How many of us can remember that one DIY Bride that blew our minds with the wedding she pulled off, OR the one who should have waived the white flag of surrender and hired a planner? We’ve been them or we know them. The bride to be that’s very organized; helps all of her friends plan their parties and decides to take on her own wedding. It would seem like a very capable and obvious thing to do since she’s done so many other events quite well and with ease. However, when it’s your own wedding, the details far exceed that average birthday party or shower, and at the end of the day, both the bride and groom deserve to be stress-free and at liberty to enjoy their wedding experience without worrying about logistics and favor placement. Now this is not meant to detract in any way from the resourcefulness of a DIY bride. She will rally her tribe, raid Pinterest and doesn’t mind a few late night craft projects. Even her skilled friends have offered to lend a hand with things like photography or cooking. To that Wedding DIY-er: We salute you. But for the rest of the brides that didn’t receive their capes yet, at some point in the planning & preparation process, will find themselves exhausted in the minutia of it all and wishing that they had invested in a planner. Today we’re going to hear from our Floridian bride, Aisha: A well-organized DIY bride that leveraged every app and connection she had to get her and her husband down the aisle in style and within budget. And oh by the way, she’s not just our featured guest, she’s also my niece. Let’s see how she did. ENJOY!
The Best & Worst of Planning My Own Wedding, by Mrs. Aisha Perry
When my husband, Antwan, proposed to me on March 5th, 2016 I was so excited! It was perfect timing because I already had a date in mind for the wedding, April 22nd, 2017. We had over a year to plan which I thought was more than enough time to get everything I wanted for the big day. Especially with the help and guidance of my Aunt Michelle who is an exceptional wedding planner in New York, and a few others who have been down the wedding aisle themselves.
I always wanted a small and intimate wedding, with 30 guests and no wedding party. I had never been a bridesmaid, and I never understood the position of a bridesmaid or maid of honor, and my husband didn’t want to have groomsmen because all his friends lived in Illinois and we reside in Florida. We agreed to forgo the traditional wedding party, however, we still wanted to honor our parents and children by having them walk down the aisle. Those were the only details of our wedding we ever discussed in our relationship.
During the planning, a friend of mine who’d recently gotten married mentioned an app she used that helped her tremendously. I downloaded the app, created an account, and inputted my wedding date which in return, gave me a countdown clock and created a checklist for me to follow. The app also gave me options to search for venues and other vendors needed for a wedding. It made me extremely hopeful; I thought that as long as I stay ahead of the timeline, this will be easy. Without a wedding party to deal with, I can handle this without unnecessary drama and stress, right?
I learned during the planning process that it’s helpful to have a vision of what you want the décor, atmosphere, or theme to be before doing anything because it will save you a lot of time. All I knew is that I was not the “Princess” type of bride, and all the venues I saw had that theme. I liked to keep things simple yet classy and elegant… like me. I finally got the vision of exactly what I wanted after touring four different venues. After looking at what I did not want for my wedding, the idea came to me at work of all places. I envisioned candles everywhere, small centerpieces on the tables, and the colors ivory and gold… Intimate, unique, simple, and classy…it was perfect. I started to look up décor ideas on another app.
After much thought and conversation with my fiancé, we realized that we were going to have more than 30 guests, so we bumped it up to 60, which is still considered a small wedding. I also wanted a venue that provided the tables, chairs, linens, and décor set up to relieve stress and lessen the amount of vendors we have to hire. I found a hidden gem in Ybor City, Tampa, FL on Wedding Wire that did just that and more. I fell in love with the pictures online; it had an industrial look with gorgeous chandeliers and black floors that would look great with my vision of the decor. We made an appointment to check the place out. The owners were courteous and professional; I showed them the pictures I saved on the app and they said could make it happen. The venue also provided a wedding coordinator that would help me through this process and a chef to cater the food. Now I was super pumped and hopeful that I could pull this off on my own.
OMG! There was so much more to planning a wedding that I had no clue about! Certain things I didn’t know such as save the dates, invites, programs, etc…they all had to be the same paper designs? I didn’t know about wedding etiquette, such as how to ask for monetary gifts, or what to write on the programs. Should I write on the guest’s placement cards or not? What is a Processional and a Recessional? The list of details that I never thought of went on and on. That’s where my Aunt became so helpful; she helped me with a lot of the details that weren’t that important to me, but were still important. I was so thankful to have her as my wedding planner on speed dial. I wished she was in Florida instead of New York to help me because towards the end I wanted to pull my hair out! I bit off more than I could chew… I did mention that I was in school full time and have a daughter who needed my attention as well. Lord Help me, what was I thinking!
10 days before the wedding the venue decided to no longer work with the coordinator that was assisting us with the wedding. Because of my faith, I didn’t let fear consume me and resisted the urge to freak out. The owner of the venue sent me an email ensuring me that she had all the details and she was going to step-up to do the coordinating for the wedding to making sure the day was perfect for me. All I could do was pray and move forward. The wedding was 10 days away!
I had a meeting with the new coordinator/owner of the venue, and we went over every detail since I was the planner for my own wedding. She emailed me an itinerary for the day, and it was perfect. The day of the wedding everything went smoothly until the reception. After the father and Bride dance things went south…fast. Of course, the guests and the Groom himself had no clue, and the frustration I felt inside was hidden very well. The DJ acted as though he had no idea what to do next, he had to freestyle the event because he didn’t have the itinerary and the communication was not getting to him. He even came up to the sweetheart table to ask us, the Bride and Groom, what to do next. My father didn’t get the opportunity to make his toast, and neither did my husband’s best friend. Towards the end I was ready to go, so I told my husband to tell the DJ to announce our departure. When we walked out I saw the coordinator/ owner and told her we were ready to go, she was so shocked that the DJ released us without her giving him the order. They knew things didn’t go as planned and after the Groom and I left the venue expressed their apologies to my parents.
Thankfully, in the end, it was a beautiful day, but If I had to do it again I would hire a wedding planner; I think a planner would have helped me stay within my budget and handled the things I had no clue were necessary for a wedding. A planner would have also made sure things ran smoother than they did during the reception, by keeping it on time and making sure things got done. I’m happy to say it is done. Amen!
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