Wedding experts say the average couple is engaged for about a year and a half before saying "I do." From finding a venue to choosing stationery to tasting cakes, there's a lot of planning for two people to do. Even if you can't afford a wedding planner, you can still get some assistance for the big day, which will alleviate some of the pressure and stress and make your family and friends feel extra special. These tips from wedding-industry specialists will help you delegate smoothly and successfully and stay smiling till you walk down the aisle.
*Loop in Your Loved Ones
Friends and family members want to do their part to make sure your day is perfect, so give them an opportunity to get involved. Couples should handle the wedding specifics that matter most themselves and "Delegate the less important tasks to friends and family," says Katelyn McCullough, co-Founder of Elwynn + Cass, a luxury beauty concierge service. For example, they could send out initial email queries to vendors and then present their findings to the couple, who could then further narrow the choices and interview potential vendors. The ultimate decision-making is left up to the couple, but part of the legwork is handled. Helpers could also mail out save-the-date cards, stuff invitations and help with wedding favors.
*Speak to Their Skill Set
New York-based wedding planner Claire Letourneau Stitzer, owner and lead consultant for WedWell consulting services, says you need to align your task list with the skills of your friends and family members. "If your maid of honor is an artist, have her help with floral design," she says, noting that your artsy friend will be excited if she's passionate about the project. Everyone should get some joy out of the process, especially for lending a helping hand, and there's a good chance a task is likely to be done well and efficiently.
*All You Have to Do Is Ask
Want help? Just ask. McCullough says, "The best way to ask for help is to just to be honest with them and say that you would really love their help in the process and want everyone to be included." Couple Cristy Raposo Perry and Michael Perry got lots of help for their September 2017 wedding in Providence, Rhode Island. She suggests that you "nicely ask what you need help with (be specific and direct) and then show how thankful you are." She showed her gratitude by giving every helper a thank-you card as well as a gift, such as jewelry for the girls and paying for them to have their wedding hair or makeup done. She and her husband gave one of their guy helpers a bottle of organic vodka purchased during their Hawaiian honeymoon. There's no need to make it complicated; just be open and show gratitude.
"Delegate and don't look back," says wedding photographer Jimmy Chan of Pixelicious in Montreal. Trust in your friends and family to do their best. "After outlining your requirements, let your wedding party take charge," he says, nudging brides and grooms not to micromanage the wedding day.
Be careful not to overdo it when asking for assistance, too. Chan urges couples to remember that family and friends may not enjoy the wedding as guests if they're too involved in planning the celebration. "Consider their ideas out of courtesy but it's best not to have them 'work,'" he says.
Also watch out for clashing points of view. Letourneau Stitzer says, "If your mother-in-law wants roses and you want succulents, asking her to help you with flowers is probably not a good idea." Make sure everyone helping plan and execute the wedding understands the vision and will be helping, not hindering, the process.
If you need more coordination assistance than your friends and family can offer, professional planning may still be an option. "Many planners, including myself, offer a la carte planning services," says Letourneau Stitzer. She helped one couple find a venue and stay on track. "We worked out an arrangement where I helped them with just that and stayed in their very meager budget."
You can also pay people outside the wedding industry for project assistance. For example, the sites TaskRabbit or Fiverr are online marketplaces that will connect you with individuals who will take on paid projects for negotiable budgets.
The weight of all your wedding tasks can feel heavy and daunting, but you don't need to look very far to find assistance. Every little bit of help will make a big difference down the road, so don't shy away from reaching out. And most importantly, cherish the experiences you share together.
Kristen Castillo is a three-time Emmy Award-winning journalist. An editor and writer for wedding magazines, she's written hundreds of wedding articles, as well as an e-book, "Weddings on a Dime."
Photo courtesy of studioEPIC.com.