The 5 Most Common Wedding Planning Mistakes

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The early stages of wedding planning can, and should, be lots of fun. But it’s not uncommon that we see clients begin to second guess some of their initial decisions once they get a bit further into the process. I asked some of my favorite clients and wedding industry vendors for their insights and came up with a list of top wedding mistakes. Take these as a guide for how to avoid the common pitfalls.

The goal is to get you thinking. In the end, it's about love. And in the end, you're married! Remember the things that count, then trust your gut and go with your instincts.

5. Sweating the Small Stuff

Remember it's about you and your fiance committing to one another for a lifetime. Mom insisting you have a chocolate layer of cake? Just do it. Groom has to have the bartenders wear Philadelphia Eagles bowties? (True story) Why not? Maid of honor doesn't feel comfortable giving a toast? Let her off the hook. The happiest brides and grooms let the small stuff roll off their backs.

4. Trying to Please Everyone

It's impossible. If you are thinking this might be contradictory to "not sweating the small stuff," well, there is a fine line. Example: Many couples struggle with picking the "right" wedding date. Can Aunt Millie make it? Isn't Cousin Sarah's due date around that time? My college roommate can only come in the summer months! There is a 100 percent chance not everyone you invite will make it. So speak to those who are nearest and dearest to you, and pick a date that suits most.

3. Not Spending Enough for a Category Important to You

For some it's flowers or photography; others, food and beverage. Whatever your passion, I encourage you to find it and fund it. One of my favorite brides told me she wished she had spent more on the flowers and that the arrangements were bigger. Another bride told me she loved her photographer's personality but didn't love her photos; she went with that vendor anyway and regretted it.

If it is important to you, don't be afraid to splurge and cut out something else that might not be as important. Or, find a way to get the best, but in a limited quantity. For example, go for the high-end photographer, but maybe only reserve a six-hour package. Love the dramatic flower look? Get a fabulous florist and do amazing arrangements on half of the tables and do a glorious candle arrangement on the other half.

2. Not Taking the Good Advice of Your Professional Vendors

Vendors say one of their most common frustrations is couples who invested in their services but did not listen to their advice. This, too, is a fine line, as I believe the client knows her audience best. But if several vendors are telling you the same thing — you should strongly consider it.

I had a client with an outdoor wedding. Vendors told the client she needed more than just lights around the perimeter of the tent, but she went with basic lighting. All of the reception photos after sunset were in the dark.

I also had a photographer try to tell a client she needed time to get to the reception site before guests arrived to take pictures of the floral arrangements and linens. The client did not want to spend more for a second photographer and was unwilling to do photos before the ceremony. While we got many lovely photos during the reception, we were unable to get many shots with the beautiful table settings the bride had so carefully planned over 16 months.

1. Not Setting a Budget Before Setting Expectations

Two hundred guests for $10,000? Completely possible for a casual barbecue party. Expecting a plated dinner with china and steak? Think again.

Many clients decide on the guest list before they figure out what they can afford. Talk with your family and figure out the type of event you are comfortable hosting and then be sure your budget can handle it. Take the time to research reception sites and plug those numbers in a budget for the amount of guests you are expecting. Then research entertainment, flowers and photographers to see whether you can afford all of your top choices.

We had a client who was in love with a garden site at the tune of $6,000. But that meant she wouldn't have the DJ, photographer and decor she wanted. In the end, she chose a less expensive site at $2,000 and was able to get the vendors she loved. And most importantly, she was over-the-moon happy!

Raquel Shutt

Raquel Shutt is the owner of Wedding Savvy Inc., a premier full-service wedding planning company located in Annapolis. For more than 10 years, Wedding Savvy has been featured in many regional publications such as The Knot Magazine, The Washingtonian, and The Capital, as well as featured on We TV’s “Platinum Weddings.” Her firm has been recognized as one of the best by Weddingwire.com and Capital Gazette. Recently, Raquel was named one of Annapolis’ Finest 40 under 40 by Cystic Fibrosis as well as “People to Watch” by The Capital in 2009.