Tips for Planning a Successful Wedding
We got married over the weekend, and it was pretty much the best thing ever. Here are some tips I can offer to other engaged couples so that they can also have an enjoyable big day.
- Don't take yourself too seriously. If you want to do goofy dances with the 7 year old flower girl all night, it is your event and you are allowed.
- Eat. After hearing from too many people that I would not get to eat anything at my own wedding, I made sure to have lunch catered. I compared the menus from a few places. I thought about Bountiful Bread, but it seemed expensive for what it was. I figured if it wasn't going to be cheap I might as well get something I really love. The New World Bistro catering menu was great. They were exactly on time, and they were super nice. We got the Hudson Valley salad, jerk chicken salad wraps, goat cheese, red pepper, and pesto wraps and lime phyllo tarts. I think everyone who got their hair and makeup done appreciated it. Also, if people eat they are less likely to get headaches from drinking too much champagne throughout the day. I count my decision to order lunch before our 5:00 ceremony as one of my best ideas. It had the added bonus of leftovers. So at 1am when the kitchen at the hotel bar was closed my sister, my friend from high school and her boyfriend, and my cousin all came up to polish off the sandwiches for me. The bridal suite at the Crowne Plaza has pretty much the best view of Albany that exists, and it was very, very beautiful. Will I ever have a breathtaking view of the New York State capital while basically having a picnic in a luxurious suite with loved ones from three different states through the wee hours of the morning? No, most likely that will never happen again, which is part of what makes it all so sweet. Thank you, New World Bistro, not only for a fabulous lunch but for a beautiful moment in the middle of the night.
- J & S Watkins rocks! That is all there is too it. Wedding cake that is not dried out and doesn't taste like Styrofoam. God bless 'em.
- If possible hire super nice people who share your vision and get your personality. Erin Harkes sang our first dance song. It was the anniversary of a very sad event for her, and she showed up anyway. She is all around just an amazing person, and the song to me was one of the single most romantic aspects of our whole wedding. Jacqueline Lynch is totally fabulous. We have obviously not gotten any pics yet, but I love her work. I am sure they will be amazing. And she gets me and the kind of photos I wanted. Are we on the cover of a romance novel? No, no we are not. We're hanging out looking cool with our best friends! She is so, so smart and so, so creative. I actually made a piece of art for a charity art auction once, and she bid on mine and I bid on one of hers with neither of us looking at who it was made by. The just proved to me I was meant to hire her. Are you a cool, stylish bride who doesn't want to come off as princessy and airbrushed? Hire her! Our coordinator at the Crowne Plaza was really the best. I don't think she exactly knew what to do with my approach of making everything myself, but she went with it. She dealt with all my crazy diagrams and drawings for the decor I made. At the last minute when Erin Harkes wasn't picking up her phone because she was parking, our coordinator said "Do you have a back up plan?" in a really calm voice. Erin found parking and showed up, but if she hadn't our coordinator was ready to deal with it. That was a big part of why we picked the venue. She just seemed from the very beginning to be completely nice and totally organized, and she was from beginning to end. Make Me Fabulous is the best in the area, period. They will literally make you fabulous, doesn't matter who you are or if you don't normally wear makeup or hair products. It will still look like you, only a fancier version. They are the best.
- Hope for the best with the food. I know it is difficult to feed a lot of people and have it turn out tasty, but ours was really great. People cannot stop telling me how good all the food was, and while you need to pick things based on convenience/price/location first, the food at the Crowne Plaza is actually very good (for the record we had the herb crusted salmon, prime rib, chicken saltimbocca, and mushroom pasta purses for entrees - all delicious).
- Hope the professionals clean up after your mistakes. I somehow didn't count the kids for the rehearsal dinner. Well I did, but I only reported the adults because the kids were a different price. I wasn't thinking about the number of seats. This was at Jack's Oyster House, and they recovered by pulling a kids table out of thin air in about 5 minutes. Oops! I was left wondering how many more mistakes I would make by the end of the weekend, but they are professionals, and they know what they are doing. They just really did a great job overall, and it was a memorable and beautiful night. We had the banquet room connected to the end of the bar with windows all around, and it was a wonderful downtown Albany view.
- This is a cliché, but people worry about things for months they don't notice on the day of. Like my friend who almost forgot her bouquet at her own wedding as she was walking down the aisle. I spent weeks researching and thinking about boutonnieres, and my dad lost his and a best man forgot his in the room. Who cares? No one notices. People did compliment the ones that made it to the ceremony, but it was no big deal at the time even if I spent many, many hours thinking about them last fall.
- Don't do anything you don't want to do. We didn't have a florist, DJ, or videographer. We also didn't buy the expensive diamond encrusted bands the pushy woman at Kay Jewelers tried to make us sign up for store credit cards to buy. Instead we went across the hallway to Glennpeter Jewelers, a local family-owned company, and they basically said "Affordable? We will give you affordable!" (and really it is the thought that counts). Learn to just say no, and save yourself thousands of dollars.
- Don't giggle as you say "I do". Even if your beloved tries to put his ring on you. Your mom won't like it, and neither will he. (In my defense I will say it is a little hard to seem romantic with everyone you have ever known staring at you while taking pictures!) Still.
- While I somehow didn't get to notice the ceremony decorations (we had ficus trees like the Royal Wedding - flowers are for paupers!), I did notice the ceremony music. This woman did an amazing job. It was beautiful, simple, and elegant. She played a processional that didn't remind anyone of a death march, which is really what you are aiming for!
- To avoid getting just a list of names in the guest book add in questions like "Where do you see us in 5 years?" "What are your earliest memories of us as a couple" "Who would play us in a movie?". For that last one we got answers such as: Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Emily Blunt, and Stephen Colbert and Zooey Deschanel. Hilarious. But seriously reading the guestbook comments might have made me more emotional than anything else. Everyone was so genuinely happy for us, and to have that in writing I am sure years from now will be invaluable.
- Hug your friends, thank everyone, and try to hunt down the groom once in a while.