Keep These Seven Tips in Mind
When my fiancé Alan and I started planning our wedding, several of our married friends and family members said we should just elope. When we announced that we were going to tie the knot, two of my cousins were already knee-deep in the planning process and one of my uncles pulled me aside and told me that as he helped his daughter get ready for the big day, he wished he had tried harder to convince her to just have a small intimate gathering somewhere in the Caribbean. She was having none of that though, but there is something to be said about taking a few close loved ones and headed to some beautiful island. It´s vacation, wedding, and honeymoon all in one. Truth be told, it could be cheaper to just pay for a few of your friends or family to come along, than it is to plan a huge wedding and reception.
If you are planning on getting married in Florida now that we FINALLY have marriage equality, chances are your wedding is going involve more than just a ceremony. The ceremony´s the easy part. What about the party? Yeah, party…now we’re talking. Guest lists, food choices, location scouting, cake tasting, and millions and millions of other details that you will have to consider, even if you are having a small gathering of your intimate friends and family. Last year, I was lucky enough to get engaged to the man of my dreams and we have been planning our wedding ever since, so I wanted to share with you some things to think about as you plan your big day.
- To quote Danny Zuko’s pimple-faced enemy in Grease, “The rules are: there ain’t no rules.” Make you own traditions, follow your heart and plan your perfect day. As gay people, we are rarely “traditional” so why would our wedding be any different. If you want the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence to sing “Ave Maria” you can do it, and no one should stop you.
- Communicate with your partner — this will ensure that the wedding that you plan really represents both of you as a couple. He may not care to have the sisters on hand to scare his churchgoing aunts and uncles. Compromise is sometimes necessary — try remembering that when you’ve been fighting for four hours over calligraphy styles for the invitations. Those small details can sometimes seem important, but no one remembers them. Stick to your guns on more important matters. While designing our save the date cards, Alan had his favorite choice and I had mine. Neither of us wanted to back down. Rather than calling the whole thing off or making a big deal, we compromised…we ordered half and half. He got his favorite, I got mine and everyone wins!
- A budget. Set it and work your best to stick to it. The first thing you are going to find out is that if you want something for a wedding, you are going to pay a premium. You have to be realistic and work within your means. Delivery fees, labor costs, and gratuities can and will add up so make sure you consider them as you decide how to divide up your budget. There are spread sheets that are already prepared and websites like TheKnot.com have budget tools built in and will give you advice on how best to break down what you spend based on the total amount you are looking to put out.
- Plan, plan, plan. Know what you want and what you can afford and work from there. Alan and I knew that we didn’t want a cookie cutter wedding; we want to make our wedding a unique representation of us. Choosing A, B, or C is just not going to be personal enough for what we are looking for, so we designed the save the dates, and all aspects of the invitations. We booked a venue that is a beautiful waterfront home on 500 acres, but that meant that we have to have a separate caterer and rental agency and a slew of other vendors. The more people you are planning for, the more detailed your plan will need to be. How will guests get to the ceremony? From the ceremony to the reception? It is a great idea to work with a wedding planner, but it’s entirely possible that it’s just not in the budget, so you will have to do all the leg work yourselves like Alan and I are. Luckily for us, our caterer is taking care of all of the details for the party. Once the ceremony ends, she will take over, but she will be on-site all day.
- Don´t make any hasty decisions. Even if you are getting an amazing deal, stop to think things though. Whatever you are agreeing to, GET IT IN WRITING. If it’s not in the contract, chances are you aren’t getting it. Make sure you read all contracts, discuss the details with each other and then take any issues up with the vendor.
- Every time you make a decision, remember why you are doing this in the first place. The ultimate goal should be sharing your love for each other.
- Come out to all of your vendors. This seems silly, but it´s really important. There are still many people who are not comfortable with so you could come in contact with vendors who don´t want to provide a service for you just because of who you love. While in negotiations for a videographer, we came across a talented guy whose price was right! He was even recommended by our photographer. However, once we were chatting with he mentioned that he doesn’t believe in gay marriage and is devoutly Christian. He went on to tell us that he didn’t think his bias would show up in his work, and upon questioning him, he said he also didn’t think he would be uncomfortable shooting a gay wedding. I am just not willing to take that chance. You don’t want someone making rude comments which would make you and your guests uncomfortable. Better to be up-front and know before it’s too late.
No matter what type of wedding you have in mind, the key to planning any great party is making sure that it´s a reflection of the hosts. In this case, your wedding should be a representation of who you are as a couple. As you work through the details, always keep that as your guiding light. Don’t forget that it’s a showcase of your love, no matter how elegant or simple you decide to make your wedding, don’t forget that, in this case, it’s all about YOU.