August 21st marked one year until our wedding day. And while I’m about 1 month over due on this post, I wanted to share what I’ve been up to since then. One year from our wedding date and we finally got our first in-person walk through of our wedding venue (thanks covid). It was everything we had imagined and we were eager to get planning. We started to visit with our party rental vendors for things like rental chairs, tents, lighting & AV, linens, plates, silverware, etc. Not the most exciting thing to think of when all you see is dollar signs, but it has to be done.
I also took this time to link up with some of my bridesmaids and began creating vision boards for my ideal wedding day. I worked on the wedding website, gathered our guest list, and did my first dress try on. Actually, did my first two! Safe to say the 12 month planning period was a lot of fun. But it’s time to get down to details and schedule of why I knocked these things out a year from our wedding date.
Created vision boards on Canva
First thing’s first. I grabbed one of my bridesmaids who, like me, loves all things creation and designing. We sipped on some bloody Mary’s and mimosas while she helped me create a vision board for my special day. The few we created were based on the Ceremony, Reception, Bridesmaids looks, as well as Groomsmen outfits.
I use the Canva app for almost everything. I started with a blank template, gave it a title, and started browsing my pinterest inspiration boards. A mood/vision board is easy to make, all you need to do is upload the images to canva, and arrange them however you’d like. Organizing pins from Pinterest is a great way to get an idea of your color scheme and the styles you like. If you have no idea what you’re doing, you can show these to your wedding coordinator, florist, and rental suppliers and they will be able to help guide you to make your vision come to life.
A better idea, is to ask your venue or wedding planner what preferred vendors they work with. This will give you an idea of local suppliers (cheaper) and what they offer. We browsed 4/5 websites from local party rentals that would work with Wrightsville Manor. Instead of using Pinterest images, I took screenshots of the items I wanted to use from the local suppliers and threw them into my vision board. That way, when I met with a vendor, I was able to show them exactly what I wanted from them. Not only were the vision boards fun to create, but they also saved me so much time when placing orders with vendors!
Here are what mine look like:
Venue Walk Through
This date will vary for each couple, and there is no pressure to do this a year out. However, I believe it is a good idea to try and lock down the venue with at least a year to plan and save. We did a virtual tour back in June, and due to COVID’s strict regulations, we were not able to walk through our venue in person until August 21st, one year from our wedding day. It was actually pretty special walking through our venue an EXACT year from the day of our wedding. I got to get a feel for the weather of the season, temperature, how much shade the venue provides, and where & when the sunsets for my post-ceremony photo op.
I highly recommend bringing your venue planner if they are local or willing to meet you. Most wedding planners will already be familiar with the venue you are working with. It’s a great way to get a feel for the layout of your venue and how your wedding day will run (where to enter, exit, get ready, ceremony progression, etc). Be sure to take plenty of photos & videos so you can use these in the planning process later.
Visited our linen rental suppliers and lighting/AV suppliers.
In our case, the suppliers renting our linens, plates, and silverware were different from our lighting and AV suppliers. Our linen appointment took all of 20 minutes. We met at Party Rental Suppliers of Wilmington, picked out our table cloths, napkins, plates, and silverware with our wedding planner. She took everything down and then billed us an estimate for the rentals about a week later. We were able to get a solid estimate of our rental bill without having to put money down. That way if we needed to update our items at any time, we have the freedom to do so and not be billed until about one month before the wedding.
It was pretty much the same for our AV / Lighting rentals. While we walked the venue our wedding planner used her knowledge and experience to help us figure out how many tables, tents, umbrellas, fans, and strings of lights would be needed for the cocktail hour and ceremony.
First ( and 2nd) Wedding Dress Try-On
In the past month, I’ve completed not one, but two dress try on’s, about 3 weeks apart. I have 9 bridesmaids so I had to split up my time between several locations. Trying on dresses at several locations is a great way to try on new designers and discover new styles within your price range. I went into each try on knowing that I would not be saying “yes” to the dress that day, and there are a few reasons why.
First off, I did not want an impulsive purchase, no matter how beautiful or shiny the dress, I did not want buyers remorse in case I found something I liked even more. There are thousands of designers and dresses to choose from, it’s pretty rare you’ll find the perfect one on your first go. Secondly, I’m paying for my own wedding dress. By paying for my own wedding dress, I am able to set realistic expectations of my budget, and not get too carried away with a dress I will be wearing for 8 hours or less. Of course, I want it to check all the right boxes, but a dress is not the most important item on my wedding day.
Each visit, my bridesmaids took photos and videos of me in my favorite dresses. I highly recommend taking pictures from all angles, or just a video of you walking down the aisle and turning. There were dresses I really liked during the try on, but when I saw them in photos, they did not flatter me at all. Nor would I want to overanalyze myself in my own wedding photos. That is a big reason I have still not said “yes” to the dress.
My biggest tip is not to rush. Take your time and go to several different stores. Go will all your friends, or just your most trustworthy confidants. You can always go back and make your decision at a later date. Dresses typically need to be ordered about 7-8 months out in advance. Going for your first time at 12 months should help give you an idea of the styles you like best. For me, there have been two dresses I’ve really liked, but when I looked at photos, I just didn’t “love them” and I could not see myself in my wedding pictures wearing either of them.
The search continues….
Started Planning my Bachelorette
There’s not too much to write here. But considering the state of the world, COVID, and all the border restrictions, it’s a tough time to plan a bachelorette. Will COVID get worse? Will airlines or hotels cancel my plans if it does? Will my friends be able to afford it? Will my friends feel comfortable traveling?
All these questions have made me put off my bachelorette planning. I was too worried about how my wedding party would feel, and I know a lot of other brides feel the same. But I say, be selfish. Have the trip you want, experience the things you want to experience, and any friends who are comfortable / can afford to come, will be there to celebrate with you.
I put my sister, also my maid of honor, to the task. I gave her a list of contacts for my bridesmaids, and she helped me pick 2/3 top locations I’d like to could travel to and things to do during our stay. The rest, well, that’s up to them!
Created My Wedding Website
Now is the perfect time to start your wedding website. You do not have to publish it just yet, just get it started. I used Zola for mine, but other popular sites used are TheKnot and Minted. This is something you can do on your own, with your partner, or with some bridesmaids. It gives you the opportunity to start thinking about “Your Story”, creating your guest list capturing emails & mailing addresses, and starting your registry.
If you’ve finalized your guest list, you can start sending out mailing address requests to your guests. That way you can capture their emails and physical mailing addresses for your save your dates and wedding invitations.
You can also start your wedding registry. This will give your guests time to shop for your gifts, which they can get on sale over the holidays as well.
Creating your wedding website will probably take you 1-2 hours to set up everything, so make sure to put some time aside.
Here is my 14-12 MONTH WEDDING PLANNING GUIDE you can print off for FREE!