Alright guys, it’s time for another wedding inspired post! You loved the one I did on how to stay within budget for your dream wedding, and today I’m sharing what I don’t regret having at our wedding. Hopefully this helps if you’re wedding planning and on the fence about including (or not including) certain things!
Wedding Management/Day of planner So I personally don’t think you need a traditional wedding planner, meaning someone who plans everything from start to finish. Most of us have a general idea of what we like/don’t like (thank you Pinterest), and it’s honestly not difficult to scout various vendors. Even if you’re pressed for free time, most weddings are planned over the course of a year, so IMO it’s totally doable to do it “on your own.” However, what I would recommend is some sort of assistance. Especially on the day of, you do not need to be worried about coordinating anything. Also, I wouldn’t designate any tasks to a family member either the day of. Everyone just wants to enjoy the day and it’s best if a third party (who actually knows what they are doing) can handle things.
So that being said, we got a package from a wedding and event planner called “Wedding Management” (I linked who we used in Wilmington, if anyone else needs a referral in that area). You can see on the website the full breakdown of what this includes but essentially you are getting a modified version of a traditional wedding planner. So you’re still getting assistance and guidance but at a fraction of the cost. With this “wedding management” plan for example, we were able to get a timeline of what we needed to have completed at certain points (for example, it would tell you by X months out, you need to have your dress alterations complete, etc). This was incredibly helpful as it gave us a guide to follow. We were also able to reach out via email at anytime if we had any specific questions. Then about a month before the wedding, our planner came in and became more hands on. She confirmed and coordinated everything with our vendors, our wedding venue, etc. And then of course for the rehearsal and the day of the wedding, everything was taken care of. So, all that to say, I don’t think there is a need to spend $$$ on a “traditional” wedding planner so to speak, but I do think that having some level of assistance is 100% worth it (and honestly necessary lol).
Having a great officiant Honestly a good officiant can make or break your ceremony. For us, we wanted someone who would keep the ceremony “interesting” and insert some personality into it. We also wanted someone who understood our preferences. In that, we didn’t want an overly religious ceremony but we did want to incorporate some more “spiritual” elements (ie. Stephen’s dad read a scripture). Another thing that was great about our officiant is that he made sure Stephen and I were on the same page when it came to our vows. Since Stephen and I both wrote our own vows, our officiant looked over them beforehand to make sure they were “equal.” It would have been kind of awkward if one of us wrote like 5 sentences and the other person wrote a full page, etc. He also brought up things like, when he says “you may now kiss the bride” he would move over to the side because so many times in the wedding photos the officiant is right in the middle/right behind the couple kissing. Not the photo you want! Haha. So just being aware of things like that. We used Han Hills in Wilmington, but I’m not sure if he is still officiating or not!
Ceremony under 30 min This is something Han (our officiant) recommended to us, and I’m so glad we trusted him! Not that we wanted a long ceremony but he said a 15 minute ceremony is too short and feels rushed, and people start to get antsy around 30 minutes. He said 20-25 minutes is the sweet spot, and we actually had a lot of guests compliment on how nice and well done the ceremony was.
Saying our own vows So while we’re on the topic of ceremony’s, to each their own, but I’m so glad we read our own vows. I feel like with all the excitement going on that day, it’s a nice moment to have with your future spouse!
Indoor/outdoor venue Obviously this may be more dependent on what time of the year you’re getting married, but I loved having both spaces on our wedding day. We did a cocktail hour outside and while the reception itself was inside, you could still go out to the courtyard and get some fresh air and hangout. It was nice having two different areas/a change of scenery through the night.
Stations for food When it came to food, instead of doing a buffet or plated, we opted for stations. I was personally really happy we did this for a few reasons:
-less expensive than plated
-could have a variety of options for our guests (we had a pasta station, taco station, and a slider station)
-felt more “upscale” than a traditional buffet
Ending the reception at 10pm Honestly by 10pm I was ready to go haha. I loved our wedding, but after getting ready the whole day and then the wedding itself, it’s exhausting! I’m really glad we ended it around 10pm vs. 11pm/12am. Those who wanted to call it a night when home, and those who didn’t went out afterwards, and Stephen and I got to leave and enjoy the rest of the night. It was a win-win for everyone.
Photos & first look before ceremony So I feel like this is a common thing that people “stress” over, and I totally get it. At least for us, part of me wanted our “first look” to be when I was walking down the aisle but the other part of me didn’t want to wait to do photos until after the ceremony (the photos take a while as you can imagine and you basically end up missing the whole cocktail hour).
We eventually decided to do our first look before the ceremony and I would personally recommend this! Honestly, being able to actually “have a moment” with our first look was really special, and you don’t get to “exchange words” or have an “intimate moment” when your first look is walking down the aisle/at the alter. At that point you’re in the middle of the ceremony so you can’t really talk lol. And then aside from that, when you do your first look ahead of time, you can get a ton of photos with you and your spouse, the wedding parties, etc. After the ceremony, you can still do some photos with your spouse but this only will take 15 minutes or so away from the cocktail hour vs. trying to get all the photos done during that time.
Photos from our first look:
Different bridesmaid dresses I wanted all of my bridesmaids to feel comfortable in terms of style and price point, and aesthetically I wanted things to look cohesive but didn’t want everything to be “so matchy.” So I just gave my bridesmaids a few parameters to follow in terms of color and let them pick their own!
Donut wall Most of y’all probably know my love for donuts so this is kind of a no brainer lol but this was a pretty inexpensive thing to incorporate that I felt like made such a “statement” at the same time. Our florist had the wall, and so all we had to do what provide the donuts. We did a “custom” pink marble frosting and it was less than $200 for the donuts to fill the wall.
Skipping the traditional wedding cake While we’re on the topic of desserts, we skipped the traditional wedding cake and I’m so glad we didn’t spend a lot of money on one. We ended up getting a “custom” cake from Whole Foods with 2 donuts on top (back again with the donut theme) and it was $20. And then we just had round cakes made from a local baker that were like $35 a piece. It saved so much money and I loved that there was a variety of cake flavors (that actually tasted good!), and that we got to cut into our own little cake. Also, I think at most weddings now “cutting the cake” isn’t as big of a deal. Like we had some people watching us, but it wasn’t like “Stop the party! they are cutting the cake!” Lol.
Not having a videographer So when it comes to a videographer, if you have room in your budget I’d say go for it because why not? However, videographers are pricey and for us it definitely would have put us over budget. We ultimately decided that it wasn’t worth the extra money, and looking back I 100% feel that it was the right decision. There honestly hasn’t been a day that’s gone by (not even on our anniversary) where I’m like “I just really wish we had that video to watch!” Would it be nice to have? Sure. But do I regret not spending the extra money on it? Nope!
At the end of the day, weddings are very personal so to each their own. But hopefully this list helped you think through some parts of your wedding that you were maybe on the fence with 🙂 Also, if you want to see a recap of our wedding and some other photos, you can find that post here, and in this post Stephen and I answered your FAQ on our 2 year wedding anniversary.