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I began wedding coordinating three years ago and I have loved every minute of it. Some weddings have been super hard and others have been a walk in the park, but each one has made me cry and I always get attached to my clients; the fact that I am so emotional allows me to take a personal interest in each and every wedding.

Exactly one month ago my boyfriend of almost seven years proposed to me…finally! All little girls (and some little boys) have dreamed of their very own wedding day and I am definitely one of those little girls. Needless to say, the wheels started spinning immediately and the church was booked by 2 p.m. the next day but I was now faced with a dilemma. I had to make all the important decisions and needed to pitch all my fabulous ideas and desires to my parents and in-laws, also known as “the powers that pay”.

It is a huge change being the bride and not the wedding coordinator but with the support of my fiancé and my very own wedding coordinator, I have survived the first month; just 14 more months to go!

The Do’s and Don’ts that I’ll be sharing in this two-part article are just the beginning, because every day I learn a new lesson and find a new site with advice on how to not have a melt-down. But hopefully, they’ll serve you as well as they’re serving me as a coordinator and a bride.

Do’s

Remember, it’s your wedding

You just got engaged and you now get to plan your very BIG day! Yay! But what you didn’t realise is you are also planning a wedding for your mother, your mother-in-law, your grandmother, your sister, etc. It is impossible to keep everyone happy so you need to be ready to speak your mind and tell everyone what you want for your wedding day.

Pick your battles carefully

Unfortunately, because of all the different opinions around you and your wedding you will need to be ready to ‘fight’. By all means, fight for what you want but is it really worth fighting with your Mom about? At the end of all the planning there is a special day that you want everyone you love to be there for. Are you willing to let a fight about your invitations or your cake be the reason that your own Mom or even your mother-in-law is upset? Compromise! I promise, it will be worth it!

Compare vendors

Do your homework. Get quotes from every caterer, photographer and printer and every vendor that you can. Meet with them and discuss everything in the quote; ensure your quote has no hidden costs, and ensure you get along with the vendor. This is the person you will be trusting with your wedding food, photography or printing and you need to ensure that you are not just picking the cheapest one. Also speak to your friends/family who have used them; you may hear great reviews from some and bad reviews from others, but ensure that you hear what they have to say. One of my favourite quotes is, “If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional, wait until you hire an amateur.”

Have a back-up plan

Let’s face it, we live in Trinidad & Tobago and as far as I am concerned, we do not have a Rainy or Dry Season. It can rain at anytime and if you are utilising the beauty of an outdoor wedding then you need to face the reality that it will most likely rain. So, have a plan! You will not want to be dragging your beautiful wedding dress through the mud.

For your ‘scheduled formal portraits’, you may have always dreamed of doing them in your aunt’s gorgeous garden but if it rains, are you able to use her patio or her house? She may not be too happy to have you and your 20-person bridal party ‘traipsing’ through her house, so ensure you have a covered option for picture-taking. Also, when it comes to your reception ask about last minute tent installation and remember to ask if there is an extra cost.

Take care of your foreigners

Send out ‘Save the Date’ invitations or emails, because the same way that you have to plan every detail of your wedding, your foreign guests need to plan their trip. The sooner you let them know, the better chance you give them of getting a cheaper plane ticket, applying to take time off work and booking an affordable hotel.

It’s not always easy for your guests to just fly in for a wedding, so do your best to give them all the help they need. This will also include suggesting hotels, entertaining them and organising transport to and from the wedding. One great tool is a wedding website; that way, you can communicate with all of them at the same time. You can put all the info that you want them to know about Trinidad & Tobago right there for them to see.

Hire a Wedding Planner/Coordinator

I am not saying this just because I am one but I truly believe every couple needs one. The days that lead up to your wedding are stressful to say the least and you will need all the help you can get. Having a planner will allow you to keep your sanity – especially on the day – and allow you to get dressed in peace. Your wedding planner will be able to be where you cannot and will be ensuring that your DJ shows up to do a sound check, that your cake is not being attacked by bugs and if the rain starts to fall, she will implement the ‘back-up plan’. Hire someone who you trust and feel comfortable with; after all, this is the day you have been waiting for.

These are just a few tips as I can definitely type many more and I am sure every bride can add to my advice. Stay tuned for my Don’ts because we all need to be prepared for our own weddings; not to mention we also need be ready to support our sisters or friends as they take on the ‘task’ of planning their wedding day.