15 Ways Your Wedding Expectations Won't Match Up With Reality

Wedding planning isn’t all puppies, gumdrops, and sunshine—which, if you’re engaged, you’ve definitely figured out by now. (BTW, if it is all that stuff for you, we hate you.) While you may feel like you’re ready to jump off the proverbial cliff you’re standing on, back away. We’re here to let you it’s OKAY if your wedding doesn’t turn out just like your Pinterest board. 

Expectation: I’m super financially savvy, there’s no way I’ll go over my $20K budget.
Reality: $20K is like $100 in wedding money.

Creating a wedding budget is arguably a greater challenge than climbing Mt. Everest (don’t @ me unless you’ve done both), especially because everything, literally everything is way more expensive than you think. Unless you’re an Instagram influencer and have wedding vendors banging down your door to do anything you want in exchange for some free publicity, you’re going to have to make some sacrifices. Start off by picking three things that are the most important to you and your S.O. when it comes to your wedding. Committed to having a killer band? A bar stocked with premium liquor? Whatever your top three things are, that’s where the bulk of your budget should go. We’re not saying you should blow all your money in one place—you don’t want your guests eating off of paper plates—but you’re basically writing yourself a permission slip to splurge in areas you care about most. If you’re lucky enough to have a family member helping out (#jealous),  it’s important to have an honest conversation with anyone who may be contributing financially. Ask them for a number they feel comfortable giving you, and go from there. Trust us, it’s a much better solution than winging it.

Expectation: I mean, how hard can handwritten escort cards be?
Reality: LOL it looks like my 5-year-old cousin wrote these.

You don’t need to spend big $$$ on a calligrapher that’s way out of your budget. Etsy is filled with plenty of talented artists who will gladly do your escort cards (and signs and table numbers) for much less than what a professional calligrapher would cost. 

Expectation: I’ll do mix-and-match bridesmaid dresses so everyone can pick a dress that works best with their skin tone.
Reality: WHY DON’T ANY OF THESE BLUES BLEND TOGETHER?? F*ck it, they’re wearing black. 

Pinterest is a gold mine for gorgeous mix-and-match bridesmaid parties. The problem? Half the time you have no idea where the dresses came from, or if you do know, they’re a bajillion dollars and you don’t want your bridesmaids choosing between dinner and a dress just so you can have the perfect mix of slate and navy on your wedding day. If you’re doing a mix-and-match look, try to stick to one designer. A lot of times colors and fabrics from different designers don’t look so great next to each other. Select a designer you like that works with your price range and ask them for examples of weddings that took a mix-and-match approach, that way you can get inspo from an image knowing the look is actually achievable.

Expectation: This whole wedding planning thing will bring me and my mom closer together.
Reality: At this point she’ll be lucky if she’s even invited. 

Drink every time your mom says “Well at my wedding…” and you’ll be hammered before noon. The best approach to getting mom to agree with the items you want is to explain why they’re important to you. Make her understand why you need grilled cheese as your late-night snack instead of demanding it. Also, keep in mind, if she’s footing the bill, she has just as much of a say. 

Expectation: I don’t need a wedding planner; how hard can vendor coordinating be?
Reality: SOS. I haven’t heard from my florist in over a week, my caterer emailed me the wrong menu, and our invitations got delivered to the wrong address.

The idea that wedding planners are a waste of money is the wedding industry’s biggest myth. Planners actually help you save money and keep you on budget. They know all the right vendors and will become your best friend during the wedding planning process. Plus, they’ll be a good buffer between you and your mom. 

Expectation: Wedding diet starts tomorrow.
Reality: Wedding diet never begins.

Crash dieting for your wedding is not the right approach. Come up with a plan that allows you to get in shape but still enjoy champagne and pizza. You don’t have to drop 20 pounds to look gorg in a wedding dress. Your fiancé loves you just the way you are, so you should love yourself too!

Expectation: I know exactly what kind of wedding dress I’m getting.
Reality: How many outfit changes can I have? They’re all so beautiful, don’t make me choose!

Want two dresses but don’t have the budget? A lot of designers are making convertible wedding gowns that come with an overskirt you can remove for the reception or a bolero you can take off after the ceremony. There are dozens of ways to transform from “I dos” to dancing shoes without spending a fortune.

Expectation: I don’t want to blow all my money on the wedding, we still have to pay for the honeymoon!
Reality: Guess the closest thing we’ll get to a honeymoon is laying out in our backyard. 

As soon as you get engaged, start setting money aside! If you have a year-long engagement, you’re sure to rack up some cash by the time you get married. You can also delay your honeymoon so you have time to save or enjoy a long engagement so you get everything you want without going broke.

Expectation: I’m definitely inviting my coworkers, high school friends, college friends, and extended family. It’s a party, after all.
Reality: Eloping sounds ideal right about now. 

Remember, the easiest way to slash your budget is to cut the guest list. Does your great-aunt twice-removed really need an invite? Be realistic about your list. Less people doesn’t equal less fun. 

Expectation: I’m not going to be a bridezilla.

It might be hard to believe, but when you get engaged the world DOES NOT revolve around you (sorry to break it to you). You’re engaged, not the queen of the world, so please for the love of God, keep yourself in check. 

Expectation: I’m not going to overdo it with Pinterest ideas.
Reality: I need wooden signage, sparkly tablecloths, vintage furniture, burlap banners….

There’s nothing worse than a wedding that looks like Pinterest threw up on it. Stick to one aesthetic and commit to it. There’s no reason you need every single DIY project you’ve ever attempted at the reception.

Expectation: I’m not going to register for boring stuff
Reality: How many mixing bowls are too many mixing bowls?

Totally normal to get excited about new kitchen utensils, it’s part of #adulting. And let’s be real, is there a better feeling than a new Keurig arriving at your door?

Expectation: I’m not going to be one of those brides who forgets to eat on their wedding day.
Reality: There was food there?

EAT. Whether you take 15 minutes right after you exchange vows to shovel down some food or you greet everyone right after you tie the knot so you can enjoy the dinner part of the reception, you can’t function only on champagne all night (I mean you can, but don’t you want to enjoy the food you picked out?). 

Expectation: I’m going to soak in every moment of the day to make it last longer.
Reality: It’s over already?!

There’s nothing worse than the band or DJ announcing it’s the last song. Make sure it’s one you both love so you can go out on a high note. 

Expectation: I’m going to be so happy once the wedding’s over.
Reality: *cries self to sleep every night*

PTWD (post-traumatic wedding disorder) is a real epidemic that thousands of couples suffer from every year. Luckily, you’ll have photos, videos, and memories to last a lifetime. Plus, you can upload a new photo from your album every Thursday until the end of time.

Images: Devon Divine / Unsplash; betchesbrides, disco_infern0, Cathy_rose, nicpellegrino / Twitter

Sarah Title
Sarah Title
Sarah Title is a self-proclaimed Bravo-holic living in Arlington, VA. She's written about weddings for the last six years and has developed a strong distaste for DIY decor and flower crowns. She also spent two years as a bridal stylist and, no, Say Yes to the Dress isn't far off from some of the brides she's dealt with.