From my recent memoir on our wedding preparation 10 years ago, where I planned my wedding in 3 weeks and fell asleep while the priest was talking, many people asked me, “How did you do it? How can you possibly plan a wedding in 3 weeks and keep the cost down?” So I decided to share my guiding principles here: most are intuitive and can be applied to organizing anything in general.
Here are my 5 tips on how to efficiently plan a wedding:
1. Don’t sweat the small stuff. This one is a no-brainer. You are getting married! First of, congratulations on this monumental step! You know what? Nobody will remember or care what kind of silverware or glassware one used at a wedding. For that matter, what kind of chair one sat on at a wedding. In my case, I was planning a wedding in Hudson Valley while doing my medical internship in a busy New York hospital. The 3 weeks preparation period fell during my night float month. I only had time to make one trip up to Hudson Valley to arrange for everything. I called up everyone including the local floral shop, utensil rentals, makeup and hair, etc and lined them all up for in person interviews in one morning. When making decisions on small items, go with your gut instinct and move on.
2. Source locally and seasonally. When deciding on what floral arrangement to use, I paid attention to which flowers were in season. Everywhere I looked: the corner shops, grocery stores, flower shops, peonies were blooming everywhere. So I interviewed and picked the local floral shop who grew their own peonies. Same goes to buying produce at the farmer’s market. When you buy things that are in season and from the source, you cut out the middle man, the transportation charges, and things end up costing less.
3. Shop smartly, think outside of the wedding box. Anything with “wedding” attached to it screams “overpriced” to me. I remember shopping for a pair of bridal shoes for a total of 5 minutes and called it quits. For some reason, a friend got it in my head that I needed to shop for a pair of white satin bridal shoes. Alright. I walked over to some fancy shoe shop recommended by the wedding planner book that the friend let me borrowed, and took a look around: dainty, delicate, pretty white shoes abound. All with whopping price tags attached to them. Here is the key question: would I ever wear — and you can insert any item that you are shopping for, in this case — a pair of white satin pump, ever again? If the answer is NO!, then hold your horses and your credit card. Instead of spending a ton of money on a pair of white shoes that I would never ever wear again, I ended up borrowing from Mom (and it counted for “something borrowed”!) Mom is an avid ballroom dancer and owns several professional dancing shoes. I picked out a golden pair that was extremely comfortable (but of course!). These babies had some fancy tricks up their soles: nicely contoured and padded, I could’ve danced all night in these. When they peeked underneath my floor length dress, they added an unique sparkle and looked oh so pretty! Same with our wedding invitation. I bought the stationary that matched the theme of our wedding at a local paper store. But the paper store lady told me that wedding invitation would take up to three weeks to print. With a little computer tweeks at the Kinkos a few doors down, I printed out my own wedding invitation in less than two hours. The wedding invitation went out that same day.
4. Be flexible. This goes along with #1, don’t sweat the small stuff. But in #4, we are extending the “no sweat zone” to even the bigger stuff. Ask anyone ever involved in wedding planning, to procure a wedding venue is not easy. We had toured and wanted to get married in several venues that were booked well in advance. At the end, we chose a place that had a personal connection and meaning to us. Same goes with the wedding dress. Granted, I didn’t have any particular designer or style in mind when I stepped into the glorious Kleinfeld Bridal Shop. I was concentrating on not falling asleep while trying those dresses on. But as the saying goes, you will know when it’s the right one. Pick an outfit that looks good on YOUR body, not on Lauren Conrad’s or Anne Hathaway’s, well, unless if you look like them, then lucky you. We had one bridesmaid, one groomsman, one flower girl and one ring bearer. So I let my wedding party pick their own outfit and asked them to wear something elegant, simple and would look good in pictures. Keep an open mind, and the amount of time and energy spent debating and arguing would be channeled in more productive and meaningful ways. Give your loved ones the freedom, trust and general guidelines to decide how they could be involved in your wedding.
5. Splurge on things that matter to you. For me, that would be food. What made a wedding memorable to me were the people, the food and how much fun I had on the dance floor. Home to the Culinary Institute of America (CIA), Hudson Valley boasts fresh ingredients and kickass chefs. Our guests were nice enough to attend our wedding with such short notice from all over the world, I wanted to feed them well. When the caterer asked me if I wanted fresh strawberries in our champagne glass for our wedding toast, something that seemed decadent, I readily agreed because strawberries were in season and that small gesture made an impact. When guests sat down at their dinner table, they were greeted with a glass of champagne with fresh strawberries which looked so festive and pretty without costing too much extra money. I ordered and picked up wine and liquors myself through Zachys. Again, cut out the middle man and the transportation, and we were left with top shelf items and very, very happy guests.
And there you have it. The most important point is that you have found THE person you will be spending the rest of your life with! A wedding is just icing on the cake. Keep your priorities straight and enjoy the big day!
As Judge Anthony Kennedy said, “[marriage] embodies the highest ideal of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family.” The history of our country evolved from allowing interracial marriage in 1967 to yesterday’s Supreme Court’s ruling on equal rights for same sex marriage in 2015. Slowly but surely, we are moving towards the right direction. Yes, I hear wedding bells ringing! Congratulations!