I recently wrote briefly about the wedding planning process being overwhelming for me. Some people have said this is surprising, but I’m not one of those girls that has dreamed about a wedding her whole life. I have dreamed about marriage but the actual wedding planning process? Not really. I’d rather spend more time and energy preparing myself for marriage, a lifetime commitment to someone, rather than spend all my energy and time planning for one party. Well, apparently that is not a satisfactory answer when people ask (every single day) how wedding planning is going so here’s an update for all that are curious.
We got engaged on Labor Day weekend so we immediately had to start visiting venues since we wanted to get married in the summer of 2019. By this point, a lot of couples had booked venues or were in the middle of the process so even getting appointments to see venues was difficult! Plus Jared and I both had business trips right after our engagement so we really didn’t get a chance to seriously tour places until the end of September. Some venues were no’s right off the bat because of the size, cost, or availability. Then others were crossed off the list because of bad reviews or the fact many had no plan B if it rained. We live in Seattle, after all.
I scoured Instagram, wedding websites, and Pinterest. Some of my good friends also helped by sending me ideas and thank goodness, because ultimately we booked a venue that one of my good friends Steph found. She had originally wanted her wedding at our venue but it wasn’t a good size for their guest list. We immediately loved it and told the venue the same day we toured. The next day, they told us another couple had put a hold on it right before we did.
Omg. My first bridezilla moment!!!
Haha, just kidding. I did panic slightly but I knew going into wedding planning that the venue and photographer are two vendors that can be difficult to book. We waited patiently for a week to see if the couple backed out and just kept looking for other options. I think it was day 6 that the couple decided to pass and then we got to book the venue! We both felt that it was one of our favorite spots and had some unique elements that would be a perfect place for us to celebrate with our friends and family. If it became available, then it had to be for a reason. I’ll share more about the venue at a later time :)
Although I’m not really a great wedding planner, I started researching wedding photographers a long time before getting engaged. As I type this, I’m laughing at myself because it feels so silly. I’m a little embarrassed even, to admit that to all of you. But photography is super important to me and I knew that I wanted to make a large investment on photography because it’s the best way for us to have tangible memories of our wedding day. Plus the research was part of something I do daily – scroll through Instagram!
Personally I wanted a photographer that feels like an old friend. You will spend more time with your photographer on your wedding day than your spouse, probably. So…they better be someone that you really really like. There are tons of websites like WeddingWire, The Knot, etc. that you can use to search for wedding vendors but I found that Instagram was my favorite way. Not only is it easiest, it is another way to get to know vendors beyond what they can typically put on their website. I loved feeling connected with the photographers who shared more than their clients’ photos.
Once we got engaged, we had to balance the venue availability with photography availability. In the end, we decided that the venue availability was most critical because there were only so many that met our criteria. Since there was only one Saturday left at our venue, we chose it (August 10th!) and then after booking, went onto contacting the photographers that we liked best. Some weren’t available anymore and then some were, but after discussing more, we just didn’t feel the right connection to anyone yet. (Sounds dramatic I know, but seriously..photographers spend a ton of time with you on your wedding day!)
The way that we found our photographer, Alyssa Brooke, is actually so random!! One of my Instagram followers liked a photo of mine and I creepily stalked her profile after noticing her avatar photo. It was this gorgeous engagement photo and I really wanted to see more! I wasn’t even thinking that the photographer would be local, I just really wanted to see the pretty photos, but when I found Alyssa recently relocated to Seattle my jaw dropped. I had to leave for a happy hour with a girlfriend shortly after but I immediately wrote an email to Alyssa and said a little prayer. (Yes, really.)
Later that night I got the most excited, happy email from Alyssa saying that she was available for our wedding date and ohhhhhhh my gosh. It was the best feeling. Jared and I just felt so genuinely excited that she was available and we just had so much fun looking through all her photos and reading her captions. Y’all..not every photographer has to share their raw self online. No one does. But wow, it does make a difference to potential clients when you do. And that has been one lesson that I’m trying to learn each day as someone who blogs their life. I know I could be more raw online and each time I’m scared to, I think about the process that got me to ultimately book Alyssa. We LOVE how easy she is to work with and she is incredibly professional while being personable.
After the venue and photographer, the wedding dress is usually next on the list since they can take a long time to arrive and then you have to factor in time for alterations. My first dress shopping experience taught me a few things that I’d like to share –
1. It’s okay to not have an idea of what dress you want to leave with. In fact, I don’t think doing your research beforehand is necessary at all. It’s so cliche but true – I swear that you will probably leave with something different than you expected.
2. Do have a budget in mind because if not, you’ll get put into dresses that are pricey! Some shops carry dresses that cost as much as cars and personally, that was not my idea of a dress budget.
3. Be prepared to get naked (or nearly naked) in front of a stranger. They literally do not care and the process will go a lot easier if you also don’t care. I typically had a strapless bra on and nude underwear though. Even if you feel like you can get in and out of a dress on your own, they will require someone to help you. They are expensive dresses after all. (For the gals who don’t mind a secondhand experience, I recommend Brides for a Cause. This is the one shop I know of that allows you to try the dresses on by yourself if you care about that.)
4. Ask your bridal party or whoever is with you to take all the photos! Give them your phone so you don’t have to worry about sending them to each other after. Photos from all angles are necessary!
5. If you have some top contenders, try them on with bridal accessories like a veil or headpiece. (I found out I didn’t love veils this way, haha.)
6. Lastly, don’t feel bad if you leave your first appointment empty handed or like it wasn’t absolutely magical. I had fun at all my appointments but it wasn’t like a trip to Disneyland to me personally. I don’t like trying on clothes ever and to be quite honest, wedding dresses are rarely comfortable and we all know how I feel about comfy clothes. It is discouraging to not feel like you’ve found the one immediately but good things take time :)
Since my wedding dress is obviously going to be a secret until the wedding day, I don’t have much to share. I ended up buying my dress from Ania Bridal in Portland, Oregon though for anyone local. My parents live close to Portland so it was an easy decision for me to go south for a dress. Also, I liked the sound of paying no sales tax on my dress!
The stylist that I worked with is someone I distantly knew from high school and just the sweetest. She was so patient and kind, the shop was really clean and organized, and the store was really welcoming in general. There was a shop nearby that I went to with one of my bridesmaids and mom and it was a less than stellar experience. (Busy, chaotic, disinterested stylists..) Email or DM me and I’m happy to share more about my experiences in case you are also in the market for a dress.
Hope that update tides you all over for now! To be honest, we’ve been pretty slow with the rest of our planning but I should have some more updates to share in a month or two. Otherwise, we’re in trouble…