I have had the pleasure of talking with tons of brides this year that have looked back on their wedding day with bliss or with concern, wondering if what they obsessed over for months or that big splurge was really worth it. Let’s be honest. We all have buyer’s remorse at one time or another, but your wedding day is NOT the day to look back on and wish you’d saved on this or that. Couples go into planning nobly thinking about their celebration and being considerate of guests. Still somewhere between “Yes” and “I do” decisions are made that make them ask, “Was it worth it?”
When I begin talking about the wedding day with most couples, whether they say it or not, they have some expectations or moments created in their mind. Moments, feelings, and reactions are anticipated. “If I wear this dress, when everyone turns to look at me jaws will drop!” or “My family are foodies so they will love these menu options.” We all do it. Picturing the desired outcome is a great way to reach that reality. You definitely have to see it before you “see” it, but at what costs. Overspending on an item you are not certain about can cause that gut-wrenching feeling in your stomach, that thought that you could have used that cash for your private villa on your honeymoon, but we purchased these personalized favors that everyone left on the table and are in a box in our closet. Most times the couple is spot on with how a scene will play out because they know their guests really well or have made calculated decisions. The key word in all this is CALCULATED. Frivolous spending is not what the wedding day is for. Using the big day as an excuse to purchase may have you feeling bad afterwards. That is why you need to have a comfortable budget and a plan of execution.
I love planning gorgeous weddings! The look on guest’s faces when they walk in, or when the bride and groom get their sneak peek at the final product and are all smiles is what we live for. Still I remind brides that the wedding day is not about stuff. You can get married for the cost of the marriage license and live happily ever after. Brides, grooms, and families alike should be discouraged from just paying for a wedding. Instead they should be investing in their experience. When you make an investment your goal is to get a return, which is greater than the value of what was put in. I heard a story about a bride that moved her wedding up due to her father’s terminal illness diagnosis. She wanted to ensure that she and her dad had the opportunity to share in her wedding day together. So she hired a planner, designed and planned a beautiful wedding, had a DJ and band, photographer and videographer, the works! Her dad walked her down the aisle, gave her away, they had their dance to his favorite song and smiled and laughed together the entire day. What value would you put on those moments that were captured? How about the sound of the music being played while they danced together for what would be their last time? Priceless. The couple will get a return on that experience for generations.
Every wedding situation may not be like that bride’s story, but they each are unique and special. I found a common thread in all of this, and it’s all about the experience. What makes is all worth it is investing in the experiences as opposed to spending for spending’s sake. Here are a few simple steps to ensure you can say “It was worth it” once the wedding day has ended.
1. Start with a comfortable budget. I know I know… most think people in the event business just want you to spend more. Some may, but I find they probably won’t have longevity in their careers. The wedding day is about the couple. Their union is the reason we all come together to work our magic. So as planners we look out for their best interest. My favorite groom’s quote is “we have to live after this”. Basically reminding my eager bride that when the wedding day comes to an end, they probably don’t want to honeymoon in a cardboard box. It is more common that the bride and groom pay for their wedding these days, however the bride’s family still is a common contributor to expenses. Sit down and determine who is investing in this celebration and respect the total number that you come up with. Utilize budget management services for accountability and tracking will help everyone stay on the same page.
2. Prioritize. Pick two to three things that you absolutely have to have. This could be something tangible, a service, or even a color. It could cost a lot or cost nothing! Once you prioritize those top three, move down to the next, and the next until you have a list of priorities to consider when decision making. Your budget may drive how many items are incorporated into the wedding. Usually items on the bottom of the list become more “nice to haves” than “must haves”. These priorities also help you better communicate with your vendors and in execution and coordinating on the day of.
3. Invest in experiences. When I ask couples what their favorite part of their wedding is or something they couldn’t have done without, all the responses come back to experiences. The top responses were:
The Photo Booth – “Smile! Wait, let’s take another!” Guests love interacting with a photo booth, and most really get into it when props are involved. The booth captured hilarious moments the couple otherwise would have never seen. The best part is it serves as entertainment for guests who participate or watch others snap pictures.
Great Music – “Go DJ! Cause that’s my DJ!” Who is going to keep the party going, insert a funny inside joke or take you back to memories of happy times? The person controlling the music, that’s who. Hands down a great band or DJ is worth it too.
The Wedding Planner – Awwww you guys really do love us! Seriously though. Our job is to make you experience stress-free and fun. For most, your wedding is the biggest party you’ll ever plan. It pains me to think of people cringing over just the thought of all those details. We’ve got you! I don’t care how organized, how creative or how connected you are, there is nothing like peace of mind and the opportunity to just sit back and enjoy the moments leading up to your wedding.
4. Remember what truly matters. Sceptics these days even question the validity of having a wedding. Some say it’s just a show, or it’s not for the couple. That doesn’t have to be the case. A wedding becomes a show when it becomes more about how you’re perceived. If you’re a bride that loves tacos, have tacos (which is in trend now actually). If you love your pet, include them in the celebration. If you hate flowers, use non floral décor like candles or items that reflect you as a couple. There is no correct way to have a wedding. There is a right way and that is when it is beautiful, authentically your own, and focused on the ultimate purpose of the union of two loving people.
Ultimately, you, the couple, are the only ones that can say if a component of your wedding was worth it. When you think about it, does it make you smile, laugh, or enhanced the experience in any way? Is it a memory you’ll cherish? Is it something your mother and family love to share with friends as they beam with pride? Was it in your budget? Did you prioritize it? Was it an investment in your experience? Does it reflect the true meaning of why you got married? WORTH IT!