1. Remember to be engaged to your sweetheart.
Its a sweet period between dating and married that is short, but so important. Have "planning dates" and then have "no talking about the wedding details" dates! Your engagement is the best excuse to tell every waiter or waitress on dates that "we're getting married!!" Enjoy this period.
Also enjoy this time with friends. When you're married life will change a little. Have a few nights where you stay up late and watch 27 dresses, Just Like Heaven, and all those sappy romantic comedies that you couldn't watch with anyone else.
2. Create a list of must-have vendors, and not-as-important vendors.
My favorite weddings to photograph are ones where my brides included photography in their "must haves." One great bride had a list as follows; "Must haves: Photographer, Venue, Caterer, and Hair/Makeup Salon. I want beautiful photos in a location that already looks beautiful with minimal decorations, then great food, and the best makeup I'll ever have."
Maybe you have a trusted friend do the DJ'ing, and videography, which for some is a big no-no! Maybe for you the emcee/DJ is absolute crucial because you both love a great party. For others they need that cinematic wedding video more than the catering. Craft a list that makes both of you happy.
Be careful to state your must haves early on, so no nosy "helpers" try to state their case as to why your cake or wedding dress needs to be, or not be, top priority on your list. Choose quality vendors (and quality friends) that will take the stress off your plate, not add any.
3. Create 2 or more point people (if you don't have a coordinator) for vendors & guests.
On your wedding day you don't want to be on your phone telling Uncle Bob how to get to the wedding venue. (Honestly, you might want to put your phone away after a few selfies!) Vendors should be able to come in and immediately go to your professional coordinator, trusted friend, or relative. This person should be able to know where the cake can be stored, where the florist needs to put their decorations, and who to assign to creating centerpieces during the weekend.
Delegate 2 people to be coordinators....just in case! One can be in charge of decorating and making sure guests get in on time, and the other in charge of vendors and sending the bridal party down the aisle on time, or however you see fit. Just make sure at least 2 people have all the information necessary to make your day run smoothly.
4. You don't have to 'splurge', if you're saving elsewhere.
As a photographer I have seen $5k dresses on brides that are just not having fun, and thrift store dresses on brides that are loving everyone second. Guess who had better photos? Feeling comfortable on your wedding day is everything! The amount you spent on your wedding day won't matter, but having trusted vendors there to make your day incredible, easy and fun, will.
Don't spend so much that when it comes to the immortal things like photography, it feels like a 'splurge.' Nobody wants their wallet hurting so much that they can't enjoy it! If you plan to have the best food on the block, cut back where it won't hurt as much. Or, if you want that $6k wedding photographer, consider a small picnic-style wedding in a beautiful location.
4. Do rituals that are important to you.
You have to throw the bouquet, don't you? Eh, not if you don't want to! I have seen weddings where the garter toss didn't happen, the mother-son dance was not the groom's thing, and the first dance was the whole bridal party instead of the bridal couple.
Getting married outside? Think about something unique to add to your ceremony. One great idea I've seen is using the fisherman's knot instead of a unity candle. This helps avoid the awkwardness of the candle blowing out at a windy outdoor location. Some people don't have a mother-son dance, but instead they may have the oldest married couple dance and give advice to the couple. Try new things!
Don't clutter your day with the "same ol', same ol." You are unique!
Remember that this wedding planning stage doesn't have to be stressful! It can be filled with fun memories of you, your fiance, and your bridal party creating a wonderful day to celebrate love! I actually planned most of my wedding in just two months, no stress! Want a blog post on that? Maybe I'll write that one if anyone wants the inside scoop, or we can meet over a milkshake!
Comment what was or is the make or break thing for your wedding planning! What or who helped the most on your wedding day?