August 2011

The interwebs are broken

by Melissa on August 31, 2011

Hi all, a quick post from my phone here. Our Internet has been down since Sunday, so I can’t publish any blog posts. It was supposed to be fixed yesterday, but Verizon failed us. I have a bunch ready to be posted as soon as it’s back up! Thanks for your patience. Follow me on twitter at


My fiancé and I are in a unique situation (or maybe it’s not all that unique, who knows).

We both grew up in families that did not have much money.  And they still don’t have much money.  However, my fiancé and I now make good money.  In fact, combined, we make nearly $180,000/year.

We have both done everything we can to make our wedding as financially easy on our families as possible.  We’re paying for the entire wedding ourselves.  We’re not having a wedding party so we don’t have to saddle our families with bridesmaid dress and suit rental costs.  I told my family that I did not want a bridal shower either.  (although that wasn’t an entirely financial consideration, I also don’t like the idea of being in front of all those people opening gifts).

Yet, I still feel bad about some things.  For instance, I want to suggest that all our immediate family members wear solid colors, and no pastels (instead, bright colors or jewel tone colors) so that we don’t clash in photos.  But I feel really guilty for making that suggestion.  What if they already have a perfectly nice outfit that is a print pattern and they don’t want to buy a solid color dress?

Another example. My fiancé and I went to Men’s Wearhouse to look for a suit for him to wear at the wedding.  We found one, but they’re running a promotion that if you buy one suit, you get a second one for $100.  So, I thought that we could ask my dad if he wanted to get the second suit since he needs a new one for the wedding.  But, that begged the question, since we’d probably try to get two suits that were about equal value, would we ask my dad to pay just the $100, or would we ask him to pay like (fiance’s suit cost (+) dad’s suit cost), all divided by two?

My fiancé’s sister and her husband recently declared bankruptcy, and I feel terrible for asking them to buy a $25 tutu and a cute cardigan for their daughter to wear as our flower girl.  I often wonder if they’re thinking to themselves, “What assholes, they know we’re struggling with our budget, can’t they just pay for it?  It is THEIR wedding after all and they have plenty of money.”

My fiancé’s dad, who also recently declared bankruptcy, is a bachelor and is also in need of some new clothes in general.  His weight has yo-yo’ed because he’s had some medical issues over the last year, so his current clothes are either ill-fitting or just really old. But, how can I ask such a thing from someone who is, literally, bankrupt.  Am I a bad person?

I also feel terrible for registering for expensive items.  But, we already have cheap items that we’ve had since college, and I’m ready to upgrade.

But, here’s the thing.  I need to put those feelings of guilt aside.  Yes, we make good money, but spending $15,000 on one day of our lives is already so excessive.

I’ll offer up everything as suggestions and give my reasoning.  So, for instance, I’ll just say, “since we’re going to be in a lot of pictures together on our day, I was thinking that we could make sure we didn’t clash too badly.  How about if we all try to wear solid colors and nothing pastel?”

What do you think?  Have other couples been in this type of situation?



Today we’re celebrating 100 posts here at SuperNoVABride.  WooHoo!  I started this blog to document my wedding planning experience.  I set the goal to have a stress-free wedding planning experience.  I thought perhaps I was being a bit naïve.  Sure, it’s a nice sounding goal and dream, but planning a wedding is just so hard, right?  Everyone just likes to tell you that it is.  Hard and Expensive.

Already-married friends and coworkers like to say, “are you going crazy yet?” now that we’re at less than three months before the wedding.

So, here’s my answer.  No, I’m not going crazy.  Yes, it’s a bit time consuming.  Sure, I’d rather be relaxing at the pool but instead I have to get our RSVP postcards designed, but it’s only as difficult and expensive as you want it to be.

Here are some things that will undeniably make it a more difficult experience:

1) Trying to please everyone / Not trusting your gut. It’s your day. Not your mom’s, not your bridemaids’, and certainly not your vendors’.  Take a few simple steps to make sure your guests have a good time and do everything else the way you want to do it.  Your caterer thinks that it will be too complicated to have an eclectic mix of vintage dishes that you want food to be served on?  Boo fucking hoo.  Your coordinator thinks you have to rent all sorts of additional tables because yours will only seat six and not eight?  Don’t be afraid to question her expertise.  We have read it all before.  Women have issues with assertiveness because we don’t want to be labeled a bitch, or in this case, even worse, a BRIDEZILLA.

Here’s a reminder of something I think we all forget sometimes about vendors.  We, as brides, are PAYING THEM.  In fact, we’re paying them a whole lotta money.   I don’t understand why we feel the need to be so skittish around them.  Just the other day I didn’t want to e-mail our venue again because I “didn’t want to be a pest.”  Well, you know what, I’m paying money and I can be a pest all I want.  No, that does not mean the same as rude, but yes, I can ask as many questions as I want and be as assertive as I need to make sure our wedding is the way we want it.

2) Being indecisive. In the The Paradox of Choice’>Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz points out that while having options is a good thing (as opposed to have one choice and one choice only), too many choices paralyzes us and ultimately affects our psychological well-being, making us less happy.  In other words, having too many choices when it comes to wedding planning ultimately makes it more stressful.

On a personal note, I always find it so unproductive as well.  For instance, I just spent 90 minutes this morning comparing concealers online.  Reading reviews, comparing prices across different websites, trying to find some random UK brand on Ebay, etc.  I just spent 90 minutes of my fucking life researching a concealer.  I definitely feel unhappy.  And after all that, I didn’t buy any because I couldn’t decide!  Talk about unproductive and having no end result!  I would’ve been much happier had I just quickly glanced at the options, bought two or three different ones, and returned the ones I didn’t like.  I’ve done this with lots of wedding-related things as well.  Having too many choices will ultimately make planning a wedding harder than it has to be.  So, do your research, but don’t go crazy, and make a decision.

3) Delaying action. Do you already know who you want to book as your ceremony musician, makeup artist, or whatever else?  What are you waiting for, just book it.  If you don’t do it as soon as you make your decision, that’ll just be one more thing creating mental clutter  In Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity’>David Allen’s Getting Things Done (whoa, that’s two book references in one post), he basically says that this type of Mental Clutter affects our ability to concentrate and get things done.

For instance, I have contracts in my inbox right now for our wedding cake and our ceremony musician.  They’ve been there for weeks, but I’ve taken no action. Plus, I have to book our reward tickets to Vegas. And each time I think about it, that’s time that I could be using to think of something else productive.  Delaying things can also cause me a bigger headache and potentially more money.  Since I have not yet booked the ceremony musician, the cake, or the airline tickets, there’s a possibility that they’re now booked on that date and I’d have to spend time researching new ones. Or there are no more free reward seats and we’d end up having to pay for our airfare!  Too much mental clutter!  So, with that said, tie up wedding loose ends as soon as they can be done, that way they’re not hanging over your head.


I hated my hair and makeup trial

by Melissa on August 18, 2011

For those of you that follow me on twitter, you probably saw that I was lamenting the prices of wedding-day hair and makeup in DC a few weeks ago.  I had to draw the line somewhere.  I established a threshold that I would not pay more for combined hair and makeup (including trials) than what I paid for my dress, which was $535.  Sounds reasonable enough, right!? 

Well, I finally found a local hair and makeup artist through non-wedding review site means.  Her prices were incredibly reasonable and her portfolio looked great online.  I was excited about this great find and booked a trial as soon as I could.

So, here’s the rundown of what I hated.

  • She set everything up on the dining room table without even asking and then proceeded to brush my hair right there and also spray hairspray without any effort to prevent it from going on the table.  I eat at that table, lady!
  • Her supplies were totally disorganized.  I guess I envision makeup artists traveling with those cool train cases.  Her makeup and hair supplies were split between like five dirty cosmetic bags.
  • She only had two or three shades of foundation.  I am extremely fair skinned, and the shade she used was way too dark.  I looked like a muddy mess.  When I pointed out the dark foundation line right at my jawline, she said that she would definitely blend it better on my wedding day. Ummm, blending or no blending, it doesn’t match my skin!
  • I had sent her an image of a fishtail braid I wanted to try out.  She had no idea how to do a fishtail braid and just kept doing regular braids at different angles (off to one side, off to another, etc.).  She offered no apologies for not letting me know she did not know how to do the hairstyle I requested
  • We ultimately settled on hair down with loose curls (which was my original idea anyway, I had just kind of fallen in love with the fishtail braid once I saw it).  The curls actually looked quite nice, but within 90 minutes of her leaving my house, the curls were completely gone.  When I brought it up, she just said that on my wedding day she’d curl it with an iron in addition to the rollers to make it hold more.  Umm, not trying to be a diva here, but I thought a trial was all about seeing what my hair would look like (and how it would last) on my wedding day.

A final point, and this one is not her fault, I am completely paranoid about having anyone near my eyes (other than me). Whether it’s the eye doctor putting drops in my eyes, an eyebrow waxer that presses a bit too hard on my eyelid, or a makeup artist putting mascara on me, I become one blinky nervous mess.  So, I kept messing up her eyeliner and mascara application.

So, now I’m really, REALLY mad that I just spent $65 on a hair and makeup trial that I HATED and now have to spend money on a trial somewhere else. 

But, here’s what I’ve decided.  I’m actually quite good with makeup.  So, I’m going to do my own makeup on my wedding day.  I figure, even if I do find someone better, I’m going to have my eye paranoia issue, so, I may as well just do it myself. 

But, I do need to find someone to do my hair, because unlike makeup, I am completely useless at anything hair-related. 

So, perhaps I’ll even do some wedding makeup trial tutorials and post them here to see what you all think! 


Using Google Docs to Organize your Wedding

by Melissa on August 16, 2011

How we’ve used Google Docs to organize our wedding planning process.

A few weeks ago, I discussed how to find and organize inspiration for your wedding.  And, one of the very first blog posts on SuperNoVABride explained how to organize your wedding planning process. One of those ways was to use Google Docs.

So, here’s how we’ve used Google Docs to stay organized while planning a wedding.

1) Collecting Guests’ Addresses. I can’t take credit for this idea.  I read about this idea from Google itself. For folks that you have e-mail addresses for, or for folks that have Facebook or some other social networking account, you just have to send them a link to the form that you create and they can click on it and fill in all the relevant information!

Here are the fields we used in our Google Form:

  • Last Name
  • First Name
  • Your Spouse/Guest’s Name
  • Your Kid’s Names (if applicable) (large text box for this one)
  • Street Address
  • City
  • State
  • Zip Code
  • Any additional information we should know (like if your spouse or kids have different last names, or if one of you is a doctor, etc.) (large text box for this one)

2) Expense Tracking and Expense projections. I’m a freak about tracking my expenses.  If you don’t believe me, here’s a screenshot of our expenses from recent vacations.


Then, to make it fun, we have a separate expense analysis sheet to determine how all that money was spent at a quick glance.

vacationanalysis (2)

For your wedding expense tracking spreadsheet, I’d recommend setting up two tabs.  One for actual expenses and one for projected expenses.  (Don’t forget to delete your entry from projected expenses once you put it on your actual expenses tab).  This will help you 1) keep track of all the money you have spent, and 2) by including your projected expenses, you’ll ensure that you’re more aware of your actual budget situation.  Sharing the document will allow both you and your fiance (or whoever else) to add their wedding-related expenses without having to e-mail it back and forth to each other.

There are a ton of different spreadsheets you can use in Google Docs, but this is the only one I’m going to discuss in this post.  I’ll have another post about that!

3) Centralized storing of wedding contracts. Although we have a shared “weddings” folder (folders are called collections in GDocs) on Google Docs that my fiancé and I share, where we save things like our expenses spreadsheet, we created another folder specifically for “Wedding Contracts.”  We take copies of all our signed contracts and save them to the Wedding Contracts folder.  That way, we don’t have to go digging back through our e-mail to find our contracts and invoices.  We have also shared this folder with our month-of wedding coordinator so that she has everything on hand.

4) Saving correspondence with vendors. Any correspondence that you have with vendors, I always save the e-mails to our shared Weddings folder.  Once again, this will help prevent the need to go searching through your inbox for the relevant e-mails.

Benefits of Using Google Docs

1) You don’t have to constantly search through your e-mail and countless replies for document attachments.  Everything is saved in one central folder

2) You can then share that folder with all the people involved in your wedding planning process.  Then, you don’t have to forward additional e-mails to them.  All they have to do is check the updated folder.

3) It’s better than saving it to a hard drive folder alone, that way you can access it whenever you’re online, no matter what your location.

So, there you have it!  Now go! Sign up for Google Docs and get your wedding organized!


Crazy Week Randomness

by Melissa on August 12, 2011

Wowza, this has been a crazy week.  Work has been stretching well into my evening hours, not leaving much time to schedule posts!  But alas, here’s some random wedding-related thoughts for ya.

  • We went shopping for wedding bands for my fiance two weeks ago.  He really likes the tungsten-style rings and he saw two (one at two different stores) that he really liked.  They were in the $250-$300 range, which seemed really reasonable, but  we wanted to do some price comparisons, so we didn’t buy any right away.  Well, he came home and did some research and found that tungsten is one of the cheapest metals around. There is no way that a tungsten ring should be that much money.  The metal is so cheap, all you’re really paying for is someone to make it. A few quick searches, and he found a nearly identical tungsten wedding band on for $14.99.  Seriously, $14.99.  So, he ordered one to try the size, and holy shit! It’s a phenomenal looking and expensive feeling ring! He took it to work to show it to his coworkers and pulled the ever-classy “how much do you think this was?”  People almost always said in the $300-$400 range.  And, a neighbor of ours, who describes herself as a “Tiffany Jewelry Girl” said she thought the ring was around $500.  They’re all floored when we tell them that it’s $14.99.  Now, one of Ken’s coworkers said that he wouldn’t feel comfortable buying something so cheap to symbolize a marriage.  But, that kind of reasoning reminds me of the early days of wedding planning when we decided to serve picnic-style food at our wedding, and some jerkface wrote in a wedding forum “I don’t think that hot dogs and hamburgers can communicate that you’re not taking your nuptials seriously.”  And what, foodie food does represent that?  And a $500 ring will represent it better than a $14.99 ring?

  • I have my hair and makeup trial scheduled for Sunday.  I’m excited, but I’m really at a loss for how to do my hair! I definitely want it down in some way, but I’m being very indecisive.

  • Speaking of hair and makeup, some places charge more for hair or makeup (alone!) than I paid for my wedding dress! Luckily I found a non-wedding wire makeup artist online.  I hope she works out.  Her prices are so much more reasonable.

  • I have determined that EBay sellers and Craigslist sellers dramatically inflate their prices for some things.  For instance, clear glass bud-vases range anywhere from $1.35-$4.00 each on Ebay (when buying in a lot of vases). The most I spent on a bud vase this weekend during some thrift store runs was 75 cents!

  • My family is having a shower for me at the end of August in Pittsburgh.  I’m not really the type of person that does well like having to be “on” for such a long period of time.  For instance, sitting in front of a big group of people while they all watch my reaction as I open gifts.  And my family is troubling themselves so much with details about this wedding.  Asking me how I want the cake decorated when we’re not even going to have a decorated wedding cake! Or asking me about what colored napkins I want when we’re just going to have plain white paper napkins at the wedding.  The simpler, the better!  Also, just out of curiosity, how many wedding showers have you been to that men have been invited?

  • I ordered 30 tablecloths for the tables at the wedding.  Much cheaper than renting them!  I got a shipping notification for them the other day.  51 pounds of tablecloths headed my way!  That is a lot of freakin tablecloths!

Whew.  Okay, I guess that’s about it for now.


So, I know that the weeks before a wedding can be crazy busy.  But I wonder, do they have to be? 

We’re getting married in early November.  What if, say, I were to have 98% of all wedding tasks done by mid September?  Let’s just throw out September 15 just for the heck of it.

I think it’s definitely possible.  Here are a few things that I know couldn’t be done until the weeks before the wedding.  Those things would include:
  • Final dress fitting
  • Final suit fitting
  • Buying perishable or other food type items (fudge favors, beer keg, ice, pumpkins for our centerpieces, etc.)
  • Final vendor confirmations
  • We’ll continue our dance lessons too, but that’s just for fun at this point

But what if, seriously, everything else could be done nearly two months in advance?  All decorations purchased, all remaining balances paid, all accessories bought, hair and makeup trial done, playlists made, etc.).  I think, too, that even though we won’t have a final guest list by September 15, that I’ll print out the place cards with the names of each invitee, and we can just pick the cards out of the stack that we’ll need.  Another plus?  It will force me to think of everything far enough in advance that I won’t have to pay any additional shipping.  For instance, I just ordered something from Etsy for the wedding that has a six week turnaround time!  I’m glad I ordered it early!

It just feels so liberating!  So, I think I’m going to give it a whirl and let you know how it goes.  And I’ll see what, between September 15 and the wedding date, we forgot to do and ended up having to do.

I’m not sure what made me think of this.  I was just thinking I guess of how hectic brides’ lives seem to get in the last weeks leading up to the wedding.  And I don’t want to be that bride.

I wrap up a HUGE project at work on September 9.  And, if I make my new “pretend” wedding date September 15, I can bust my ass both at work and at home on wedding-related stuff, and then chillax for nearly two months before the wedding!  And dare I say even perhaps take some sort of mini vacation in October?

So, brides, what were some of the things that took up a lot of time in the weeks leading up to the wedding?  What should I be aware of and look to take care of well before the wedding?


We Decided on our Minimoon Destination

by Melissa on August 2, 2011

We have finally decided on our minimoon location!  I had discussed before why we weren’t going on a honeymoon right away, and some minimoon ideas a few months back.

Initially, I wanted to stay within driving distance of DC for a minimoon.  But you know what?  Overnight vacations are really expensive around here.  We were finding that bed-and-breakfasts in Shenandoah or Annapolis can cost more than $250/night.  To have some crappy little room that doesn’t even have its own bathroom?  I don’t care how “charming” it is.  No thank you!

So, we have decided on one of my all-time favorite vacation spots.  Vegas!  My fiancé and I went there once together back in 2008, and I have been to Vegas probably about a dozen times.  I think I mentioned this on here before, but my dad worked in the airline industry for nearly 40 years, so I grew up flying for free.  And we went to Vegas a lot on vacation since we didn’t have a whole lot of money growing up and the hotels and food were always so cheap.

Getting There Cheaply

I mentioned in our honeymoon post that we’re much more willing to spend money on a honeymoon than on our wedding, because, as I’ve said before, we keep ourselves on a budget by choice, not by circumstance.  But, it looks like Vegas will be pretty cheap for us!  I have two Southwest Rewards tickets that we can use to go there.  Although one of them expired so, we’ll have to pay $50 each way to get the reward ticket re-issued.  Typically I’m loathe to use reward tickets to places that typically have such cheap airfare (like Vegas and Orlando and such), but, my second free ticket would be expiring soon after the wedding anyway, so we’ll just use them up.

So, two plane tickets to Vegas will be $110.  ($100 for re-issuing the round-trip ticket, plus a $5 each security fee that is not included in the reward fare).

Keeping Other Expenses Low in Vegas

We signed up for e-mail alerts for hotels that we’re interested in and that have the nicest suites (The Cosmopolitan looks great) and I signed up for Living Social and Groupon deals for Las Vegas to keep an eye out for good show deals.  The last time we were in Vegas we bought a same day ticket to Ka, one of many many Cirque du Soleil shows out there, and it was much more reasonable than buying it in advance.

Neither one of us like to gamble, so we won’t have to worry about spending a lot on gambling.  We’re not opposed to gambling or anything, we just find it boring.  Although, while waiting for Ka to open its doors for the show — they make people wait on the casino floor, go figure! —  I put $10 in a nickel slot machine and walked away with $72.65.  Not too shabby!.

2008_09_03 20_50_37 Las Vegas Trip copy 2008_09_03 20_50_49 Las Vegas Trip copy

Neither of us are into clubbing or anything like that, so our expenses should be pretty low.  Our pre-show meal the last time was at In-n-Out burger (love that place and gotta take advantage of it while on the West Coast since they don’t have any out our direction) so we’re pretty low maintenance on food too.

Non-Gambling things to do in Vegas

A lot of people wonder what there is to do in Las Vegas if you don’t like to gamble or go clubbing.  Well, in addition to the basics (the shows, the art museum and botanical garden at the Bellagio, walking around the amazing hotels, the fountain show at the Bellagio, going to the top of The Paris, shopping, gondola rides at The Venetian, etc.) I’ve been making a list of things to do while we’re there that we didn’t do the last time.  The shows are probably where the bulk of our expenses would be.

One or more of the following shows:

  • Cirque du Soleil – LOVE
  • Blue Man Group
  • Penn and Teller
  • Showgirl Show

And the following things around Vegas

  • Neon Museum and Boneyard (top priority!)
  • Gold and Silver Pawn Shop (of Pawn Stars fame)
  • The Auto Collections at Imperial Palace
  • The Pinball Museum
  • Red Rock Canyon
  • Valley of Fire State Park

Of course, we’re only planning on going for 4 or 5 days, so we likely won’t have time to do all of that, but that’s okay, we’ll just keep it on our list for the next trip there.

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Assigned Seating Merry-go-Round

by Melissa on August 1, 2011

Back in June, my fiancé and I went to a wedding reception that didn’t have assigned seating.  *Gasp*

That’s like the cardinal rule of weddings all over the interwebs.  Skimp on all other time-consuming tasks if you have to, but never, ever skip assigned seating.  They say your guests will feel more comfortable not having to hunt for seats, and people who don’t know anyone else at your wedding will feel awkward trying to figure out where to sit.

But lo and behold, at the wedding wedding reception we attended, no one’s head exploded from a lack of seating chart.  No one meandered around disappointingly looking for a seat like a dorky kid at his first day of a new junior high school.  No feuds erupted among guests that didn’t get along (and there were plenty of those … the bride and groom are from different cultural backgrounds).  People just sat down and started chatting.

That sealed the deal for me.  I was not going to waste my time creating some damn seating chart and trying to track down guest RSVPs just because I needed to know where people would sit.

(A Long) Side Story: Our Catering Tasting and Visiting our Venue again

A few weeks ago, my fiancé and I visited the venue again.  My mom and dad were in town and had not seen the venue yet, so we took them there.  We also invited the woman we’re hiring as our “month of” coordinator.  While there, she and her assistant mentioned all the extra tables we were going to have to rent.  The pavilion provides 20 picnic tables that seat 8 people each (therefore seating 160 people).  We’re expecting about 125-150 guests, so I thought we were in good shape.  I was planning on renting two or three extra tables, including a small round one for me and my fiancé, and some regular, non-picnic tables and chairs for our immediate family.

Well, the coordinator promptly pointed out that the tables would only seat six people each.

“SIX!?!” I exclaimed.  “No way.  These definitely seat 8 people.”

“No,” she said calmly.  “In fact, in all likelihood it would be better if only four people sat at each table, but we can do with six.”  She said that because the benches were attached to the tables and because of the bar in the middle (pictured below), it would be way too uncomfortable for eight people to sit at each table.

picnictable (2)

Hundreds of dollar signs ran through my head.  Extra table rentals, extra linens and tablescape decor, and less open space to dance!

So, I said, “No, I definitely think we can get 8 people to sit at each table.”

But nope, six it was.  She said we just wouldn’t want our guests to be uncomfortable.  I was really devastated.  And totally embarrassed for missing such an important detail that was now going to cost us money.

Fast forward two weeks.  We were having a tasting with a BBQ caterer who has done several weddings at that venue.  The caterer came to our house, and we invited our coordinator.

We were all talking about general venue stuff, and the coordinator asked the caterer if they provide the tables they use to serve the food, because we were going to need all the picnic tables plus rent several more tables.

The caterer, who knew our estimated guest count because we had provided it to him for the food proposal, clarified with us how many people were going to be there.  We told him, 125-150.  The conversation then went like this:

Caterer:  Well, you won’t need any extra tables.  Those tables seat 8 people each and there are 20 in the pavilion.

Me: (like a brat and looking at the coordinator):  See!  I told you they seat 8 people!

Coordinator: “No, they only sit 4 or 6 at the most.”

Caterer: (incredulous).  Those are 8 foot tables!  That gives each person two feet on each side!

Coordinator: Yeah, but that bar in the middle affects the space

Caterer: I’ve catered at least ten events there, and eight people sit at those tables comfortably all the time.  Again, that’s two feet of space for each person!

Coordinator: Okay … (but still not sounding convinced)

With that simple, 30 second conversation, I felt so relieved.  Once again we weren’t going to have to rent 10 extra tables and sacrifice dance floor space.

Nice Side Story. Now What about Assigned Seating?

So, how does this all relate to assigned seating?  Well, after my initial relief about the picnic tables, I started thinking.  If we don’t have assigned seats, then people may start to seat themselves only 6 to a table, and then the seating issue might get a little awkward and it could appear that we don’t have enough tables.

So, to avoid that, with much disdain, I have decided to adopt the assigned seating mindset again.  Although, if we had regular tables and chairs instead of picnic tables and benches at our venue, you could be sure that I would not have assigned seating.

Lessons Learned

So, what are some lessons to take from this?

Trust your gut. Yes, wedding vendors have a lot of experience.  But, trust your gut.  I was going to end up shelling out probably several hundred dollars extra for table rentals just because I trusted my coordinator over my gut.  But my coordinator did not have experience with this venue, the caterer did.  Reach out to others who may have the experience if you’re second guessing one of your vendor’s decisions.

You do not need assigned seating.  Period. The wedding I went to in June was just fine.  LIBudgetBride just got married in June and had a well-executed, non-assigned seating wedding.  I hear that seating charts a huge hassle (and now that I have to do it myself, I’ll be able to speak from experience in a few months), and it’s not worth the time and effort, especially since it’s something that can’t be completely done until very close to your wedding date.