This Opinion article is part of a Narcity Media series. The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Narcity Media.
Planning the wedding of your dreams can come with a lot of stress, often from sources you wouldn’t even expect. It’s easy to get overwhelmed or lost in drama; after all, you’re planning a massive event, sometimes for hundreds of people, without any previous party planning experience.
Just got married in May 2022 in Ottawa and truly had a perfect day surrounded by love and laughter. While I certainly had my stressful moments before the big day (they can be hard to avoid), there are seven things I did while planning the wedding that helped me stay relatively calm and to enjoy the whole experience.
My husband and I stayed organized, surrounded ourselves with the right people, and remembered that it was all about us, which made for a personal and fun wedding day. Here’s what we did that helped us plan our dream wedding (and might even help you too!)
Hiring a wedding coordinator
You may be very organized and have wedding vendors in mind, so there is no need to hire a full wedding planner. But in my books, a coordinator is essential because they keep track of everything for you. I loved the Frid Events team in Ottawa because they were able to answer all my questions (whatever they were) and kept me on track with checklists and monthly meetings until in the month of the wedding, when they took over.
They connected me with an online scheduling website called Aisle Planner, where I tracked everything from RSVPs to vendor contracts and payments, and could even map out the entire seating plan.
The best part of having a wedding coordinator, you ask? If (and when) sh*t hits the fan, that’s not your problem. There was a citywide power outage the week before my wedding, and while my coordinator and her team had to find a new place to print stationery, dig through a dark warehouse for laundry assorted and dealing with a delivery error, I only had to run a few small errands and enjoyed my week.
Oh, and when the back of my dress opened up while I was dancing, the coordinating team had a pin and string kit so I could get back into my dress for the rest of the evening. You really never know what might happen, and you don’t want it all to fall on your shoulders (or them).
Carefully chosen wedding party
Bride and bridesmaids at a wedding rehearsal dinner.Megane Renaud | Narcity
Your wedding party should be made up of close friends and family who have genuine love for you and want to support you on your big day. Just because it’s your oldest friend or brother or sister doesn’t mean you’ve attended their wedding party in the past. not means you are required to have them standing next to you.
Without getting into drama, I chose not to have any close family members at my wedding party because it didn’t really feel right to me in the end (and honestly, I don’t regret making that choice) .
The numbers between the groom’s party and my bridal party didn’t match, and who cares! I had two matrones of honor (I couldn’t choose between my oldest best friends) and two bridesmaids, while my husband had one groomsman, four groomsmen and one bridesmaid. honor. What mattered was that our favorite people, the ones we could really count on, were by our side that day.
Choose service providers with multiple skills
The goal was to keep things as simple and straightforward as possible while planning to limit stress before and on the wedding day. That wedding coordinator I was talking about? She and her team were also my decorator and florist. It was so much more convenient to have all these conversations with one person. It reassured me to know that they knew exactly how everything would look and be configured
We also chose a venue that is also a restaurant so they took care of the food. This meant that I didn’t need to hire another supplier for catering, and they had everything we needed for dinner and drinks. The venue also took care of the late-night snack and dessert table, which made it possible to coordinate everything with one contact.
Our ceremony and reception also took place in the same location (connecting rooms, actually). Once the guests arrived for the afternoon ceremony, they did not need to leave the building until the party was over.
Main suppliers reserved as soon as possible
Bride with sparkling wine in a dress on the morning of the wedding. Megane Renaud | Narcity
Popular vendors like Venue and Photographer book up quickly, and with so many weddings delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s even more competition to hire the people you want.
First and foremost, you’ll want to have a fixed location to confirm your wedding date and the overall vibe. I contacted some vendors in advance that I was keen on trying to make sure the dates lined up and were in fact the ones I wanted to book. Reviewing tons of options takes time!
As soon as the venue was confirmed, I started contacting the main vendors (like makeup artist, hairdresser, florist and DJ) for information and quotes. Photography was a top priority for me, and since I had emailed my first choice, Crystal from Of Wild Dawn Photos, even before securing the venue, she was free on the upcoming wedding date.
In general, I would recommend doing anything and everything as soon as possible and not leaving things to the month before your special day. This also includes the little things, like guest books or sparkling wine.
Stay organized with Excel
You don’t have to use Excel specifically, but I’ve never used spreadsheets to stay organized more than when planning the wedding. Before you know it, you’ll have a bunch of information you’ll need to track both vendors and guests. I had a bunch of different checklists, organized roughly by when I needed to get things done, which really helped me prioritize.
I had a spreadsheet specifically for guest information showing their names, addresses, emails, allergies, and RSVP responses, as well as documenting gifts received and when a thank you card was sent. There was another document with vendor contact information and payment dates, and another spreadsheet detailing the actual wedding budget and costs.
Start organizing and having those details as soon as you start planning, because it’s a pain to sift through endless emails looking for contact information or a contract you signed months ago. . Trust me.
I took time off before
Cycle through Ottawa on the Thursty Pedaler party bike. Megane Renaud | Narcity
It can seem like no matter how much time you have to plan or how much you’ve done in advance, things will show up at the last minute and need to be taken care of. I was lucky enough to be able to take the whole week off before my wedding, and I’m delighted.
There were things that couldn’t be finished until the week – like steaming my dress, buying breakfast food, getting my nails done and getting my engagement ring cleaned – that I was happy to have more time. In addition, emergencies can arise and unexpected situations occur. The May storm that caused a power outage across the city of Ottawa, yeah, it was the weekend before my wedding and our house was blacked out for days. It added even more tasks to the to-do list, like throwing out the contents of the refrigerator, and it made other tasks, like cleaning the house, more difficult.
Having days off also allowed me to enjoy the time leading up to the big day and have fun. Most of my family and friends traveled to my wedding from out of town, and I was able to spend time sipping on the patios and even taking a bike ride.
Set boundaries with family
Prepare to say the word “no” or prepare to feel bored. You may think you won’t get strong opinions, but most likely you will (and sometimes from surprising sources). Weddings bring out some interesting sides in people.
Now the situations, of course, differ, like if a family member helps pay for part of the wedding and wants certain people to be invited, for example. But even then, make it clear from the start when their opinion is justified and when it isn’t. Boundaries are key, and you don’t want to feel pushed around when it’s your special time.
Our families had no say in the guest list, wedding vendors, or really anything (haha, sorry mom). We wanted the day to really feel like our own and the traditions that didn’t make sense to us didn’t happen. We got married at a craft brewery and did a beer keg opening instead of a cake cutting, had a Blink-182 song at our ceremony, didn’t do a reception line or a grand entrance, slept at home together the night before the wedding, did a preview and photos before the ceremony (highly recommend), and had a rehearsal dinner in my mother-in-law’s garden.
Have we received reviews and comments? Sure. Did we still do what we wanted? Shit yeah. As much as it’s beautiful to bring families together and as much as the event is a bit about your parents too, it’s YOUR day, and if you need to remind people of that, say so clearly.
Remember to enjoy the process and the day. Everyone says it goes by so fast and that’s because it’s true! Many vendors have told us how chilled we were on our wedding day, and I think it has a lot to do with who we surrounded ourselves with, being organized, and planning a day that truly felt like us.