When I graciously volunteered myself to be my brother and his fiancée’s wedding planner, I truly had no idea what that role had in store for me. Honestly, I only bestowed this position upon myself because these crazy kids had been engaged for literally three years without doing so much as setting a damn date, which is just not fair for everyone who’s waiting for the open bar to witness true love. However, my family and I finally started to realize that the reason the lovebirds hadn’t done jack sh*t after literal years of being engaged was because neither of them knew what the f*ck to do after she said yes. Great start to forever, y’all.

So, eight months after saying yes to the role of Most Amazing Sister Ever, I am nearly done with the so-called heavy-lifting of the wedding planning and have learned all of the ins, the outs and the sh*t no one tells you you’ll have to do when planning the best day of people’s lives. No pressure, right?

Flowers Do Not Matter

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Ok, that’s not entirely true, but the choice of florist doesn’t matter and that is a fact, so unless your florist is your mom or BFF from high school, do not @ me. Bottom line is you don’t need to pay a glorified gardener thousands of dollars to drape wisteria from the ceiling and throw a few hydrangeas in a mason jar to nail the effect of a luxurious garden party. During this exhausting and grueling process that aged me 30 years pleasant learning experience, I spoke to six florists, who all promised they could deliver on my coveted perfectly imperfect English wildflower vibe, and they weren’t lying. My inbox was soon overflowing with beautiful photos of cascading flower boxes, centerpieces, bridal bouquets and greenery, but one thing differentiated them from each other: the price. One florist had the audacity to tell me her starting price is $9,000. I feel like even Kim Kardashian, whose wedding venue was literally built using flowers, would have told that florist to go f*ck herself. Look, I know arranging flowers is an art form, and fellow Whole Foods shoppers who have watched me try to navigate the mixed bouquets know I’m not being sarcastic when I say that, but as long as the flowers are like, alive during the wedding, there’s no need for a 6,000% markup. Can I get an AMEN please? Here’s how to spot the difference between a florist who wants to make your big day magical, and one who is using you to finance their fine dining habit. If a florist asks you questions about what kind of vibe you want to radiate via the flowers, what color schemes you like, different types of textures you prefer, etc., she/he is here for the right reasons and isn’t trying to steal your money. If a florist asks what your budget is before anything else, she/he just wants to find out immediately if you are willing to pay a disgusting amount of money for something you truly don’t need, such as the below. 

The Non-Glamorous Vendors Are Important

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The most stressful vendor I had to deal with was the one I thought would be the easiest: the rental company. My brother’s wedding is going to be at our childhood home, so we are kind of forgoing the inevitable venue drama, but a backyard wedding is not as simple as I thought it would be. Because we grew up on the muggy East Coast, there’s going to be a tent (highly recommend sailcloth because it’s thick, allows sunlight to stream through, and has a slight pearliness to it), flooring so no one ruins their Louboutins in the grass, lights (cafe lights so it feels like we are partying in Paris instead of Bethesda, Maryland) and, arguably the most important, a bar. Do you know how hard it is to fit all of this sh*t in a backyard? I thought I would just casually send an email to the rental company with the highest ratings on The Knot, have a preliminary call, then hire said company to design and build a beautiful, romantic scene in the place we once watched our dog eat a frog. Not at all how it happened. I spoke to not one, not two, but seven rental companies who each gave me their own slew of bullsh*t as to why they couldn’t work with the space provided. Excuse me? My childhood backyard is the place of dreams, so shut your mouth.

Anyway, after 17 phone calls and two site visits with Daryl, the event designer at the winning company, I now know everything about him and am kind of hoping he will just be my date at this point, since we have had more exchanges in the past eight months than I’ve had with my boyfriend. I know this backyard situation is kind of a unique one, but these kind of non-glamorous issues always take center stage at any wedding, even if it’s at a hotel. Side note to prove my point: a family friend was planning a wedding at the Four Seasons in Palm Beach (lol, same), AKA there should be zero mistakes made on the hotel’s event planning team because it’s the Four f*cking Seasons, but LO AND BEHOLD the idiots who have the nerve to call themselves hotel managers completely forgot about the upcoming wedding and started hotel renovations three weeks before the big day. I’m pretty sure the bride flew to Palm Beach to personally murder the entire hotel staff the day she found out. Everything ended up being fine, since Palm Beach is chock-full of five-star hotels, and the happy couple probably never has to pay for a stay at the Four Seasons ever again. Honestly, I’d take that deal, but my point is that it doesn’t matter where your wedding is, because this sh*t is inevitable, and will give you night sweats until the day is done.

You Have to Invite Everyone

Unless you’re having a destination wedding on Mars, you are required to invite everyone you’ve ever met, especially if they are technically family. Do the groom’s second cousins twice removed really need to enjoy what will likely be the best reception they’ve ever attended on my brother’s dime? Probably not, but do my parents want to be on the receiving end of passive-aggressive emails from them for the rest of time? Also, probably not. Look, it’s highly unlikely that randos like these will actually make it, but invitations aren’t free, y’all. It’s annoying, but you kind of have to suck it up.

Another issue no one warns about is spatial capacity. No, that’s typically not a legit concern if you are getting married in a giant ballroom, but if you aren’t one of the family members from Crazy Rich Asians and are getting married in a backyard, barn, brewery, etc., you actually have to limit the number of people invited without limiting the number of invitations actually sent. Math is hard. It is never one’s hope that people won’t show up to your party, but in the case of weddings, it’s kind of the dream. If everyone shows up, guests will be sitting on each other’s laps during dinner, throwing elbows on the dance floor, and stirring a big-ass pot of drama at the bar. If your wedding will have more than five people in attendance, it is inevitable that at least some of the people there will have drama with each other and you, the coordinator, will have to play mediator. Fuuuun. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Let me paint a picture for you: have you ever witnessed a recently divorced couple forced to exist in the same room? Yeah, not pretty. Add an open bar and a microphone lying around, and you’ve got yourself a wedding! I am expecting something like that scene from How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days when Andie Anderson grabs the mic and musically attacks Benjamin Barry (again, why?) to the tune of “You’re So Vain.” Pure gold, and to be expected at any wedding. 

Don’t Choose Stupid Favors

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Ok, so the thing about most weddings is there is a massive age gap. To clarify, I don’t mean that there is a mix of all ages. I mean half of the guests will be young enough to be posting Instagram stories throughout the night and the other half is so old that they use only their pointer fingers to type at a glacially slow pace. Of course, there will also be little kids sprinkled throughout, because we are now at the age when people get pregnant on purpose and bring their spawn to parties. So my point is, you can’t choose party favors that alienate half of the guests, like coozies or monogrammed slippers. Think of a gift that universally appeals to everyone, such as food and alcohol in cute packaging. For instance, mini Champagne bottles with a custom label and tiny boxes of cookies, or single stemmed flowers in mercury glass bud vases, or even mini candles and personalized matchboxes. Just please, God, no more succulents, bags of candy, or flip flops. Another cute idea that I stole directly from Friends is to put a few polaroid cameras on each table for guests to play with during the boring beautiful toasts.

Book The Most Expensive Vendors First

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Brides tend to rush to BHLDN to lock down the dress like the second they get engaged, but honestly, there are about a million more important things that need to be handled at the onslaught of the engagement that take precedence over the dress. Assuming you aren’t a member of the royal family, you have a budget for the wedding, so don’t tackle the little things like favors, florals, and the cake first, because you are in for a rude awakening at closing time, when you have to put a gigantic deposit down for the caterers and have no money left. The thing is, everyone needs to eat, and if they are slightly buzzed at dinner time, they will likely eat more than usual and you will have to pay for their drunk munchies in spades. If you run out of money before you get the catering proposal in your inbox, good luck informing your guests that dinner will consist of chicken breast and a single string bean. Unlike the caterers, the smaller vendors, such as the florist and cake baker can be downsized without sacrificing the quality or quantity of the product. Unless you’re Blair Waldorf, you don’t need to cover every inch of the table in peonies, or have a 17-tiered cake. That doesn’t mean the centerpieces will be garbage, it just means they will be full of other beautiful stems that don’t cost $20 a pop. Let’s be real, no one actually looks at the flowers for more than a few seconds anyway. As far as the cake goes, it literally never tastes good. It tastes more like stale fondant because it’s been sitting out for an entire day and isn’t actually meant to be enjoyed for purposes other than slamming it in the newlyweds’ faces. Feel free to opt for something guests will actually want to shovel into their mouths after hours of sweating it out on the dance floor, like layers of donuts or cupcakes with a legit cake as the top tier. It’s delicious and cheap, my friends.

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