So I just want to say before I go into bullets that I am very happy with our decision to do the sandals wedding. Our wedding team, our photographer, videographer, and the amazing ladies who did our hair and make up seriously made our day extra special. I have never been to a sandals resort before this but I will definitely be going back and I know that Sandals Grande St Lucian will hold a special place in my heart for the rest of my life. The wedding and the whole vacation itself was life changing and magical. I wouldn’t change it for the world.
1. Embrace the Nerves
My girls and I got ready in the venue and had tons of snacks to eat the morning of, while the others were getting hair/makeup done. It was a very emotional morning, I was sooo nervous and kept crying and shaking… but as soon as we were pronounced husband and wife all my nerves instantly went away!
When I got into my dress, I had only my mom and sisters in the room with me which I loved, and then we did a surprise reveal to my bridesmaids it was a really cute moment!
1. Accept help!
My wedding was absolutely incredible, and would not have been that way without the help of my family, friends, and even some strangers! I was 1,300 miles away throughout the entire planning process, so allowing help was not an option for me. We didn’t have a coordinator, but everyone pitched in to plan, set up, and tear everything down.
1. Have the wedding that speaks to you.
Canmore Alberta is our favorite cozy mountain town, and getting engaged on the top of a mountain there made it the perfect place for us to get married. With Canmore being an 8 hour drive from home, it likely wasn’t a popular choice at first for many of our family and friends. Once we spotted the venue of our dreams, there was no going back, and we decided we would absolutely NOT settle on a different venue. Having a wedding in our hometown would have been the easy option, but we knew we would look back and regret not having the wedding of our dreams, in our favorite place.
1. Set a budget and Secure your Venue and Photographer ASAP!
The most important step in wedding planning is setting a reasonable budget. There are many apps like “Wedding Wire” and “The Knot” to assist you with budgeting and wedding timelines. Be reasonable with your budget. The worst thing is to start off your new union in debt! When your budget is set, you have an idea of the type of Venue and Photographer you could want for your special day. Do your research but try to book early, as most places are all booked up months or even years in advance.
1. Find your Budget! (and stick to it!)
As tempting as it is to just start planning, establishing a budget is an absolute must. Get everything out in the open with what you can spend and if your parents or future in-laws will contribute. If you aren’t happy with your budget, maybe that means a longer engagement. But just remember that there is an AMAZING wedding for every budget.
1. VIDEOGRAPHER- GET ONE!!!
Still photos provide an image of a moment in time, but wedding videos capture both movement and sound. With a wedding video, you’ll be able to hear your spouse gasp during your first look, your dad’s toast and your mom’s laughter. You’ll be able to watch your first kiss as newlyweds, your first dance, and your grandmother’s amazing dance moves. For as beautiful and artistic as still photos can be, they cannot capture motion or sound—which makes a wedding video a must-have.
1. YOU DO YOUR THING GIRL.
I spent a year planning our wedding and at the start it was a completely different vision. Halfway through, I realized that I was planning a traditional wedding that would be just like every other wedding I was at, even though it didn’t reflect what I had dreamt about my whole life. I am a free spirit and have my own unique tastes- I realized MY wedding wouldn’t be traditional. Some of the things I changed were: *I went from having all matching traditional bridesmaids dresses to having all different mis-matched patterened, non-traditional dresses * I changed the flowers from just some uniform smaller bouquets to bright, fun, crazy wildflowers spilling out from every which way.
1. Invite who YOU want to invite, not who everyone says you should.
We struggled with the guest list the most. We are in our mid to late twenties so we still have lots of close friends and family friends that definitely added up when it came down to invite them all. We had invited 190, 175 had RSVPed and 165 came. We were a little upset that people weren’t more considerate about the fact that we pre payed for the plates but it didn’t interfere with the day at all. It took us over a week to realize they were missing.
1. Decide what aspects of the wedding you want to splurge on and where you can save.
Early on in the wedding planning, we decided what aspects of the wedding were the most important to us. From there, we decided what we were going to need to spend the most money on and where we could cut corners. For example, we both decided we wanted a venue in downtown Chicago that was unique, so we allocated a large portion of our budget towards that. For the things that weren’t as important to us, such as, invitations, we saved money by going the DIY route. I made the invitations using a template off of Etsy and printed them on Vistaprint, which saved us tons!