Wedding advice, please!

Hello, all!

Ryan + I are so, so excited to begin the process of planning our wedding! We have made a promise to ourselves and one another that we will enjoy and savor every second of the year of planning as it’s such a wonderful excuse to spend time together and celebrate our future and the five years we’ve already spend together. Since we’re just at the very beginning, I’ve been asking everyone I know who is married two questions:

** What is the one thing you liked the best about your own wedding? **

** What is the one thing that you would change if you could go back? **

A lot of people get stressed out about the process, but for Ryan and I we hope it will be nothing but enjoyable and exciting. So, any advice is good advice since we haven’t done anything yet but begin to dream about our special day! I’d love to hear what you have to say and what advice you have for things to go smoothly and be perfectly memorable.

Thanks, dears!


19 thoughts on “Wedding advice, please!

  1. sweetersalt says:

    so exciting! we just celebrated our one year anniversary, and now my sister-in-law is planning her wedding, so i’ve got weddings on the brain!

    i liked that our wedding was totally our own (recap is here: The venue was unique, i made the centerpieces, my dress was vintage/custom, and the food was awesome (Otto’s Pizza and Nosh!).

    i wouldn’t change much, but i would have stressed less. i didn’t sleep the thursday before my wedding and then proceeded to have a melt down on friday morning – terrible! don’t do that, ha. everything will work itself out. who cares if the table arrangements get a little confused or if the ceremony doesn’t go perfectly.

    good luck! it will be a good day 🙂

    • Jeeze, Julia! says:

      Otto is a BRILLIANT idea! We have a pretty unique concept in the works for food, as well, but great going with Otto…I’m definitely jealous of that one!

      Thanks for the advice! Off to look at your recap now – I’m sure it will be beautiful!

  2. Natasha says:

    SO exciting!!! And so great that you guys are committed to trying to make it as stress-free as possible. My planning experience was super stressful, and honestly not that enjoyable, but it had a lot to do with our situation at the time: switching back and forth between two countries, not having jobs, living with parents and planning a wedding mostly from afar, etc, etc.

    To answer your questions! The thing I liked best about my wedding (aside from marrying Kyle!) are the photos. They turned out just perfect and are this beautiful, lasting tangible memory of our day.

    The one thing I’d change would be.. to possibly just elope and spend our wedding money on a big trip! Ha. I would totally do this if I could do it all again. But then I wouldn’t have the photos! The way we did it was right for us at the time, so I have no real regrets 🙂

    • Jeeze, Julia! says:

      Excellent advice, Natasha! And your photos are ideal, so I’m glad you did that, too, haha! I’ve only asked two other people for their advice so far, and one of them said the same thing about photos, except that she was on the opposite side. She didn’t like her pictures at all when they came out and was really disappointed. These things are good to know!

      Thanks for sharing!

  3. Janey says:

    Congrats on your engagement! Wedding planning is fun, but I’ll admit, also stressful at times.

    To answer your questions…The thing I liked best about my wedding was my dress…or er…dresses. I had two. And rather by accident actually. But the point is, I loved them both because they were so incredibly me. I didn’t listen to anyone’s advice on what they thought would look good on me. I knew what I wanted, and wasn’t going to waver. With your second question, the thing I would change isn’t necessarily anything decor or image related, but I would change the way I handled something. I had a very difficult time talking to my father about money, and I wish that instead of tip-toeing around the issue, I wish that I had been more honest about what I needed. So I suggest being honest, especially with your family and money. Your family is very important, as is your budget. Our budget was in the $10,000 range (the average wedding costs $22,000) and I think we did it for somewhere around $7,000. However, that did not include the honeymoon, which I think went around $3,000.

    I wish you the best of luck! And, I got married in December of 2010, so a lot is still relatively fresh in my mind if you want to ask for any more advice.


    • Jeeze, Julia! says:

      Thanks so much, Janey! I bet your wedding was so unique and fun! It’s good to see someone else’s figures, too. I looked up a couple of photographers for pricing just so I knew, and I was baffled at the cost! I knew it would be expensive, but WOW. We’ll definitely be on a budget like you were, so I value your advice – thanks!


      • Janey says:

        I guess linking like sweetersalt did may have been a nice idea. Anyhow, if you want to take a gander, here is the main post:

        With regards to a photographer, we had a friend who just happened to be a photographer do ours. He did it for $1,000, shot and edited, and we handled all the printing ourselves later. We also did our invitations ourselves (, which saved us a pretty penny. So, I say if you have a friend who you think has the chops to take pictures, opt for that. And if you and/or your husband is good at design and you have the time, doing your own invites is a great idea (you have total control) and saves you money.

      • Jeeze, Julia! says:

        I love the links! Forget doing any type of work today – I’m declaring Thursday wedding day from here until the wedding, hah! I’ll just sit around and look through photos of other peoples’ special days. 🙂

        Thanks for sharing!

  4. Dory Smith Graham says:

    I think while you two are planning you might find out some interesting things about one another that may never have come up before. Something we found while planning and making decisions about ours. Enjoy one another!

    Now, what did I like best? Planning in time for friends ‘from away’ to come visit with us ahead of time, as well as a bit after, too. We made it more of a wedding week, with hikes and gathering places that guests could participate in with us if they were here. It was a great way to get back together without all the rush and requirements of ‘the day’ getting in the way. We had a gigantic brunch the morning after where everyone was invited. At that point college friends and our families had mixed enough so that it was very social and fun for all. Even kiddos.

    What could I change? I would not have worried quite so much about the venue only holding 80 guests. It was a small wedding, but I did feel like I was apologizing for about 3 months in advance over our teensy guest list. The agonizing was not worth the headspace.

    • Jeeze, Julia! says:

      Great to know! I love the idea of making it more than just a day. I had thought before that it would be fun to make it more like a weekend long event, but a whole week – that’s marathon wedding! Fantastic. I’m definitely going to bring this idea up with Ryan ❤


  5. Coco says:

    I can’t resist talking about my own wedding, especially when our two year anniversary is coming up on Oct. 30th!

    Since you were there, you might be able to say better than I what was the best part and what was the worst part of the actual day.

    As far as planning goes, I tried to stress as little as possible! My motto: if we end up married at the end of the day, it’s a good wedding. That’s the whole point, after all! Anyway, enough philosophy. What I would change: well, I didn’t have a lot of control over photography. We were on a tight budget (working to be under 10,000 total), so the photographers we could afford were a little limited (let me rephrase: there are lots of photogs that are inexpensive, but not all cheap photogs are GOOD photogs). An unexpected tragedy happened in the life of the photographer we ended up hiring, and she had to switch about a month before the wedding. Luckily for us, she had someone else lined up who was willing to honor the original price we had agreed to pay. Unfortunately, I don’t love the way the pictures came out. They’re okay, but they’re not great. That’s one of those things that you just don’t have control over, and in the grand scheme of things, you can’t worry about it. But still, I wish my pictures were a little more what I had in mind.

    Things I’m glad we did: all that homemade/handmade stuff! The soda, the centerpieces, the delicious pie, our rings. Happy, happy, happy. I also really liked the early wedding time (10am). I thought I would hate it, but it was great, with plenty of time for after-partying and Weddingfest homemade beer!

    The last thing I’ll say is this: I found wedding planning to be mostly fun. It’s you and your best friend, basically planning a joint birthday party for yourselves, in honor of the fact that you love each other–what could be better?!

    • Jeeze, Julia! says:

      Woah, two years already? How did that happen?! Congratulations 🙂

      Your wedding was so much fun, I really hope our guests enjoy themselves as much as we did at yours! Great advice and WONDERFUL philosophy about the joint birthday party. That is exactly how we want to think of it. And, we’re having fun with all of the little project details. We love being creative anyway, so this is kind of a dream come true so far!


  6. Danielle DeCesaro-Virgilio (virgiliArt) says:

    Sal and I are so happy for you both!

    One thing that I loved about our wedding: The venue and amount of people we invited. We stuck to our guns. We wanted no more than 40 people and we had exactly that many! We ended up in a historic town library and it was PERFECT!

    One thing that (could change): I wouldn’t change it, but if we wanted it more “designed” it could’ve been done. Instead we opted for amazingly simple and I loved it. But if you want a similar theme without costing a fortune, planning ahead and DIY are perfect!

    Ok, here’s some resources that I LOVED and actually considered contributing to afterwards. If they’re not your thing, that’s fine, but I really really love the themes of these websites:

    1) Offbeatbride-
    The “wedding porn,” the commentary, it’s all great! The book is also a good read, though maybe not so much for the planning angle.

    2) Apracticalwedding-

    There are plenty of places that will do all the planning for you (for varying, pretty high costs). If you want to keep costs low, but fun high, check out those websites and do a lot of searching for places. You’d be surprised if you’re willing to bring in your own catering and such how inexpensive places can be.

    Also, huge tip here… if you’re not looking for a completely “classic” wedding experience, avoid saying your event is a wedding, at least at first. If you love the classic element, then good for you, but if you don’t, it’s easier to avoid but not mentioning the “W” word. We said “party” for ours though we did end up with the “wedding catering.”

    For an example of cost, our venue was 200 dollars for the day and came with tables (that can be prettified with inexpensive drapery) and about 40 chairs. Our catering for 40 people (with WAY too much food, fyi) cost about 900 bucks.

    • Jeeze, Julia! says:

      Excellent advice! Thanks for the links, too. I’ve been finding myself online browsing through other peoples’ weddings for inspiration! It’s so much fun 🙂

      40 is a great number of people! Our original list of people is about 115, but we really want to pare it down to the essentials like you did. I get nervous being the center of attention at events, so having fewer people there might make it feel more comfy!

      Thanks for your help!

      • Danielle DeCesaro-Virgilio (virgiliArt) says:

        I’m the same way with the center of attention thing. Tell me, now that you’ve spoken publicly (at a larger event than even I’ve done); are you able to differentiate? For example; I had a hard enough time saying vows in front of 40 because of nerves but I can deliver a science presentation at work no problem in front of the same amount of people!

      • Jeeze, Julia! says:

        I don’t know! I was sometimes nervous when teaching, especially to my lecture hall class, but not too badly, and the conference was a piece of cake once I got up on stage (although I was nervous before going up!). But I’ve always been nervous about being the center of attention at my wedding – not sure why. The celebration will be really fun, and the event itself, but sometimes I wish it could just be a huge party with everyone we both love for no particular occasion, then we’re married at the end of it, haha!

  7. Erin Inala says:

    Hi Julia. Sorry I’m so late to the game on this one, but when I first read your post I was like… uh, how can I answer this without going into a novel??

    So I came back and I’ll try to give you the short answer:

    What did I like best? Well, there were a lot of great things, but if I had to narrow it down (I just can’t choose one thing!), I’d say that I really loved how my mister and I blended our wedding into one big ceremony (his family is Hindu and my family is Christian, so we had one HUGE 3 hour ceremony where we switched between the Hindu traditions and Christian traditions), I loved our reception site and food vendor, and I loved my hair and makeup and lastly I loved my three wedding dresses (yup, when you marry a Hindu, you get a lot of dresses).

    What did I like the least? We had to make a lot of very, very stressful compromises. Because my husband is Hindu, my mother-in-law requested that we consult a Hindu priest to determine our sumuhurtham or “auspicious wedding date/time” this meant that not only did we not get to choose our wedding date, we didn’t get to choose the time either. We were married in August (in Texas, blech) in a morning ceremony. Because of that, we had to do everything inside (I had my heart set on an outdoor wedding) and we decided to have an evening reception. The other thing that I wish I could have changed was my photographer. Because Hindu weddings (heck, all weddings) are very expensive, we had to try to cut costs, so we had a photographer friend do our photos. He was new to the business, so while cheap, we didn’t get a lot of great photos. I didn’t get photos with my family or my mister’s family, and it just breaks my heart when I think about it.

    So, yes, this turned into a novel, but I guess my advice is: think very carefully about any compromises you make. Yes, I still had a great day and I got married to the most amazing man and at the time I was very zen about all the things I didn’t love about the wedding. But it doesn’t mean that I don’t wish I could have changed things.

    • Jeeze, Julia! says:

      Great advice! And it’s always better “late” than never, although we still have a year to plan, so it’s not really late at all. Thanks for your input! I’ve actually had several people say the same thing about their photographers and have found that maybe that’s one place we definitely don’t want to skimp or compromise.

      So neat that you melded those two traditions together! I’m sure it was so unique and heartwarming. Thanks for sharing!


  8. Judy Greenwald says:

    Wedding advice? We eloped! 27 years later, we know we’d still have done the same thing. It was best for us, since between his dad and my mom we knew they’d ruin any wedding we tried to have. The only thing we’d have done differently is maybe at least invited his mom to the JP to stand with us. And maybe gone to a special location to say our vows, like Lake Erie or something. But no regrets. I’d still rather have him on his worst day than any other guy on his best day. Plus, besides loving each other, we truly do LIKE each other. Best wishes to you two. You already have 5 years of glue, so just keep building on that. 🙂 Judy

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