My top 5 “ah-ha!” wedding moments: Shit I’m glad I know now

Guest post by vertigo912
Ashley & Ryan01

Besides the obvious “ah-ha!” moment of “OMG I'm SO glad I found Offbeat Bride,” I wanted to share the top-five realizations I've had while planning this thing. These tidbits may not be for everyone, but if my best friend was getting married, this is what I'd tell her:

1. Get officially married before the big day

We got hitched in our living room by our friend who got ordained online. It was for insurance purposes; I wanted it to be unemotional, so we could save our feelings for the “real” day. But it was intimate and beautiful. We cried. And NO ONE knows except me, hubby, officiant, and now you guys. 😉 For all intents and purposes, our ceremony will still be our wedding — but I'll be able to walk down the aisle a little easier knowing that the sexy guy at the end of the aisle is already my secret husband.

2. Go with a short engagement

Having dealt with (only) six months of the planning stress, I can't imagine having ANOTHER six months or more of sleepless nights, fretting over Save the Dates, invites, colors, photos, details, etc. Sure, we've worked with a truncated timeline, but it means we have to work efficiently. Who doesn't work better with a little fire beneath them?

3. Consider just one attendant, or none at all

Instead, reach out to friends to fill special roles. We didn't want to play “favorites” with friends. In the end, we each chose one long-term friend from highschool to stand with us. Instead of asking my girlfriends to spend money on a bridesmaid dress, I asked them if their gift could simply be to showcase their talents. From baking the wedding cake and decorating the park bridge, to arranging our flowers and DJ-ing our tunes, our friends will make our day special not by standing with us in awkward group photos but by highlighting their awesome talents.

4. Create to-do lists on Google docs

For awhile, I was keeping a running list of to-do items as a draft message in my email. My honey suggested we create a Google doc out of it, and voila! We share just one list with eachother (instead of me emailing myself different drafts). We add tasks to our living document as we think of them. You can have the Google doc open at the same time, editing things as needed. And there's that ever-satisfying “strikethrough” text feature to cross off finished items. Almost as good as a hand-written list.

5. Sometimes you just need to step back and not give a shit

A few weeks into the process, when we were getting overwhelmed, we took a night away at a cheap farmhouse bed and breakfast. Left our laptops at home, turned off our cell phones, and stared into eachother's eyes to the tune of the thunderstorm. Its easy to get swept up in the bustle of planning. But this unplugged getaway helped us remember why we were wasting time picking out old table cloths to cut into napkins or scouring craigslist for reusable wares. In short: be the honeybadger. Honeybadger don't give a shit. (Click on it. You won't regret it.)

What are your own “ah-ha!” moments?

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Comments on My top 5 “ah-ha!” wedding moments: Shit I’m glad I know now

  1. My only regret is missing pictures with key people… Make that list, then let those on that list know they may not leave without taking that photo… My only regret.

  2. My “ah-ha!” moment was that I’m actually a pretty shy person, and that most of my planning anxiety was coming from the thought of having to put on a show for a bunch of people, some of whom I didn’t know very well. I’m not a show type person (my ah-ha moment actually came from seeing other peoples’ big fancy wedding pictures and thinking, my God, I am NOT like that), and I didn’t want our wedding turning into some kind of production instead of a wedding. So a week ago we decided we’d “fancy elope” on our planned wedding date– invest in a small wedding package at a beautiful B & B, and have a simple family only ceremony with a cake and champagne reception.

    Unfortunately 3 days ago our engagement ended. But it was still a good “ah-ha!” moment and it would have been stunning.

  3. Was going to go with #1 if my grandmothers health took a turn for the worse after her surgery. Fortunately, she’s well enough that we’ll be seeing her in September for the big day.
    Lots of friends gave us flack for having a long engagement (engaged in January 2013, wedding is September 2014), but I’m so glad we stuck with it. I’ve had so much time to save, plan, enjoy, and then have my days of being the honey badger and not worry if I don’t have enough time to not be giving a shit! It’s also allowed us to do a lot of DIY, which has in turn helped our budget a lot.
    My ah-ha moment is every moment I get to plan our wedding, every craft we get to do, every item we check off the to do list. I can’t believe I’m marrying my best friend and this is going to be exactly the day we’ve dreamt of.

  4. I think it’s #3 and #5 for me. Looking back, I wouldn’t have “gotten rid of” any of my attendants, but my best friend was really the one person who I constantly went to when I needed support. Here’s where #5 comes into play. My best friend, who also performed our ceremony, selected and purchased my bouquet. I didn’t see it until just hours before the wedding. I had been worrying about everything and just couldn’t worry about anything else and was going to simply purchase white carnations and tie them together with ribbon myself. My friend told me, “You and Sean (hubs) are the center of the day and your bouquet is like the centerpiece of you,” and to make it something special. I explained how I felt and she made the offer.
    What she picked for my bouquet was so beautiful! (I’m honestly getting a little misty thinking back.) She picked lime (wedding color) spider mums, white roses, and the most amazing blue/purple/teal or orchids (we used shades of blue in the wedding as well). It was perfectly what I wanted but never what I would have thought to even consider.

    One other bit, in general, just surround yourself with love. She picked the most perfect bouquet because she is an amazing best friend who really knows me and wants me to be happy. The closest we came to ever, barely being snippy with each other about wedding things was when she told me I had to have an opinion about what she was going to wear. I let her pick her dress and probably would have said yes to anything, for fear of being bridezilla, but she pressed me for my honest opinion because she wanted whatever I wanted. Every time I came out of a dressing room in a potential bridal gown and quickly asked, “What do you think?” Her first response was always, “What do YOU think?” She gave me honest opinions too, though. The dress I finally chose wasn’t her favorite but the fact that she didn’t like it and I did was what made me sure I loved it. If her opinion didn’t change my mind nothing would.

    So yeah, #3. (But with all my other attendants too.)

  5. Getting married in a small city hall ceremony before the big “ceremony” was such a good call. Totally took the pressure off and let us get used to the idea – so we could actually enjoy the wedding itself.

  6. GOOGLE DOCS! I can’t praise it enough. We’ve been long-distance for years, and we are doing the first full year of wedding planning apart (currently 32 hours’ driving distance, with our wedding city in the middle). We had already been keeping a personal to-do list on GDocs for short- and long-term plans, so when we got engaged it was only natural to expand on it.

    We now have an entire shared wedding folder with lots of brainstorming documents (see an image you like? don’t rely on links, just paste it in, and link if the source page is useful) for different aspects of the weekend, from venues to vows to the guest list. We don’t need to look through these very often, but when we need to refer to something, it’s easy to find.

    The BEST thing we have going is a multi-worksheet spreadsheet with tabs for each discrete purchase/vendor choice, which allows us to compartmentalize and concentrate on tasks in order. So, e.g., for venues, when we were in the early stages we had venues across, and down, all the contact information, amenities, and (if we got more serious about them) cost breakdowns, with sections for notes and descriptions. We took two trips to StL to shop locations, and having everything we needed to reach our venues on one page was incredibly helpful! As we narrowed it down we could easily rearrange and highlight our choices. Once we secure our venues we can move on to the next tabs: hotels, caterer (depending whether we land an exclusive catering place), florist, photographer, another tab for the rehearsal dinner, you name it. If in the process we decide we really need another line for x consideration, or a whole new worksheet to accommodate something new like shuttle services, done. And it’s automatically saved with no chance of a chaos-wreaking hardware malfunction. What would we ever do without the internet?

    • Hi!!! I’m just starting from my wedding planning process and the way you’ve described your organization seems super helpful! Is that spreadsheet something you’d be willing to share? Even if you wipe the private notes and whatnots from it and just share the basis I’d be so so grateful. Discovering OBB has already lowered my blood pressure to discover other ways to think about what a wedding can be instead of what it HAS to be. Thanks!!!

  7. I’ve been engaged for almost 2 years now and it hasn’t been stressful because we only recently got into more concrete planning. For a long time we just got ideas, which was fun.

  8. Sooooooooooooo many people have been preaching the gospel of getting married ahead of time to me and while I appreciate the advice, making it legal in front of my friends is one of the few things I won’t budge on. This may backfire on me since I’ve been married before and he hasn’t, but we’re not doing photos before and we’re doing it for real in front of all our friends. I’ve already made a commitment to him when I added him to my bank account and insurance, and he made a huge commitment when he quit his job to take care of our household affairs. Ultimately, it might take stress off to do it before, but my biggest regret from my first time around was from doing exactly that, so YMMV.

    Other than that, absolutely love Honey Badger reference. We agreed that as long as we leave [moderately] drunk and married, then it has been a success. All we care about is getting married in front of our friends and then having a bigass party with them. Everything else is gravy and if impedes #1 or #2 (mostly #1, since that reflects home much time we’ve had to sit and enjoy the day), then it’s not worth it. Let them eat cake!

  9. I don’t think having an extended engagement necessarily has to translate into I am working on the wedding everything else second I’m engaged. sometimes you have a long engagement so you can wait to think about the wedding.

  10. AHA!Moment: People want to help. Let them, as long as it’s not crucial to (one of) you that it be done a certain way. You don’t have to personally do every little single thing attached to your wedding. I remember reading somewhere on the Tribe (maybe?) that even our fearless leader Ariel didn’t know what her reception venue would look like because she left the decorations in capable hands, and she was thrilled with the results.

    My advice: Pull an Elsa– Let It Go (selectively). 🙂

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