Ok, I can’t take the credit for the title…I spotted it on Weddingbee and thought it was a perfect way to describe just about every Indian wedding I’ve been to. They’re big, they’re colorful, and they’re detailed! With our one-year anniversary about a month away, I have yet to go over any of the work that went into our events (or choose our photos…procrastination much?) Now, truth be told…it was months before I could even look at anything wedding-related, I was that burnt out and over it. But friends and family still tell us how much fun they had, or praise some small detail that I had all but forgotten. I knew nothing going into the process, and worked hard to figure it out along the way, but our special day turned out wonderfully and I’d be remiss if I didn’t try to pass along everything I did and learned.
Planning our wedding was especially difficult for us. I was finishing up my second year of classes, and preparing to defend my dissertation proposal (passed my oral exams about 3 weeks before the wedding), while Husband was getting ready to graduate from law school (and take the NY Bar about 2 weeks before the wedding)! Both being the oldest in our families, our parents really learned along with us. It wasn’t a painless process for anyone involved, and I definitely took away some lessons learned that can help everyone (Indian & non-Indian):
1) Book the major vendors early. In the tri-state area, wedding vendors come at a premium, and the good ones go fast. Esp. during wedding high season (spring/summer). I booked my location, photographer/videographer, decorator/florist, and caterer within 2 weeks of getting engaged (about 1 year before the wedding).
2) Budgets are nice, but hidden costs make them hard to stick to. Know what the average costs of vendors are in your area, and compromise on where to cut costs versus where to splurge. Many vendors will work with you on pricing and packages, especially if you are expecting a large number of guests. I have read that people who decide to spend a bit more on photography usually have little regrets…they decide to cut back on, say, the floral arrangements.
3) Delegate where possible, but plan in advance for setbacks. Our families were incredibly busy, so asking them for help at every single step wasn’t possible. We also did a ton of DIY projects, which required lots of planning and prep. Even though I was pleased with how each project turned out, the stress of finishing them at inopportune times wore on us. This brings me to my next lesson…
4) DIY is not always cheaper or easier. These days, there is a vendor for everything. We made so many things ourselves…favor bag tags, name/table cards, signage, the weekend schedule, invitation inserts, etc. Between the cost of purchasing good quality cardstock and labels and the time spent planning and executing every project, I still wonder if it was worth it. Yes, it’s a nice touch, but most people won’t notice whether something is a DIY project or bought en masse. Do your research and price it all out. If you still crave the DIY look, Etsy can probably give you everything you want and need.
5) Don’t sweat the small stuff. Similar to the DIY advice, it’s so easy to get wrapped up in every little detail. Chiavari chairs vs. chair covers and bows! Hand calligraphed invitations vs. letterpress! The perfect shade of white, cream, or gold shoes! Honestly, at the end of the day, these things will not matter to you. Our DJ gave us the best advice on this…people care about 3 things…the food, the booze, and the music…do your best on these and you can ensure a great party. Oh how true it is…
6) Give your family a break, and don’t expect the royal treatment. Maybe it’s because we were the oldest, with 3 younger sibs to deal with. Or maybe it’s because this was the first wedding for both sets of parents. But we did and helped as much as anyone else on our wedding day. Family have quirks, and god knows they can be irritating and grating, but chances are, your fam has butterflies too on the big day. Our siblings were nervous about giving speeches, while our parents were hoping their friends would have a good time. I think too often, people think ‘me, me, me’ on their wedding day. But for us, it was about family and it was about our guests, and we never lost sight of that.
7) Surf! There are so many wonderful wedding resources online…blogs, forums, articles, etc…all of which you can use for design inspiration, dress ideas, vendor reviews, or general wedding support. I would save pictures of table arrangements, saris, or just random things that inspired the day. Lots of people online use polyvore or a similar site to create inspiration boards. I frequented Weddingbee for DIY help, and bookmarked countless planning blogs. I regret that I didn’t document my own process as closely as some blogs do!
8) If possible, leave for the honeymoon a few days after the wedding. We actually had a second reception in Miami, where my in-laws are…this was held a week after our wedding. The week after, we moved me out of Baltimore…so we didn’t end up leaving on our honeymoon for over two weeks following the nuptials. We were rejuvenated enough that we could take in everything on our honeymoon, and really soak up the sun and culture. More on that to come…
I’m planning to write a series of reviews on my wedding vendors, along with some tips on dealing with each step of the planning process. With few exceptions, I was extremely pleased with them, and I know I had the hardest time finding reviews on vendors beyond theknot.com. I’m also planning to write reviews on our honeymoon, which we spent mainly in Greece, and then traveling through western Europe. Again, a ton of research went into the 4-week trip, and I would be remiss not to share it!