After nine years of dating, and a year-and-a-half of planning, on May 27, 2007, we finally tied the knot at the Harvest Inn in St. Helena, CA! It was such a GREAT day, and went by entirely too fast!
Some brief words of advice:
1. Start planning early. There's nothing worse than rushing around last-minute to finish things. Of course, things happen outside of your control. Even though I had planned months ahead, I still had a vendor who actually had to send me things at my hotel room days before the wedding (see my vendor reviews!). The weeks before your wedding are incredibly stressful. The less you have to do/worry about during that time the better.
2. If you're using a wedding planner, get a GOOD one - one that you feel entirely comfortable with and can trust 100%. Don't let the dollar signs scare you. I went with a less expensive one and REGRET I did. Of course, that doesn't necessarily mean more expensive planners will be any better, but it just might! Do your research thoroughly, talk to the planner's present/former clients, see if your personality clicks with the planner's, and most importantly, go with your gut. This person will play a very crucial role in your wedding, and in your life for as long as your planning lasts, so pick a planner who's worth having your business!
3. Get a videographer. We didn't, and completely regret it. I thought the photos would be enough. Though they're nice, they just aren't the same as watching a video!
4. During the wedding planning process, surround yourself by positive people. I hear of many brides having to deal with people trying to "rain on their parades," such as nit-picky mothers, FMILs, sisters, whomever*. It is YOUR WEDDING, not theirs'. They can stop living vicariously through you. There are a few things I regret not doing because I let people convince me otherwise.
5. Maintain clear and constant communication with vendors to make sure your requests are understood and followed through. Of course, if you have a good wedding planner, this might not necessarily be something for you personally to handle. There were some very large mess-up's on the part of three of my vendors (see the orange drinks on our reception tables?!?). You don't have to turn into bridezilla to do this, just remember this is business, so act like a business person. On the same note, DON'T BE A PUSHOVER - it's your wedding and your money!
6. During planning, make sure to take care of yourself. During that time it's so easy to get all-consumed with balancing wedding planning, work, etc. Even though it's tough to admit, we aren't super-women, we're only human. Our poor bodies can handle only so much stress. Eat right (no starvation diets!), get plenty of sleep and try to exercise. Get manicures, pedicures or facials to reward yourself for all of the hard work you're doing. Bad things will happen if you don't take care of yourself - insomnia, migraines (me!), getting sick, nervous ticks (seriously!), hives, depression, etc. Just be good to yourself - all of your hard work WILL pay off!
7. Enjoy yourself. This is a very special time in you and your fiance's lives. There were many times I felt like throwing myself outside of my office window 8 stories up because of problems with wedding planning. It's usually never as bad as it seems. Get as much help from trustworthy people as you can (including GOOD wedding planners), which I think will alleviate much of the stress. Enjoy the engagement period, because strange enough, things change after you say, "I do" - then comes planning your lives together as a married couple!
*For the record, I thankfully didn't have to deal with said nit-picky people, but know many brides who have. :-( Just should've gone with my gut.