To learn more, we turned to Amy Kaneko, event planner and designer based in San Francisco, and owner of Amy Kaneko Events, for some of her top planning tips -- that eliminate stress.
If you can afford it, Kaneko recommends enlisting the help of a professional wedding planner. “Although they're not as obviously necessary as a photographer, a good planner will absolutely be your most important vendor and strongest ally to guide you through a stressful and incredibly personal process,” she explains.
Knowing exactly what you can spend helps make the process easier -- and less stressful. “Before you book any vendors, have a very honest conversation about your wedding budget with your fiancé, your parents or anyone else who will be contributing,” Kaneko says. Decide on an amount that you’ll feel comfortable spending, as well as an absolute maximum. Make your decisions based on the lower amount because you will undoubtedly have unexpected costs, whether it is sales tax, last-minute guests or vendor overtime, she advises.
Be as accurate and as organized as possible about your guest count, rather than roughly estimating. This will help ease stress down the road. Kaneko suggests creating an Excel spreadsheet of who you would like to invite (include any plus ones and children who are invited). “Your actual guest count will likely be about 80 percent of this list,” she says. But once the list is nailed down, you can add your guests' mailing addresses and RSVP status so you have everything you need in one location.
It’s always nice to work with people you trust so Kaneko advises booking the very best vendors you can afford and then asking them to recommend other vendors they've worked with successfully. “This lowers the chance of surprises and miscommunications on your wedding day,” she explains.
Taking on projects yourself might seem like a good idea, especially if you’re trying to save money, but they’re often incredibly time-consuming, stress-inducing and unexpectedly pricey, Kaneko says. “Brides often do not factor in the labor needed to set up and take down their DIY décor, nor the space needed to store it and transport it,” she explains. By focusing on a few manageable elements (escort cards, menus, place cards, etc.), couples can put their artistic touch on their wedding without losing their sanity.
Spend the money on an amplified ceremony to ensure you get heard. “It's a shame when nobody can hear you say your vows of eternal love, so spend the cost on a microphone and speaker system, or, better yet, a wireless lavaliere for the officiant and the groom,” Kaneko advises. “This is a crucial element and, if you need to cut something out of the budget, I think it is much more important than take-home favors.”
If you find yourself getting overwhelmed by the wedding planning process, take a break. “Spend a few days with your fiancé and make it a point not to discuss any wedding decisions,” Kaneko says. Sometimes it is important to re-focus your mindset and remember that your wedding is, after all, a celebration of your love.”
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