How to design your own royal wedding

Life is hectic.

But when you throw a major life event like a wedding in the mix, it can get downright nutty. The logical question for practical and busy people is: how can I plan for a memorable wedding without it becoming all consuming? At Buttoned Up, we are huge believers in applying the 80/20 rule to event planning. If you aren’t familiar with the 80/20 rule – it basically states that, in anything, a relatively small handful of things really contribute to the desired outcome – so focus energy and attention on them and worry less about all the rest. Getting clarity on the “must-do’s” versus the “nice-to-do’s” is critical to getting organized and keeping your sanity in the run up to the big day. In that spirit, we’ve put together some tips on how to use the 80/20 rule to plan for your upcoming nuptials.

1. Ask a Question.

Looking for ways to make your actual wedding ceremony more special? One of the best-known ways to trigger your imagination is via free association. Find five married people whom you admire and ask them one, simple question: what was the most meaningful part of your wedding ceremony? Use their perspectives as a jumping off point for ideas on what’s really important and how to make your own ceremony special.

2. Decide Where to Stand Firm.

Weddings are one big up-sell opportunity for vendors (e.g. it is the most important day of your life…you wouldn’t want to go without x,y,z). Simply knowing where you won’t be up-sold and where you will allow a little of it can make a huge difference in your ability to stick to your budget. Given the input from others you gathered in step one, identify the things that you won’t scrimp on and the things you will. Then head online and take advantage of some amazing budget tools. The website has great budget worksheets, which you can find on their site under the tools tab.

3. Skip the Musical Chairs.

Few things cause more pre-wedding angst than seating charts. Are Uncle John and cousin Becky still feuding? Will your conservative in-laws balk at sharing a table with your free-spirited family members? Will a college acquaintance be angry she isn’t seated at the same table as other, closer friends from school? When you consider that the typical guest will only be seated for about 1 hour of a 4 hour event, is it really worth wringing your hands over? No. Open seating is a stress-free option for hosts that is often more enjoyable for guests, because they get to choose their own dinner companions. If you must structure the tables somewhat for catering purposes, simply assign table numbers, don’t try to orchestrate who sits where at each table.


4. Don’t Skimp on Photos.

It may sound a little cliché, but the day itself goes by in a flash. Many brides say that they didn’t really experience their wedding until they got the photos back. Get a good photographer to document the day. Be sure to look for someone who has the ability to capture unscripted feelings and moments. Those are the ones you will cherish.

wedding from the 30s

5. Food Is Love.

Food isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when someone says “wedding.” But, with a cost per guest of anywhere from $35 to well over $100, food is typically one of the biggest, if not the biggest, cost drivers for a wedding. If you are getting married at home or at a private residence, instead of opting for the same old chicken or steak routine, consider asking friends and family to give you the gift of food. Rather than buying a standard-issue gift from a registry, they can sign up to make a dish (with plenty of love, of course) for the big celebration. We know it might sound a little bit crazy – a pot luck wedding? But they can be just as classy as any catered affair. The key to pulling it off is getting organized and planning. For example If you prefer to have a bit more control over the menu, enable guests to “register” to make a certain number of servings of a particular dish (e.g. Caesar Salad, Lemon Risotto) or of a particular kind of dish (e.g.appetizer, salad, main dish, dessert).

6. Divvy Up the Thank You’s.

Sending heartfelt thank you notes is the perfect and perfectly appropriate way to complete your wedding celebration. Unfortunately, many brides take responsibility for the entire list, which means two things: (1) grooms don’t have any opportunity to express gratitude for gifts received, and (2) it takes twice as long to get through the list. Try this: the day after you return home from your honeymoon (or the wedding), make a master list of all the presents received and divvy up the thank you responsibilities with your spouse. You can divide the list logically by ‘guest of the bride/guest of the groom,’ by gift type (e.g. place settings for her, kitchen gadgets for him), or any way that makes sense for the two of you. To keep yourselves honest, set a deadline for thank you notes to be completed and establish a bounty, say of $5, for each uncompleted note.