There are things I want to tell you about your wedding day. Important things. And while I'm a photographer and therefore biased toward making sure you get the photos that will be very important to you when it's all over, I also want to tell you these things as a girl-friend. A fellow bride. So here we go:
Please hire a wedding planner. Trust me on this. And unless your sister/cousin/friend is an actual wedding planner who has planned actual weddings that you like, I'm talking about a different thing. Make room in your budget for the person who will make your day happen so you don't have to do everything. Timelines are complicated, and a planner will tell you what's reasonable. They will help you save money and spend it on the things that really matter. They know the wedding professionals who will make your day easy and beautiful and personal. I promise, they will leach stress out of you drop by drop, and your wedding will rock. You will have carefree fun. Just do it.
Your wedding party should only include the men and women in your life who you adore, who adore you, and who will help you. I know all about etiquette, but I do see the result of inviting people who shouldn't be there: stress, unhappy faces, and me helping you put your dress on. You want people who will do whatever they can to make your wedding amazing and who believe in your relationship, not a gaggle of women who are more concerned about how they look. They will help things go smoothly, make sure you drink water and that your hair is out of your face and you are, God forbid, having fun. Inviting drama into your wedding party is so detrimental to your wedding day sanity, so do something kind for yourself, and don't invite those people. You know who they are.
Delegate. Darling, people want to help you. Let them. Assign stuff, follow up, and cross it off your list. Booya! Wasn't that fun?
Don't fight over wedding stuff with your partner. Your relationship is way more important than what band is playing, what kind of food will be served, whether or not you'll do a first look, or if your crazy aunt should come or not. Honor each others wishes, discuss, and move on. It's easy to get tangled up in details, and this is really just about throwing a fab party with all your favorite people. Nothing, absolutely nothing, is worth losing sight of that.
Limit your DIY to what you can reasonably get done. If it isn't working, hire someone to do it for you. Test everything way out ahead, too--finding out you need a florist one week before your wedding is what we call bad. Make sure you have everything you need, and get your friends to help you over movies and cocktails. If something doesn't work, don't feel bad about it!
Make sure everything is scheduled to be bought/hired/tested/completed/fitted at least a week before your wedding. The last week can be incredibly stressful if you let yourself get caught up on a million last-minute details. Make a checklist, get it done early, and kill it. That way, you're free to enjoy your family and friends as they start to come into town, and not running to IKEA yet again for more candles or that lanterny thing.
Feed people, feed them well, and let them dance. They'll have a great time and rave about your amazing party.
Ladies, try on your gown a few times between purchase and wedding. We change a lot over the course of 6 months, even more over a year. Don't get me wrong--I am not advocating crazy dieting, non-stop suffering or self-loathing. Experience has taught me that being blindsided by your dress not fitting a week before your wedding makes for a really bad week. That phone call makes me sad. Try it on. Spin around. Yay!
Take time for just-the-two-of-you pictures, no matter what. Go somewhere pretty. 20-45 minutes is fantastic, and it'll give you a break from the party. These are the portraits you'll love, where the light is beautiful, where you see the features of your venue, and where you can breathe. Do it. It's why you're hiring a photographer whose work you love, and who you trust. It's art, it's you, and it's something you'll never regret.
When you wake up the morning of your wedding, make yourself a promise. A promise not to freak out, no matter what happens. To walk away from stressful things and make other people deal with them. To have a wonderful time and remember as much of it as possible. To smile and laugh and dance and bring people as close as you can. To love your partner and be good to them (and yourself) during a stressful day. To remember Day One as one of the best days of your life. I did this, and thank heavens I did (it saved me a potential storm of tears and/or killing someone).
And finally, darling, you aren't crazy. You're beautiful, accomplished and amazing. Wedding planning is a strange process where you'll think you're losing your mind, that you're being a high-maintenance b!+#h, where you suddenly care about things you've never cared about before. You might cry. It's okay.
You're awesome, and your wedding will be fantastic. I promise.