9 Things I Didn’t Believe About Wedding Planning Until I Started Planning My Wedding

As someone who’s written about weddings for the last several years, and attended/been in more than a handful, I thought when it came time for my own I would have this planning thing down. I used to say that when I got married I wouldn’t get stressed out about dumb sh*t (lol) and I would do what I want without other people’s opinions influencing me (ha!). So when I got engaged this past June and started planning my wedding for next September, I was just as surprised as anybody that I totally did not have this planning thing down. After going through the first six months of planning, my new M.O. on weddings has become, “Don’t judge a bride until you walk a mile in her wedding shoes,” and damn, those shoes are hard AF to walk in. 

Below are nine things I thought about weddings that flew out the window when I started planning my own. 

1. I Won’t Worry About The Little Things

Boy, was I wrong on this one. In fact, the little things are ALL I worry about. I constantly run through all the wedding signage we’ll need in my mind and whether it matters if the fonts on the table numbers match the font on the bar sign. I worry about trying every appetizer during cocktail hour or that I’ll be in the bathroom when the band plays “Sweet Caroline.” I never worry that our caterer won’t show up or that the band will suck. Why would I worry about major issues like that when I can stress about how the welcome table will be laid out?

2. My Wedding Won’t Cost That Much

I’d like to think I’m pretty well-versed in how much different vendors cost, so I have no idea what the hell I was thinking when I said this. Especially since we’re having a tented reception in my grandma’s backyard, and that sh*t ain’t cheap. Every time I see a new bill come in, my heart stops beating for a split second and I honestly wonder how big of a problem it would be if I served McDonald’s instead of beef tenderloin and just made a Spotify playlist for the reception. 

3. I’ll Never Compare My Wedding To Someone Else’s

I have so much respect for the brides that sign up for Four Weddings. I truly can’t imagine willingly subjecting myself to having my wedding scrutinized by three strangers—I’m critical enough on my own. It’s hard not to compare yourself to other people in general, especially when so many friends are getting married around the same time. I find myself thinking about what I’d do differently or the same whenever I attend another wedding, which is actually kind of annoying because I’d like to be able to get drunk and enjoy myself. Plus, I sure as hell don’t want people to be doing that at mine. 

4. There’s No Point In Stressing About The Weather Since You Can’t Control It

HA! This is actually laughable and I’m not even sure I ever really believed it. This is, without a doubt, the number-one thing I spend the majority of my time thinking about. There is honestly nothing in the world more terrifying than the idea that it might actually rain on my wedding day. The closest I ever get to a serious mental breakdown is when I spend more than 30 seconds thinking about a monsoon beginning as soon as I walk down the aisle. 

5. This Whole Planning Thing Is Going To Bring My Mom And I So Much Closer

I will admit, my mom and I haven’t really fought about wedding planning, which I know is rare/weird (I’m sorry if that makes you want to punch me in the face). But it’s definitely not bringing us closer. At the very beginning when we were trying to sort out all the vendors, my mom and I would text and talk on the phone multiple times a day, which was a lot, and it felt like I was engaged to my mom instead of my fiancé. She definitely triggers me with some of  her ridiculous suggestions (like having guests move their own ceremony chairs to the reception tent), but overall the ride hasn’t been too bumpy so far (knock on wood—we’ve still got nine, months to go). 

6. I’ll Get My Way On Everything

I know this sounds like a ridiculous thing to think, but when I was wedding planning in my mind, nobody was there telling me I couldn’t have our family labradoodle walk down the aisle (I’m still not 100% convinced that won’t be happening), so I never foresaw any issues. I didn’t think my photo booth idea would get shut down by my fiancé or that my idea for a limo bus instead of going to our cocktail hour would be considered a waste of money. I’ve only recently come to the conclusion that I don’t NEED everything on my wish list. I know, I’m so mature. 

7. It’ll Be Easy To Make Our Guest List

It would be so cool if there was an etiquette rule that said, “If you haven’t spoken to your great aunt in two years, she doesn’t need to be invited”, so I could just point to it and that would be that. Unfortunately, no such thing exists and people are left to their own judgment when deciding who to invite. Making the guest list was like a balancing act. From trying to keep it under a certain number, to accommodating my future in-laws’ list, while also keeping my mom from inviting everyone she’s ever met, it was one of the hardest parts so far and I’m very thankful it’s over. If you’re going through it now, my best advice is to pick your battles. If you don’t win this one, you’ll win the next. Why does planning a wedding sound like being at war?

8. I Don’t Understand Why Someone Would Want To Elope

Because of all the reasons I just listed and 10,000 more, I truly believe that people who elope are geniuses and we should all be more like them. 

9. Are Post-Wedding Blues A Real Thing?

Absolutely, yes. My mom told me she sobbed on her wedding night because it was over. I’ve heard from all my married friends that they miss being engaged and wedding planning, so I’m trying my best to soak it all in, despite the challenges that come with it. I’m not looking forward to the day after my wedding when I realize it’s all over. Who knows, maybe I’ll end up crying in the back of a limo like a contestant on The Bachelor who’s just been kicked off. Sorry in advance to my soon-to-be husband, but hey, we said in sickness and in health right?

To all the brides I’ve judged before, I’m sorry. there’s a lot I thought I knew about weddings, but just like anything else, you don’t really know until you experience it for yourself. I’m walking a mile in all of your wedding shoes and wondering how the heck you did it. Cheers to you! 

Images: Andre Hunter / Unsplash; betchesluvthis, betchesbrides, disco_infern0, amberpera / Twitter

We Asked A Wedding Expert How Much You Really Need To Spend On Gifts

Instagram engagement announcements are all fun and games, until the save the dates pour in. That’s when you start hemorrhaging money into weddings that aren’t even your own. From buying a dress you haven’t posted a photo in to paying for travel and buying a gift, funding your wedding attendances can be f*cking expensive.

Luckily, you have two options. The first is, consider the fact that like, 50% of weddings end in divorce. Realistically, you can probably skip half of the weddings you’re invited to. In a few years, these people likely won’t care that you missed their special day. They’re knee deep in a messy divorce anyway.

If your FOMO is holding you back from missing out on an open bar, then you’re better off with option number two: learn how to budget. Because budgeting is like, def not my forte (I spent $17 on a sushi burrito last night, someone please cut me off from my own finances). So, I asked Zola’s Wedding Expert, Jennifer Spector, for some advice.

Before we really dive into this, we’ve gotta get two general things out of the way:

First off, when buying a wedding gift, it’s probably best to stick to the couple’s registry. Like, even if you think your college roommate and her new husband could really use a set of crystals, don’t be cute. Just get them the damn blender they asked for.

“Do not spend money on a gift the couple will probably return!” warns Jennifer. “The registry is a wish list of items that the couple actually wants, so it’s best to spend money on something they’ll use, even if it’s not your personal taste.”

Second, it’s tough to estimate exactly how much most people spend on a wedding gift. It truly depends on the relationship you have with the couple. The average amount of money people spend on gifts from Zola registries is $100. So you can expect to spend about that much, but potentially more or less depending on the circumstances. Here’s a guide to choosing gifts for practically every kind of wedding scenario you’ll find yourself in.

When You Have To Attend Literally Every Wedding Related Event

Did you get sucked into attending a wedding that’s actually like, a million mini events spread out over the course of a few months? I mean, there’s a pretty good chance this will happen to you at some point, considering how out of hand weddings are getting. The best way to get through an entire string of wedding events is to set a budget ahead of time and stick to it. If you can plan things out, you won’t get stuck just buying something last minute and blowing more money than you’re comfortable spending.

Jennifer explains, “A good rule of thumb is the 60-20-20 rule, spend about 40% on pre-wedding events, and 60% on the wedding gift.”

Another solid tip is to blow everyone away with your ability to act like an actual adult and gift items at the appropriate occasions. For example, a smaller, more personal gift like a Winc Monthly Wine Club subscription is a dope gift for a bridal shower. While bigger ticket items like plates and sh*t are better for the actual wedding.

When You’re A Bridesmaid

I mean, generally speaking, as a bridesmaid, you basically have to sell your soul to the bride. There’s kind of no getting around this one. While the leader of your #BrideSquad (barf) will probably dictate how much you spend on the bachelorette party and your dress, it’s totally appropriate to cap off your gift budget at $100 to $150. If you have a bride friend who keeps complaining about the fact that nobody has bought her the Roomba she registered for in the #BrideTribe group chat (barf, again), you can totally team up with some other bridesmaids to buy a bigger gift.

wedding

When You’re Expected To Go To A F*cking Destination Wedding

Yup, even though this couple is making you drag all of your skin care products to like, Bermuda, you’re still totally expected to get them a gift, too. The good news is, it’s totes kosher to spend a little less than you normally would had it been, like, some random venue in New Jersey. Most sane couples will understand that since you’re showing up, there’s less pressure to buy a crazy expensive gift. In the wise words of Kanye West, “my presence is a present, kiss my ass.”

When You Have To Go To Karen From Accounting’s Wedding

Maybe the only good thing about attending a coworker’s wedding is the fact that you don’t have to go all out on the gift giving. You can grab one of the basic items off the registry and spend about $75 without worrying. If you’re going to “regretfully decline” the invite, you can get a gift around $50 as a “sorry I didn’t go to your wedding, but I still have to see you every day” consolation.

When Your BFF Or Cousin Is Tying The Knot

If your childhood best friend who you’re still close with but who doesn’t love you enough to make you a bridesmaid invites you to your wedding, you might want to spend a little more than you would on another wedding. Same goes for like, your cousins. It’s tough to say exactly how much more you should spend. It’s really dependent on your relationship with the person. However, these should definitely be more personal gifts. Idk though, just like, ask your mom!

Images: Unsplash/Gades Photography; Giphy (5)

How Much You Should Really Spend On Engagement Party, Shower & Wedding Gifts

So, your bestie is engaged. YAYYY. Now you get to empty your savings on a bridesmaid’s dress and limitless gifts for the happy couple. So blessed, so moved. Sticking to a budget and knowing what to buy (and when) is super important when it comes to the year-long procession of one soon-to-be-married couple’s showers, parties, and outings. Here’s a wedding spending guide covering what to buy, what to spend, and why so you can attempt to budget your life and not end up eating rice and beans from your pantry for three months after blowing hundreds on another person’s happiness. Gag.

Set A Budget

First rule is this: Set a budget for ALL of the gifts you’re planning on giving, and stick to it. So, if this is a sibling, best friend, or close family member, you want to probably stick to around $200-300 total. For coworkers or friends that don’t know your entire ex history or aren’t Facebook friends with all your family members, keep it around $100. Regardless of what your set budget is, don’t spend less than $30 on any gift unless you’re like, really poor.

Now it’s time for math. Of that set budget, you should break it up as such (according to The Knot):

I know math is hard (I majored in Communications based solely on the fact that I have personal issues with numbers), but keeping this guide handy will save you from blowing your alcohol budget hard-earned cash all at once. Also, if you’re only invited to the engagement party and not the shower or vice versa, throw that extra 20% on to the wedding gift, which ALWAYS needs to be the “biggest”.

The Engagement Party

Don’t get anything from the registry for the engagement party unless the bride (or groom) specifically asks you. They probably haven’t even set one up yet (I know). This is a great chance to get something cute from Etsy or Homegoods, like a date night kit (for managing wedding stress), pillows with their names on them, customized glasses, or a weird sex book which I promise everyone will think is totally funny and not at all creepy. If your overall budget tops out at $250 total, you can dedicate about $50 to this gift, so get something nice, but don’t go too crazy.

The Bridal or Wedding Shower

Showers are the prime spot for registry shit to make an appearance, since the whole idea of a bridal shower is to shower the bride (and I guess groom) with housewares and things they don’t have yet and DEFINITELY need. This includes things like fine china, rare pottery, and prints of animals in jackets from Anthropologie. If you’re sticking to your budget of 20% for the shower (IF they had an engagement party) and your total budget is $250, you can spend around $50 on a gift from the registry. That should get them a nice serving dish, platter, or some towels. You don’t need to go fucking crazy here—it’s really more about the fact that you’re bringing a gift to show how nice you are. Remember, if they didn’t have an engagement party, you should throw that extra cash money at the wedding gift.

The Mothafuckin’ Wedding

If you actually have any money left to spend and stuck to the budget, the wedding is a good time to break out the check book or gift card. First, as a former bride, I can tell you that it’s a pain in the ass to lug all those giant gift boxes home, and secondly, everyone in the world loves money. So, if your budget was $250 and you spent $100 on the shower gift (let’s pretend they didn’t have an engagement party), you can either swoop something up from the registry for $150, write a check, or give those bitches some gift cards to a nice dinner out on their honeymoon (or when they get back). They’ll love it, believe me.

Happy wedding season, whores.

Images: Giphy (2)

10 Ways To Cut Costs On Your Wedding Without Looking Cheap

We honestly hate helping in any form, but the wedding industry has gotten so out of control that it demands our expertise. Between shows telling us that you have to spend upwards of $100k on one goddamn day and brides pitching actual crying fits because mommy won’t buy them the $30k dress of their dreams, we needed to bring everyone back down to Earth.

You can have a super amazing day, dress, and overall wedding without blowing your savings and parents’ retirement fund. Here are our top 10 tips for cutting costs at your wedding without making you seem tacky and cheap.

1. Get Married December-March

Winter weddings are daring in general (here’s hoping it doesn’t blizzard), but if you take the risk, you may be rewarded with more money for drinks on the honeymoon. Choosing “off” months between December and March can mean as much as a 40% less cost at some venues, depending where you are.

2. Get Married On A Friday Night Or Sunday Morning

I make a lot of fun of brunch weddings (cause I don’t want to get drunk in front of family members before noon), but if you wanna save a buck or two, picking an off time is the way to go. Saturday nights are in high demand, so choose a Friday evening for your super special day or a Sunday morning brunch. Bonus points if you choose a Sunday night before a Monday holiday like Memorial Day when everyone is off anyway.

Sunday

3. Chill On The Invitations

I know you want Minted’s handmade, laser-cut, imprinted, glitter, foil, rare edition, unicorn tear invitations, but unless you want to spend more than $800 on 200 invites, you need to chill. People aren’t going to spend more than five minutes examining your invite, so the idea of spending a ton of money is preposterous. Go pretty, go classic, and pick one—MAYBE two—special touches like a foil or letter press.

4. Be Besties With Your Florist

If you’ve been dyyyyying for hydrangeas but they’re out of season and are going to cost you $24 per stem (real talk), let your florist lead the way. These are goddamned flower experts, and if you tell them to substitute with cheaper but similar looking colors and flowers, they will. I told my florist to use my color scheme and go nuts—keeping it around a specific price. She delivered, and the flowers looked amazing.

Wedding Crashers

5. Do Choose An Actual Venue

You may think having a backyard barbecue at your friend’s parents’ Hamptons house is going to be cheaper than an actual venue, but you could be wrong. Once you start factoring in catering, tents, utensils, linens, the band, the restrooms, etc., your bill is likely to be just as much as a venue (if not more). PLUS, it’s a lot more fucking work.

6. You Don’t Need A Giant Fucking Cake

I’ve said it time and again—no one gives a shit about your 12 layer platform vanilla-on-vanilla wedding cake. Save some goddamn green, and get a small cute tea cake to cut with your S.O. that you won’t even have to share with anyone. Everyone else can fuck themselves eat cookies.

SNL Tina Fey Cake

7. Buy, Don’t Rent

If you’re at a venue that’s charging you for every fork, napkin, and plate, see if you can use or buy your own items. Seriously, it’s often cheaper to use your own linens and utensils, if the venue will allow it. So start stealing knives, forks, and napkins, fam.

8. Stick To Your Goddamn Dress Budget

This is a big one. Nothing pisses me off more than the bitches on Say Yes to the Dress who have a budget of $3k and end up spending nearly double. STICK TO YOUR DRESS BUDGET. DON’T EVEN LOOK AT DRESSES OUTSIDE THAT BUDGET. Remember that even if you pick a dress at your $2k budget, you’re still going to shell out for alterations. So going above on that means you’re going to lose something else or pay way more than you want in the end. CHILL. IT’S ONE DAY.

Friends

9. Make Your Guests Do Work

I mean, you’re paying for a five or six hour party—the least your guests can do is help out. Whether you make them set tables for the reception, make your desserts (guilty and it was AMAZING), or bring all the liquor to stock the bar, making your guests pitch in is totally a great way to cut costs.

10. Visit The Tacky Bridal Shows

I KNOW they’re literally the worst, but the best thing about those bridal shows and expos is that florists, DJs, bands, planners, and venues hang out there to snag brides with a good deal. Honestly, I know a betch who got like 40% off her DJ because she hired him from the bridal show. So, yes, it kind of sucks to go to a room full of what feels like used car salesmen, but you’ll thank yourself when you see the bill later on.

Michele Obama

Read: 5 Wedding Desserts That Are A Crime Against Humanity