If Charles Dickens were a wedding planner, he would certainly say, ‘It was the best of times, It was the worst of times.’
As I am just a few weeks shy of saying ‘I do’ to my beloved Charlie, I can’t help it but think and reflect what the past 11 months have been like. The moment I muttered yes, while Charlie stood in front of me on one knee, I knew it was right and that he was my mr. right.
Shortly after the celebrations and champagne came the dreaded questions (even some that are beyond inappropriate), such as what’s your budget? Will you have a small or big wedding? Am I invited, and the list goes on.
After a few gasps and panic screams (by me, of course), Charlie and I realized it was time to hit the ground running and well, start the planning process.
From figuring out finances to dealing with family woes, the road to ‘happily ever after’ can be incredibly emotional, tiring, and exciting. But there are ways to stay grounded and avoid going into ‘bridezilla’ mode.
Sit Down and Map Out Goals: Before booking a venue and start thinking color schemes — sit down and decide what you and your fiancé want. Research as many vendors and establish a budget early, as one of the things Charlie and I learned very early in the process is how quickly expenses add up. There are a slew of hidden charges such as special taxes (California has a flower tax), supplies, and package upgrades that rack up bills. Luckily, we established an ’emergency stash’ when faced with these costs, and that’s been a life saver.
Hire a wedding Planner: Not sure where I would be without mine — but most likely at a mental institution! Claudia from One Darling Day was there for every question, idea, and even freak out fest. She keeps me focused, on task, and is now a great friend. Planners take care of the details that often go overlooked until last minute — and understand the industry inside and out. Claudia came to the rescue and saved me a bundle when she went with me to Chinatown and found some killer props for the ceremony. Our aesthetics are also very similar, making the process even smoother and she knows the venue very well.
When considering a planner — always think if their styles align with yours and more importantly, if they are familiar with your vendors and the area where the wedding will take place.
Research, Research, Research: Wedding planning became my second job, as I spent hours post my 9-5 gig finding the perfect vendors, negotiating quotes, dissecting design ideas, rental options, entertainment, and catering. Afterwards, I would send it to Claudia, and she’d execute the next steps. Since Charlie and I are having an outdoor celebration, I checked out more than half a dozen photographers that specialize in natural light — as I wanted someone that understood the composition. We lucked out with Valorie Darling, who did a phenomenal job with our engagement pictures.
I was not afraid to ask for help when I needed. A few weeks ago, I reached out to my family to help me put together a playlist for the DJ and they immediately came to the rescue.
Take Time Off and Enjoy your Engagement: This is incredibly important since it’s impossible to spend 24/7 carving out every detail. Don’t be afraid to take a break and enjoy a night out just relaxing. One of the most important things is also to get some sleep — and this is something I wish I would have done more.
Do What Works Best: Whether it’s food, flowers, or entertainment, it’s about prioritizing what you want for your celebration. Don’t feel you have to do everything by the book, or because your best friend or sister did it a certain way. Charlie and I opted for digital invites, despite many advising against it. We wanted a quick and effective way to receive RSVPs, and even ended up saving a boatload of money on stamps.
The Lessons Learned: This is special time; unlike any other. It’s best to soak it all in before diving head in to plan. My wholehearted piece of advice is to go with your gut for everything. Panicking doesn’t help — there is always a solution.
For us, the importance of compromise, diligence, discipline, and communication are the key to sanity and most likely marital bliss.
A friend recently gave me the most sage advice, “No one knows what your vision is. If the flowers don’t turn out to be the way you want them, it’s OK. Everyone is there to celebrate because they love you and Charlie.”
One thing I know — Our lives will not mimic any of the characters immortalized by Mr. Dickens, because after all, he was a writer (albeit a gifted one) but not wedding planner!
Ryzenberg On, is Signing Off
PHOTOS: Valorie Darling Photography