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Wedding Planning Mistakes that I’ve Learned From

Hi friend!

Today I’m going to dig deep into the part of my mind that I try not to access too often - my past mistakes. Ugh! We all make them. Sometimes we don’t realize we’ve made a mistake until its too late, and sometimes we just don’t know any better! Although I don’t like to dwell on mistakes for too long, I do try to learn from them . . . and let’s just say I’ve learned a lot over my event planning experience. I’ve also learned from observing others mistakes, and I’m here to share some of these with you so you can (hopefully) avoid them. Good luck!

Making Plans Before Setting a Budget

Deciding on your budget is one of the top 10 things that you should do before you do any kind of wedding planning. Your budget will determine how many guests you can afford to invite, what kind of reception style you’ll have and what kind of venue you can book. You shouldn’t make any plans until you and your fiance (and parents if they’re involved) have decided on a budget and broken it down. Your budget will set a guideline for you to follow as you plan your wedding, so don’t go ordering 200 save-the-dates or booking a large ballroom before finding out that your budget can, realistically, only accommodate 100 guests.

Fortunately, I've learned this lesson from others' mistakes. Some brides (and grooms) will set themselves up for heartache when they get over-eager and start making plans before really knowing what kind of budget they’re working with. Whether it was booking a high-end photographer or buying their dream ball-gown - they later found they blew a huge part of their budget and weren't going to have enough for other areas of their wedding.

Using Too Many “Friendors”

So, your coworker has experience baking wedding cakes? Your cousin’s boyfriend has a really nice camera and can be your wedding photographer? Do your aunts want to prepare the food? As a DIY bride, cutting costs is important to you, and by having friends and family take over the role of wedding vendors you can save quite a bit. However, there are a few things you should consider before giving important tasks to non-professionals:

First, this is a special day and you want your friends and family to enjoy it with you, not stressing out that the food isn’t ready, the cake is leaning, or running around taking photos of you.

Second, you get what you pay for so you can’t get upset when someone gets food poisoning, if the cake melted or if the photos didn’t turn out so well.

Third (and this is a harsh one), friends and relatives are more likely to let you down than vendors and can turn a happy event into a bitter one.

For instance, a bride’s cousins agreed they would help set-up the night before the wedding. Well, they were all so excited to see each other and decided they’d go do something fun instead - this resulted in me and my bride working all night to get everything set-up.

Not Having a Contract

This is kind of a continuation to “using too many friendors”. When you hire anyone - ESPECIALLY non-professionals - you HAVE to have an agreement in writing. It doesn’t have to be complicated. If your co-worker agreed to make your wedding cake, type up the services she agreed to provide and the amount you agreed to pay (even if it’s only for the ingredients) and have both parties sign it at the bottom. This will make them more accountable and give you a little more peace of mind.

Even if it’s an old friend who has their own floral business, or a professional photographer that you’ve built a relationship with don’t skip this important part! I’ll use photographers as an example since I’ve experienced this with a couple of my brides. They hired professionals who have either worked with their family in the past or has done personal photo shoots with them and offered them a great deal. They didn’t see the need to sign a contract since they felt they were trustworthy based on past experiences - a year later they were still trying to get their finished product and still don’t have all of the photos. A contract will give you legal leverage if this does happen to you.

Inviting the Exact Amount of Guests That You’re Planning For

I did the month + day of coordination for a couple and found out that they invited 70 guests - exactly as many as have been planning for. As a rule of thumb, I suggest inviting about 10-15% more guests than you’re actually planning for. Generally, not everyone you’ll invite will be able to make it. The bride told me that her co-worker had mentioned how everyone he had invited had RSVPed “yes” to his wedding (he didn’t mention that it was an intimate guest list). She didn’t want this to happen so was very careful to not invite more than she knew she could afford. A week before the wedding, we found out only 35 would be able to make it (last minute back-outs) and they had already paid the venue and caterer for 70. They also didn’t consider that her wedding was about two hours out-of-town, which also impacts the RSVP rate. Let’s just say 20 of those people were trying to drink enough for 70 - since the bar minimum was already pre-paid. They didn’t even put a dent in it . . . but it was a fun party.

Not Having a Back-Up Plan

There are certain areas of your wedding that you should have a plan B for. The most obvious one is the venue, especially if you’re planning an outdoor wedding. One of my brides was convinced that it wouldn’t rain on her special day and we planned a lovely outdoor ceremony and reception but a couple of weeks before her wedding, the forecast predicted a storm. We didn’t seriously make a back-up plan and were scrambling to find an affordable venue. Thank GOD her family church was available - everyone was dry and we were able to get the word out to everyone :)

Music is an area that you can easily have a back-up plan for. Have a playlist ready to go on your phone, just in case your DJ or band don’t make it or are running late - you never know what could happen. You can even have a wedding cake plan B - have some extra funds put aside just in case someone has to run to the store and get a sheet cake to cut in the back - you never know who might trip and fall when holding the cake. It’s not fun to think about everything that could go wrong, but set yourself up for success, just in case.

Trying to Have “Everything”

I almost titled this one “wanting everything to be Pinterest-Perfect”. I’ve worked with a bride who wanted everything she possibly could from her Pinterest board and was expecting everything to look just as fabulous. But, like many DIY Brides, she didn’t have the resources to make ALL of it happen. I admit I was the same way! I felt that if I didn’t have the perfect backdrop AND a photo booth AND the perfect floral centerpieces AND fancy signature cocktails, my wedding wouldn’t be good enough. One thing I find to be the most helpful with this issue is ranking each of these things from most to least important and allocate your budget accordingly.

Not Standing Up for Yourself

When you’re planning your own wedding, you can’t be afraid to stand up for what you want (within reason, of course - don’t be a bridezilla). Many DIY brides are planning a wedding for the first time ever and it can be intimidating! If you know your budget for flowers is $2,000 and a florist is trying to convince you that you need more than you can afford, you should be firm in your budget and let them know that if they’re not willing to work with your budget you can look elsewhere.

One of my brides, poor thing, was in TEARS after her ceremony didn’t go as she desired because her officiant didn’t take her requests into consideration. She was so intimidated by the officiant during their meetings and was kind of scared to stand up for herself. Remember, they’re working FOR YOU and its YOUR wedding day.


Ok, I’m guilty of this one - I’m a planner, so I like to be in control of things. If you’re a DIY bride, you’re probably guilty of this too. This is the easiest way for you, and those working with you, to stress-out before your big day.

If you gave your DJ the list of music list he needs and a timeline/schedule to follow, don’t keep emailing him to make sure he doesn’t forget anything. If you’ve delegated a project to your bridesmaids, don’t breath down their necks to make sure they’re doing it perfectly. It’s hard for us perfectionists, but we need to delegate smartly and trust that the people we chose to take care of things will take care of things.

Trying to DIY Everything

Here’s another quick way to get stressed out. It’s great to DIY things for your wedding, especially in areas that you’re good at. However, you’re probably a normal human and not good at everything. If you love flowers, are good at making arrangements and bouquets then, by all means, make your own wedding flowers! But, if you can’t cut a straight line to save your life, you probably don’t want to DIY your programs and should order them online or directly from a pro.

Hire a pro where you can to save yourself from stress and to avoid glaring mistakes in projects you’re just not equipped to do.

Also, DIY isn’t always the most affordable route. You might think it’s more cost-effective to hand-make your invitations, but the price of paper, ink, adhesive and envelopes adds up when you’re making 120 invitations! Many times you can find great deals online for wedding stationery that would be the same price, if not cheaper, using an online stationery design service.

Not Hiring a Day-of Coordinator

This is the one mistake that I regret the most from my own wedding, and what really gave me the passion for helping DIY brides that I have today. I planned my wedding from top to bottom, I had my hands in every aspect of the event and when the big day finally came, I was getting calls of no-shows and so many questions. I was focusing on the timeline and vendors rather than on enjoying my new husband and guests. I got a collective 6 hours of sleep the two days before my wedding putting together flower arrangements, finishing up my DIY programs, and setting up the ceremony space (thank God for makeup! My eye-bag game was strong) . I kept my poor bridesmaids and parents up too, since they were helping me. Luckily, my aunt and cousins who also have a wedding business jumped in to help and made sure the decor was perfect on the day of. In hind site, I wish I would have invested in a day-of planner so that I could have relaxed with my bridesmaids and family, not have us all be so tired on the day of, and really take in the beauty of my wedding day without worrying about the little things.


Well, I hope these have given you something to think about as you plan your wedding! Let me know in the comments if you think I’ve missed anything!

Happy Planning!

Your Wedding Planning BFF

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