wedding planning: how an elopement turned into two weddings

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If you don’t know already, Nathan and I have been dating for almost 11 years and we’re 25 (I’ll wait why you do the math.) We got engaged last March and it was easily the most perfect moment of our lives.

You know… when you think of being engaged you imagine it’s going to be like the best version of your relationship with happy planning and lots of excitement. It differs for everyone but for us this was WRONG. We were smitten and our relationship was going great, but with Nathan being Vietnamese and feeling the a pressure for a giant 500-guest wedding, we were overwhelmed even though we knew that would likely be the case. By the next day, people were asking when we were having kids! As a couple who is kind of private about our love life to our families, it was really overwhelming and put planning on the back burner because no one would talk to us unless we were spilling wedding info (which we had zero info on.)

We also knew we wanted something small, intimate and outdoors that screamed who we had grown into and reflect our love for the outdoors. With a small wedding being rare in Vietnamese culture (which we both love and respect!) we were prepared to fight for some things but not everything. For the months, we went back and forth from big wedding to small wedding, at once point no wedding, and then loved the idea of an elopement. We were set on eloping for a good chunk of time, then realized everyone would be pissed if we did that and it would be a bigger battle to fight. Now before you get all “do what you want, its YOUR DAY!” on me, *cue eyeroll because i’ve heard that 1 million times*, we are very direct with decisions we make in life, but family is really important to us and we didn’t want to risk hurting our parents.

Fast forward to December and we say “Ok, small wedding it is. Outside in Joshua Tree - our favorite place.” I dove into planning mode and found THE perfect venue and BAM, we were booked by the first week of January for an intimate wedding that felt perfect and what we really wanted. We broke the news to both parents but then had a bit of a curveball. Nathan’s parents were definitely bummed we weren’t doing a traditional wedding and we had some deep and emotional discussions with both families because we respect them (yep, even though it’s our wedding) and it’s a right of passage that means SO MUCH to their culture.

Voila, a second wedding was born. - so now we are planning two. In 10 months. AND THEY ARE ONE WEEK APART. My brain is still exploding. While this may be some girls’ dream, even as an event planner this is B A N A N A S. Even the dang bridesmaid situation is driving me nuts! I was feeling like so alone for a little while because the people who I really want to ask to be a big part of the celebration are already acting flaky and not dependable. We just wanted to celebrate with someone and were over this whole process already so early on in the game. NOW we’re feeling like we’re in such a great place and can almost feel a release of tension and stress. Noooow we’re excited.

Honestly, when does wedding planning go right? It will all be AMAZING and such a memorable experience, but I’ve already learned a ton along the way that I’m really excited to share with anyone who may have had a rocky start like us. The world of wedding planning is saturated and full of expensive things, so here are our 5 top tips for planning a wedding, ESPECIALLY if you are trying to please both of parents!

OUR TOP 5 TIPS

Give Yourself an Overall Timeline - but Don’t Get Psycho

Planning a wedding in 10-11 months is definitely within the standard 1-year planning timeframe so we felt really good about it. There are a lot of timeline resources out there if you know how to use Google that are somewhat helpful and some that are just really too detailed but each bride is different in what they want to schedule out/do. We’re probably sending invitations out earlier than most, but ours is somewhat of a destination wedding and we have two, so we thought it would be nice for people to make plans well in advance.

Since we’re planning both ourselves, we started a Google Sheet (lifesaver!) and I’m keeping track of it to make sure we’re checking boxes. I love this because we both have access and even have our budget in there along with our day-of timeline and vendor contacts. We worked to secure the venue, photographer, catering and bar services (wedding staples!) ASAP so we can spend time enjoying being engaged, enjoying the process and deciding on fun details.

Talk About Finances + Budget Right off the Bat

First rule: BUDGET. Time to get over feeling weird about talking $$$ with your SO. Nathan and I are very lucky where we were already fluidly talking about our finances together and had a savings fund started for our wedding the moment I said “yes.” We are paying for the weddings ourselves so it was VITAL for us to develop a budget for both. Putting money into a wedding "savings fund” each month is highly recommended opposed to just slapping down plastic because many vendors will give you a cash discount if you just ask! We saved a big chunk on catering by choosing to pay cash and literally just asking if they can reduce their travel fee because a specific service wasn’t available on our date.

Stay close with each other. Don’t book a vendor without consulting your other partner either and then going $2k over budget. We haven’t done that because we both align on a vendor before signing contracts.

Make Time to Have Real, Honest Conversations with Each Other

When we started to have conversations and realized Nathan’s parent’s were unhappy with our choice of having a smaller wedding, we had a lot of talks with and without his family. His family and parents ARE SO SWEET, and I adore them so please don’t think they’re villians, ha! There’s a language barrier since I don’t speak Vietnamese fluently and I felt like I was only getting bits + pieces of plans being made.

We both agreed from that moment on we needed to sit down, talk together, agree on the next step and then move forward by relaying info back to our parents and taking next steps. It’s so easy to get caught up in the fun of everything and there are so many moving pieces, so it’s important to PAUSE and communicate with each other! If you need to schedule time on each other’s shared calendar (guilty) then DO ITTTT. You’ll feel so much better

Stick to your Style/Vision in a Saturated Industry

I’m a designer, so yes I’m very specific about how I want things to look. You bet I have a Pinterest board, made a color palette and have sent a mood board to every one of my vendors. It is SO EASY to get distracted out there, but try not to get sucked in the millions of images and do what you are drawn to/like. Then you’ll go over budget and have a disconnected look (if that’s important to you!)

Luckily Nathan is not quite as violent as I am about design-related things, HEHE, and let’s me me some decisions there. He’s also very vocal about what he doesn’t like! There are things I know I want to execute, and when I find out they’re out of budget, I tackle it from a different side or say, “can I make this?“ I’m designing our invites and place settings because I’m very lucky to know how - but continue to stick to how I want to give our guests an experience and think that’s important!

Try my “Fuck it, it’ll be fun” Rule

I was really stressed out over having a second wedding. Like bent out of shape for a week and I felt like a whiny lil beeotch. Then we said, “Oh well, fuck it, it’ll be fun.” Not to mention memorable and full of the best kind of craziness. If something goes wrong, fuck it, it’ll be fun and we’ll figure it out. I think that’s the most important rule EVER because things will go wrong and not according to plan. Instead of stressing ourselves out, we’re just going to have fun with it!

Now we’re currently dress shopping, planning details, and all the fun stuff. Did you guys enjoy this post - are you interested in the BTS of planning a wedding all by yourself? If so, let us know!