Updated: Oct 30, 2018
How I Simplified the Wedding Planning Process and had My Dream Wedding
The process of planning a wedding can be equal parts excitement and frustration, resulting in a complex web of inspiration boards, dog-eared pages of magazines, and half-scribbled notes on the nearest paper bits (I’m looking at you, grocery receipts). You may even find yourself questioning your sanity through frantic phone calls and emails to vendors, family members, and friends who probably think you do nothing but talk about and plan your wedding (so what if they’re right?).
When I set out to plan my wedding, I wanted to stay true to what the day was about: the two of us and our love for each other. The ceremony would bring our closest friends and family together to celebrate in that love with us, so it was important for everything to hold a special meaning.
But it is easy to start out with the best of intentions, and even easier to get swept up in a whirlwind of decisions that get further away from the meaning of the day. Honestly, could our choice of napkin fold really say something important about our relationship?
So here is a bit about how I simplified the wedding planning process and ended up with a day better than I could have imagined.
First things first, I included my fiancé.
Since I wanted our wedding to truly reflect our relationship, I knew both of us needed to be involved in the planning of it. So Cameron and I started by talking about what was truly important to us. He originally suggested a wedding in Hawaii with seven guests, and I thought we should have a wedding in Seattle with all of our closest friends, family, coworkers, and acquaintances (which, to be honest, added up to way more than seven). But what we both agreed on was that we wanted a ceremony that expressed our love for each other, in a beautiful setting.
The more we thought about it, we knew the venue should be in Washington, since this is where our story began. We have spent many weekends here picking a direction and going on adventures. The natural beauty of the state that we call home is incredible. When Cameron said he envisioned a “cathedral of trees” for our venue, it felt like we were on the right path.
With that vision in mind, I started with the big picture for our wedding.
We knew we wanted to be surrounded by trees and we wanted to have our family and close friends with us. This narrowed down the venue search considerably. We hunted all around the areas surrounding Seattle and stumbled upon Twin Willow Gardens in Snohomish, with an aptly named “Cedar Chapel” ceremony space.
Once we had our venue, I hired a wedding coordinator.
Yep, you guessed it! I met with Emily of Prudence & Sage as soon as we booked our venue, and knew right away she would be the most valuable addition to our vendor team. Part of simplifying our wedding was the decision to not have a bridal party. Though that made certain aspects less complicated, it also had me worried that I may not have a point person for tasks throughout the planning process and the day of our wedding.
Emily walked me through everything she does as a wedding coordinator to make sure the day goes smoothly (she goes above and beyond!), and the help she could offer throughout the wedding planning process. Working with Emily was the best decision I made when planning my wedding and it made every other aspect of wedding planning uncomplicated.
With Emily’s help, I stayed organized.
I used every available planning tool we could find or that Emily provided. If there was a major aspect to the day, you better believe I had a spreadsheet for it. Emily also helped me keep track of conversations with our wedding vendors and coordinated everything we needed for the day of our wedding.
Throughout the planning process, having a coordinator also helped me keep details in perspective. Emily walked me through decisions both big (like who to have as our officiant) and small (like linen color).
To be honest, I panicked during a planning meeting when Emily asked what color napkins we would be using. “Ivory,” I said, thinking we couldn’t go wrong with the simplest choice. Turns out, napkins typically contrast the color of the tablecloth (yep, we had picked ivory for that too). I had not thought of it - but she had!
But what mattered in the end was not the color of the napkins, or the pocket fold we decided on. What mattered is that when my dad’s speech brought me to tears, the napkin was the closest thing to dry them.
It’s easy to get swept up in all the little decisions that make up the wedding planning process, and to be overwhelmed with the sheer number of details and moving parts there are to the day. Everything we chose to include in our ceremony and reception had a story behind it. Our wedding ended up as a true reflection of our relationship because we only included what mattered to us.
That meant our ceremony was in a natural space that felt like one of our adventures. Our officiant read from Game of Thrones because it’s our favorite show to watch together. The head table was just Cameron and me, with totem statues of our two cats handmade by Laura Hines. Our reception included personalized cornhole boards, because we played cornhole (which Cameron says is called “Bean Bag Toss” here) at a restaurant the day we met. The wedding cake was made by my mom, someone who bakes with love. And we were surrounded by our closest friends and family because they are such an important part of our lives.
It also meant our reception tent did not have curtains covering the legs (why do we need to hide how a tent is held up?), and I chose the first napkin fold that popped up during a Google image search (sorry, but why are there so many??). We skipped a good number of little things that just did not seem important, and focused on what did.
I honestly would not have had the wedding of my dreams if I hadn't simplified the wedding planning process to what truly mattered. Starting with the big picture, hiring Emily as our wedding coordinator, and staying organized allowed me to keep everything in perspective. The best part is that now I have a magical day to look back on, and nothing I would have done differently.
All photos in the post are by Tonie Christine Photography.
Prudence & Sage Blog Contributor: Meredith Charaba
Originally from a small farming town in Ohio, Meredith found her way to the Pacific Northwest. She made a home in Seattle, where she discovered her love of weddings as a bridal dress consultant. She now works in online retail, and has a weekend habit of exploring the beautiful state of Washington with her husband, Cameron. When she’s not looking for her next adventure on a hiking trail, you can probably find her curled up at home with her two cats, a glass of wine and a good book.