1. I will not do anything… before the guest list
We know, it’s not always the easiest part of wedding planning, but you shouldn’t make any big decisions before you have your wedding guest list somewhat firmly in place. This should be one of the first things you do, because it’s the element that most of your event depends on. If you put a nonrefundable deposit down on a cozy, private room for 75 guests, but your in-laws’ additions bump it up to 200, you’ll have a sticky situation on your hands. Once everyone’s in agreement, then you can move forward. That said, one of the parts of your wedding you and your partner can plan immediately is what kind of atmosphere you’d like. Do you want an intimate, close-friends-and-family-only affair, or do you want to throw the event of the season for 300-plus people? Later, when you’re in the guest-list trenches, this bit of planning will help back up your gut instinct about whether to say yes (or no) to guest-list additions.
2. I will treat my bridesmaids the way I’d want to be treated
You may not be in kindergarten anymore, but the golden rule is still the best rule. Inform the way you treat your bridesmaids by thinking about how you’d like to be treated—and it probably doesn’t involve showering them with loads of gifts. Take their preferences to heart and be sensitive to their schedules and budgets. If you have differences of opinion about something important to you, no need to get upset. Take a breather and explain your perspective—If they put themselves in your shoes too, they’ll come around.
3. I will remember that I’m getting married to my partner—not my centerpieces
You should feel free to rethink, redo and revamp any element of your wedding that you want—with (realistically) enough time to spare. This doesn’t have to mean yet another huge investment or reneging on a bunch of contracts—you’ll be surprised how easy it is to make simple additions or subtractions and change your whole style. Already ordered those pastel bridesmaid dresses? Think about adding a bold sash or accessorizing with chandelier earrings to liven them up a bit. Unsure about the color scheme you chose? Pay an extra visit to your florist and work out changes to your bouquets and centerpieces—adding new blooms in all of your arrangements will introduce a new color throughout the room. Same thing if you’ve already ordered the linens—spice them up with bright table runners or overlays. If you decide you really can’t live with it, chances are you can go back on your first choice—just remember that it’ll likely cost you. A good rule of thumb is that if you’ve already signed a contract or seen a proof, you’ll have to pay extra for any changes or additions you make. But if it’s still relatively early in your planning process, don’t be afraid to make the change.
4. I will not use Facebook as my personal wedding planning blog
Planning your wedding is exciting! But the girl who sat behind you in your college history class probably doesn’t care that you finally booked a reception band. We’re not saying the everyday details aren’t interesting, but they might not be interesting to everyone. Instead of overloading your social media outlets with wedding details, create a blog for those who want to keep tabs on the ups and downs. It’s a much more streamlined and private forum for wedding-planning-only progress.
5. I will trust my vendors
Before you start micromanaging every decision your wedding planner makes, remember one thing: You’re paying them for a reason. Consider their experience and expertise an opportunity for you to relax. They want you to love the result (after all, your recommendation hinges on it!), so they’re going to strive to please. Think of it this way: Wouldn’t you rather help someone who trusts your abilities rather than second-guesses everything you do? There’s no harm in giving a good amount of direction at the outset, but asking for daily progress reports is too excessive.
6. I will not feel guilty about having an adults-only wedding
Whether you’re worried about babies crying during the ceremony or can’t afford to seat entire families for dinner, it’s your decision whether or not you want to invite children to your wedding. As long as you’re consistent about this rule (no exceptions for your closest friends!) and up front in your invitations and on your wedding website, you shouldn’t feel bad if you have to politely tell your second cousin she can’t RSVP her toddler triplets.
7. I will attempt (at least a little) DIY
Even the least crafty bride can undoubtedly personalize a few details of her wedding, and the bragging rights—not to mention the savings—will be well worth the effort. Try your hand at creating your favors or ceremony programs. If those tasks seem too daunting, keep it simple: Put your excellent penmanship to use and write out the escort cards, or make your own welcome bags for out-of-town guests with maps of the area and a few local goodies.
8. I will acknowledge that some people might not want to be the “guest book attendant.”
You can’t put all your friends in the wedding party, but there are usually a few people left over that you still want to honor, so you create “special” jobs, like cake servers and guest book attendants. Our advice: Unless your guest book is especially complicated, an attendant probably isn’t necessary. Honorary jobs are still jobs, and chances are, they’ll have a much better time if you just let them enjoy the party rather than having them stand guard by the guest book.
9. I will actually eat dinner (and cake!) at my reception
Make sure you take time with your new spouse to really enjoy the party you worked so hard to plan. If you spend your whole wedding day directing the photographer and making sure the bridal party makes their entrance on cue, you’ll be missing out on a lot of amazing memories. Even if you don’t hire a day-of wedding coordinator, put a trusted relative or bridesmaid in charge of making sure things go smoothly on the wedding day.
10. I will look on the bright side—no matter what
Even if the entire universe seems to be conspiring against you, don’t shut down. It’s always easier said than done, but try to remember that many mishaps are truly out of your hands, and that hiccups can turn into unexpected memories and hilarious stories down the line. Did your outdoor ceremony get rained out? Instead of panicking, throw on some cute rain boots, grab a big umbrella and start posing for some adorable rainy-day photographs. The DJ played the wrong song for your bridal party’s entrance? Chances are no one else noticed. After months of obsessing over the details, it’s easy to get lost in them. Loosen up, keep in mind what’s important (you’re getting married!), and we promise that even if the caterer serves twice-baked potatoes instead of mashed, it’ll all be great in the end.