bossy and it's a non-pro trying to throw their weight around. I had one maid of honor take over at a flower mock up and try to tell me and the florist she could "get that mercury vase at Michaels." We were like, "Yes, and we can get it and a dozen others like them at wholesale cost through our suppliers."  I don't know why some people get threatened by wedding professionals - it's really weird, but it's like trying to take over negotiations on a house purchase from a Realtor. Why go through all the trouble? Let the pros do their job!