Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

Valentine’s Day is coming, and with it, many marriage proposals. Planning a wedding is something most of us do from the time we’re young, but when it comes to the real deal…well, wedding planning can suck. It’s stressful. It’s expensive. It’s so expensive you might be better off having a simple wedding at home and blowing the budget on your honeymoon. But if you’re going to plan a wedding, start with these 10 tips.

Get the right dress

When I was shopping for a wedding dress nearly 20 years ago, I walked into the bridal shop, tried on a dress, and it was perfect. I mean, absolutely perfect. It fit wonderfully, it made me look fabulous, and it was only a couple of hundred dollars.

And I walked away from it.

I thought it was too plain. This was going to be my one big deal wedding (the first one having been at the courthouse in a white shirt dress). I wanted the “wedding dress of my dreams.”

$1200, I had the “perfect” dress. It was fancy and had a long train and was completely romantic and had even been featured in one of those 500 page bride magazines.

And it was almost impossible for me to wear. They had to sew my bra into the dress because otherwise, it wouldn’t stay up, but because my bra was actually one of those one-piece girdle-bra-smoother contraptions, that meant I had to step into the dress, wrestle it up over the curvy spots and wedge my way into it. The other dress just slipped on perfectly and I could have worn sexy underthings.

The dress also wasn’t a perfect fit so I had to have it altered.

Get the dress that is right for your body, not the one you think you must have. And spend less on the dress – save it for the honeymoon.

 Choose the Right Photographer

How do you know if you have the right photographer? It’s more than just looking at a few portfolios and choosing based on price. You want a photographer you feel comfortable being around so that he or she is capable of bringing out your best smiles and moments. We spoke to a lot of photographers, but we knew we’d found the right one when our 15-minute chat turned into a 30 minute conversation about music and other interests. He just fit.

Choose the Right Venue

Most wedding venues have strict limits regarding just how many guests you can invite. Make sure your venue will hold your maximum number of guests (which means planning the guest list first). Think about practical considerations like parking, whether or not the venue will be used for the ceremony and the reception, and how easy it will be to decorate. We chose our venue because it fit well with the theme of our wedding, they allowed us to bring in outside food, and the cost was reasonable.





Choose the Right Maid of Honor

My sister was my maid of honor; my baby sister was the hostess (like an usher, but prettier). It was wonderful to have them so involved in the planning of my wedding and the hosting of my bridal shower. It made it very special.

Have a Rehearsal

At first glance, a wedding rehearsal might seem like an optional formality, but you are going to be nervous. If you don’t do a walk-through of your wedding before the actual event, you can’t address little issues. For example, my dad was going to walk me down the aisle, but when we did the rehearsal, we realized that because of the size of my dress, he would not be able to walk me down the stairs but instead would need to wait for me at the bottom and escort me the rest of the way. That would have been a horrible thing to discover during the actual wedding.

Make a Budget – and Stick to It

Sure, you could crack open your wallet and charge whatever it takes to have the “perfect” wedding, but at the end of the day, if you stick to your budget, you’ll have more money for the honeymoon.

Manage Your Own Expectations

We’d all like to be lowered into our wedding on the wings of angels and have Sting sing at our reception, but sometimes, it’s our own expectations we have to manage. (Dave wanted KISS to perform at our reception).

Be Flexible

Not everything will go perfectly. We were supposed to depart our castle-in-a-cloud-themed wedding in a horse and carriage. They took our money happily enough…and then disappeared off the face of the earth. The limo was a fine replacement. And our florist was supposed to deliver large bouquets of WHITE, fresh flowers; they brought ORANGE. Thanks to some quick finessing by my mother, they were quickly replaced with the right color – but they were silk, not real. In the end, I’ve never regretted that, since I still have those flowers.

It’s YOUR Wedding

Everyone will have an opinion about how the wedding should go. So what? It’s your wedding. Plan it the way you want it.

Savor the Moment

This is a piece of advice that might fall on deaf ears, but I encourage you to stop stressing and savor the moment. Your wedding day should be special and wonderful, memorable and amazing. It doesn’t matter if you have a $25,000 extravaganza or a wedding in your living room. You are celebrating the love and wonder and future of your life with your chosen partner. That’s what matters.