Getting Started: What Not To Do When Planning a Wedding

Wedding planning is an intricate process, and it’s easy to get lost in the excitement and anticipation. It’s also easy to fall into common traps that can derail your plans and lead to unnecessary headaches. As you get started, it’s important to remember what not to do when planning a wedding. Here are the most common pitfalls couples often encounter and how to avoid them. 

1. Disregarding Your Budget 

Your budget is your financial compass. While wedding planning, it will guide your choices and help ensure you’re making decisions that are in line with your economic realities. It’s easy to get swept up in the romance and excitement of planning a wedding, but it’s crucial to remember that this is a single day in your life. The financial decisions you make during this period could have lasting implications.  

The Consequences of Neglecting Your Budget 

The first rule of wedding planning is to set a realistic budget and stick to it. If you ignore your budget, you may find yourself dealing with financial stress that takes away from the joy of your big day. Overspending could also mean going into debt, which might take years to pay off. This financial burden can create a strain on your relationship and dampen the excitement of starting a new chapter together. 

Additionally, neglecting your budget can lead to hasty decisions. Don’t start booking vendors without knowing precisely what you can afford. If you fall in love with a venue or a dress that is beyond your price range, then other details will have to be adjusted to accommodate that one expense. Ultimately, you don’t want to cut corners on other important aspects of your wedding only to regret those decisions later. 

Getting Started: What Not To Do When Planning a Wedding

How To Stick to Your Budget 

  • Initiate an open and clear conversation about finances with your partner. Discuss spending priorities and set mutual expectations. Don’t forget to factor in any contributions from family members. 
  • Develop a comprehensive budget encompassing all costs, from the venue to decorations, attire, catering, photography, etc. 
  • Utilize online tools and apps designed to track wedding expenses in real-time to enhance your organization and prevent overspending. 
  • Remember, the goal is not to host the most extravagant event but to create a meaningful and memorable celebration that reflects your unique love story. Prioritize the experience over the extravaganza. 
  • If your budget is constraining your dream wedding, consider these creative alternatives: 
  • Opt for a smaller, more intimate ceremony. 
  • DIY certain aspects of your wedding to save costs and add an extra touch of personalization. 
  • Extend the engagement period to allow for more time to save money. 
  • Attend local bridal expos to talk with vendors about optimal booking times or seasons. 

Neglecting your wedding budget is a common mistake that can lead to unnecessary financial strain and regret. By setting a realistic budget and sticking to it, you can ensure that your wedding is a joyful celebration free of financial stress.  

2. Skipping the Guest List 

Creating your guest list may seem like a straightforward task, but it holds more weight than you might initially perceive. Additionally, skipping the guest list entirely can lead to serious complications down the road.  

The Importance of a Guest List 

Your guest list is essentially the backbone of your wedding planning. It directly influences various critical decisions, such as the choice of venue, the catering budget, the number of invitations, and even the size of your wedding cake. The guest list determines the overall scale and budget of your wedding, so skipping it or leaving it for the last minute can lead to a series of missteps.  

The Ramifications of Skipping the Guest List 

By skipping the guest list, you run the risk of booking a venue that’s either too small or too large for your actual guest count. The former could lead to overcrowding and discomfort, while the latter could result in an awkward, empty space and wasted resources. You don’t want to fall in love with any one aspect of your wedding, like a venue, only to realize it won’t accommodate the number of guests you’re inviting to help celebrate your big day. 

Additionally, without a thoughtfully planned guest list, it’s almost impossible to accurately calculate your catering needs. This could result in either a shortage of food and beverages or unnecessary spending on food that will go to waste. 

Lastly, skipping the guest list can lead to significant social complications. A hastily put-together list might mean forgetting to invite important people or inviting too many guests out of impulse or pressure, which could cause further strain on your wedding budget. 

Creating a Well-Thought-Out Guest List 

To avoid these pitfalls, it’s crucial to take the time early in your planning process to draft a thoughtful guest list. Here are a few tips from Everyday Bride: 

  • Start by defining the nature of your wedding. Do you envision an intimate gathering or a grand, lavish celebration? This decision will significantly influence the size of your guest list. 
  • For an intimate wedding, prioritize those who are closest to you—your must-haves (or MVPs). This may include immediate family, close relatives, and your closest friends. If needed, you can categorize your guest list into tiers to give you a starting point in case you need to cut down on the number of invitees. 
  • If you’re planning a larger-scale event, you can expand the guest list to include extended family, acquaintances, and colleagues.

PRO TIP: If you find it challenging to trim your guest list, consider implementing a few rules—for instance, not inviting people you haven’t spoken to in the past year or so, or avoiding inviting the whole office

  • Always keep your venue’s capacity in mind. It’s essential to ensure your chosen venue can comfortably accommodate all your guests. 
  • Consider your budget constraints. Remember, more guests mean more mouths to feed and more seats to provide. Make sure the size of your guest list aligns with what you can afford. 

Overall, you may need to prepare yourself to make tough decisions. It’s your special day, and you have every right to invite only those who matter to you. Based on what you decide, it may be better to have a smaller guest list that fits your budget and venue than to overspend or overextend. 

3. Not Prioritizing Key Elements 

Every couple has their own vision for the perfect wedding day. For some, it’s all about the venue; for others, it’s the food, the music, or even the photography. Understanding what matters most to you and your partner is the first step in creating a day that truly reflects your love story. 

By not prioritizing the key elements of your wedding, you risk spreading your budget and efforts too thin. This could result in a wedding that, while adequate in all aspects, doesn’t excel in any and doesn’t fully represent your vision. 

The Risks of Not Prioritizing Key Elements 

When you don’t prioritize various wedding factors, you might find that your budget is exhausted on less important aspects, leaving little for what you truly value. For instance, if you splurge on an extravagant venue but have always dreamt of high-quality professional photographs, you might be left with subpar photos because you didn’t allocate enough funds to hire a top-tier photographer. 

A lack of prioritization can lead to unnecessary stress and decision fatigue. With so many choices to make, not knowing where to focus your energy can be overwhelming.  

How To Prioritize Key Elements Effectively 

To avoid these risks, begin your planning process by sitting down with your partner and identifying what matters most to both of you. List out all the elements of a wedding—venue, food and drink, attire, music, photography, decor, etc.—and rank them in order of importance. 

Once you’ve identified your top priorities, allocate your budget accordingly. Ensure that sufficient funds are set aside for what you value most, and be prepared to compromise on less critical elements. 

It’s your day, and it should reflect what matters most to you as a couple. By prioritizing key elements and your non-negotiables early on, you can remain on budget and ensure that your wedding is remembered for the things that really count. 

Getting Started: What Not To Do When Planning a Wedding

4. Forgetting To Plan for the Weather 

Unfortunately, the weather is one aspect of your wedding day that you cannot control. Rain, wind, excessive heat, or even an unexpected cold snap can quickly turn your dream outdoor wedding into a logistical nightmare. By having a backup plan, you ensure that, no matter what the weather throws your way, your special day can proceed without a hitch. 

The Risks of Ignoring the Weather 

The consequences of not having a weather contingency plan can be serious. A sudden downpour could leave your guests drenched, your decor ruined, and your dance floor empty. Too much sun can lead to sunburns, heatstroke, and wilting flowers. Ignoring the potential for bad weather is not only risky, but it can also lead to a lot of unnecessary stress and last-minute scrambling. 

Implementing a Weather Contingency Plan 

If you’re planning an outdoor wedding, it’s crucial to have a backup plan in place. This could involve renting a marquee or tent that can be used if needed, or choosing a venue with an indoor option. Ensure that this plan can be put into action quickly if the weather forecast instantly changes. 

Consider hiring a wedding planner who has experience with outdoor events and can help coordinate a seamless switch to the backup plan if required. 

Also, keep your guests informed. If there’s a chance that your wedding might move locations due to weather, let them know in advance. This could be as simple as a note on your wedding website or in your invitation suite. 

You should also consider your wedding attire and decor in regard to weather contingencies. For instance, if you’re getting married in a location where sudden rain showers are frequent, you could have umbrellas on hand that match your wedding color scheme. 

Failing to have a weather contingency plan when planning an outdoor wedding is a risk you don’t want to take. By preparing for all possibilities, you ensure that no matter what the weather is on your big day, it will be a beautiful celebration. 

5. Neglecting Your Partner’s Wishes 

Your wedding day is a significant milestone not only for you but for your partner as well. It’s a day that should encapsulate both of your personalities, preferences, and love stories. Neglecting your partner’s wishes may not only lead to them feeling left out or unheard, but could also result in a wedding that doesn’t fully reflect who you are as a couple. 

Neglecting your partner’s wishes can sow seeds of resentment or conflict, creating unnecessary stress and tension during what should be an exciting and joyous time in your lives. 

The Consequences of Neglecting Your Partner’s Wishes 

By not taking into account your partner’s preferences, you risk creating a wedding that is skewed toward your personal taste. This could lead to a celebration that, while beautiful, only represents half of the couple’s identity. 

Furthermore, this neglect could cause emotional distress, making your partner feel unvalued or overlooked. This could create a tense atmosphere leading up to—and even on—your wedding day, detracting from the joyous celebration you both deserve. 

How To Respect and Incorporate Your Partner’s Wishes 

To avoid this pitfall, engage in open communication with your partner right from the start of the planning process. Discuss each other’s visions for the wedding, identify common ground, and work out compromises where your desires differ. 

Incorporate elements that reflect both of your personalities. This could be anything from the choice of venue to the style of music, the menu, or even the color scheme. 

Don’t dismiss your partner’s ideas outright, even if they don’t align with your initial vision. Instead, try to find creative ways to blend your preferences or come up with alternatives that satisfy you both. 

Remember, it’s not just your day; it’s your partner’s special moment, too. By actively involving your partner in the planning process and respecting their wishes, you can ensure a wedding that truly reflects your shared love and commitment.  

6. Procrastinating 

Wedding planning involves a lot of moving parts, and procrastination can quickly derail your timeline and result in a less-than-ideal outcome. Venues get booked up, vendors become unavailable, and the best dates get claimed quickly. Procrastination can lead settling for less than your first choice, or even incurring rush fees or paying premium prices for last-minute bookings. 

Leaving things to the last minute can create unnecessary stress, turning what should be a joyous process into a frantic scramble. This can not only detract from the enjoyment of your engagement period but also lead to hasty decisions that you may regret later. 

How To Avoid Procrastination 

To prevent procrastination from creeping into your wedding planning process, here are some strategies to consider: 

  • Create a Timeline: Start with a clear, comprehensive wedding planning timeline. This will give you an overview of what needs to be done and when, helping you stay on track and avoid last-minute rushes. 
  • Delegate Tasks: Share the workload with your partner, family members, or wedding party. Delegating tasks not only lightens your load but also makes the planning process more manageable and less overwhelming. 
  • Hire a Wedding Planner: If your budget allows, consider hiring a professional wedding planner. Their expertise and experience can streamline the planning process, ensuring nothing gets overlooked or left until the last minute. 
  • Set Regular Check-Ins: Schedule regular planning sessions with your partner to discuss progress, make decisions, and adjust your plan as needed. Consistent check-ins can keep you both accountable and ensure you’re progressing according to your timeline. 
  • Prioritize: Not all tasks are equally urgent or important. Prioritize tasks based on their urgency and the impact they have on other decisions. For instance, securing a venue will typically be one of the first tasks, as it influences many other aspects, such as the date, vendors, and guest accommodations. 

While procrastination can be tempting, it does lead to significant challenges in the wedding planning process. By staying organized, delegating tasks, and maintaining regular check-ins, you can keep your wedding planning on track.

7. Trying To Please Everyone 

When planning your wedding, it is natural to want your guests to have a memorable time. However, a common misstep many couples experience is the trap of trying to please everyone. Not only can this cause unnecessary stress, but it could also lead to a wedding that doesn’t truly reflect your unique vision or preferences. 

Getting Started: What Not To Do When Planning a Wedding

The Trap of Trying To Please Everyone 

A wedding is a joyous occasion that brings together family and friends to celebrate the union of you and your partner. However, with different personalities and preferences, it’s nearly impossible to accommodate everyone’s tastes and expectations. Attempting to do so can easily pull you away from your vision, resulting in a wedding that feels more like a compromise than a celebration of your love. 

Continually striving to please everyone else can make the planning process much more stressful and can even lead to you feeling disconnected from your own wedding. 

The Potential Issues of Over-Accommodation 

One of the main issues with trying to please everyone is that it can dilute the personalization of your wedding. If you’re constantly changing your plans to cater to others’ preferences, your wedding may end up reflecting them more than it represents you and your partner. 

Another problem is that, in the process of trying to satisfy everyone, you may end up pleasing no one. People have different tastes and preferences, and what pleases one person might not please another. 

Furthermore, this issue could result in overspending as you try to incorporate various elements to cater to everyone’s tastes. 

Maintaining Your Vision While Considering Others 

While it’s important to consider your guests’ comfort and enjoyment, it’s essential to remember that the day ultimately belongs to you and your partner. Here are a few tips on how to maintain your vision: 

  • Communicate Your Vision Clearly: From the beginning, be clear about what you and your partner want. This can help set expectations and minimize the number of unsolicited opinions or requests you might receive. 
  • Learn To Say No: It’s okay to respectfully decline suggestions that don’t align with your vision. Remember, it’s your day and you have the final say. 
  • Prioritize: Focus on pleasing the people who matter most to you. You can’t satisfy everyone, but you can take into account the preferences of your closest loved ones. 
  • Seek Professional Guidance: A wedding planner can help you stick to your vision and manage others’ expectations, reducing the pressure on you to please everyone. 

While it’s important to consider your guests’ comfort and enjoyment on your special day, you can’t please everyone. Above all else, focus on what will make you and your partner happy. 

8. Ignoring Contracts 

One critical component that often gets overlooked during wedding planning is the importance of thoroughly understanding and not ignoring contracts. Failing to pay close attention to legal aspects can lead to unexpected surprises, additional costs, or unmet expectations. Contracts form the legal backbone of your agreements with various vendors, from the venue and caterer to the photographer and DJ. These agreements outline the services to be provided, the costs involved, the timeline, and the terms and conditions that govern your relationship with the vendor. Ignoring or skimming through these contracts can lead to misunderstandings, disappointments, and potentially even legal disputes. 

The Risks of Ignoring Contracts 

By not thoroughly reading and understanding your contracts, you might miss essential details, such as additional costs, terms of service, cancellation policies, or liability clauses. This could mean unexpected expenses, unmet expectations, or being stuck with a vendor or service that you’re unhappy with. 

Also, you might not fully understand what you’re entitled to or what’s expected of you, which can lead to confusion or disagreements later on. This can add unnecessary stress to your wedding planning and even your big day. 

How To Approach Contracts Effectively 

Here are some tips to ensure you’re handling your contracts effectively: 

  • Read Every Detail: Make sure you read through each contract thoroughly—even the fine print. Don’t hesitate to ask your vendor to clarify any terms or conditions you don’t understand. 
  • Know What’s Included: Pay close attention to the services included in the contract and any additional costs that may arise. This could include overtime charges, travel expenses, or fees for additional services. 
  • Understand Cancellation Policies: Ensure you understand the cancellation or postponement policies. This is particularly important in light of uncertainties like the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • Negotiate if Necessary: If there are terms in the contract that you’re not comfortable with, don’t be afraid to negotiate. Remember, everything is negotiable until you sign. 
  • Get Professional Help: Consider enlisting the help of a legal professional to review your contracts, particularly for more significant agreements like venue bookings. A little investment upfront can save you from potential headaches down the line. 

Always read the contracts with your vendors carefully to ensure you understand cancellation policies, payment schedules, and which services are included. And don’t be afraid to ask questions or negotiate terms. 

Getting Started: What Not To Do When Planning a Wedding

9. Forgetting About the Marriage License 

Don’t get so caught up in the wedding planning that you forget about the legal aspect of getting married. Make sure you know when and how to get your marriage license. 

A marriage license is more than just a piece of paper; it’s a legal recognition of your union. Obtaining a marriage license often involves several steps and waiting periods, which may vary by state or country. Forgetting about it until the last minute can cause unnecessary stress and even delay your wedding. 

The Impact of Forgetting the Marriage License 

Forgetting about the marriage license can lead to various complications. Without this document, you won’t be able to legally marry on your chosen date. This can throw a significant wrench in your wedding plans, especially if you’re planning to honeymoon immediately after the ceremony or if you have family and friends traveling to attend. 

Additionally, without a valid marriage license, your union won’t be legally recognized. This means you may face issues when filing taxes, applying for or changing insurances, changing your name, or asserting marital rights. 

Securing Your Marriage License 

To avoid forgetting about this crucial aspect of your wedding, here are some steps you should take: 

  • Research Early: As soon as you start planning your wedding, research the requirements for obtaining a marriage license in your specific location. Laws vary by state and country, so ensure you know what’s needed. 
  • Understand the Timing: Many places have a waiting period between applying for a marriage license and receiving it. Some also have a window in which the license is valid. Be sure to understand these timelines to avoid any issues. 
  • Gather Necessary Documents: You’ll likely need several documents to obtain your marriage license, such as birth certificates, photo IDs, or divorce decrees if either of you were previously married. Gather these early to avoid a last-minute scramble. 
  • Schedule the Application: Some jurisdictions require you to apply in person. If this is the case, schedule the application well in advance of your wedding date. 

Forgetting about the marriage license can lead to significant issues in your wedding planning process and your legal marital status. By researching early, understanding the timing, gathering necessary documents, and scheduling your application, you can ensure your wedding goes off without a hitch and your marriage is legally recognized. 

10. Not Hiring a Wedding Planner 

Finally, remember that you don’t have to do it all yourself. Planning a wedding is a mammoth task that involves juggling numerous vendors, budgets, deadlines, and details. Without a wedding planner’s guidance, this can quickly become overwhelming, turning what should be an exciting time into a stressful ordeal. 

Not hiring a wedding planner can also lead to other issues. You may end up spending more time and money as you navigate the complex world of wedding vendors and contracts. In addition, you could miss out on valuable industry insights and connections that only a planner can provide. 

Without a planner, you’ll have to handle any day-of crises yourself, which can add unnecessary stress to your special day. 

The Value of a Wedding Planner 

Hiring a wedding planner can bring numerous benefits, including: 

  • Expert Guidance: A wedding planner brings a wealth of knowledge and experience, helping you navigate the ins and outs of planning a wedding. They can provide invaluable advice on everything from budget management to vendor selection and contract negotiation. 
  • Stress Reduction: A planner can significantly reduce the stress of wedding planning by taking care of the details, coordinating with vendors, and ensuring everything runs smoothly. 
  • Time and Money Savings: With their industry connections and negotiation skills, wedding planners can help you get the best deals, saving you money. They can also save you time by handling various planning aspects, freeing you up to enjoy your engagement. 
  • Day-Of Coordination: On your wedding day, your planner will ensure everything runs smoothly, handling any issues that arise so you can fully enjoy your day. 

While it might seem like an additional expense at the outset, investing in a wedding planner can save you time, reduce stress, and ensure that your wedding day is as beautiful and seamless as you’ve always dreamed. 

Planning your wedding should be an exciting journey, not a stressful endeavor. By being aware of what not to do when planning a wedding, you can avoid potential pitfalls and navigate the process smoothly. 

Remember, your wedding day is about celebrating the love you and your partner share. Keep the focus on what truly matters—your commitment to each other. By staying informed, taking the initiative, and being thoughtful in your decisions, you can orchestrate a wedding that is not just a splendid festivity but also a true reflection of your unique bond as a couple. 

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Everyday Bride

Freelance Writer
April 25, 2023

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