I have come out from underneath my planning blankets to check back in with you all. As of next week, we’re officially seven months out from the big day and I am feeling surprisingly zen. Maybe I’m ahead of the game or maybe I’m way behind on things, blissfully ignorant, forgetting something REALLY important. I’m going to hope for the former.

Richmond Weddings Planning Blog Wedding Dress Tips Expert Marissa
Kristen Camielle Photography

Since the last time I checked in, I’ve made some progress on the old checklist. First, let me tell you about my wedding dress buying experience.

Okay, starting off, I wish I hadn’t watched so much Say Yes to The Dress. Yes, while that show (and pretty much everything on TLC) is totally addicting, it really gave me the wrong idea of what shopping for a wedding dress would be like. For one thing, my budget idea for the dress was totally skewed. No, it’s not the norm to pay $10k+ for a custom-made Pnina Tornai dress. I kept my budget much (much) lower. But, one thing I did know from Say Yes to The Dress is that I went in with a flexible budget, just in case I fell in love with one that was just a tad outside of my price range. I also knew to keep alterations in mind when budgeting. More than just a beautiful dress that is totally me, I wanted a dress that fit me perfectly. That way I can bust a move without having to worry about things being too tight or too big. Dancing is very important to me.

I also thought I would be in a boutique full of girls, secretly eyeing which ones they were picking and hoping they didn’t grab the dress that I wanted. But, me, my mom, and my sister had the whole boutique to ourselves. We had scheduled two appointments that day, the first at Annalise Bridal Boutique, right in downtown Richmond.

Richmond Weddings Planning Blog Wedding Dress Tips Expert Marissa

Before the day got started I knew my dress shopping was going to go one of two ways. Either I was going to get the first dress that I tried on, or I wasn’t going to find my dress that day. As you know from my previous blog post, I’m surprising myself with how laid back I am during this planning process. But this is my wedding dress! Ever since I was little I’ve pictured this dress, me walking down the aisle to various boy crushes throughout my life. (Starting with Kevin from the Backstreet Boys then eventually making my way to Harry Styles from One Direction.) My wedding dress is probably the prettiest and most expensive dress I’ll ever wear unless I’m somehow invited to some sort of celebrity gala, in which I hope all the boy bands are also invited.

And, in no help at all to my stylist that day at Annalise Bridal, I really had no idea what kind of dress I wanted. My guidelines? Must be white and not strapless.

The three of us started browsing the racks, giddy with excitement and a little happier because of the complimentary champagne. I pulled one dress immediately that looked like something I’d wear. We pulled six more and into the dressing room I went, gossiping about the wedding industry that both my stylist and I are in.

I came out in the first dress, I got up on the pedestal and saw myself as a bride for the first time. And I loved the dress. It was so effortlessly me, without making me look like a cake topper. And to everyone’s surprise, I didn’t cry. This means a lot coming from the girl who has cried at every wedding, every graduation, and every semi-heartfelt commercial. It just clicked and I felt like myself, just fancier. It was in my price range and I looked good!

It seemed ridiculous that it was the first dress I tried on, so we tried on about eight more dresses, coming back to elements of the first one every time. And just like that, I bought my wedding dress. We were there for all of forty minutes. I guess when you know you know.

Richmond Weddings Planning Blog Wedding Dress Tips Expert Marissa

With my wedding dress checked off, our planning checklist didn’t seem so daunting. We found our perfect DJ to keep us dancing all night, Kam with Bunn DJ. And since our venue, Bryce Resort is handling almost everything (rentals, planner, reception, catering, accommodations), I took a break from wedding planning for a few weeks.

That’s one thing I’ve made a habit of during this process. Up until this point, I’ve been checking things off once a month, but now that it’s getting closer, it’s more like once a week. I delegate one day to get it done and try to put it out of my mind for the rest of the week. And before you say, “wait, did she just say she’s trying to forget about her wedding?” understand that working at a wedding magazine, while it has its perks, can sometimes give me wedding fatigue. It’s one thing to spend a night planning a wedding, it’s another to do it after a whole day of helping others plan their wedding.

But, before long it was time to send out our Save the Dates, which has been the most exciting part of my wedding planning so far because people finally had a tangible date for our big day! Again, I’m so fortunate to have a brilliant brother who’s doing our stationery. We met with him, giving him, again, very little details about what we wanted (I’m the worst), and he created Save the Dates that were beautiful. They are me and my fiancee to a T.

Richmond Weddings Planning Blog Wedding Dress Tips Expert Marissa
Brent McCormick Design

And it was here, the moment you all were waiting for, that my wedding planning got hard. It’s the guest list. And I should have seen this coming as this is what almost every bride we interview says is the hardest part about wedding planning. I’m lucky because my fiancee and I have the same group of friends. Since we went to college together, almost all of our friends from that time are mutual. But it’s still so hard. I suddenly understand why I wasn’t invited to weddings I thought I would be, and no hard feelings.

Something else we ran into a little trouble with was finding a videographer. I knew I wanted someone there recording the day because it’s the perfect way to relive the best day of our lives. I just didn’t know what a good budget was for a videographer. And, unlike any of the other vendors that we had chosen thus far, we didn’t know any videographers. We would have to go out on a limb, and that limb was a Facebook status posted by my fiancee.

Richmond Weddings Planning Blog Wedding Dress Tips Expert Marissa

It seems like every day I see someone else getting engaged or married on my timeline. So, we figured, why not ask the people of Facebook for recommendations. Ask Facebook for something and you shall receive! We found a videographer we loved and my fiancee happened to go to high school with her.

And with that, you guys are up to date. Again, while I’m no expert, here are a few pieces of advice from me:

  • Ask for help from your married friends/family. They’ve done it before! For example, I had such a hard time getting my registry started. I asked my wonderful cousin for some advice and she gave me a google doc full of recommendations of things she loved and the things she wished she did differently. A note: don’t register for things you have never used before. Marissa, you do not need that waffle maker that you don’t even know how to use.
  • Make a date night out of wedding planning. Wedding planning can take over your life, and sometimes you can forget the reason for it all. My fiancee and I try to get dinner after anything big we do for the wedding. There we talk about how nervous/excited we are and how fun this is going to be. It’s something small but helps make things a bit less stressful.
  • Delegate tasks to your partner. I am SO bad at this. I have this idea that I need to do everything all the time, but the truth is my fiancee is just as capable of doing this as I am. Take the help where you can!
  • Remember to budget postage in for your Save the Dates/Invitations. Fancy stamps can be expensive.
  • Let your guests figure out their accommodations. Since we’re getting married at a remote ski resort, the best option for our guests is Air Bnb’s and renting condos. I put together a list of houses that worked and encouraged groups of friends to bunk together on our wedding website. I was going to act as a liaison for my guests, but my wedding planner suggested otherwise. She told me to let our guests contact houses directly, letting them handle the details and not getting too involved. She told me this would alleviate so much stress, and she was right! It’s almost like she’s done this before.

And with that, I leave you all with all the best wishes of happy planning. And while I know the more hectic days are in front of me, I’m also getting really excited. I get to be a bride in less than seven months! And my feet are toasty warm. Note to self, look into what shoes I’m going to be wearing on the day of.

Follow along with me during my planning journey! I’ll be updating every couple of weeks, taking you through the ins and outs of my wedding day. Plus, use our planning tools to help create your own wedding day. Happy Planning!