How to Recognize Bad Wedding Advice

Once you’re engaged, you’ll find out that everyone is an expert on weddings — or so they think. Here’s some of the advice they’re going to give you, along with some even better advice — IGNORE IT!

“Invite everyone you know, so enough people will show up.” People have gone broke underestimating the percentage of invited guests who will actually RSVP and show up. Ask yourself, “If everyone comes, will I have enough money, and will there be enough food?” If the answer is no, then invite fewer people. It may also be helpful to add a note to your invitations, to the effect that “Dinner service will be based on confirmed reservations; if you don’t confirm, you’re welcome to join us for dancing.” That way, people who show up without RSVP’ing will have fair warning that there’s not a meal waiting for them.

“You’re spending too much on flowers.” Just because they got their flowers cheap in California, doesn’t mean they know the first thing about what flowers cost in Illinois. You know your budget better than your guests do; and you know how you want everything to look. If you think your flower expenses are too high, there are plenty of online articles on how to substitute cheaper flowers while keeping your color scheme.

“Put a fake ceremony time on your invitations.” Well-meaning people will tell you that it’s smart to say your wedding starts at 1:45 when you know you won’t start until 2pm. Well, it’s not smart. Trying to be accommodating to the people who always show up late is unfair to the guests who care enough about you to be there on time. And if you’re having an outdoor ceremony in the hot summer sun, your guests will have to sit and swelter for what seems like an eternity. 2pm means 2pm; and if someone simply can’t make it on time, they’ll just have to miss it.

“There’s only a 20% chance of rain — no need for a backup plan.” Yes, there is. Any outdoor wedding activity requires an indoor alternative, no matter what anyone says. Your venue should tell you in advance what arrangements it makes in case of rain. At the very least, you may need a tent with a dance floor. Betting against a 20% chance of rain is a sure-fire way to raise that risk to 100%. 

“If you’re running out of money, replace your DJ with an iPhone.” Good luck with that. Your iPhone can’t MC your introductions, toasts and other speeches. And your iPhone can’t recognize an empty dance floor. Besides, once guests know you’re playing your dance music off an iPhone, they’ll gather around the iPhone and argue about what song to play next — ALL NIGHT LONG — and you’ll end up with a song, 3 minutes of silence, another song, 3 more minutes of silence, etc. Sound like the perfect recipe for an active dance floor?

“You have a photographer, so you don’t need a videographer.” Can a photographer capture the emotion of your vows, or your toasts, or your first dance? Can a photographer capture the real-life sounds of your wedding? Still pictures can say a lot, but there’s no substitute for the actual sights, sounds and music of your special day, and it’ll be all too easy to forget them without a video record. Don’t let that happen. Budget for a videographer early in your planning, so you’re not tempted to short-change your own memories in the name of frugality.

“Save money by being your own planner.” There’s no way you can possibly understand how stressful a wedding day can be until you try to micromanage your own ceremony and reception in real time, with all sorts of things going wrong. Vendors don’t show up, your tablecloths are all the wrong color, your officiant goes to the wrong address, and where is your wedding cake???!!! Without a planner — or at the very least, a wedding day coordinator — you’ll be so frazzled from producing and directing your wedding that you won’t have a single moment to just stop and savor the day. And saving a few bucks will be small comfort for an opportunity lost forever.

Prioritize the pillars of your wedding plan — your venue, your catering, your entertainment and your photography/videography. Then flesh out your décor, flowers, fashions, hotel accommodations and transportation. Finally, work on the special touches that will make your wedding uniquely yours. And hire great professionals to help you. Follow that simple timeline and you won’t regret it.  

© Fourth Estate Audio, 2017 – Jay Congdon is president of Fourth Estate Audio, a professional Chicago DJ and Chicago Wedding DJ company.      

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