ToastPopGirl’s Wedding Planning Advice

ToastPop was initiated twelve years ago. James and I were young college students blogging about things that interested us, as well as other college students and young adults. A lot has changed for me, James, and the world in that time, but not our passion for writing and young adult interests. We’re young at heart. If anything, I’d say we’ve become better writers and content creators while we’ve grown up, put college behind us, and established ourselves in jobs/careers/adult life. 

For instance, I got married in 2022! I’m far from the accredited Huffington Post journalist or blogging influencer I imagined I was starting this gig way back when. Even now, ToastPop has had over two-thousand views on its better days, but I hope somewhere in the mix are some current or future brides/married partners-to-be looking for advice on planning a wedding with minimal stress.  

ToastPop Girl is all grown up and married!

Marriage Matters Most 

The key thing to remember is that the marriage itself is what matters most. Wedding planning is planning out the day dedicated to celebrating love and unity between two people who have decided to commit the rest of their lives to one another. It may entail either a ceremony, reception, or both. However, the legal/religious act of marriage can happen just as easily at the courthouse as it can in a church or some other venue and with or without excess pomp and circumstance. It’s all up to what you and your future spouse wants. I’ll allude to that idea a lot, by the way.

Yes, it’s one of the biggest milestones and decisions of your life, one you and your spouse will remember for a long time. It’s just one day though, organized as the two of you wish. Not every day will be as blissful as that one day, but a healthy relationship between you and your spouse will go a long way when the days are mundane or rough. 

A few words about the proposal

Just in case you’re not at that point yet or you think it’s coming soon…I’d say that the proposal act in itself has its own specialness and memorability, no matter where, when, and how it’s done. My husband proposed to me in my tiny apartment kitchen/dining room and I still remember the butterflies I got when he went down on one knee.

The asking part should be so much easier if you and your partner are all-in committed to spending your lives together in that way. You still may be nervous just doing it or experiencing it, so don’t make it any more work than necessary. You can get a “secret” photographer, go to a special place, and have a special evening if you and your partner want, but don’t overstress too many of the details or some of the magic might get lost.

One of my engagement photos

Planning the big day

If you are wondering when the best day and time will be to have your wedding, discussions will be a dime a dozen and I’m sure there are arguments for almost every month of the year. So I think the date is best determined by the wishes and needs of you and your spouse-to-be. Some mutual agreement or compromise will need to be found early when deciding when the big day will be, among other things. 

The same mentalities should be used if you’re considering special parts within the ceremony, like special music, lighting candles, pouring sand jars, reciting customized vows or speeches, throwing rice, releasing doves, etc. They may be trendy and appealing to you but your partner may feel differently, if not uncomfortable with particular add-ins. They may also entail more time, energy, and resources into the big day, and your ceremony guests have to sit through them as well. I don’t intend to discourage what you and/or your spouse want but those are just things to keep in mind. Remember the focus is on celebration more than performance. Also, the simpler the ceremony, the less stress, and pressure there will be. 

The next important consideration is any logistics behind your intended event, like travel, booking desired venues, catering, entertainment, etc. Taking practical steps early to secure the services or venues early is very beneficial. You may need to save some money to afford them. Some may require bookings several months or a year in advance for the best service. With an early connection, the business can plan for/around your big day, or if they can’t, you have ample time to nail down a backup plan. 

The early start definitely served me well. I connected with a caterer I liked in either late 2020 or the early months of 2021—over a year and some months before my wedding. They couldn’t commit to me right away, so I stayed in touch with them until something could be determined for sure. By June or July, I was told there was a scheduling conflict on my intended date, and the other booking had precedence. Since I found out when I did, I had plenty of time to make arrangements with another service. 

A couple other takeaways from this anecdote would be to have multiple options on hand if you can in case your first one doesn’t work out. Be open, flexible, and reasonable as you establish your event needs. So hopefully no huge sweat if one commitment falls through or you and/or your partner are indecisive. The other choices could be a plan B. 

Having a wedding planner/calendar was a big help too, as it outlined the ideal time frames for completing wedding-planning-oriented tasks. I checked boxes and kept notes as things developed. I had a big one with a couple folder pockets, so I was able to keep close anything else that helped me make decisions and remember particular details. I held onto the emails I exchanged with businesses, I wrote down any questions I had and answers I got, I kept printouts of rental policies and procedures, maybe a few menus and receipts too. It went with me almost everywhere so I could stay on top of things when I had a free moment. 

My family and community support was the biggest help of all though. I always imagined my family and friends being involved in my wedding and I suppose I’m very blessed that it was easily a reality. My mother was practically my second-in-command for the ordeal. She was very helpful, yet not overbearing. She gave me the wedding planner and suggested a photographer and someone to hem my dress. She planned my bridal shower, and the creative Alice in Wonderland theme was the brainchild of hers and the cousin who decorated for me (see following pics). My officiant was also my church pastor and premarital counselor. The youth pastor was my AV person. I knew both pastors’ kids through the children’s programs and they were really excited to be a part of things too! Their mothers helped get them ready as well. Another cousin played piano during the ceremony and a family friend played for the reception. Even my sister’s boyfriend got wrangled in, picking up the reception desserts because the bakery I ordered from didn’t deliver. 

I hope other brides/married partners-to-be have a reliable network of people that are able to assist and have their backs. Wedding planning is one more thing to do on top of earning paychecks, paying bills, and whatever else fills life. So any task delegation or advice can take one less thing off the busy plate. 

Other Tips:

  • Watch for wedding expos or bridal shows in your area to get ideas and connect with various wedding-related businesses in the area. 
  • Services like Zola and The Knot provide a lot of necessities for wedding planning. You can use them to manage a wedding website, guest lists, RSVPs,  registries, create invitations, find vendors, get gifts, favors, or accessories for your party, and more! They’re even available as apps so you can plan from your phone or tablet. 
  • Ideas if you’re budget-conscious: when you start talking about wedding planning, there is a chance someone you know may have unused or gently-used flowers, decor, or other items to share. You might even luck out at a yard sale or on Mercari
  • Try being your own DJ. Most music services allow you to make your own setlist or offer ones curated specially for weddings. (Making your own can be fun if you and/or your partner love music. I have the “ultimate” wedding playlist on Spotify, BTW.)  All you’ll need is a speaker or sound system compatible with the primary device. 
  • Check with the courthouse or appropriate municipal offices to see if or how any of these apply: City-owned venues, like community centers, may offer discounts to city residents. Some places may return your deposit if their rules are followed and their facility is cleaned to their standards after the event. When applying for a marriage license, proof of pre-marital counseling may grant a slight discount, and the fees may vary between states and counties, or even for residents and non-residents. 
  • Consider showing your ceremony online. Wedding/event planning embraced online showings in the COVID/post-COVID world, but the option can also help distant guests feel included if they cannot attend in-person for different reasons. 

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