The Two Most Important Words of Wedding Planning

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Hello Friends! I’m so excited to be sharing my second post of My Bridal Experience series today! If you missed last week’s post, you can check out How I Asked My Bridesmaids here! Today I am sharing the challenges that came through wedding planning and how I always seemed to resolved them by going back to the same two words throughout my 13-month engagement.

Identifying Priorities.

From the beginning of my research and planning, I had a little sheet on my Notes app in my iPhone with a list of what my priorities were for the day. Whenever I would get stuck on what to do, I would open that little note in my phone and it would help me go back to what mattered. The thing is that I’m not materialistic in the least. I’m very much about experience; though, aesthetic is very important to me as well. Both Justin and I cared more about spending the day with our loved ones and having a peaceful yet celebratory experience, versus having this grand and elaborate wedding and running around stressed! Not to mention – we really didn’t want to spend a lot of money on it all…

*GASP – I’m a wedding industry professional, and I just said it.

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In all reality, people matter more to us than fancy things. That being said, I knew I also didn’t want anything to be tacky, for lack of better words, so my philosophy was either do it nicely or cut it. For example, I couldn’t have cared less about my wedding cake, so if it ended up being a decision between spending more than I wanted to spend or having a tacky cake, I would have cut it! Because two people joining their lives together with the love and support of those around them is simply not about eating cake, it’s about the experience. Yes, I did care deeply that my guests felt comfortable and had fun, but I didn’t feel that their night would be ruined if there wasn’t dessert after dinner, I mean how many times have you gone out to eat and not ordered dessert?! By the way, I did end up having dessert and actually loved my dessert table!

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So here were my priorities:

1. The experience – having a smooth and seamless day, with little or no stress! (Yes, I put this above photos!)
2. Photography (Since priority #1 was stress-free, I knew I needed someone who could manage time well, while I relaxed.)
3. My wedding gown (Fun fact: I went to 6 stores before I stopped and decided to have it custom made. Ah!)
4. Ambiance / Venue
5. My bouquet

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Here’s a couple scenarios where this list came in handy!

1. While chatting with a friend about wedding planning, she mentioned this really neat idea to walk out of the church after the guests and have everyone let go of white balloons as we ran out. I thought this was SO COOL! I really wanted to incorporate it, but I knew it would take time. Many people might think, “Oh that will only take about 5-10 minutes,” but the reality is that it takes a long time to empty a church and hand out 135 balloons. I mean think about it: we would need an entire room to store them, and the whole wedding party to make runs back and forth to get the balloons after the ceremony and hand them out, then we would have to line everyone up outside the church. That’s probably a good 15 minutes. Now think about what happens after the balloon exit – we have to take photos, and 135 people we deeply love are standing outside the beautiful church where we want to take these photos. That’s a disaster waiting to happen, because they are all going to want to say hi and we won’t get any photos done during crunch time. We could jump in our getaway car and circle the block while everyone left, or maybe even grab some bride and groom portraits around the corner while the church emptied. It would probably take a good 10-15 minutes to clear out 135 people. That’s a lot of time! If we did a first look, this would be no problem, but Justin said it was out of the question, and I respected his wishes. Looking back at my priority list, I realized it didn’t make sense to add in the stress of setting it up, so I cut the balloon idea. I still think it would have been awesome, but it didn’t fit into the relaxed day we wanted.

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2. The church that I reserved for our ceremony was very strict on timing. We were only allowed to enter one hour and fifteen minutes prior to the ceremony, but the whole point of me choosing this place was that it was beautiful and I wanted all of my photos there! Going back to my number one priority, which was to have a stress free day, I looked over my potential timeline to see how this would work out. I have a rule to always hide the bride about 45 minutes to an hour before the ceremony, because guests typically start showing up about 30 minutes prior. I also want all the boys done with photos at least 30 minutes prior, so the groom can take a breather before he gets married! So here is what I thought out:

12:30 Bridesmaid photos
1:00 Bride’s family photos
1:15 Tuck Bride Away
1:20 Groom arrives
1:30 Groom’s family photos
1:45 Groom is free to relax; early guests begin arriving
2:15 Ceremony time printed on the invitation
2:30 Actual ceremony start time

Problem – I wasn’t allowed to enter the church until 1:15 PM (one hour + fifteen before the 2:30 ceremony), and I needed to start portraits at 12:30! I had already used up my entire venue budget, so it wasn’t an easy choice to pay additional for the extra time. But what I cared most about for my wedding was having an easy day. I really wanted my photographer to have the time and freedom to create images without being rushed, so I decided to take money from something I didn’t care about (like a cake, or wedding shoes no one would ever see under my floor-length dress)! I added time, and I couldn’t be more happy with the way things peacefully flowed.

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Identifying priorities like this helped me make all the though decisions, and I’m so glad I kept this little note in my phone all 13-months of our being engaged to bring me back to what mattered.

I can’t wait to share the next part of our wedding journey with you! Check back next week to see how I tackled one of the biggest challenges of planning – finding my wedding venues.

I love to read your comments and answering questions! If you read this post and liked what I had to share or want to hear more, please leave me a message below, and I’ll make sure to respond!

xx,
Jenna

Credits:

Ceremony Venue: Corona Del Mar Community Church
Ceremony Music: Marck McKay, Lindsey Cargill, Jullian Hernandez
Officiant: Steve Salomon
Reception Venue: The Wyndham Hotel Irvine
My Wedding Photos: Rachel Jay of France Photographers
Day-of Coordination: KC Designs
Styling, Florals, Calligraphy: Carla Kayes Floral Design
Bridal Hair: Jessie Kenney
Bridal Makeup: Raeleen B. & Co.
Groom’s Hair: Erin Heck
Tuxedos: Friar Tux
Bridesmaid Gowns: Rent The Runway
Custom Wedding Gown: Jennifer Sitchler of Eden Couture
Cake: Have Your Cake and Eat It
Cupcakes: Kiandra Chun
Donuts!: Krispy Kreme
DJ: Daniel Caban
Cinematography: Nearly North Visuals

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