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Avoid These Wedding Planning Mistakes

This wedding reception is stunning, isn't it? Our bride thought her wedding was perfect because she had realistic wedding expectations and defined what would make her wedding perfect. Placing the floral ceiling installation above the farm dining tables is what mattered. Arranging the floor plan different on the wedding day did not phase her because we created an amazing plan that worked for everyone and created a beautiful aesthetic. Our professionals made it all happen, working cooperatively with the hotel, floral designer, and rental company so that the couple could have all of their important wedding elements come to life and make a lasting impression. This couple appreciated the value of working with professionals who had experience, were well-respected by other professionals, and may have not been the least expensive. They could enjoy their day as a Bride and a Groom because they trusted their professionals who knew how to navigate their way through any hiccups and still adhere timeline goals.

Often we are asked about couples' biggest wedding planning mistakes. We have categorized common wedding mistakes couples make based on information gathered during the past two years. Hopefully these tips will help you to avoid these mistakes when planning your wedding day.

UNREALISTIC BUDGET- We found that couples will spend approximately 50% more than their budgeted amount. Why? Lack of information. Many couples do not research actual costs of items and services, nor do they consider the additional costs like delivery, labor, timing, rubbish removal, appreciation gifts, alterations, printing, vendor meals, transportation/parking/travel fees, venue electricity, lighting and sound, restrooms, cake cutting/service fees, F & B minimums, gratuities, wedding insurance, service charges, venue requirements, shade/protection for your vendors & equipment, glassware/dishware/flatware/linens, and more. Couples see photos and they want what is in the photos, and they may decide their budget needs based on what it cost them to host a birthday party. Well, weddings are a different being. Some couples try to get around the prices by telling a vendor, let's say photographer, that the event is something other than a wedding only to have it turn out to be a wedding, just because they have heard that weddings are more expensive. Well, there are reasons weddings are more expensive. More photos are taken, more post-production time is needed, more details are involved, more logistics are's just MORE demand from your photographer. If you have to take on more responsibility at work, do you not want a wage increase? Do some research and look at price ranges. The most expensive is not the best, and you will get what you paid for when you hire the least expensive. Ask people who married in the state where you are marrying what they paid; do not go by what the costs are in your state if you are getting married elsewhere.

TAKING ADVICE FROM SOCIAL MEDIA INSTEAD OF YOUR VENDORS- I will never forget the time I spoke with a bride about her design vision. She told me although she wanted long tables for her reception, she could not have long tables because she heard on Tik Tok that round tables made it easier to photograph the reception. By the way, this was said by some random on Tik Tok and not even a photographer offering helpful tips. Why on earth are you taking photography tips from someone who is not a photographer? Makes no sense to me. But, because I always research any information I receive, I questioned twenty expert wedding photographers and they all rolled their eyes before answering. No. This is a myth. How many other myths are spread on social media? Please hire vendors you can trust and listen to them. Real wedding professionals want to bring your vision to life, but your vision may need some adjustments based on your budget, venue, season, timing, etc. Real wedding professionals are okay with you using social media to get ideas and help you plan your wedding, but we want you to get your information from people who actually know what they are talking about and are not just there to be heard and followed.

UNREALISTIC TIMELINE- A wedding is a production including many people involved in its many aspects from start to finish. Unless you are familiar with event planning and the jobs of each professional involved, you are not equipt to create a realistic timeline. Couples are unaware of the Back of House tasks that happen at their weddings because they are not supposed to know. BUT, not all couples hire a planner and instead try to do things on their own.

"But my wedding is at the hotel and they will do it," you might say. In 1999, I planned my own wedding in Hawaii and it took place at a hotel. I assumed the hotel would have a person get us down the aisle and handle the set up of the little details, but the hotel went through four different event managers during my wedding planning. None of them kept notes of details or shared information with the ones who followed them. The hotel's event people did what they could, but I handled every little thing that happened that day, which made it impossible to feel like a bride. From that day on, I told everyone to make sure they had at least an experienced DAY OF COORDINATOR to handle all of the Back of House details throughout the day.

When you are developing your timeline, you need to consider all of the day's activities, including the following:

  • How long does it take to get dressed?

  • How long do beauty services take?

  • How long does it take to get down the aisle? How many people are walking down the aisle?

  • How long is the officiant's ceremony?

  • What time are your vendors arriving and how long do they need to set up/break down?

  • How long will it take for any dances, announcements, special moments during your event?

  • How long will it take to set up and strike your rentals?

  • What time can you access the venue? What time do guests and vendors need to be off property?

  • How long does it take to get from point A to point B?

  • How much time does your photographer/videographer need with you?

  • When will your guests and vendors and you eat?

  • How long does it take for each course to be set up and served?

  • When do the professional's services begin and end?

  • Will bar be closed during any time of your event?

  • When is sunset?

  • When do candles get lit, lights go on, etc.?

  • When is "set by" time?

  • How long will speeches take and when will they occur?

  • How are names pronounced?

  • Will there be a special departure? How long do you need for that?

  • When do flowers arrive? How long will the florist need to set up? Who strikes the florals and decor? How do vases, etc. get returned?

  • When is cake/dessert delivery? Who is setting it up and how long do they need? When is service? When is clean up?

  • When does champagne get poured for the toast?

The biggest tip I can give you is to start backwards. Start with the time your event concludes and work backwards or from the end to the beginning of your wedding day. That's right. Fill in your event's "milestones" like first dance, ceremony, sunset photos, speeches, etc. Talk to catering about the food service. Talk to your photographer about your photography and timing. Talk to all of your hired professionals about their timing needs. Fill in the gaps with the details that you never see in printed timelines.

HIRING VENDORS WITHOUT RESEARCHING THEM- This one is an easy one. Let's say you need surgery. Would you go with the cheapest surgeon? The surgeon with the most complete inclusive package? The one who has the most IG followers? NOOOOO! You research who specializes in the surgery you need to have and hire the best, most experienced surgeon who is going to do the best job because you value your quality of life and appearance! You don't want to be on Botched!

Take this same approach to your wedding planning. Do you want your day to go smoothly? Do you want your vendors to over deliver and exceed your expectations? Research and interview. No one is saying they suck on their web site. No one is posting ugly photos of their work. Do your research. Ask the hard questions.

MAKING DECISIONS SOLELY ON PRICE- Weddings are expensive. I get it. But, you need to be a savvy shopper. By just comparing prices you are not getting the entire story. WHY is that cheaper? WHY are they cheaper? I think this example best examplifies this mistake that is often made. A professional who is merely starting in the industry is going to cost less than one who has been in the industry for a number of years. The lower quality items will cost less than the higher quality items. Kia costs less than Mercedes. Consider that when you are selecting people to handle your very important milestone event.

My clients wanted uplights in their tent to add color, which was a fabulous addition. I ordered LED wireless uplights that were not intrusive, did not use venue electricity, did not have wires causing easy tripping accidents, and were offered at my cost. The clients decided they wanted to go with another company who they thought was cheaper and canceled the rentals I secured for them. Well, guess what? At rehearsal they learned that they would need to bring in a Spider Box for the electrical, pay for the additional extension cords needed, and pay for the extra electrical fees to the venue. They rushed over to me and asked me if I could get the other back, but they had already been secured by another couple. The couple ended up spending $400 more than the original lights I ordered because they did not consider all of the other factors and issues when price shopping. They were comparing prices for wired lights to wireless lights, but never bothered to ask about that. They figured since the venue had outlets that they would be okay. However, the circut can only handle so much power, and then you need to bring in additional sources of power.

NO PLAN B- If you were not surprised by the weather the past two years, then you were not paying attention. The world experienced unusual weather conditions for two years (can we say global warming?) and it all affected events across the world. ALL of my events have a Plan B in place because if there is ONE thing you can rely on, it is unstable weather conditions. I am often asked if it will rain and the answer is yes, at some point during the day it will rain. Maybe during set up, maybe during your event, and maybe for only 5 minutes. However, we cannot move your event at the last minute. Nor do we have duplicates of your China, linen, utensils, glassware, etc. and cannot fix or replace your wet or damaged items. Guess what? If any rentals are destroyed by weather conditions for which you didn't plan, you will be charged for anything and everything damaged. That means if the wood furniture is ruined, glassware is broken, vases are damaged, and equipment is ruined, you will be charged for all of that. Either have your event indoors or tent your outdoor event. Canopies are not protection. Add sidewalls for the windy areas. Protect your investment.

UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS- Your wedding day happens once, and you want it to be perfect. What does perfect mean to you? What needs to go well for your wedding day to be perfect in your eyes? Consider the most important elements of your wedding day and focus on those, because they will affect your happiness the most. Once you prioritize your wedding elements and decide what is really important to you, communicate those expectations to your friends, family and professionals so they can make sure to follow through. Now, think about what parts of your wedding you are least likely to stress about. The unrealistic expectations appear when you worry about everything and think all of the elements are of equal importance. Not everything can be of equal significance or else you are setting yourself and everyone else up for failure. Your wedding day should be a magical celebration to fondly remember, so set realistic expectations that will aid in creating a positive experience and plan accordingly.

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