Wedding Planning 101: The 5 Most Important Conversations You Need to Have
Here’s the thing: Your wedding is going to be amazing. But in order to get there, you may need to have some awkward conversations.
Wedding planning requires us to talk about things we might have been taught were off-limits—money and religion among them. It also requires a lot of attention to detail, which means knowing which questions to ask is vital to ensuring your big day goes off without a hitch. Here are five conversations you'll need to have to ensure smooth sailing throughout your planning process.
If you're not in sales or finance, you probably don't talk about money with random strangers all that often. And you probably don't feel like the world's best negotiator either. But having the awkward budget conversation with your wedding vendors and venues is imperative.
When discussing costs with florists, venues, planners, and everybody in-between, it is important not only to request total figures, but also to obtain an inclusive outline of everything that number entails. If something isn't clearly included in this outline, don't assume it will be covered—ask. If a quote is much higher than you expected, this outline will hopefully help you determine why. And if it's lower than you expected, it will quickly become clear what isn't included. Having this detailed information in hand will also give you bargaining power, as you can negotiate inclusions and exclusions for a better price.
That said, we're not all natural-born negotiators. If you feel that this hard-bargaining part of your wedding planning is too far out of your comfort zone, enlist your partner—or a trusted family member or friend—to do the wheeling and dealing (with you at the helm, of course).
Capturing the beauty of your wedding day with amazing photography is no doubt a high priority. Keep in mind, however, that photographer fees can vary based on what you get. Beyond the simple decision of whether to invest in a wedding video or to photograph ancillary events like the bridal shower or rehearsal dinner, fees can fluctuate based on the package you purchase. The standard digital gallery of beautifully retouched photos is generally just a jumping-off point, with options for wedding albums and raw files costing extra. The former is an easy way to put together a keepsake with minimal effort. But the latter—which gives you access to high-resolution photos to print and reprint forever—means you'll be able to make any number of albums and framed portraits in the future. Keep in mind the impact you expect these photographs to have on your life post-wedding when making the decision on whether to splurge for those costly upgrades.
Awkward wedding-planning questions are not exclusive to vendors. When it comes to family matters, a conversation about finances can be just as sensitive—if not, more so. If you intend to share the cost of your wedding with your parents or another family member, the conversation will likely happen early. And if your parents are footing the bill altogether, you may expect them to bring it up first. But being proactive is key: Before you start spending, schedule a time for everyone to sit down and discuss their respective financial standings. While this may feel like a business negotiation, think of it more as a family project, with everyone chipping in to achieve the same goal. Behonest about your expectations and ability to contribute—and ask for the same honesty in return. Above all else, remember that your personal relationships are far more important than money will ever be.
Some wedding ceremonies are simple and straightforward. Others are longer, more personalized, and guided by religion or culture. Make sure you decide early on what is important to you—and discuss it with anyone and everyone who may be impacted. This is especially important for multicultural weddings, in which couples may have differing backgrounds. Finding a way to incorporate both partners' preferences is an easy and mutually respectful way to compromise. Couples may also choose to forgo the traditional ceremony elements their parents and other family members feel are important. Communicating these preferences clearly and firmly is the best way to avoid any upsets on the big day.
One of the most notoriously complicated aspects of planning a wedding is the guest list. Sure, it’s easy to put together a massive roster of the family members and friends you hold near and dear. But you know what they say about opinions—everyone has them—and your idea of a guest list full of close friends and family members might not jibe with your parents’ desire to invite relatives you’ve never even met. Address the problem head-on by deciding on a wedding size, and sticking with it. Print out your respective lists and allot each contributing family member or partner an equal amount of vetoes. And remember that there are no hard and fast rules when determining which family members and friends make the cut—inviting one aunt doesn’t mean you must invite every aunt, especially if you’re closer to one side of your family than the other.