10 Unsexy Wedding Planning Truths
Wedding planning is often associated with romance, excitement, and dreams of a perfect day. Cue any Hallmark movie. I am here to get REALLY honest with ya’ll, and say that wedding planning isn’t always so shiny, and perfection, of any kind, does not exist. You know that at Anything But Gray Events, we keep it real!
Here are 10 Unsexy Wedding Planning Truths. *cue the thunder and lighting sounds!
Amidst the glamour and joy, there are some unsexy truths that every couple should be aware of when planning a wedding. In this blog post, we will uncover 10 unsexy (but essential) aspects of wedding planning that are often overlooked but are incredibly crucial. Embracing these honest truths will help you navigate the planning process more smoothly and ensure a successful and joyous wedding day. While we all want to “skip to the good part”, every step is important in the wedding planning process.
And, please remember, any person or blog post that promises a completely “stress-free” wedding day is lying through their teeth! There will be stress of some sort, because, well, that’s life, but good planning, research, and a stellar team will help negate the drama and let you enjoy your big day!
Weddings involve numerous contracts, from venue agreements to vendor contracts. Venue contracts can sometimes be the longest and most challenging type to translate. Make sure you understand what is included and not included in your venue contract. Just because you see string lighting and ceremony chairs in their website photos, doesn’t necessarily mean they will be included. Asking kind and direct questions before you sign on the dotted line may not be the most exciting part of planning, but carefully reviewing and understanding these legal documents is crucial.
I always recommend clients do things in the following order:
Hiring licensed, insured, and professional vendors is a prerequisite right off the bat. Pay attention to cancellation policies, payment schedules, and any hidden fees to avoid surprises down the line. An unsexy truth is that there is no barrier to entry in the wedding industry, meaning it doesn’t take a degree or prerequisite training to start a wedding business. Make sure you are doing your diligence researching vendors before you hire them.
Check out past client reviews, venue recommendations, portfolio, and level of experience. Don’t JUST go off their website or social media account which is easy to fudge. I can’t tell you how many gorgeous websites and social media feeds I have seen with amazing content owned by sub-par wedding vendors. Experienced and seasoned vendors will lead with skill and substance above all else!
For our clients, vetting vendors and reviewing contracts of services is part of something we offer. Although we aren’t lawyers, there is a very good chance we have looked over way more wedding contracts than a couple has. We know the reg flags and can spot them a mile away. Even if they just might seem pink to you!
This is the part where people start to pee themselves. The dreaded budget!
Weddings can be expensive, on average, our clients are spending between 100k-225k on weddings of 100 guests in Southern California. I don’t share numbers to scare you but rather educate you on the average costs we are seeing in SoCal. There isn’t a “wedding tax” as some couples love to imagine. Hard costs are hard costs. For example, in SoCal, the average venue rental alone is between 12-30k on average.
With that truth bomb of knowledge, it’s important to establish a realistic budget early on. Realistic both in terms of your bank account and what is feasible for you as a couple, but also realistic in terms of what something actually costs. This is where the ‘expectations vs. budget and budget vs. expectations’ conversation comes into play. Discuss finances openly with your partner (as well as any family offering funding) and allocate funds to different aspects of the wedding. Remember that with money, comes power, so be mindful when you are accepting money from family. Will that offering come with strings attached? Good to find out before you accept it.
Having a nest egg of emergency wedding money is a smart idea. This will help if you need to add a guest at the last minute, need a second generator for the band, or need to add ceremony umbrellas because it’s going to be hotter than expected on your wedding day. While good planning makes all the difference in pre-determined costs, things do come up last minute and have to be addressed as you get closer to your wedding day.
This includes really unsexy things like restrooms. I have literally had a bride look at me and ask once, “Holly will people really need to poop at my wedding?” I kid you not! The answer is, “Yes, yes they will.” Bathrooms are non-negotiables and if your venue doesn’t have them, or enough of them for your guest count, remember to roll that into your additional costs for restroom rentals. I stick with the ratio of at least 6-8 bathroom stalls per 100 guests.
Creating a guest list can be a challenging task. I hear from my clients that crafting a guest list is one of the hardest parts of their entire wedding planning process. Narrowing down the most important people to invite to a wedding can be hard, especially if you have big families or large friend circles. It’s essential to set clear boundaries and make tough decisions to keep the guest count within your desired range of both size and cost. Here is a helpful tool for those of us the are visual learners.
Ready? Close your eyes and pretend you are walking to your ATM. You put your bank card in the machine and take out 10 crisp, 100-dollar bills. You directly turn around to hand it to someone on your slated guest list. If you are handing $1000 to a person you are on the fence about, they probably shouldn’t be on your guest list. It can be that simple. Remember, inviting more guests means higher costs, so be prepared to make some difficult choices. Create a working A, B, and C guest list that you can widdle down as you go. If you are considering adding +1 options, ask yourself, “Do I want to pay a stranger to attend my wedding?”. If not, perhaps only allowing +1s for certain guests is a better way to go.
Weddings involve intricate logistics and timelines. The finished product is nearly seamless only because of the months of planning, time, and thought it took to craft. I can’t say this enough to couples, but everything will take more time than you expect it to during wedding planning AND prepping on the wedding day. Even for activities that you do all the time, so plan ahead and pad that sucker! From transportation arrangements to vendor coordination, meticulous planning is required to ensure everything runs smoothly. Creating a detailed timeline and communicating it with all involved parties to avoid any last-minute hiccups is essential. This is the #9751 reason why hiring a seasoned wedding planner is golden. *wink wink*. After 10 years as a stage manager for live theater before going into wedding planning 12 years ago, our timelines at Anything But Gray Events are buttery delicious.
Outdoor weddings are beautiful, but Mother Nature can be unpredictable. This might come as a surprise to some, but as a wedding planner and designer, I have ZERO control over the weather. Sorry, Charlie! And yes, I have been asked this many many times over the year. Unfortunately, weather telepathy is not my superpower.
As 2023 in SoCal has taught us, Southern California weather is a beautiful, but a fickle temptress. Hot, cold, rainy, windy, and humid. From the get-go, as you search for wedding venues, ask about a backup weather contingency plan in case of inclement weather, whether it’s securing a tent or arranging an indoor room alternative. Being prepared will save you from unnecessary stress on your big day. While we all loved Alanis in the 90s, no one likes rain on their wedding day! While Mother Nature is unavoidable, planning ahead is not.
Photo: Aurelia D’Amore Photography
Effective communication with your vendors is key to a successful wedding. Be clear about your expectations, ask questions, and maintain open lines of communication throughout the planning process. Assuming anything is never a good plan! Your vendors can do their best for you when you give them all the information needed to do their jobs successfully. Hire a great vendor team and let them do what they do best. Be honest, open, and clear with your communication. They can put out proverbial fires before they happen if they know what to look for.
While it may not be the most exciting topic, wedding insurance can provide peace of mind. Most wedding venues in Southern California will require it anyway so you might as well think ahead and plan for it. It can protect you in various ways from unforeseen circumstances such as vendor cancellations, property damage, fire, or even illness depending on your policy. Please note that most wedding insurance will not cover any kind of issues due to COVID. I always require my clients to purchase event day insurance and recommend Event Helper because they make it easy and documents can be printed the same day you purchase it online. The client’s insurance documentation will need to be submitted to the wedding venue at least 2 weeks prior to your wedding date.
Two fairly unsexy, but totally essential factors to any wedding. Some venues, especially those that are blank canvases or non-traditional like barns, warehouses, or community centers, might not be equipped with the kitchen your caterer will need or the bathrooms everyone will need throughout the night. Building out a kitchen (3-7k) with your rental company or renting a bathroom trailer (2-5k) might be necessary and something to factor into your venue search and budget.
Having backup supplies and essentials on hand can save the day in case of emergencies. Extra trash bags will never hurt! Pack a wedding day emergency kit with items like safety pins, stain removers, band-aids, tampons, and extra copies of important documents. It’s better to be prepared than caught off guard. While your wedding planner might have some of these things on hand, they are not CVS, so specific items you might require for personal use should be something you plan ahead for.
After the wedding, as you sink into wedding bliss, there are still some unsexy tasks to tackle. Return rented items, pay any outstanding invoices, and send thank-you notes to guests. Don’t forget to update your legal documents, such as your driver’s license and insurance policies, with your new marital status and name change (if applicable to you). And for the love of Pete, make sure your officiant, who is responsible for this legally, mails in your signed marriage license. If not, your wedding won’t be legally valid.
While wedding planning is filled with excitement and romance, it’s important to acknowledge the unsexy truths that come along with planning any large-scale event for a lot of people. As is everything at Anything But Gray Events, we believe honesty is the best policy. By embracing these aspects and planning accordingly or hiring us to plan and design your wedding, you can navigate the process more smoothly and ensure a successful and joyous wedding experience. Remember, a well-prepared (and fed) couple is a happy couple! So if you remember nothing else from this blog, remember to feed yourself on wedding day! Low blood sugar doesn’t care if you are getting married. Hanger is REAL.