I really thought I had this in the bag. I was one of the last of my close friends to get married, and I'd been in their weddings, for better or for worse. I'd seen an awful lot, and was rewarded with a heaping helpful of knowledge from my sweet, sweet friends. They were there to answer any questions I had. Further, I had been planning my wedding in my head since I was about, oh, 16. I had some pretty good ideas of things I wanted (and didn't want). And I am crazy, crazy organized and OCD. Still, there were things that surprised me...
Meetings with vendors are wildly inconvenient
Let me start by saying that I worked with THE best vendors and they have been so helpful and fantastic. I'm not knocking any of them in any way, shape or form, and I would hire them all again in a heartbeat. But here's the thing: just because they will be working on a night and a weekend (presumably) on the actual day of your wedding doesn't mean they want to work on nights and weekends leading up to it. They want their get-to-know-you meetings to be during the regular workday. Unfortunately, my boss also kind of likes it when I'm, you know, at my place of employment during the workday.
This was my biggest frustration in wedding planning - trying to get off work to go to vendor meetings. The reception site's ONLY times for food tastings were 2:00 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Period. That wasn't convenient for me, that wasn't convenient for B, and that REALLY wasn't convenient for my parents who had to drive 3 hours to participate in this event. Thankfully, we did it on the Thursday before my birthday so they could combine it into a long weekend/birthday visit. I ordered my save-the-dates, invitations, and menu cards from Wedding Paper Divas solely because I could peruse, design, order and preview them online and do it on my time, meaning one less harried lunch-hour meeting during the week. Unless you work from home or have a REALLY flexible schedule, be prepared to have a little heart-to-heart with your office manager about your comings and goings.
Pinterest actually doesn't help
That's the best way to explain it. It's just too easy to get three billion suggestions, and deciding between them is IMPOSSIBLE. There were like 400,000 different routes I could have taken with flowers - white, pink, blue, yellow...we're talking a freaking rainbow here. How can you choose? How can you know which really will look best?
By going to one of those aforementioned inconvenient vendor meetings, of course. My florist pulled out a scrapbook of weddings they'd done, and one of them matched my vision PERFECTLY. I fell in love. They tweaked it just a tiny bit to suit my tastes, but I absolutely LOVED my flowers (pictured above)...and Pinterest had nothing to do with it. Trust your vendors. They've done this many times (tip: hire experienced vendors), and they should be able to help you pinpoint your style. If you have your heart set on this ONE THING you saw on Pinterest, you could miss something even more amazing.
The one thing, however, that Pinterest DID help with was hairstyles. I pinned several similar ones I liked, and my hair and makeup artist was able to create a similar style that I LOVED. She did say that they can't re-create any one style EXACTLY, but having ALL those pictures pinned in one place was able to give her an idea of what I liked. So Pinterest has its uses...just don't let it overwhelm you or dictate your every move.
Do NOT DIY
I consider myself a fairly crafty person. I crochet all the time, and I like to make things. However, no matter how crafty you are, your wedding really isn't the place to do it. The ONLY things I "made" were the wine corks and the place cards inside them (see above), and after a weekend spent watching March Madness and playing with an Xacto knife, I was even re-thinking that.
A lot of people go the DIY route to save money, and I'm not knocking that. You gotta do what you gotta do. But unless you (or your MOH, your 'maids, or your mother) are SUPER-experienced in doing certain things, just don't. I had one of my bridesmaids, who is a graphic designer by trade, design my wedding programs. It's entirely possible I could have done it myself, but the time and mental capacity involved would've made me miserable, and it would've looked nowhere as amazing as her work.
If (for cost reasons), you absolutely MUST do something yourself, make it something that can be done well in advance of the wedding. See if you can find a talented friend/neighbor/coworker who would offer their services in lieu of a wedding gift. Fork out the money for the stuff that HAS to be done the day-of (flower arranging, catering, etc) so you and your family can relax and enjoy your wedding, because that is the main goal.
I frequently refer to Gilmore Girls as the oracle for life (how could I not? I AM Rory). So it really befuddles me that I did not listen to a direct quote from Luke regarding weddings: "There's nothing like a wedding to screw up a family." I will not go into details or name parties involved, but trust me, this happened. The good news, ironically, is that for us it happened on both sides of our families, and at right about the same time. There was only so long the wedding planning perfection could hold out before something had to give, and oh, it gave.
If you have an uncle that likes to grope young women, or an aunt that cannot stay out of the liquor bottle, or a bitter sibling who's always tried to one-up you, they will not change just because it's the most important day of your life (not theirs). If they'll bring the behavior to your family Christmas get-together, they'll bring it to your wedding (and/or to the planning). Do not take this personally. Have a glass of wine with your husband-to-be and laugh about them, instead.
Planning is most fun with your spouse-to-be
Maybe it's because my mother and all my best friends live at least three hours away, but the most enjoyable aspects of wedding planning were the ones that I did WITH B. A lot of the stuff he was perfectly content to let me handle. Flowers? He wanted no part of that. But he came with me to all three cake tastings, and we enjoyed ourselves SO much talking about what we liked, didn't like, envisioned, etc. We laughed about the crazy vendors and were in complete agreement about the ones we liked. We debated ideas and suggestions. It was so much nicer to plan our wedding together since it was OUR wedding, not MINE.
Just something to keep in mind there, budding bridezillas. It IS your husband's day, too. You may be the one in the big white dress that everyone is looking at, but the day is about the both of you, not just you. So involve your hubby-to-be in the planning.
"The Big Day" will not be perfect
Everything went perfectly right up until the day before the wedding. Then the fun began.
We went to the rehearsal, where everyone in the family and wedding party was blown away by the insane amount of rules and, oh hell, the insane rules themselves, imposed by my church. That is a whole different story that could fill an entire blog post itself and/or an open mic comedy night, but anyway. We survive that, and get in the car to head to the rehearsal dinner.
That's when I get a text from my mother saying my brother has food poisoning with a fever of 102.9, and they've stopped at an urgent care place. Um, yeahhhh. Between worrying about my brother and being sad my parents were missing our rehearsal dinner, it was a long night. But they were finally able to show up for the slideshow and the toasts, and all was well.
The day of the wedding did go relatively smoothly, albeit with some fun NEW rules from the church (such as, my still-weak brother can't bring a water bottle into the church). My brother escorted my mom down the aisle and then sat with her instead of standing up front as a groomsman, as originally planned.
But you know what? It was a perfect day, at least to us. We had a beautiful first look, a...well, a ceremony (those involved know why I'm refraining from adjectives here), and a FANTASTIC, fun, amazing reception celebration with our friends and family. And at the end of the day, we were husband and wife. It may not be textbook-perfect, but it's YOUR wedding day, so I promise, it will be perfect to you. :)