Updated: Mar 19
Before we jump into planning, I want to explain the route Dre and I took with our wedding and why. We decided to do a destination wedding for a couple of reasons. 1, we really wanted to give our guests an experience. A lot of our family and friends have never been out of the country and we wanted to be able to share one of our favorite places with them. 2, we didn’t want to spend a bunch of money on 1 day. We wanted to have a full week where we could spend quality time with our loved ones. Because of a lot of our family and friends would be traveling from out of state anyways, destination made a lot of sense. We also don’t have elderly people attending so it made travel a lot easier. Ultimately we felt the investment made more sense being spent on a week long trip verses 1 wedding day.
Okay! The first thing to do is talk to your soon to be hubby to get a good idea of both of your expectations and desires for your wedding. Most men don’t really care and will leave all the details up to you (if you’re lucky lol) but it’s important to know what type of wedding you guys ultimately want. A small wedding, large wedding, destination wedding, church wedding, etc.
Once you have that figured out, you can start looking for your venue. I say look for your venue before you look for a coordinator because most locations will refer you to someone who has their own coordinators for you to work with.
My suggestions for choosing locations is to do lot’s of research and compile a list of potential places and set a deadline to reach out to them all and get quotes.
The location you choose will depend on a couple of different variables, the capacity, the esthetic, their package options, parking for your guests, and whatever else is important to you.
Once you have the location, you start looking at date options. I would suggest doing a year out because time flies but at minimum, 6 months. If you’re doing a more intimate wedding less time is obviously needed to plan but I always say more time is better than not enough time.
I personally think that save the dates can be such a waste of money. The route we took for our save the dates was email. I created a virtual save the date card and emailed it out to our guests with a link to RSVP.
Here’s why I don’t like traditional save the dates, It can be very expensive and people end up throwing them away. Plus it creates more work for both you and your guests. We live in a very tech-savvy world yall, save ya coins and make it convenient by inviting your guests via email and or text message.
Which brings me to the next thing, choosing your guests. There is a very strategic way to go about this and here it is. Both you and your fiance need to create 3 different lists: 1 of priorities or must-haves, 1 of would be nice to have their people, and 1 of additional options or waitlist.
Based on the number of guests you want to have, you may have to limit plus 1’s. For us, because we are doing a destination, we only invited people who Dre and I both know unless a couple is married. So people in relationships with people who we do not know, were not invited. This is completely up to you and your boo and what you feel comfortable with.
Once the location, date, and guests are set, its time to choose your coordinator. Now for me, this was easy because I chose the destination and coordinator years before I was even engaged. Talk about manifestation lol. I attended a random wedding out of the country and loved the experience so much that I decided I wouldn’t look into other options, I wanted to work with the coordinator I met at that wedding and use the same location.
After you found your location and coordinator, it’s time to pull your inspiration. I suggest creating different Pinterest boards and sharing them with your coordinator. The ceremony, cocktail hour, reception, cake, florals, table settings, etc.
A lot of the day of things will be handled closer to the wedding but things like your final invitations, wedding website, registry, wedding dress, wedding party, bachelorette party and bridal shower will be handled in the meantime.
With invitations, if you MUST do the traditional route, this is when it makes sense, not for the save the dates. But if you’re like me and want to save money where it makes sense to, you can definitely email the actual invitations as well.
The funniest part to me was setting up our wedding website but I’m a total dork :) I created a custom site with WIX so I am unfamiliar with any wedding site hosts but I do know I’ve heard good things about “the knot”. The most important thing you need to have a beautiful website is quality photos that are consistent in color and theme. For us, we used our photos from our engagement shoot.
Right around the same time that you create your wedding website, you should be finalizing accommodations for your guests who may be traveling from out of town. Or in our case, for all of our guests.
Okay, my favorite part, picking your wedding dress! Even if you are getting a custom dress made like I did, I highly recommend doing dress fittings. Partially because it’s fun to do and your family and friends would want to experience it with you but also because you never actually know what you want until you see it on you.
Doing dress fittings allowed me to see the things I liked and didn’t liked which made it easier to design my custom dress. Did I mention how fun it is lol. I actually booked a couple of different fittings in a couple of states so that I could experience it with my family in Florida, my friends in Cleveland and my friends here in DC.
I also suggest doing a lot of searching on Pinterest and creating a board so that you have an idea of the types of dresses you want to see when you get to the fitting, otherwise they will put you in any and everything haha.
The next thing, I don’t much of any knowledge on because we went the untraditional route of not doing a bridal party.
But I do have some advice on it. I have been apart of many weddings and the trending issue with bridesmaids was drama and stress. The bigger the bridal party, the more opportunity for drama and stress.
We chose not to do a traditional bridal party because of the amount of stress I feel like it puts on the bride and groom as well as their bridal party. BUT if you take the traditional route here are my suggestions.
Keep it as small as possible. As I said, the more people, the more opportunity for drama
Set clear and immediate boundaries and expectations
If your bridal party doesn’t know each other, do something to get everyone to meet ahead of time.
Keep the cost low for your bridal party. You never know what people are going through financially and this is where the drama and stress creep in.
Communicate effectively with each person you ask to be apart of the bridal party so that they know exactly what they’re signing up for.
Okay! So things are moving along, now it’s time to set up your registry. Same thing here yall, we are doing a cash fund registry to go towards our honeymoon and new place. We decided not to do the traditional route simply because we are indecisive and want to be able to choose exactly what we do with the money. It is completely optional to give to the cash fund as we are already having our guests paying towards their trip out of the country to attend our wedding.
If you are looking to do a traditional registry, I suggest Zola and BluePrint Registry. We are using BluePrint for our cash registry and I definitely feel like it allows you to do the most customization to make it match your site.
Okay, on to the bridal shower. Funny story is, I was not going to do one of these because of the fact that a lot of our guests live out of town and are already traveling to attend the wedding. But…… I have some very persistent friends who insisted on me having one. So I will be doing an intimate shower here in DC.
Usually, your maid of honor and bridesmaids plan your shower so there isn’t much for you to do. However, I am the Pinterest queen so I still suggest creating a board of inspo so that they at least have an idea of the types of things you like. It makes their job easier and ensures that you will actually like the results.
I personally don’t believe in your bridal party having to pay for the shower which I know some brides choose to do so I created a budget to give to the girls so that they didn’t have to worry about covering any of the expenses unless they absolutely want to.
My approach to weddings is that this is YOUR day, so you should pay for it, not your guests.
The last thing before its wedding time is the bachelorette party! Whoot whoot! Same things here, Dre and I were not going to do one but then FOMO (fear of missing out) which is a new term I just learned lol set in. I started to think about how we’re only going to get married once and thought why not!?
My mindset for bachelorette parties is that everyone should pitch in to pay for their expenses and the expense of wherever you’re staying at.
For mine, we are keeping it intimate here in DC with my 15 close friends. Yes, that’s intimate to me lol. My friends tried to plan something but my planner instincts kicked in and like I said, I love planning. So…...in a couple of days I planned a weekend full of festivities.
We got 3 Luxury Air Bnb’s at the building I live in from Friday to Sunday.
Friday we check-in and everyone will get their gifts (pajama set, face mask, yoga mat & strap, custom water bottles, fanny pack and shot glasses). We have a photoshoot then will be picked up in a stretch hummer limo to attend a live performance and dinner at Sax’s in DC, followed by a night of bar hopping and clubbing.
Saturday we will start our morning with breakfast and facials then do a private meditation and yoga class on a rooftop, followed by a pole dancing class, dinner and slumber party.
Sunday is the bridal shower. I am so extra yall, I created virtual look books for each day with attire details of what to wear. When say I am a planner, I plan haha.
So my key takeaways for wedding planning is to stay true to what you want, this is your special day and the only thing that matters is that you and your hubby are happy. Don’t get overwhelmed with what you see on the gram, trying to go over the top and blow money on 1 day instead of saving and preparing for your future. Anyone who knows me knows I’m bougie on a budget.
I hope this info was helpful! Until next time my lovebugs, be shameless!