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  • Alexis Alvarez

The Top 10 Mistakes Couples Make When Planning Their Wedding

“Do you have an extra thousand dollars to put into this wedding?”

My bride was annoyed talking to her partner who had come up with some new grandiose vision just 30 days before their wedding. “We started this wedding on a budget of $20K & it quickly increased to $40K because we just didn’t know what we were getting into.”

“It happens all the time” I told her.

“How often do you end up having dream crushing conversations with couples?” she asked me.

“Every single couple I talk to.”

How to plan a Chicago Wedding by Chicago Wedding Planner
Photo By: Sean Cook Weddings

Here’s the thing- If you’ve never planned a wedding there is no way for you to know what you are getting yourself into or what to even ask well meaning wedding pros who offer up their expertise with “what questions do you have for me?”

It’s like when I was looking for a Pediatrician for my daughter for the first time and it wasn’t until I met with the first Pediatrician that I thought to myself “What am I even supposed to ask them about their practice?”.

I had never done this before and I knew that I wanted my daughter to be cared for but what was I supposed to ask to figure that out?

I don’t want you to feel that way when it comes to planning your wedding, so I went ahead & put together a list of the top 10 mistakes I see couples make when planning their wedding.

  1. Not being realistic about budget. The average wedding budget is $34K. And that’s a national budget and doesn’t reference the guest count. In Chicago, we see an average of between $40K (for 150ish guests) and going up to $60K+ for higher guest counts. AND that number doesn’t take into account specifics like type of meal that is served, the decor vision, how large the bridal party is, if transportation needs to be provided for guests, etc. One of the best things you can do in the early stages of planning to get a realistic budget put together for your vision is to ask vendors the question “what is the typical final investment level you see for couples with our vision and guest count.”

  2. Not planning far enough in advance. The most popular venues in Chicago book up a year to 18 months in advance for peak wedding season (June-October). Give yourself enough lead time in planning to find the venue that is right for you verses getting what’s left because you planned too quickly.

  3. Biting off more than they can chew. Not planning far enough in advance can definitely play into biting off more than you can chew, but things like planning an estate wedding without a wedding planner to help you work out things weather back up plans, electricity, restrooms, etc. can also fall into this category. So can inviting too many people or getting hooked on a vision you can’t afford. Be realistic about what you can handle given the time of life you’re in & how that will play into your wedding planning experience.

  4. Letting it take over their lives. Listen to me carefully, YOUR LIFE CANNOT ONLY CONSIST OF WEDDING PLANNING FOR THE NEXT YEAR! I recommend that my couples schedule a weekly wedding planning date on their calendars. Pick a time that is good for both of you, where you’ll both be fresh minded & able to talk rationally and unemotionally about planning. Most of my couples find that 10am on Saturday mornings work well for them. They wake up naturally, maybe go for a run or to yoga & then brew fresh coffee & pull out the binder, spreadsheets and checklists.

  5. Forgetting what the wedding is really about. Ok, so I love a pretty wedding as much as the next person. Pinterest is fun & thanks to the internet, my couples have gotten more comfortable with being super creative in planning, but you guys - your wedding is about your commitment to each other, not about centerpieces & cakes.

  6. Not getting on the same page. When my couples start butting heads over wedding planning, it is almost always because they were not intentional about getting on the same page about their expectations and desires for their wedding. You guys have to be in this together. It’s just a small taste of what marriage actually is, so start off on the right foot.

  7. Not having a plan for dealing with other people’s opinions. I love me some moms & sisters, but often they are the ones who get “zilla” on me, not my couples & it causes my couples so much stress. It’s important very early on to have a conversation about how you plan to deal with other people’s opinions. To be optimistic & assume your families will respect your wishes is not the best course of action here. This is especially important if someone else is partially or fully paying for the wedding.

  8. Trying to do too much of everything. Repeat after me: WE DO NOT NEED TO INCORPORATE EVERY PINTEREST TREND.

  9. Not thinking about the guest experience. Ok, this is a big one. I know the saying is that it’s “Your day”. Your guests invest a lot into your wedding day whether or not you realize it. They often buy an outfit and a gift, reserve a hotel room near your venue, pay for a sitter for their kids, sometimes even travel to another state or country and take time off of work. So, it’s not just about you. When you’re planning the details of your wedding, you need to put yourself in your guests’ shoes. I know you loved that cake, but do you think most people will? Is your venue in the middle of nowhere & the closest hotel for you to block at is 30 minutes away? Are your tables too cramped & uncomfortable for guests to sit at? Start with the things that have annoyed you about other people’s weddings & don’t do those things.

  10. Not having organizational systems in place. There are so many details involved in planning a wedding. You have to have organizational systems in place. Whether you use a pen and paper or something electronic, you have to have a system in place to keep track of your budget, contracts, and plans.

Wondering if you need a Wedding Planner?


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