Wedding Lessons Learned (And Some Life Ones)

I spent the better part of a year planning my wedding, and now that it is all over and I’ve hung up my Zilla crown, I want to share some of my learnings with all the bride-to-be’s out there. I sat down and thought about for a while all the things that I discovered that I wish I had known all along – and voila, found that a lot of them applied to my life after wedding as well. I hope this helps some of you, and please share some of your favorite lessons in the comments!

Google Docs – your best friend 

1. Be organized. Start with just one central place where you store all your information – guest list, addresses, attending, not attending, etc, and then just continue to update it. Don’t have 5 different lists for food choices, thank you cards, etc, and then try to merge them all together at one point because you will tear out all of your hair, stress the eff out and then go start a fight with your fiance because he “looked at you in an unusual way that implied he thought you were getting fat.” I recommend Google Docs – that way you can always update it from any computer (and during lunch breaks at work).

I was able to write about ~half of these before the wedding!

2. Spread out the work. Even if you hire a wedding planner extraordinare like I did, who takes on a lot of the heavy lifting, there is still a ton of work associated with a wedding, especially in the last month or so preceding it, and in the week after. Spread it out. Don’t procrastinate, and do what you can now. An example of something I did to space out the work, was write thank you cards as soon as the gift came in –  if a guest RSVP’d yes I cheated and included a note about “how great it was to see you at the wedding!” Shhh.

3. Eliminate stress and don’t look back. I’m going to tell you all a little dark secret from my wedding: I “fired” a bridesmaid. I know you are all into little gory details like I am but I’ll have to keep the reasons why private for now. It was a really emotional decision and it probably cost me the friendship (though I hope not) – but it was the right thing to do. The amount of stress, negative energy, and just time that it saved me was invaluable and so much better for my mental state, and probably the former bridesmaid’s as well. You will already spend so much time and stress on the regular wedding process – eliminate any other points of stress that you can along the process. Just do it now, seriously.

I personally knew I didn’t want a cake – these were two options I looked at, both cheaper too than a traditional wedding cake! 

4. Follow your gut and save money. There were certain “traditional” wedding items that just didn’t speak to us – so we eliminated them and saved money. For me, it was details like the veil (didn’t wear one), getaway car (borrowed my stepfather’s fancier car), and cake (cupcakes are soo much cheaper!) I know that for some of you, veils are important and you may not have family members that you can steal from. But never let tradition stop you from finding creative ways to save some moola.

5. Take some time out for yourself. This is especially important during the last week before the wedding, when you will have out of town guests, a ton of bills due, and last minute wedding errands you’re finishing up. What Mr. Feather and I did was tell everybody that we had other dinner plans every night before the wedding – but in reality, we just stayed home and watched TV, and relaxed.

6. Spend money on the honeymoon. Let me put it bluntly – your wedding will be between 5-12 hours, and most of the money will be spent feeding all your hungry guests and displaying for them overpriced floral arrangements which half will not notice, and the other half will try to steal on the way home. It will fly by so fast and you won’t remember a lot of it. On the other hand, the honeymoon is likely going to be 2-3 weeks, you will be feeding yourselves, and it will be one of the longer vacations you will ever take with your new spouse. Spend some money on yourselves and never sacrifice the honeymoon for the wedding. Just my opinion.

Unfortunately due to stress – this little tool was very handy, and widely used before the wedding

7. Finally again – RELAX. I know I keep emphasizing this, but it’s because I definitely stressed myself OUT before the wedding. And it really wreaked havoc – not only on my personal life and balancng priorities, but also on my skin! Yes, for all you brides out there – if my pleas for your personal life were not compelling enough, hopefully my pleas targeting your vanity will be! I hadn’t broken out for three years or so, but the month before the wedding, I had the worst break outs of my LIFE. I directly blame at least two of those bad boys on a “guests bringing surprise child last minute to adult only wedding” situation.  Even when things drive you up the wall…take a deep breath and calm down…and if you do get a zit, this Kate Sommerville formula worked wonders for me.

Okay all – I hope this helped some of you out there. I would love to hear some of your lessons learned while wedding planning – and I’m sure other ladies out there would love to as well!

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  • Adele
    November 8, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    Great advice! Love how you took control xoxo

  • Michelle
    November 8, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    this is all really great advice. looking back there's a bridesmaid i should have fired. oh well. your wedding was so beautiful and elegant – your organizational skills totally paid off!

  • Make Mommy Chic
    November 8, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    I love your honesty! It's amazing how much preperation goes into literally a few hours of one of the most important days of your life. I agree with the firing of a bridesmaid, if it has to be done it has to be done. And the most important part of a wedding is to have FUN, it's your day, don't spend it by stressing and crying over someone messing up the seating plan 🙂

  • Cindy
    November 8, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    hahaha this line made me laugh so much – "looked at you in an unusual way that implied he thought you were getting fat." great tips and I'll definitely be bookmarking this page….for ten years time haha 🙂 your wedding was absolutely gorgeous from the photos and best of luck for the future! 🙂

  • NatalieCottrell
    November 8, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    I love this! As much as I love weddings, the thought of my own is quite intimidating because of all the hoopla. But you've given some great tips here, and I love that you put the well-being of your relationship before the big fiesta. 🙂

  • Alena: Oh, It's Just Perfect!
    November 8, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    fabulous, fabulous tips. sending this to all my soon-to-be-brides. i definitely have to agree with the kate somerville tip too 🙂

  • MissA*
    November 8, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    Great tips! 😉 I didn't wear a veil on my wedding day and I only had one bride maid, that's my sister.

  • Rubiiee
    November 8, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    Oh man, I stress out already when planning events. I cannot imagine planing a wedding. =/

  • homestilo
    November 8, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    Looks like the complete list for the bride to be! (and where did you go on your honeymoon if you don't mind my asking?)

  • rolala
    November 8, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    Organization is definitely key to wedding planning. I was married in Vegas so we managed to escape some wedding trappings. Having to just plan for a reception is not that bad.

  • Baby Shopaholic
    November 8, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    These are some great tips! I planned my wedding in 3 months but I was pretty laid back about everything and I had a wedding planner.

  • Sarah @ Pencil Skirts and Lattes
    November 8, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    great post, doll!! and this does certainly apply to life in general. so many brides focus on the wedding and not the marriage it's sad. great post!


  • Ella Pretty Blog
    November 8, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    Ha ha – this list was so funny! My sister also fired a bridesmaid the night before the wedding – she was all attitude-y about her outfit and wasn't helping out with any wedding stuff AT all. I think it was a good call because that friend was a "me me me" person and not a great friend to have.

    So many people I know break out before their wedding – but luckily they look flawless on the day – phew! I was lucky because my mother planned my wedding (she volunteered and I love her taste anyway) so I just sat back and enjoyed 🙂 And for our honeymoon we went to the Maldives for 2 weeks, which was the most relaxing thing ever!

  • Bravoe Runway
    November 8, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    This is a great post and if I get married in another 25 years I'll be sure to remember these tips. Also…do you want to trade your Chanel Jacket for my Burberry skirt?? lol!

  • Chic 'n Cheap Living
    November 8, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    Great tips and I definitely did a few of those when we (ahem I) planned our wedding. Google Docs rocks, bridesmaid drama does not. I first wrote about this on the blog and then decided to keep it private when random strangers started berating me. Either way, you have to do what feels right for your wedding and prioritize time and money!

    Chic 'n Cheap Living

  • LC
    November 8, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    these are great tips i`m going to have to bookmark (`cause i`m probably not even getting married in the next 3 years! argh to the boyfriend!)

  • skippysays
    November 8, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    Great advice Katherine! Unfortunately for me, some of it is easier said than done. How do you not stress out when a few days before the adult only wedding someone says they're brining their kid and you have to say no (oh yeah, that happened to me to), or someone RSVPs that they and their BF of 2 weeks are coming when the invite was only addressed to one person and did not include a "plus one?" Ugh, people. But I think wedding etiquette can be hard for those who haven't planned a wedding sometimes- they simply don't know what is and is not ok.

  • Sara Szatmary
    November 8, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    GREAT info. I just forwarded this on to my good friend who is getting married in August. I KNOW she will love this since she's still in the beginning stages of planning.

  • Samantha
    November 8, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    LOL @Zilla crown! This is such good advice (for life in general too)! 🙂

  • Susan
    November 8, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    That's so funny what you wrote on your thank you cards for some guests who RSVP'ed yes! I should have thought of that.. although I had guests who RSVP'ed and then didn't show up (argh.) Oh well, we also had wedding crashers, so I guess it balanced itself out.

    I wish I had read the Google Doc advice when planning my wedding. I had so many folders, lists, templates, that I lost track of the updated files.

    And I definitely agree about spending time for each other! My husband and I were crazy doing our marriage license, hosting out of town guests, etc. While most of our out of town guests understood how stressed we were and were pretty independent, some of our guests were constantly asking us for help, to drive them around, find housing for them, etc. My husband couldn't say no, because he felt bad that they traveled so far to attend our wedding. At the end of the day though, everything worked out, and I'm so thankful! 🙂

  • Jess
    November 8, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    Great advice! And totally agree on the honeymoon… glad we went all out!

  • just tututiny
    November 8, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    These are great advice K! I love planning and organizing events. I don't mind the hassle and stress. When I got married 6 years ago I did everything by myself, we were young and just graduated from college so everything was DIY to save money. My friends always tell me they break out when they plan these stuff, I should recommend the KS formula for them!

  • Lindsay
    November 8, 2011 at 7:12 pm

    Thanks for all the tips. I've definitely encountered a lot of these already. Luckily we're eloping and eliminate the majority of the stress. We're also combining the elopment and the honeymoon so we get to spoil ourselves for a few weeks!

  • carlinha
    November 8, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    so spot on kat!!!

  • SassyUptownChic
    November 8, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    This is excellent advice! I've never been married, but would definitely follow these tips. It makes sense!!! Great post girl. 😀

  • K
    November 8, 2011 at 7:39 pm

    Thankfully, this is still a long way off in the future for me … Out of curiosity, Katherine, what did you say/do to the guests who illicitly brought along their kids? Did you let the kids stay, or toss 'em onto the sidewalk? 'Cause knowing me (cough), the latter choice would've looked mighty attractive …

  • Sunny & Star
    November 8, 2011 at 7:50 pm

    My sister is going to start planning her wedding soon. I think this info would be very helpful to her so I will be directing her to your blog. 🙂

  • Sunny & Star
    November 8, 2011 at 7:50 pm

    My sister is going to start planning her wedding soon. I think this info would be very helpful to her so I will be directing her to your blog. 🙂

  • Katherine
    November 8, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    @KOH! Now you've done it, this is a long saga for me – hahaha jk! Honestly they were kind of bizarre and we let them bring their baby – but their behavior at the wedding and after was kind of insane, I haven't talked to them since. I blame my husband for introducing these unstable elements because they were his friends, LOL.

  • katattack2000
    November 8, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    These are awesome tips! Thanks so much for sharing and your honesty! I will keep this in mind for future reference 🙂
    I love cupcakes better than wedding cake too so I'm glad its cheaper hehe as we know weddings cost a fortune

  • Chocolate, Cookies & Candies
    November 8, 2011 at 10:18 pm

    These are fantastic and invaluable advice! I wish I knew all this 11 years ago! I should've been more firm with people because I managed to let a few stampede all over me.

  • Chocolate, Cookies & Candies
    November 8, 2011 at 10:18 pm

    These are fantastic and invaluable advice! I wish I knew all this 11 years ago! I should've been more firm with people because I managed to let a few stampede all over me.

  • Call me M
    November 8, 2011 at 11:15 pm

    These are some great tips! Thank you so much for sharing them with us. I'll keep them in mind, for my own wedding some day! 🙂
    Thank you so much for your comment on my blog!

  • Bianca
    November 8, 2011 at 11:34 pm

    thank u for the advice i dont need it yet, but i could place this for when i finally get ready to make the jump.

    i like the focus on RELAXING i often worry i wont like my own wedding because ill be stressed. XD

  • Hilary
    November 9, 2011 at 12:13 am

    great post! great advice! i need to write a 'what i learned' post too, to look back on 🙂

  • Marily
    November 9, 2011 at 1:55 am

    I'll have to save this for future refence:)

  • Anonymous
    November 9, 2011 at 2:18 am

    I fired a bridesmaid too. It cost me the friendship. Looking back, I wish I had ended the friendship a long time ago. She was a frenemy and her jealousy and negativity were too much to handle. Sometimes it has to be done!!

  • Katherine
    November 9, 2011 at 2:27 am

    @Anonymous Wow, the firing of bridesmaids (or wishing so) is more common than I thought – yes I agree, sometimes it just has to be done..

  • Tangled In Texas
    November 9, 2011 at 2:46 am

    Great advice! I don't know that I'd change anything about our love story, but I do lament that I didn't stand up for myself enough and soon enough!

    I guess my advice for other brides would be just to make it about y'all. Y'all as in: the bride and the groom. Don't do stuff for everyone else. Do what makes y'all happy. A marriage is about so much more than just the wedding day.

    Read more about Our Love Story here:

  • Anna G
    November 9, 2011 at 4:07 am

    I'm going to keep all these in mind whenever I have to start planning a wedding. It's crazy to already have an idea of a wedding because I don't even have a boyfriend.

  • JustPatience
    November 9, 2011 at 4:51 am

    Great advice.


  • cryskay
    November 9, 2011 at 6:03 am

    such a great post w/ lots of helpful tips. if/when i do get married, i just want to elope! i dont think i can deal w/ planning a wedding.

    btw, how is erdikate? been meaning to try it. have you tried mario badescu's drying lotion? it looks similar. xx

    November 9, 2011 at 6:32 am

    haha totally agree. PLANNING is always the most important part, whether its the budget, getting all the invites sent, ensuring EVERYTHING has been booked and organised well in advance… not that I have personal experience lol but it seems the case for everything else in life teehee ^_^ Nice run-down hun. Will have to keep myself with this checklist when I get to that stage =)


  • Natasha
    November 9, 2011 at 7:51 am

    This is amazing advice. Just ordered Kate's spot rx. Can't wait to try it!!

  • La Professionnelle
    November 9, 2011 at 8:30 am

    Great tips for sure!

    Btw, every time I see a macaroon now I think of your wedding!! I can imagine your guests get many flashbacks!! 🙂

  • Viv
    November 9, 2011 at 9:07 am

    Hi Kat, the reason I keep returning to your blog is because I love your fashion style and there is also so much other advice that I learn along the way 🙂

  • couturecoco
    November 9, 2011 at 10:29 am

    Such GREAT advice! I totally agree with applying them to normal life and identify with 'firing' your bridesmaid because there was a former friend I had to fire. I'm a typical Taurean, loyal to the (bitter) end but it was something I just had to do.

  • Katherine
    November 9, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    @Viv That is so kind of you to say! I'm glad you like it and please let me know if you have any suggestions 🙂

    @cryskay I like it – I actually bought it when trying to find the Badescu lotion and the lady at the counter told me to buy this one instead – I'm sure they are very similar!

  • signature mix
    November 9, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    I shared this with a friend who just started planning her wedding and she so appreciated the advice!

  • alicia
    November 9, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    ahh makes me want to plan a wedding 😉 and I love Kate Somerville's products!

  • blondieesquire
    November 9, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    I love this post. I had a completely non-traditional wedding and loved every minute of it. You have to do what's right for you!

  • peach_
    November 10, 2011 at 7:24 am

    Thanks for the tips! I've bookmarked this for when/if I'll need it. I didn't know Google Docs has wedding planning templates! How cool, geeky, and perfectly organized! 😀

  • Tanya
    November 14, 2011 at 2:01 am

    These are some awesome tips – thanks for posting them. They might come in handy… some day 😉

  • The Blonde @ Stylish3
    November 14, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    Great tips! Wish I'd read this before I started planning my wedding, haha. I definitely feel like after my experience I'm qualified to write a book about what NOT to do when planning your wedding 🙂

  • Anonymous
    September 3, 2012 at 9:30 pm

    Great post Katherine! I love your honesty and budget savvy ideas 🙂
    <3 Irene