It was truly the happiest day of my life, celebrating such a milestone with our loved ones and family. Even though the planning process was a bit stressful, it all came together and I can't thank everyone enough who helped along the way.
I thought this would be a good opportunity to share a few things I learned along the way that might help you or someone you know when planning for the big day:
This is very serious and the first thing you should narrow down.
Before doing anything, know who is paying for what, how, and when.
You can have a wedding for any amount of money - but all decisions made need to be made with the budget in mind. As difficult as it is, this means you really should not go out shopping for $5,000 dresses when your total wedding budget is only $6,000. (Yes I watched my fair share of "Say Yes To The Dress") It will break your heart when you find your dream dress and then cannot afford the rest of the wedding. Speaking of dresses - it is a good idea to ask the dress shops you are considering visiting about their price range before heading inside. This will save you a lot of tears.
I was fortunate enough to know of a dress shop where the entire collection (minus a few select designer pieces) was within my price range. So when the time came to try them on and I found "the one" I was pleasantly surprised to find it was UNDER my dress budget! This then OK'd me to splurge on my Valentino red shoes... :)
This is different from a Day of Coordinator (which is also an absolute must). We did not hire a planner and the entire time I truly wish I did. Fortunately one of my bridesmaids who had recently gotten married stepped in and acted as a planner (reminding me of the things I needed to do, constantly checking on me to make sure I did them, etc). Seriously if she had not done that we would not have had the wedding we had. There are so many things to coordinate and even with all the event planning experience my husband and I had, it is different when it is YOUR wedding. There is such emotion, excitement, and expectations - you really need an outside person to help you keep on a steady path, not go over your budget, etc.
Also, when it comes to the day of and after, the last thing you want to be thinking is: Did we pay the photographer? Do the musicians know where and when to set up? Who is picking up the flowers from the florist?.. etc. A planner will have all that organized and ready to hand off to the day of coordinator - and sometimes they are either the same person or work for the same company. Our day of coordinator was excellent and even calmed our nerves the day before with her detailed list and notes, ensuring we had nothing to think about on the day and that she would be there at every step to make sure it all happened just as we wanted.
All you want to do, and should do, as bride & groom is enjoy your day, and your experience.
Outline what parts are the most important to you all the way down to least important. This will help you when making decisions. For us, the most important part was the venue. Being both designers and former students of architecture, my husband and I knew we had to get married in a beautiful and inspiring space - and we would not settle for less. This is important to note because getting that space (we chose The Olympic Sculpture Park) was higher than our budget really allowed, so we cut back in other areas that were not as important to us to make up the difference.
Our overall vision, was classic, elegant, and modern, and every single decision we made from the venue, to the decor, to getaway car, was made with our vision (and budget) in mind.
A great photographer and videographer will capture your day and give you memories that will last forever - so be sure to seek them out first and don't be afraid to pay a little more for their services than you might want. Believe me, it is well worth it. We lucked out with our photographer. She was an absolute doll to work with, and made sure she got every shot - and the photos were spectacular (as you can see). Also our videographers put together an absolutely amazing set of clips that my husband and I still watch to this day and cry because of all the happy memories it brings back.
Venue: Seattle Art Museum's Olympic Sculpture Park
Catering: TASTE Events
Decor & Flowers: Prop Gallery Events
Hair: Jonathan Levi Powell formerly Gene Juarez Salon
Make-up: Danielle Krane | Gene Juarez Salon
Dress & Veil: Essence of Australia from La Belle Reve
Shoes: Valentino from Nordstrom
Groom's Tux: Made-to-measure Golden Fleece by Brooks Brothers
Photographer: Tonie Christine Photography
Videographer: Anchored Memories
Music: Jason Parker Quartet
Rings: LT Denny