Confessions of an Engaged Wedding Planner // Planners Get Overwhelmed Too!

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Some thoughts on navigating those early planning days!

We’re coming up to about a month of being engaged and although it’s super fun to be in the bridal position now, I’m here to tell you that yes, wedding planners, with all of our education, preparation and experience, still get overwhelmed with planning our own weddings just as you do!

Something I always talk about with my couples is the reality that weddings are a pressure cooker: this is a period of intense emotions, money is involved, no one is safe from outside opinions and “suggestions” and not to mention your day to day life doesn’t just stop because you’re engaged and planning your celebration. It’s a lot to handle!

That said, it’s obviously extremely exciting to be able to design and plan for our dream day knowing the industry and being around so much inspiration all the time. In the end, this is about Nick and I and celebrating our special day with our loved ones. Now, being a wedding planner and having a certain style, it’s also fun to work with the details and create a meaningful experience because that’s who we are.

I also feel a different kind of pressure, knowing that this wedding means a lot to me professionally as well, being able to show what I can do. So after some overwhelming weeks diving right into site visits, engagement party planning, and preliminary vendor searches, I’ve thought about it long and hard and compiled this list of advice that I usually give my couples and now need to remind myself of as well:

Keep calm

First thing’s first, breathe. Take a yoga class. Go for a run. Read a book. Turn off your phone. Try to factor something physical and/or calming into your day to help manage your emotions. I have found that when my mind is racing with the 458 wedding dresses I just scrolled through on Pinterest or the favour detour I took for 2 hours, it’s nice to just get on the treadmill, put on a Friends episode and just take my mind off of it for a while. It’s early and I’m sure I’ll feel some more pressure later on, but it’s important to remind yourself that it will all work out and in the end.

Get the right inspiration

One of the best things I can say in the early stages of planning is think about who you are as individuals and as a couple. Think about your style, where you dine, what you do for fun, who you see on a regular basis. Once you can get the basics of size, general style and feeling, it will be much easier to picture your celebration.

I’ve always pictured an outdoor summer wedding. Nick and I love to travel, eat good food, enjoy wine on warm summer patios, and dance surrounded by our favourite people. As much as we love the city, we are thinking of a more classic and romantic celebration. I want us to feel relaxed on our day (and the same goes for our guests), eating good food, drinking great wine at a slow pace and enjoying the long summer day and hopefully warm weather. With that, it becomes easier to find inspiration for what we’re looking for.

Inspiration is everywhere these days. Pinterest and Instagram have completely changed the wedding industry but you still have your magazines, wedding shows, blogs, TV, that thing your aunt sent you… It’s easy to be inspired on a daily basis but the danger of over-saturation is there and can lead to a lot of self-doubt or again, that feeling of being overwhelmed. In that case, (after you take a break!) go back to your original vision of your day or the feeling that you want to have on your wedding. Once you focus in on what you want, it will be so much easier to see past the noise and not get overwhelmed.

Budget early

Weddings cost money. I could talk about this topic for hours so send me a message and we can go for a coffee, but like everything else, wedding cost money, and things add up quickly. Aside from obvious costs of food and drink, sometimes people can forget the costs associated with the labour of running a wedding. Behind every wedding are countless workers at all levels who have made it possible. Some of us do this as a full time business and have lots of added expenses to pay, like insurance, office, material, software etc. When you get into the finer details and rentals, remember the labour that goes into delivering, setting up, picking up and so on. At every stage, you will have a choice. We talked about inspiration being everywhere - when you actually add up all of your dream list items, you understand how much it will be and this is where things can get tough. Everyone is in a unique situation. You don’t know if they’re saving for the wedding on their own or if family is contributing or how they might feel about spending tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on a wedding.

Budgeting is key. Even if you’re working with an astronomical amount of money for your wedding, budgeting helps you understand all of the components of your wedding (and sometimes, ones you may have overlooked). It will also help you plan and control in the long rung with budget-creep sneaks in. Be confident with that you set out early. When doing full planning, I always establish a solid budget with my clients and evaluate expectations based on that budget. When faced with actual costs, be confident with that you’re willing to spend more on or what you will not budge on. Would rather save up for a down-payment on the house? Amazing! Plan for a smaller celebration or be prepared to explore some cost-saving options. Want to spend thousands on photography but don’t really care about other aspects? Just align your expectations with reality. Everyone will have some tough choices to make during their wedding planning. Keep in mind what the most important, non-negotiable items are for you and go from there.

Stay true to yourself

Pastiche is all about authenticity, unique ideas, couples who appreciate the details and most importantly, want to celebrate love. Some people only envision a wedding as a church ceremony, receiving line reception and all night dinner with dancing. Some prefer a potluck dinner with a small circle of friends and family by the lake at their childhood camp. Others opt for a chic brewery with a late start, non-traditional ceremony and casual finger food. There is no right way to plan a wedding. Your wedding is literally whatever you want it to be. Just because I love something more classic, doesn’t mean I don’t love planning my friend’s ultra casual soireé or a client’s highly formal affair. Don’t worry about what others are doing - they’re picking their lane and staying true to themselves. Stay true to who YOU are and your own wedding planning will be fun, exciting and bring out so much joy and creativity!

It will all work out

We are getting married at our church in the west end, so logistically I don’t want to make the reception space too far away. So even though an outdoor Niagara wedding might be perfect, it’s most likely not in the cards (not to mention that I’m not a fan of the early music end time!). If you’ve been following along on Instagram you’ve seen my various site tours lately (more on venue hunting soon!) - some have been incredible and I have been so inspired for future clients, but don’t really fit our own style.

The outdoors aspect might be something we’ll have to give up, but that doesn’t mean we can’t incorporate the smaller details or decor to still give us what we envision. It’s hard to tell who from my family will be able to travel to be at the wedding. Will we be able to incorporate all of our dream food items? Don’t get me started on having a partially Ukrainian guest list and so many places these days not serving shots at the bar… Because we’re hoping for a summer 2020 date, on a Saturday, close to the city, it’s already difficult to find available venues. How can we make the puzzle of our ideal vendors work with the budget in a way that still leaves room for the details? There has been a lot on my mind, but honestly, the best part is coming home to my loving partner and saying “As long as I get to marry you I’ll be the happiest girl in the world”.

Even though there is so much coming at you from so many directions, just remember what it’s all about and repeat after me: It will all work out. I promise. Now knowing the value of coordination, you better believe that although I’m planning all of this myself, I will be bringing someone on board to actually coordinate our month-of so we can just enjoy every minute!

So with some practice and repeating these to myself throughout my own planning process, we’ll be okay! Now tell me, what has come up during your own planning that you’ve found overwhelming? How did you deal with the early stages and the millions of things that come at you?