My Real Advice for Planning a Wedding

As I write this, we are exactly two months out from our wedding day. I am so excited for the day to finally be here! And to be married! Wow. I keep telling Cam that we get to have a huge party and then take a week-long vacation to Dublin – what a blessing! Getting married and then heading off on our honeymoon is going to feel like a big breath of fresh air after this past year. We’ve had such a big year with so many changes, and while a lot of it is positive – it has definitely been stressful!

We got engaged at the end of September and will be engaged just a few days over a year when we get married. Pretty soon after getting back from Ireland where we got engaged, I was launched into the busiest season at my work and we moved into our new apartment. Then came the tiring process of finding a church and a venue that worked with our budget and were available on the same date and also not too far away from each other and would fit our guests well. (Phew!) Then it was the holidays, my birthday, Cam’s birthday, and then a couple months later – we find out we’re moving to Austin and we quit our old jobs, found a new apartment, and moved out all in less than a month! Crazy year indeed, but so much growth.

I wanted to give some honest, real advice about wedding planning in this post. My experience was not like you see in the movies or on Instagram nowadays. I think a lot of people make it look super glamorous and while trying on dresses is fun and getting to take a bachelorette trip with your girlfriends is something you’ll never forget, there’s so much more to wedding planning that really makes you think or portions of it can be difficult depending on your family situation, lifestyle, budget, etc.

Overall, this has been such a fun year with so many milestones, and planning a wedding was one of them. I’ve learned a lot, and I want to share because I wish I’d read a post like this before I started.

Find a venue that works for you as a couple, and don’t worry about doing what is trendy! //

We looked into traditional wedding venues in Houston, but most would have us spending our entire budget upon booking – leaving little to no budget left for everything else! Based off of this, we started looking into event spaces – not traditional wedding venues. We found a gorgeous dance and event studio in town that looked like a modern art gallery. It was one of those places that was beautiful without any added decor, so I knew we wouldn’t have to do a lot in that arena. (Saving money – woo!) And this space had had plenty of weddings, so the owner was great at working with brides and had preferred vendors, coordinators, etc. It’s been the best decision we made and we saved thousands upon thousands of dollars.

Go with your gut //

This is a great rule of thumb for everything: in life and in wedding planning. But one specific example of us applying this was with our church. Cam and I don’t have a Catholic Church that we regularly attend, but we did want to be married in the Catholic Church to honor both sides of our family and our upbringing. So, we had to go around to different churches in the area and see if they would suit us: location, size, etc.

There was one that we LOVED and had been to a few times. It was gorgeous inside and out and in a great location, but when we went in to talk to the person in charge of weddings, they weren’t very warm or kind. And, they didn’t have our desired date. On to the next…

We went to one church that had a crazy rule that MY DAD COULDN’T WALK ME DOWN THE AISLE! Heck. NO!

It must have been our third or fourth church that we ended up choosing. And you know what? It’s still not a 100% perfect fit, but we are much happier than we were in the beginning. We had to be flexible and move around our desired date, but we are glad we went with our gut – on this and many other things! And 10.19.19 is angel numbers, so it actually is the perfect date.

Wedding Dress Shopping //

my bridal shower dress – linking here! it’s from asos and i’d size up as the sleeves are tight 🙂

My first outing for dress shopping, I went to BHLDN – which I had said for YEARS was where I would go first because, following them online, I loved their dresses! And I was not disappointed. I had an AMAZING experience. My stylist was awesome, the salon was gorgeous and roomy and we had our own private suite for my try-on. I could have walked out with any of the dresses I tried on and felt beautiful – they were all amazing.

So basically, I fell in love with dress #1, but still had other appointments lined up the rest of the month. That night after my BHLDN appointment, I couldn’t stop thinking about dress #1 and just decided then and there that I would cancel all other appointments. I didn’t want to confuse myself and make things tougher – the dress was made for me and the price was right. I went back several days later and confirmed it with one last try-on, and then I was out of there!

Another “go with your gut” experience. And if your gut says, go to 10 wedding dress shops, do it! This was what felt right for me, and I’m so happy with the experience.

Bridesmaids //

Let me start off by saying – I love my bridesmaids. Dearly! They are each so close to me and are from different pockets of my life, but together they are even more beautiful and loyal. Before getting engaged, I had actual anxiety about the whole bridesmaid situation because I didn’t have 12 close sorority sisters to stand next to me in matching chiffon. It seemed like everything I saw on Instagram was a bunch of white-smiled women that could make a female flag football team! Parties of 8, 12, even 16 bridesmaids! WHAT!? I don’t think I even know that many girlfriends 😂 I had to have a chat with myself and say, “Cristina – there is nothing wrong with having a couple bridesmaids! It’s wonderful to have a couple of close friends!” And you know what, after choosing my bridesmaids, I met MORE close friends – so maybe if I got married in 2020 or 2021 I’d have a few more to add, but that is life! You meet people when you’re intended to, and I am so grateful for the ladies in my life right now. They are fun and they cheer me on in life with anything. Don’t feel discouraged if you don’t have close girlfriends or you don’t feel like you have “enough”. If you have people who love you – no matter if you’re blood, friends, coworkers, that is totally enough.

On “changing yourself for the wedding” //

HAH! NO! After getting engaged, I worked out the same, I did my hair the same, I brushed my teeth the same, etc. etc. But don’t think that this was my knee jerk reaction, my middle-finger to the beauty industry. No – it really took awareness to work this muscle of conformity. I knew that the secret to happiness would not be changing my body or my appearance just to look “better” on my wedding day. I want my energy to be beautiful and my smile to show my excitement and love, but that’s about it.

The one thing that I knew I wanted to do was try out eyelash extensions, so I started getting them in July, but that’s really about it. I will get my hair done for my wedding and have a friend help me with makeup, but I personally want to keep things natural since that’s the look I like for myself!

If you want to die your hair blonde for your wedding, do it. If you don’t want to wear makeup, do it. If you want to microblade your eyebrows, do it. I will say – don’t try and change your body. Just know that every person that is coming to your wedding (including your partner) loves you the way you are, and maybe the season of being engaged can be a time for you to work on some self-love. Think of those qualities that your person loves about you, and see if you can recognize those and honor them in yourself.

On planning with your partner //

This situation is going to look different for every couple. But I will tell you – if your partner is not a “planner”, they are not going to become a planner just because you guys are getting married. It doesn’t mean they don’t love you or they don’t care, it’s just that they are who they are and they have different strengths! Cameron is a logistics wizard and he’s also great at finding and getting the best deal. Cam’s done a lot of the negotiating and strategizing around the wedding. He was really instrumental in the big ticket items like finding a venue that worked for us and finding a church. He has been helping me find an AirBnb for us to book for that weekend and he’ll probably be the one to find the best flights for us to go on our honeymoon. Those are the things he just does so well, and I am not the best at.

I am the interior designer, the DIY-er, the planner, etc. So things like making table markers for the tables, picking out linens and other rental items, and working on the wedding day timeline is my arena.

On having a DIY wedding //

I’ve always dreamed about doing a lot of DIY projects for a wedding because for one, I love making crafts and being creative and two, I love that it can help your budget out and give the wedding a big personal touch. However, it can be super stressful if you’re a one woman show and trying to DIY the entire thing. My advice? Make a list of what you really want to DIY. You’ll notice there are some things you’d want to buy because it’ll be easier or more cost effective, and there are some things you maybe don’t even need! (Even if Pinterest tells you that it would look so cute.)

After making my list (I just put screenshots of a sample/inspiration DIY on a Word Doc), I went to Amazon and looked at any supplies I would need. One by one I worked on them, and had fun doing it! It wasn’t stressful anymore because I was sticking to DIY’s that would be easy for me to make and inexpensive for me to source. Highly recommend!

As of now, these are my top tips, but I plan to write another post after the wedding with any more things that come up in the last couple months of the process!

If you have any tips you’d like to leave below, leave us a comment!