Hello there! I've tried to write this post many times and the words never seem to make any sense or come out the way I want it to. I've edited and re-edited and I've finally decided to share a little insight into what it's like to be an engaged wedding planner. I met my fiance Loring (LORE-ING) through Dark Roux Photography. Jamie and Heather have known Loring for almost 18ish years now, maybe more. We are all from the same area in Louisiana and I knew Jamie growing up but not very well. Loring and Jamie grew up on the same street and have been best buds since the younger days. I obviously followed Dark Roux throughout their wedding photography career and one day Heather mentioned that I *needed* to meet a friend of theirs. I was just coming out of a relationship and wasn't interested. I was nice and said thank you and brushed it off. A few months down the road, Heather insisted again that we needed to meet. Loring and I exchanged numbers and talked a few times. We met on a blind date on July 1st 2012 and the rest is history. Flash forward to January 2014 and we got engaged while visiting Savannah, Ga. WAY before we were engaged my friends/wedding industry friends, and family all said to me "I bet you have your ENTIRE wedding planned out!" This was so not the case and no one believed me. Naturally, I have dreamed of the day since I was a kid but never did I have anything set in stone. I'm a big believer that wedding is a marriage (literally) of the two saying vows and it should be planned to suit both parties. I could never envision anything about my wedding until I met Loring. Even after we became engaged, I was clueless. I still laugh at myself because "I had no idea where to start" and I hear so many of my brides saying the same thing! We just took engagement pictures and all I can say is WEIRD! I love the way they turned out, but my fiancé is so not a camera man. Here are a few that we love:
Loring, Chief, Macy, and myself. I love our little family so much!
Loring is obsessed with shrimp boats but has no intention of shrimping. He is a boat man and so of course, we had to take pictures by the shrimp boats!
Picking THE date
This was probably the hardest thing for me. I am one of the most sentimental (borderline crazy) people you will ever meet. I remember EVERYTHING. I wanted our wedding date to be the same weekend we got engaged, a year later. I was so set on this and I'll be damned if I didn't get that date! You would think having a full year to plan for the off season would be easy but not the case. I couldn't find a venue open nor many vendors that I thought I wanted were open. The main drawback to January was the sun sets super early and having an outdoor daytime ceremony was number 1 on our list. After a lot of tears with my MOH (more on her later) I decided that September of THIS YEAR would be just fine. Hurricane season and all (early prayers appreciated!!) Date booked, 8-ish months to plan, full panic mode light on!
Creating THE guest list.
My oh my! Planning my own wedding has opened my eyes TREMENDOUSLY on what my brides go through. I had no idea that creating the guest list was one of the most painful tasks. We started off with almost 300 people which is INSANE to me. I do not not not want 300 people at my wedding. Believe it or not, I am extremely shy and cannot imagine walking down the aisle in front of 300 people. In addition, we are paying for the wedding ourselves and have no intention on feeding 300 people. We had to cut cut cut and it was one of the most stressful things imaginable. When explaining to our families that we could not invite so and so's daughter who we have never met and do not know their names it was a scary ride but it has worked out in the end. Brides, I feel your pain now! I promise to be more sympathetic in this stage of the planning process.
Setting THE budget
This is not a fun topic and has caused many interesting conversations in our house. As mentioned above, we are paying for our own wedding. Throughout my almost four years of owning a wedding planning business, this is common. More and more couples are paying for their own nuptials and it brings a whole new ball to the game. I actually prefer to pay for our own wedding because it allows us to have the wedding WE want. While still being respectful to our parents, I have all the freedom to create a day that is perfectly made for Loring and myself. I wouldn't have it any other way. Since I am in the business and had a round about idea of what vendors I wanted, I guessed that our wedding would cost around $30,000.00. To me, this is not that high of a number but it sure did shock the breath of out of my fiancé! Once I put our numbers into my budget sheet that I use for my clients, it started to make sense to him. Newsflash : less guest = less money. I will update on our final budget once we are closer to the wedding (and hope my fiancé doesn't read this!! ;).) My advice to brides has always been to choose the things that are MOST important to you and spend your money there. For us it is: setting, band, and food. As much as I love decor, we are not over doing it on flowers or decor. Again, I promise more on this later!
Picking THE venue
As mentioned above, I knew I wanted an outdoor ceremony but indoor reception. This is not nearly as easy as one would think in NOLA. I do love a courtyard, but I love Oak Trees more. We went and visited a few venues which is laughable because I have worked at 98% of the venues in New Orleans. Nothing made me feel "special" and I was starting to think we wouldn't be able to host our wedding in New Orleans. Loring and I stumbled into the Audubon Clubhouse randomly (the sister property to The Audubon Tea Room) and while looking at the wedding planning albums they had in front, I started to cry! I hardly shed a tear over weddings anymore but I was so overwhelmed by the natural beauty of the venue I knew it was the one.
Finding THE dress
This is where it changed for me. I still to this date have not realized I am a BRIDE yet. I have gone through the motions in a very business like manner as I do with my clients. I am not sure when that magic moment will happen or if it will at all. I was excited to try on dresses and did this early on. I have always been the type that NEEDS to know what I am wearing to any event first things first and the rest falls into place. I gathered up my mom and a few girlfriends and made an appointment. When we walked into the store that will not be named, I was terrified. I have never shopped for a wedding dress before and was overwhelmed with dresses that looked like they came from the 70's. In addition to some having puffy sleeves, all the sample sizes were in a 0. as in ZERO. The lady who helped us was very nice but explained to me that I "won't be able to fit into any of the dresses" but I could put my arms through the sleeves and hold the dress up to my body. Hmmph. Talk about a buzz kill! I did this once and got the HELL out of there as fast as I could. I am the type of person that if I have my mind set on something I am going to do it. I was finding a wedding dress that day come hell or high water. We randomly visited The Bridal Boutique by MaeMe and WOW what a difference! The dresses were not in bags and were separated by style, beading, and shape. I felt like I could breathe and was even more excited to find out that the sample size was made for NORMAL bodies and I was able to try them on. What a simple pleasure, right? Our bridal attendant Megan showed me a few that I liked online and then she picked a few for me. I remember clearly stating while I had dress number 3 on "If this is the dress I chose, I could live with this." I remember this moment because it hit me that I should be more excited and not settle. I was ready to pick the "just ok" dress until I put on the one that Megan had picked for me. I said in the dressing room "I think I am going to like this one!" and about 45 minutes later it was purchased and had my name on it! That moment was ALMOST like they show on tv. My friend shed a tear, my mom was crying, everyone got out of their seat, and I was super embarrassed. I have a hard time with attention being on me and wanted to get out of the dress as fast as possible and pay for it. I'm weird, what can I say. I loved loved loved it but it felt so weird being in a gown that I was going to wear at my OWN wedding. I still haven't wrapped my head around that yet. Thank you MaeMe for making my experience one for the books and something I will never forget!
When you are in the wedding industry, planning your own event/wedding is almost like an outer body experience. I don't want to write that I am not excited, but working a wedding almost every weekend kind of spoils the fun out of your own wedding. In addition, I feel guilty about planning my own wedding. There, I said it. When I am with a bride or their family and they see my ring, the questions about planning always turn to me. I feel so bad about this because I am sure that bride does not want to talk about MY wedding. I can understand they want to know what vendors I use, but it just feels weird and I feel bad. I find myself feeling like I shouldn't tell my clients my wedding date because theirs is a short 3 months after. I feel like they will think differently of me or not hire me. It is the STRANGEST feeling in the entire world. The feeling of guilt should never be what a bride to be feels . I just can't help it though. I am slowly getting over this, more on this later :).
Another misconception about a wedding planner getting married is that people assume I will have an OVER THE TOP wedding. I have never dreamed of such a thing and want no part in that type of affair. I am simple, Loring is simple, our wedding should be simple. When I first posted on Facebook that we were engaged, 90% of the comments contained something like.. "omg, I cannot WAIT to see your wedding!" "Your wedding is going to be CRAZY awesome!" "You are going to have one over the top wedding!" I was so confused by this and honestly a little bummed. I wanted to hear to usual congrats and what a beautiful bride I will make and what a handsome groom Loring will be. I can understand why people would think this way but it makes me feel like I have something to live up to. BIG expectations. Sorry to disappoint, y'all! Our wedding will be simple and sweet and full of love. We DO have a few special surprises in store that are sure to be exciting- but there will be no $30,000 flower budget (more on this later) or a $10,000 wedding dress.
Here are some of the most popular questions/assumptions to date:
1. I have everything planned already
2. I am going to have a 300,000 wedding
3. I am getting a lot of free things
4. I will be a total bridezilla
5. Am I planning my own wedding or hiring someone? (more on this later.)
We are 110 days away and I am happy to report that I only have two weddings left before mine. I am confident that once I get the workload of executing weddings I will become WAY more excited. I will be blogging again about choosing vendors, sticking to the budget, designing your own wedding, bridal party, and all the other fun stuff! I can say it has been interesting but one of the most fun things I've done yet! Stay tuned!