Tati and I planned a wedding this past summer. It went great! As a result, I want to tell you all about how to do it. However, I don’t actually know that much.
Big things I know
Get as much time with your people as possible. We had a venue that only let us use it from 6pm to 10:45pm, so we booked an afterparty until 2am, a brunch the next day at 11am, and a rehearsal dinner the day before. These things don’t have to be fancy. All your people traveled from all over, make it worth it! (and if they get tired, they don’t have to go to the extra parties.)
It’s all fine, seriously.
You get a right hand man or woman. Use em. (It’s even better if they’ve already done a wedding themselves.) My friends Daniel and Killian were over the top helpful during the day itself. It’s the little things: they can get you water or food or a drink when you’re busy chatting with everyone, deal with small snafus that come up, find your stuff.
Notably, they knew it was too hot for me to wear my three piece suit, so they brought me my vest during the dancing so I could change out the jacket for that.
Also, found chapstick to put on my finger so my wedding ring would fit on, because, surprise, my finger’s bigger than it used to be?
Do you. Don’t worry about it. It’s all fine.
Oh, and in the process of doing you, get as many of your friends involved as you can. A friend was our officiant, and it was way better than any rando-officiant’s ceremony would be. Another friend bartended, and was both super competent and super fun.
Things for budget conscious people (who isn’t?)
We were like somewhat budget conscious. But not really, because we can afford not to be, and you only do it once, and we were out of town and busy with stuff so were happy to pay for a couple things that we maybe could have handled cheaper. It worked out well and pretty minimally stressful for us.
The big decisions you get to make, money-wise are:
How many people? Weddings seem to come in about 3 sizes: ~40, ~120, and 200+. If you want 200+, good luck.
Do you want a summer Saturday? Everything will be more expensive. You can get big discounts by not doing it on Saturday, or not doing it in the summer.
How much will your venue + caterer + booze cost? Phipps Conservatory, for example, costs $3000, plus $90/person (at least) for catering. If your venue lets you do your own catering and alcohol, that is a big win. (our catering was about $45/person. drinks + bartender for our ~100 ppl was about $15/person.)
The small decisions you get to make are mostly about if there’s anything you don’t care about being fancy-wedding? Like, you can save $1000+ if you do any of these:
Have it in a family member’s backyard or other free place
Low-key catering (Indian food prices quoted to us were $15-45 per person; the higher end included all service, tablecloths, etc, the lower end was just the food.)
Super low key catering (I’ve heard good things about food trucks. And I would think it is totally cool if you got Chipotle.)
Simple photographer (no “getting ready” pics, no second photographer, no videographer.)
Simple (non-“wedding”) dress
DIY anything. But! Don’t actually DIY. Do-it-someone-else’s-self. And only if they really want to, or if it will be seriously no work. Like, my mom wanted to make centerpieces. It was nice! It saved us some money, too. But more than that, it was cool that she wanted to make a contribution like that, and she was on top of it so much that we didn’t even have to think. Similarly, my friend Killian (the same! we have great friends :) did a drawing for our program, but that was easily done ahead of time.
An afterparty can probably be just about free. Ours just had a $500 minimum our guests had to meet. (I think this was an unusually good deal; I think b/c of the package deal with the brunch.)
Things that are small but I want to bring them up
- If you’re a dude, the morning of your wedding day might be just yourself wandering around while your wife goes and gets her hair done. That’s an interesting time.
- Actually the ceremony is pretty emotionally intense! I cried a lot right after. That was surprising.
- If you can go see them DJ somewhere beforehand and it’s the kind of fun you want people having, that’s great. (our DJ did one night a week at a college bar, so I went to see him. It was silly, I was the oldest person there, but they were having a blast and he seemed right on top of the crowd.)
- We got to try out a bunch of Indian restaurant-caterers by telling them we’re thinking of getting wedding catering from them. Often they’ll bring you in to try all the different foods they offer, and it’s usually free. This was fun.
- Oh, choosing who to invite is really hard, but we should as a society agree that you don’t get to be even a little bit mad about not getting invited to anyone’s wedding ever. Ok? Good.
Anyway, especially for my friends who are getting married relatively soon, and especially if you’re getting married in Pittsburgh, ask me for plenty of advice about anything. I am not real expert at this, but our wedding went even better than I’d hoped, and I do like to talk.
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