To Feed or Not to Feed…That is the Question…

I have seen several articles online written about whether or not a wedding couple should provide their vendors with a meal or not.  Personally, I don’t understand where the confusion lies when it comes to this matter.  I feel it’s pretty simple and sort of a common-sense matter, but nevertheless, there are still many articles that continue to debate this.  Some say yes, you should feed your vendors, some say no, you are paying them, you shouldn’t have to feed them too.

Since I have seen so many of these articles lately and the responses, beliefs and practices all seem to differ, I felt it important enough for me to chime-in with what I feel is the only correct answer to these questions that are so eluding to everyone.  For me, it’s just a common sense thing…if you put yourself in the vendor’s perspective.  Here is how we answer the questions:

Do you require a meal break?  If yes, do you require that the wedding couple provide your meal?

Yes, we do require a meal break.  Although we do not require you to provide us with a meal, we would greatly appreciate it if you did.  We really LIKE food!  Especially during a long day of working.  At most every wedding reception we work, we are each provided with a vendor meal.  This is the norm at  most reception venues.

If you do not plan to provide us with a meal, we just need to know this prior to your wedding day, so we can plan accordingly and bring our own food.  Our team works incredibly hard throughout your wedding day.  We can get pretty hungry during an 8 – 12 hour day of shooting.  You wouldn’t want to work all day long without eating would you??  So, all we ask is that you let us know whether you plan to provide each of us with a meal, or not.

How many breaks do you usually take throughout the day?

We may rest briefly at times during the day if there is downtime, or during dinner time, but otherwise, we are continuously working throughout the day and evening.

Plain and simple – right?  It’s a simple matter of communication.  If you are going to provide us with a meal, let us know.  If you are not going to provide us with a meal, let us know.  That way we will know what to expect and what to do.

So that should answer these questions for anyone and everyone who keeps wondering what they should do.   Communicate with your vendors and also with your reception venue, so that they know exactly how many vendor meals to provide, if you have chosen to feed your vendors during your wedding reception.  And if you have chosen to feed us….thank you very much in advance! 🙂

The Honeymoon is over…after 90 days!

(SPOILER ALERT) – Future Brides may not want to read this until after your wedding day.  This is what really happens after your wedding day…

As your wedding day approaches, so does all the excitement about your big day!  All that planning and preparation comes together to create one amazing celebration, filled with little moments and big memories that will last a lifetime.  Your wedding day celebration is the talk of the town, the next big thing and what everyone is looking forward to sharing with you.  One amazing day and one amazing night with one amazing couple. YOU!

(Fast Forward)

Now, your wedding day has come and gone and yes indeed, it was everything you could have dreamed of and more.  But what happens now?  What happens after your wedding day?  Sadly, as each day goes by, little by little the newness and excitement about your amazing wedding begins to wear off…and then it’s back to business as usual. Reality and life sets in.

The question is…how long does this joy, love, excitement and newness of your wedding last?  How long after your wedding day are you still in the Limelight?  How long will it be before your friends and family are no longer sooo excited about your wedding and everything related to it?  Well, I believe the answer is different for different people.  It really depends on who you ask.  Your close friends and family will all likely have a different response to this question.  But how about the guests who attended your wedding?  How long will it be for them before they are “over it”?  Ask them and I bet some of the responses may make you laugh!  Ask yourself too.  How long before you are over it and no longer want to do “wedding stuff” anymore?

You may be wondering why I’m even bringing this up?  Well, now that I have you thinking about how others feel about your wedding, after it’s over… here’s why I bring it up. How long after your wedding day do you think your wedding vendors will still be excited about your wedding day?  (Florist, Priest or JP, Limo Driver, Cake Vendor, DJ, Venue Coordinator, Photographer, Videographer) Again, if you were to poll these other wedding vendors, the response would be a bit different for each of them. (kind of funny when you think about it – right?)  Can you picture any of your other wedding vendor’s excitement about your wedding, once the wedding day is over?  LOL

That’s what I really want to know…how long after your wedding day should (I, Me, Photographer) be excited about your wedding?  1 week?  – 1 month? – 6 months?  When is the “Honeymoon” period of your wedding day over for your photographer?  Well, while I can’t speak for anyone else, I can tell you that for me, the Honeymoon is over…after 90 days.  In some cases, up to 180 days.  If you are reading this before your wedding day, this is also something to keep in mind when you are considering what the cost is for your photography or videography.  To my knowledge, no other wedding vendors are still working on your wedding between 90 – 180 days after that one amazing day.

The “honeymoon is over” sounds a bit cold…so let me try to explain this a little more.

BEFORE THE DAY:  Just as you are, we are SUPER excited about anything and everything related to your wedding!  We are looking forward to seeing and capturing every single moment we can find, in order to provide you with a series of images that will tell the story of your day and allow you and your friends and families to relive every amazing moment, again and again, each time you see your wedding album and other images.

WEDDING DAY:  On the day of your wedding we are full of energy throughout the whole day and we want to help make your day fun, stress free and beautiful.  We are down for whatever it takes to make your whole experience unforgettable and we want your friends, family and guests to also have an unforgettable day.

AFTER THE DAY:  3 weeks after your wedding day, we are still super excited about all the amazing moments we captured.  Your photos are now ready and we can’t wait to show them all to you, have you share them with your friends and family and we can’t wait to get started creating your gorgeous, amazing wedding album, wall portraits and other products you are going to order.  We can’t wait to blog about it and post some of our favorite pics on social media for all the world to see, as we wait for you to choose your wedding album selections. That’s when the waiting game begins, the fun starts to fade and reality sets in for us.

You see, here at our studio, we are very sure to inform each and every one of our wedding couples that they have only 90 days after their wedding to make their selections for their wedding album, gift prints and all other products from their wedding.  It is even stated in our wedding contract.  Now, some of you may say wow, 3 months is a long time!  I don’t need that long…I can get it done way sooner than that.  But believe me, all too often we are sending reminder e-mails, phone calls, texts and even feel like we are nagging some of our couples to get it done within the 3 month period.  Most couples are good about this…while some are not.

Why do we even have the 90 day deadline? For two main reasons.  The first reason is strictly hard drive space.  We have only a limited amount of space on our computer hard drives and servers for so many wedding photos and all of the other photos from our other photography services that we create for our clients.  We are a full service studio and we specialize in weddings, but we also do other types of photography.  A full wedding day takes up by far much more space on our hard drives than anything else we do and as much as we would like to, we can’t keep the photos on there forever.  In order to make room for the upcoming work we have, we have to make room on our hard drives.  How do we do this?  Just like you do it at home.  We go through and (gasp) have to delete the oldest jobs on our hard drives, in order to make room for the new photos and videos that will be coming.  If we didn’t do this, we would need to own an Iron Mountain type company in order to store the many thousands of photos and videos we create each year.

The second reason for our 90 day deadline is because after this time period, we have become extremely busy providing an equally awesome experience for our new clients, that we have to prioritize our workload.  So, the further away your wedding day gets, the less time we have to devote to it.  On your wedding day, you are top priority on our To Do List.  Then, as each new job comes through, that client goes to the top of the priority list and your wedding moves down one notch. Each time we have another new client to photograph, your wedding moves down the list again…and again.

Your wedding photos are at the Top of our To Do List right after your wedding day.

Your wedding photos are at the Top of our To Do List right after your wedding day.

The key to making sure that you stay on the upper end of our to do list, is to do work on your end.  Do your homework.  Pick your thank you card photos, gift prints, wedding album selections and all other products you would like to order, within that 90 day period after you have your proofs and they are also online.  That will ensure you have your products back faster and you don’t end up at the very bottom of our to do list.  The 90 day online gallery that we offer with every wedding package is a good tool to help you keep track of how much time you have left.  You will receive several reminder e-mails about your wedding photo gallery and even one that tells you when you only have 10 days left before the gallery expires.  Once the online gallery expires, so does your place at the top of our to do list.

Don't let your wedding end up at the bottom of the queue!

Don’t let your wedding end up at the bottom of the queue!

Our studio currently photographs approximately 50 weddings each year, not to mention the many other clients and types of photography that we also do each year, so needless to say we are extremely busy.  And when I say (We) I mean (Me) since I am the one who creates the photos, I am the one who processes the photos, I also print them, I design the wedding albums…yes, I do it all and I love every minute of it, except for the waiting part.  I am only one person and there are only so many hours in one day I can devote to work.  Why don’t I just hire more people?  Because then, I would have to raise my prices by a whole lot more and nobody wants that – right? So, you may be able to see why once your wedding has reached that 90 day period, I may not seem to be as excited about it, as I was before your wedding, or on your wedding day.

Don’t get me wrong… I STILL LOVE YOU and I’m looking forward to our future together.  I would love to be your family photographer and continue to grow the friendship we created and have shared to date.  I will always love your wedding photos and cherish those great moments and memories too, but the honeymoon is over and now I need to make time and space for my other clients too.  I absolutely LOVE photographing weddings and everything about it!  It’s my absolute favorite thing to photograph, but in order to provide each and every one of my clients with an equally amazing experience, I need to set some deadlines and I feel that 90 days is quite a reasonable amount of time for every client.

So, there you have it.  Now you know a little bit more about how things go down here (behind the scenes) at DDD.  Beyond just the work, I also need to (and want to) devote some of my time to my wife, my family, expand my creativity and plain old recreation…I do like my video games!!! 🙂

So, what do you think?  Please feel free to chime in, leave a comment below, as I am curious to know how others feel about this.  Do you think a 90 day deadline is a reasonable amount of time after a wedding?  Is it too much time?  Not enough time?  When should the “Honeymoon” period be over for your wedding photographer?  What are your thoughts?

I often hear “Photography is the most important thing to us!”

bride and bridesmaidsWhen I meet with couples about their wedding day, they often tell me that Professional Photography is the most important thing to them!  That is, until they find out what it costs.  So, then I wonder if what they said is really true.

Let’s examine this for a moment and do some comparisons to see what you (personally) feel would be the most important thing to you on your wedding day.

I feel that whatever the most important item on your wedding day checklist is, should go at the top of the list and whatever is the least important to you should go on the bottom.  You should pay for the most important item first and then you have the remainder of your wedding budget to spread out for everything else, right?  Makes sense to me.  (Every item and detail of your wedding is important, but some more than others.)

More often than not, when I meet with couples, they have already bought their Wedding Dress, booked their Location, DJ, Cake, Limo and sometimes even Flowers.  So, by the time they meet with me, more than half of their wedding budget has been spent, or promised…but photography is the most important thing to them. (Hmmm)

If you want to know how important professional photography REALLY is to you, ask yourself these questions:  (Would you pay / Did you pay)

Would you pay / Did you pay more for your Wedding Dress than you’re willing to pay for your photography?

Would you pay / Did you pay more for your Bridal Party Gifts than you’re willing to pay for your photography?

Would you pay / Did you pay more for your Wedding Shoes than you’re willing to pay for your photography?

Will you pay / Did you pay more for your DJ or Band than you’re willing to pay for your photography?

Would you pay / Did you pay more for your Limo (or Limos) than you’re willing to pay for your photography?

Would you pay / Did you pay more for your Flowers than you’re willing to pay for your photography?

Would you pay / Did you pay more for your Wedding Cake than you’re willing to pay for your photography?

Would you pay / Did you pay more for your Reception Venue location than you’re willing to pay for your photography?

Would you pay / Did you pay more for your Dinner Selections than you’re willing to pay for your photography?

Would you pay / Did you pay more for your Wedding Rings than you’re willing to pay for your photography?

If you answered Yes to more than one of these, then really…how important is professional photography to you?

Using the above Ten examples, on a scale from 1 – 10 (1 being the highest importance), where do you have Photography on that list?

If it’s not in the top three, then perhaps photography is not really that important to you…or perhaps you may need to reevaluate your list, or your budget.

Every person is different and will have this list in a different order, which is perfectly fine and that’s what makes us all unique.  Where did you place professional photography on your list?

An experienced, talented, professional photographer that can capture all of the amazing images that will be your fondest memories forever…for some people is Priceless!

Are you one of these people?  If so, then invest more in your Professional Photography and have amazing and beautiful memories that you will cherish for a lifetime.

After all, Professional Photography is the most important thing to you…right?  🙂

OMG! You’re Engaged! Where do you start?!

Engagement PhotoCongratulations ladies!  (stealing from Beyonce’)  he liked it and he put a ring on it!  So, now what?  Where do you start after getting engaged?  There is so much to do that it can be overwhelming if you just sit and think about it.  But don’t get stressed.  After all the initial excitement from telling both sides of your families and friends, you are going to have a whole lot to do!  Most couples don’t know where to start!  No worries!  We can help.  Here is a list of 11 important things to do to get things started.

1- CHOOSE A SEASON.  Think about what your favorite season is.  Talk with your fiance’ about what time of year is best.  When are you generally feeling the happiest? Are you a “snow bunny”?  Perhaps Winter is your favorite season.  Do you love Spring flowers?  Is Summer your time to shine? Do you love the bright colors, coolness, cozy and delicious scents of Autumn?  Figure out when you are at your absolute best and mark that as the season you will be married.

2- PICK A DATE (range).  While you may think it will be too hard right now to pick a date, try to come up with a few possible dates within your chosen season.  You can worry about narrowing it down later, but for now have a couple of dates in mind for now.

3- DO YOUR RESEARCH (Financial)!  Find out what it’s going to take to make this happen?  How much money will you need to pull this off?  What does it cost to book a wedding venue, a photographer, church or JP, DJ, Limo and anything else you have in mind for your wedding…and don’t forget you will need to purchase or rent your gown!  Will you be getting financial help from your family or will it be funded by just the two of you? Is your wedding going to be this year or will you need to push it out in order to get your finances in order?   Make sure you have a clear understanding of this before you go on.

4- CHOOSE A BUDGET (range).  Now that you have an idea of what stuff costs, what’s going to be your budget?  It may sound weird to say “choose a budget”, but that is actually what you need to do.  Choose a (budget range)…but know that you are most likely going to need to adjust it, unless you already know exactly what everything you want and need costs.  I hear people saying that they can’t afford this, or can’t afford that…but that’s not really the case.  You see, people have money for the things they really want.  You really want that $700 tablet – right?  Then you save your money and you buy it.  Or, you say $700 is too much for me to spend on a tablet and you don’t buy it.  When you say you can’t afford something, you are just saying that you don’t want it that bad.  Because if you save up for it, you would have it.  So, choose how much you are willing to invest in your wedding in total…and also break it down into sections.  How much for the location, how much for the photographer, how much for the cake, etc.  How badly do you want each of these?  Then once you have that amount, later you can readjust or reallocate if need be.  Then start saving!!!

5- LOCATION LOCATION.  Where do you envision your dream wedding to be?  Does that location fit into your budget range?  If not, do you need to reevaluate your budget or choose another location?  Ask if they are available for the date (ranges) you have in mind. Again, ask yourself, how badly do I want this location?

6- PHOTOGRAPHY-VIDEOGRAPHY.  Why is this step so far up on the list?  Because the best and most popular wedding Photographers/Videographers will book up fast.  What does fast mean?  Well, typically 12-24 months before your wedding day your photographer is booking up their calendar.  For some, it’s even prior to that.  For instance, we were already booking weddings for 2015 during the Fall season of 2013.  And if your wedding date is during a popular month (May, June, September, October) there will be lots of other brides looking for those dates as well.  Talk with your photographer about your date ranges and see if they are available.  Remember to choose someone who’s work you love, but also someone you can connect with.  This will make your whole wedding day experience so much better. Do you need to readjust your budget or reallocate funds to get this photographer?  That depends on how important your wedding photography & videography is to you and how badly you want that vendor.  We can even help with recommendations on other vendors we have worked with in the past.

7- OTHER VENDORS.  The best vendors book up first, so once you know what you need, DJ, Entertainment, Cake, Flowers, etc…contact them right away.  Most will take a small deposit to reserve your date.  Get a better chance of having  your #1 choice on each of your vendors if you don’t wait until a later time to book them.

8- SAY YES TO A DRESS.  But before you do, pick up some bridal magazines and get inspired with the different styles and designs available for your season.  Don’t just settle for the strapless gowns that you see practically everywhere.  Strapless wedding gowns look beautiful on some women, but not on all women.  Find the perfect gown that fits great and looks great on you based on your body type.  Straps, sleeves, lace or a combination of all can be both elegant and compliment your figure.  Most dresses will need alterations and this can take time, so get a jump on this so you’ll have your dress in plenty of time before your wedding day.

9- GET HELP.  Who else is also very excited about your wedding?  Let them help you with the multitude of things you have to do?  Get ideas from your friends and family who are super excited about your big day and willing to do whatever it takes to make that day your best day ever!  Use their ideas as your inspiration and make it your own.

10- ONE DAY AT A TIME.  A complete wedding celebration isn’t built in one day or one week.  Don’t even try to get it all done in a month.  Dedicate a calendar to your wedding and figure out beforehand  when each milestone needs to be crossed off.  Some online wedding websites have a calendar feature and can help you get organized and have a plan of action.  Don’t worry too much if your miss a milestone either.  As long as you are close to the date chosen to complete each task, you are in good shape and you will be less stressed when your wedding date gets closer.

11- IT’S ALL ABOUT YOU (both).  Remember it’s all about you and your future spouse.  I can’t stress this enough.  Family and friends can overload you with their advice and suggestions on what you should do.  Try not to get all wrapped up in what everyone else thinks you should do or wants you to do on your wedding day.  Make it about you both and you will love everything about your wedding day.  Remember it’s a celebration so keep the stress level down.

Make the planning process fun, by getting ahead of it and not waiting til it’s crunch time.  With enough time, you can make this day one of the best days of your life.  Get your future spouse involved if you can and have fun with it.

Best Wishes!

Excuse me Miss, but your Pad is showing!

I absolutely LOVE being a full-time professional photographer and I can’t think of anything else I’d rather do than photograph people’s weddings  and their milestone moments.  But at the same time, I think one of the most difficult jobs out there nowadays is to be a professional wedding photographer. What with the onslaught of consumer point-and-shoot cameras, mobile phones, tablets, digital capture devices, personal video recording devices and more,  it’s an extremely difficult task to get a really great image of the bride and groom throughout the day.  Why is it so tough?  Because lately, more and more guests at a wedding are not being very considerate of the bride and groom.

how your guests ruin your wedding photos

Excuse me Miss, your pad is showing!

While I don’t usually mind the many guests at a wedding taking multiple photographs during the ceremony and reception,  it’s particularly stressful and also a pet peeve of mine when I’m trying to get a really awesome and memorable shot of the bride and her dad coming down the aisle, (such as this one posted here) only for it to be ruined by somebody’s digital device being stuck out into the aisle right in front of my camera view, ruining both the moment and the photograph.

A wedding is one of those milestone events that you only have one chance to get right.  There are no do overs!  When the moment is gone, it’s lost forever.  That’s why this is a source of great stress for the professional photographer (me) trying to capture that magical moment that my clients invested very good money for!  I’m in position, I’m ready, here comes the moment…and there goes someone ruining it.  I feel sad for the wedding couple, because they won’t get to enjoy and cherish these photos now.

how your guests can ruin your wedding photos

Groomsman suffering from facebook-interruptus during the ceremony

The shots shown here are by no means an isolated incident. A quick search online to news sites like the Huffington Post and CNN, will confirm that more and more wedding memories are being lost due to others interfering with the professional photographers shots.  There are hundreds more photographs, just like these here that end up in my computer’s recycling bin instead of as part of the bride and grooms most memorable and treasured collection.

With the myriad of digital devices getting bigger and bigger screens, this problem is getting even worse!  So, what can we do to put a stop to this?  I do understand that the guests of the wedding are anxious and excited to take photos of the bride and groom, but is it so important that they need to ruin the bride’s memories of her special day?  There’s got to be another way!  Do we return to the old ways and put it into our photography contracts that no one else is allowed to take photographs?

In the past, professional photographers such as myself had it written into our contracts that no other people were allowed to take photos during the Ceremony or the Formals.  Over the years,  this became frowned upon due to the fact that most of the guests carried with them point and shoot cameras, mobile phones with cameras and nowadays, tablets with cameras.  But these old-day rules were put into the contract for good reason.  We photographers work incredibly hard to try to capture every special moment and lots of those moments are ruined either by some other camera’s flash, or by someone jerking out their device in front, just to get a shot.  These bigger screen digital devices truly are disruptive to the wedding and ruin many photos throughout the day as you see from these shots.  It’s gotten to be so bad that even the wedding party is pulling out phones or devices, just to get a “live” shot to upload to social media.  Do you suffer from Facebook Interruptus?

I find it hard to believe that guests of a wedding cannot see how wrong this is.  Think of all the shots that we professionals have to throw away because of this.  There isn’t just one person at the wedding doing this either, there are many, many people doing this all at the same time.  You may even wonder sometimes how the professional gets any good shots at all.  There has to be a happy medium somewhere that will please both the guests and not ruin the professional’s images.  Personally, I feel it is up to the married couple to set the ground rules on this one.  Don’t let your guests ruin your wedding photos!  Tell them that you are having an “Unplugged Wedding”.  What’s an unplugged wedding?  Simply put, no digital capture devices.  Invite your guests to enjoy the wedding, hear the beautiful words that are being shared and feel the love in the room during the ceremony.  Most professional photographers will post the wedding images online and all of your guests will have the chance to see all the amazing photos taken throughout the day.  They are even available for purchase, if guests want to have a keepsake of your wedding day.

I chose to blog about this today, after having this happen to me at some recent weddings and after reading several online news stories about this happening at other weddings too.  My goal is only to bring some awareness to any of my future wedding clients who are reading this.  As the married couple,  you have every right to make special requests on your wedding day.  The simplest way to take control of the situation and avoid this happening during your wedding would be to include a note to your invited guests within your wedding invitation, stating the you do not wish your guests to use their digital cameras, tablets, or otherwise during the ceremony, formals, or otherwise interfere with the professional photographers photos.

You see, this information coming directly from your professional photographer to your guests, would be received in a very negative way, thereby making him or her out to be a bad/mean person.  But merely all we are trying to do is ensure that you get the very best value and amazing, memorable images throughout your day, which is what you paid me top dollar to do.  We work extremely hard and are 100% invested into your wedding, trying to make it the experience of your lifetime.  It is very, very sad when an amazing and heart-warming image that would take your breath away, is ruined by someone with a mobile device and long arms, or someone Photo-Bombing during a milestone occasion, such as the Cake Cutting.

cake-bombing

wedding guest cake-bombing

So, if you agree with me and if your wedding  photography is very important to you, you may consider sending a note to your guests, along with the invitation stating that your wedding be an “Unplugged” occasion.  This means asking them to refrain from using electronic devices and thereby placing them in the photographer’s way during the ceremony and formal photos.  They will have plenty of opportunities to photograph the bride and groom during the reception.  Unplugged weddings are gaining popularity and are the best way to get to most out of your wedding  images.

If you don’t agree with me and if photography is not that important, then please be forewarned that although we will do our very best to get all the great moments and images we can, some of your once-in-a-lifetime, heart-stopping, most memorable, unable to be done over, moments may be lost forever, because someone’s pad is showing, someone is photo-bombing or someone otherwise ruined the photos.

(Stepping off my soapbox)

Off I go to my next wedding, with fingers crossed and hoping no one photo bombs it!

Thanks for reading!

Free Admission For Two at The Original Wedding Expo!

Calling all Brides and Grooms!

Planning the perfect wedding?  Then you may want to plan on attending The Original Wedding Expo!
The Original Wedding Expo is the most trusted Wedding Expo in New England and you are sure to connect with some of the best wedding vendors in the industry there.

We can even get you and another guest in for FREE!

All you have to do is print this complimentary pass and bring it with you to the expo (dates listed on pass)
Then walk around, shop around, sample some cake and other deserts, watch a bridal fashion show, win great prizes and have some fun!  And don’t forget to book your Wedding Photography and Videography with us! 🙂

Don’t want to wait until the show?  No problem!
Give us a call at 508-216-5898 to make an appointment to meet with us and find out more about our wedding photography and video services.  Or send an email to: info@DiazDD.com for more information.

We look forward to meeting you!

Top Ten Mistakes That Brides Make

Hi everyone!
Here is yet another really great and funny article I wanted to share with you all.
For all of you who are in the planning stage right now…this is for you.
Enjoy!

Top Mistakes That Brides Make
By: Kate Wood

Brides are only human — and they’re bound to make mistakes. No biggie. But since we hear about some common blunders all the time, we figured why not give you the heads-up…

1. Doing Anything…Before the Guest List

The problem: You’re engaged! You’re excited! You’re ready to send out save-the-dates, book that reception hall, and choose those flowers — now! Well hang on a second, because we’re afraid you’re forgetting something. Who’s coming to this affair, exactly?

The solution: It’s not the most fun part of planning (and we’ll be honest, it’s one of the most likely to lead to a fight or two or twelve), but you shouldn’t make any wed-day decisions before you have your guest list somewhat firmly in place. Why, you ask? Well, do you want to have a nonrefundable deposit down on that cozy restaurant room that fits 75 when your mother-in-law’s additions bump your list up over 200? Exactly. Once everyone’s in agreement, then you can move forward. That said, this means that one of the parts of your wedding you can plan immediately (or at least talk over with your fiancé) is what kind of atmosphere you’d like for your wedding. Do you want an intimate, close friends and family-only affair, or do you want to throw the event of the season for 300-plus people? Later, when you’re in the guest-list trenches, this bit of planning will help back up your gut instinct about whether to say yes (or no) to guest-list additions.

2. Reading Aloud to Your Fiancé…From Bridal Magazines

The problem: Look, we know it’s not the Stone Age, and there are plenty of guys out there who want to see their wedding as an event that reflects their style too (or at least one that isn’t dripping with pink froufrou). But there’s likely to be a limit to your fiancé’s ability to cope with an infinite array of invitation choices.

The solution: Here’s how to defuse a potentially sticky situation (and a minefield of fights you don’t want to have). Take a night off to go out to dinner and talk with him about all the different parts of the wedding, and try to get a concrete idea of his interest in the various details. Does it sound like flowers are flowers in his book? Okay, then you can more or less leave him out of that decision. And if he’s cramming lettuce leaves in his ears to block sound, you definitely don’t want to drag him into it.
Moving forward, save his sanity (and yours) by designating one night a week as wedding-free. Talk about the weather, your friends, the dog — whatever you want. He’ll be psyched to see that the girl he fell in love with still lives there, and you’ll appreciate the breather yourself. And who knows? Left to his own devices, your fiancé just might surprise you with a great idea for your cocktail hour or the perfect solution to a guest-list dilemma.

3. Freaking Out Because Someone Else Has Your Gown

The problem: These days, to-be-weds spend so much time personalizing their weddings and trying to find really unique big-day details that it does seem reasonable to freak if another couple chooses the same favors or flowers or food. Before you decide to arm-wrestle for it, let us suggest a different way of dealing.

The solution: If someone else “steals” one of your ideas, you’ll probably hear a lot of “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” and “It will be at your wedding, not theirs, so it’ll be totally different.” Whether these statements are true or not (they are), they’re probably not going to make you feel better — but neither will stewing over it. Instead of worrying about someone else’s wedding looking the same as yours, think about how you can make the copied detail different. If a friend chooses the same gown as you, add details to make yours unique: Accessorize with a brooch, add a sash, accent the train with some embroidery (you get the idea). Has someone else swiped your fun favor idea? Find a way you can package yours to set them apart. And if you’re really that worried about copycats, here’s a thought — just keep mum. If you don’t divulge every last big-day detail, you won’t have to worry about your bride friends snatching them.

4. Realizing That Grape isn’t Your Color…With Two Months to Go

The problem: When you started planning your wedding, you knew just what you wanted: pink bridesmaid dresses, peonies, and classic, engraved invites. Now that you’ve been hard at work for a few months, you know just what you want: jewel tones, orchids, and funky, bold invites. Too bad — you’re stuck with the wedding style you first chose … or are you?

The solution: You should feel free to rethink, redo, and revamp any element of your wedding that you want — unless you’ve accepted a ring from it (just kidding). This doesn’t have to mean yet another huge investment or reneging on a bunch of contracts — you’ll be surprised how easy it is to make simple additions or subtractions and change your whole style. Already ordered those pastel bridesmaid dresses? Think about adding a bold sash or accessorizing with chandelier earrings to liven them up a bit. Unsure about the color scheme you chose? Pay an extra visit to your florist and work out changes to your bouquets and centerpieces — adding new blooms in all of your arrangements will introduce a new color throughout the room. Same thing if you’ve already ordered the linens — spice them up with bright table runners or overlays. If you decide you really can’t live with it, chances are you can go back on your first choice — just remember that it will have a cost. A good rule of thumb is that if you’ve already signed a contract or seen a proof, you will have to pay extra for any changes or additions you make. But if it’s still relatively early in your planning process, don’t be afraid to make the change. Remember, you’re getting married to your husband, not your centerpieces.

5. Trying to Drop Two Sizes Before Your Final Fitting

The problem: You’ve found the gown of your dreams — though it’s not exactly a perfect fit on the real-life you. Your plan: Order the dress two sizes too small, and then do whatever it takes to make it fit. Or so you think.

The solution: Making a commitment to eat right and exercise is great whether you’re planning your wedding or trying to stave off the newlywed nine. On the other hand, crash-dieting and chaining yourself to the StairMaster is a course likely to end in disaster — and a gown that doesn’t fit.
Instead of losing more sleep than weight, find a gown you love and order it in your current size. If you want to work on your body during your engagement, that’s great — go ahead, but be sure to make your goals are manageable (toning up but not dropping 20 pounds, for instance). You’re more likely to stick with a routine that doesn’t require superhuman willpower. And if you still find that you are freaking about your figure, just remember that you’re about to get hitched to someone who can’t get enough of the way you look (really, truly) right now.
If you do drop some weight, this slow-and-steady approach will help you big time (and help you keep it off long-term). You’ll want to lose those extra pounds before your second fitting — any big changes after that, and though you might be lighter, your alterations bill will be pretty hefty. Your final fitting should be for last-minute tweaks, not a total overhaul.

6. Doing it All Yourself

The problem: We love nothing better than seeing the clever projects that couples come up with to make their weddings unique. But even we have to draw the line somewhere. There’s doing it yourself, and then there’s overdoing it yourself. After all, there are plenty of benefits to DIY. You can be sure no one else has the exact same thing, you might keep your budget in check, and (before you actually sit down to hand-tie 200 tiny ribbons) you probably think that it will make a fun story.

The solution: Rather than taking on too many projects, pick the one (or two) that you’re really in love with and put your resources (both mental and monetary) into working on those. For the others, do a little research and try to find a ready-made version that makes you happy. With so many great prefab goodies out there, chances are you’ll find one that fits your style — and saves you a whole lot of time!

7. Overloading Your Mom’s Big Day To-do List

The problem: So you can’t do it all yourself — fine — but you’ve got to have someone you trust double-checking with the caterer and the florist, steaming your veil, or making sure the limo company’s got directions. Most brides turn to good ol’ Mom (or their sister or their maid of honor) to make sure things go as planned on the big day. These folks are usually happy to help in any way they can — but hey, didn’t they come here to party too?

The solution: No matter how worried you are, most wedding-day (and day-before) chores can be trusted to any competent adult, and aren’t there a slew of them coming into town just for your wedding? Before you hand your mom or MOH a mega-task list, consider splitting jobs among a larger group of people — friends, cousins, aunts. They’ll be glad to lend a hand (and likely flattered that you asked), and it’s a great way to include more people in your celebration. If you’re worried about losing track, simply take the to-do list you already have and note who’s who next to each task. Check in with each person at some point, then check off the chore from the list.

Another option: Hire a professional wedding coordinator for the final weeks before the wedding. They’re experts at making sure those last-minute details get done, and having the extra hands around will help you (and mom) decide what you really want to be in charge of and what you can happily hand off. It’s more affordable than you might think — and really, can you put a price tag on alleviating that kind of stress?

8. Crying Over Mismatched Linens

The problem: The place cards just came back from the printer, and the color of the ink is a little off from the print on your invites. Or the best man’s boutonniere has a hint of baby’s breath where you’d specified berries. Let’s face it, even the most perfectly planned wedding is sure to hit a few bumps along the way.

The solution: When you’ve worked so hard for so many months on your wedding-day details, it can be hard to deal when you find a flaw among them. The key is that when you spot one, you’ll need to take a deep breath and think: “How important is this going to be to me in a year?” Not in 10 years, not even in five, but in one. Chances are, most mishaps that are causing you so much agita won’t really matter to you once you’re at your wedding (let alone after it). If it’s a serious snarl, go ahead and deal with it. But if it’s a minor mess-up, just move on. You can’t give up all of your resources to every little crisis. Pick your battles wisely and they will be better fought.

9. Blowing Your Budget

The problem: You came up with a number. You did some research. You revised the number. You started planning … and now that number’s not going to cut it. Budgeting for a wedding can be the stuff of nuptial nightmares — but that doesn’t mean you should elope.

The solution: If you find you’ve underestimated some expenses, don’t panic. Instead, sit down with your fiance and try to reach a constructive solution. Maybe you can give up an item or trade one for another (for example, dahlias over Black Magic roses saves about $4 per stem). If you’re coming up short overall, you may have to take on some debt. To make it as minimal as possible, consider obtaining a low-interest loan or using a low-interest credit card. And to keep it from becoming a source of tension between the two of you, make a plan to deal with the debt and a deadline for paying it off so it won’t hang over your heads.

10. Saving Your Place Cards for the Morning Of

The problem: Right now, it might seem weird to have a basic sketch of your seating plan or all of your favors tagged and ready to go. But other than taking up a little extra space in your closet, they’re not causing any harm — and they will actually save you a ton of stress a month or two down the line. The closer the wedding gets, the busier you’ll be, so making (and sticking to) your timeline is essential.

The solution: Worried you’re jumping ahead on the wedding planning timeline? Don’t be. You’re in the best possible situation. If you’re set on saving tasks until the appointed time (rather than going ahead and doing a little of this or that when you’ve got the time), you may wind up with way too much to accomplish in the last month (or week) before the wedding. That’s exactly the time when anything (and everything) can happen, when everyone will have demands on your time, and you’ll — well, you’ll just want to take a hot bath and dream about your honeymoon. With check marks beside all your biggest to-dos, you’ll be able to relax and enjoy your wedding — and the days leading up to it. Make no mistake about it.