There’s no denying that planning your wedding is one of the most exciting times in your life. You’ve dreamt about this day since you were a little girl (or boy) and are now finally planning a beautiful celebration where you get to marry the love of your life. It’s easy to romanticise the wedding planning process, from dreamy wedding gown fittings to taste testing the menu. Like any first-time bride, I was quite naive about what the planning process would actually be like and I’ve got to tell you, it’s not something I ever want to repeat again! Looking back, there were quite a few things I underestimated. Hindsight is a great teacher, isn’t it?
Things I totally underestimated when planning our wedding:
1. How overwhelming the planning process is
When I first got engaged, my Mum bought me one of those wedding organisation folders – you know the ones with all the dividers, spreadsheets, pockets and checklists? They’re designed to keep you on track with the planning, since planning a wedding is SUCH A BIG JOB. Having the folder at first made me feel organised. It was a short-lived feeling though! I don’t think I could have ever prepared myself for just how overwhelming the entire planning process ended up being.
The ‘to do’ list seems endless and full of things that can’t be checked off easily. From ‘decide on the venue’, to ‘buy your wedding dress’, from ‘write the guest list’ to ‘post the invitations’, every decision seemed monumental. Also, just as I’d feel accomplished and tick one big thing off the list, the next big thing would loom. I was also pretty much planning the entire wedding myself as Ben was drowning in deadlines. It was all very overwhelming.
2. That communicating with vendors would be easy
Even though I was planning an interstate destination wedding, I had assumed that I’d still be able to arrange everything via email with relative ease. How wrong I was! I don’t know what it was, but communicating with some of our vendors was a bit of a nightmare. I’d send enquiries to the florist and wouldn’t hear back. After I booked the venue, I’d follow up with questions and would have to wait weeks for a reply. When following up with our photographer after the wedding, I just never seemed to be able to get hold of him. Planning a wedding is stressful enough without throwing bad communication into the mix.
3. How far in advance things need to be booked by
When you start planning a wedding, you’re under the illusion that you have all the time in the world. But once you lock in your date and venue, it’s all systems go. Even if you’ve set a date that’s 12 months or more away, you’ll be surprised by how far in advance you need to lock things in. For example, we booked our private chef 11 months before the big day and he was already so booked up. It was sheer luck that he was available for our mid-week wedding. All the weekends in our wedding month had already been booked out!
4. How easily you can be ripped off with prices
Okay, I knew beforehand that as soon as you mention anything to do with a ‘wedding’, you might as well have a big, neon-lit dollar sign flashing above your head. I’d already anticipated this and so was on my toes about it from the start. A couple of things happened that I’m really glad we caught in advance because it saved us a lot of money.
Firstly, when we were liaising with the wedding hire company and arranging all of the items we needed to hire, we found a few rather expensive additions added to our quote. For example, I’d requested round, burlap placemats for the dinner table. When I was looking over the quote, they wanted to charge us $10 per placemat just to hire them. Umm, no thanks. I ducked off to Ikea and bought the exact kind I wanted for a third of the price and brought them up in my suitcase.
There was also the issue of the ‘function fee’ which needed to be paid if we wanted to hold any kind of function on the property we were staying at. Since two thirds of our guests were staying at the house itself and we were only bringing in another eight, we thought the function fee of $2000 was excessive and tried to negotiate. Fortunately, we were able to bring it down and only ended up having to pay $75 per outside guest, so we saved $1400. If we didn’t question it, I’m sure we would have been out of pocket!
5. How limited we’d be with vendors
Even though I understood that by planning a destination wedding we’d be limited with vendors, I didn’t realise just how limited we’d be. When you plan a wedding in a capital city, you have so much choice with who you hire. With destination weddings, you really only have a handful of options. We would have loved to have a live band but as much as we searched, we just couldn’t find one we liked. In the end we just made our own playlist instead.
6. How long hair and makeup actually takes
I definitely misjudged how long it would take to get ready. When my hair and makeup artist emailed to say that she would like to start at 8:30am to have us ready for the 3:30pm ceremony, I thought that we wouldn’t possibly need 6+ hours to get ready. We were all having quite simple styles so surely it wouldn’t take that long! There were five of us who needed our hair and makeup done so I thought five hours would be long enough. I managed to push her back tot 9am (and even then I thought it was too early).
I learnt my lesson to listen to the professionals though! It turned out that we were indeed pushed for time and we should have got started a bit earlier after all. I was done last so that my hair and makeup would be fresh but because we ran over time, I was late for the first look. It wasn’t a big deal of course. Brides are meant to be a little late, right?
7. How fast the actual day flies by
Even though the wedding had taken close to 18 months to plan, the actual day flew by in the blink of an eye. While I’m sure it didn’t feel that way to the guests, to us it went by in a flash. There was so much happening with so many emotions attached that it really was a total whirlwind. Every married friend I have had warned me of this, so I guess it’s true for everyone.
8. That some things won’t go to plan
Even though everyone pictures their wedding day running seamlessly, the reality is that (almost always) some things just don’t go to plan. It’s normal and it’s fine but of course no bride expects it to be this way! There were a few things that didn’t go to plan but it wasn’t a big deal at all. For example, the floating candles I’d planned to have in the pool all got sucked into the pool’s filter system and the steak knives I’d ordered weren’t laid out on the table. They’re such minor things of course and I’m sure nobody noticed but me.
9. The timeframe for receiving our wedding photos
I’d assumed that we’d receive our wedding photos within 1-2 months of the big day. Was that wishful thinking? After following up with our photographer multiple times, we didn’t actually get our photos back until about 4 months after the wedding. I totally understand that wedding photographers are busy people, but am I the only one that thinks this time frame is rather long? I had put off sending out our ‘Thank You’ cards because I wanted to include a photo but when week after week passed by with no word from the photographer, I regretted not sending them sooner.
10. How fuzzy the wedding day is after it’s gone by
Since the day was such a whirlwind, when I looked back on it everything was just kind of fuzzy! The biggest day of my life became a series of blurred moments. I was so desperate to see some of our guest’s photos in the days afterwards so that I could remember things more clearly. For this reason, having to wait so long for our wedding photos was extra hard. I just wanted to relive our day but I couldn’t rely on my memory. I had to find some patience, talk to our guests and wait for the photos.
Looking for more posts about wedding planning? Check these out next:
- 23 Wedding Traditions We Chose to Skip (And Why)
- How to Create the Ultimate Wedding Guest Welcome Bag
- Dreaming of a Destination Wedding? Here’s How to Pick the Ultimate Location
- Secrets Spilled: The Most Beautiful Destination Wedding Locations
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What did you underestimate when planning your wedding? Share it in the comments!