Bride and Groom

As a child, I never dreamed about my wedding day, despite having watched almost all Disney movies and their happily-ever-afters (though the heroines back then weren’t branded as “Princesses”). I didn’t even have an opinion on wedding dresses,  even though I had sewn two for my Barbie (both were hideous, but still one was “avant garde”…it had a touch of green!). When a classmate of mine told me that he wanted to marry me (age 9 or 10) my reply was “ok, but not until I reach 33”. For the record I didn’t even date said classmate, but I came pretty close to that prediction…I got married 5 months shy of my 32nd birthday. Anyways…

When my husband proposed I didn’t go all out on Bridezilla mode. I knew one thing about our wedding: I wanted it to be classy and stylish and that’s exactly what our wedding was like, because my husband wanted the same thing! So if you have the same vision about YOUR wedding, stay tuned as over the month of February I’m giving out tips to brides to be, based on my personal (and my husband’s) experience, while sharing some snippets of our wedding photos!

Today’s post is all about planning, which I believe is the foundation of a successful wedding (well I didn’t study Business Administration for nothing). I got married last year and I must admit that the planning was a bit tedious, since it was (partly) a destination wedding. I got married in Crete, where my husband grew up and has lots of family. However we both lived in Athens, which is a 8 hour ferry ride from Herakleion (or a 30′ flight)! What happened is that every time we went to Crete for vacations (summer, Christmas, Easter plus an unplanned visit), we spent a lot of time looking for venues and hotels, or meeting with our photographer, videographer, florist, make up artist and so forth! There are certain things that can make things easier for you on that front, as I discovered from personal experience:

Wedding in St. Titus church, Herakleion, Crete

1) Get yourself a project manager fiance. I’m kidding! But if you are lucky enough to get one, use him! My husband helped a lot with the planning and communicating with vendors via phone calls and emails. I must admit I’m not the best person to compose nice emails (they are rather blunt) or get easily across what I like and don’t like! It’s also handy to have someone who knows how to handle time-frames and schedules, so that everything runs smoothly. For me, that was my husband, but that’s not necessary; if you have someone in your family who’s a good organizer and cool-headed, ask for help!

2) Book as early as possible the vendors there is a “scarcity” for!  It is always useful to have done some research prior to setting a date and know what you want. After we booked the venue (and the church for the ceremony), we went ahead and booked the photographer and videographer on the spot. You have to do that especially when you want specific venue/photographer/florist…you name it. As soon as you find something you really like, do not hesitate. There is an abundance of excellent professionals out there, and if you fret too long over which one to choose, you’ll discover that by the time you’ve made your mind, they’re all gone! True story: a bride changed her wedding date (she was supposed to get married the same day as us) in order to get our photographer!

3) Get to Pinterest, but with caution! I used Pinterest as an inspiration for 4 things: hair, make up, centerpieces and wedding cake. Although looking for wedding dresses and shoes is ok, there is no guarantee that pinning a photo of a dress will be any use; you must be able to find it! If you live in a place where you can actually do that, well, lucky you! I found my shoes in some way through Pinterest, but that’s another story! Just bear in mind that there is a chance that you won’t find everything you see on Pinterest! For example, I wanted pink and peach hued dahlias for my decoration and bouquet, but guess what: I couldn’t find any, since the florist could only find white dahlias in the Greek market; most people prefer white flowers for their wedding.

4) Decide on a color theme. My husband heard those two words (color theme) so many times, he can’t even! I’m not the type of person who would like a theme wedding general like nautical, or vintage or even Great Gatsby (blame it on the movie)! A color theme is all I wanted as a guideline for a) invitations b) wedding favors c) flower decorations (at church/reception area/bouquet/bridal car). In the end, the only thing that didn’t “fit” with the theme, was the groom’s tie…but what the heck!

Wedding in St. Titus church, Herakleion, Crete

5) Book rooms for guests. If you’re planning an out-of-town wedding, booking rooms for the guests is an essential part of the process. For starters you’ll need a pretty sound estimation of how many people are going to attend. If that’s not possible, then you’ll have to consider your budget: if no-shows will be charged at your expense and you’re already tight, it’s better to err on the side of caution and underestimate a bit. Then, you’ll have to search for  suitable hotels and ask for special offers. Make sure that you ask about cancellation policies; you want to know beforehand what happens with guests not showing up and whether you personally have to foot the bill.

6) Meet with the photographer/videographer before the wedding. I never would have thought about that, if our photographers hadn’t proposed a meeting almost 6 months ahead of the big day (conveniently enough, we were in Crete for Christmas holidays and another wedding). We arranged an additional meeting with the photographers and the videographer about 2 months before the wedding. We talked about wedding photography (and videography), but mostly chatted about irrelevant stuff! The purpose of these meetings is twofold: a) you get to know them so that you’ll feel more comfortable come wedding day b) they get to know you and your style, and they are much more aligned to your taste! Eventually we we came to regard them not just as people who worked for us, but as friends and guests.

7) As far as the venue is concerned: try out the food beforehand. Choosing the right venue for the wedding reception is a decision not to be taken lightly! You want a nice place, with delicious food that will please you and your guests. Pay special attention to food; it’s by far the most essential part of the reception. If the food is superb, nobody will complain about the place or the small dancing floor; if it’s below par, nobody will remember the cool garden or the beautiful decorations. A common practice in Greece (not sure about the rest of the world) is to try out different dishes, most commonly those you have already ordered for your reception, or those you are seriously considering. It is essential to try the food yourself and/or ask other people who have been in the venue before. Apart from the food it is good to know how the reception’s procession “rolls” and adjust it to your needs!

8) Take a few weeks off work before the wedding to plan last minute issues. I cannot stress this enough. My husband took 2 weeks off (while I took 1) to get things done and make sure everything would go as planned, especially with the florist (who had procured the flowers for the arrangements and created some “drafts”), the cake and many more!

P.S. All photos are from Hanna Monika Wedding Photography. If you plan a destination wedding in Crete, Hanna and Slavomir are the best photographers you can find!

Check out the rest of my wedding posts: 6 Tips for Beautiful Wedding Decorations, 7 Bridal Hair and Make Up Tips, 3 practical questions to ask yourself when choosing your Wedding Dress

Bride and Groom