5 tips on how to handle the unexpected in wedding planning (and insight to my planning disasters)
A year ago today, Kyle and I were driving back from Palo Alto with Luna after a visit with my dear friend Rebecca and her family, and some NorCal wedding planning. During this trip, we met with a chef Cori who is amazing and who was going to prepare our 5 course meal at our wedding just 3 months away in Big Sur! There were multiple times on the drive home that day that we pulled over, slowed down, and drove like a granny because the coastline of CA was hit with torrential downpour. IT WAS SCARY FOLKS!!!
Upon returning to LA, we woke up to the news that CA HWY 1 had suffered a devastating landslide. We didn't realize at the time that the storm would change EVERYTHING about our wedding. We would take it week by week, checking the road conditions via the Big Sur Blog and there was no headway to be made. 8 weeks before the scheduled wedding date, I contacted our venue -- they were still expecting to have us as they'd hope the roads would be clear by then. 7 weeks before the big day, I looked at Kyle and tearfully said, I think we need a back up plan. That was only 1 of 3 times I cried during this wedding planning fiasco. The others will be detailed below.
Since I had anything but the smoothest run for my wedding prep, I wanted to share my 5 tips on how to handle the unexpected in the wedding planning process:
ONE: GIVE YOURSELF A MINUTE
When hiccups start to happens or "problems" start to arise -- Give yourself a minute to process. DO NOT MAKE ANY SPLIT SECOND DECISIONS. Even 7 weeks before our big day -- everything was still up in the air, but I needed some time to breathe it out, cry it out, and really think about what would be the best solution as our back up plan, rather than just finding something for the sake of having it. It was SOOO important that our wedding really resonate with us, and our families, so that took priority.
TWO: TAKE A STEP BACK
This is a BIG ONE! There are times, like the 6week mark for Kyle and I, that you have to make really difficult decisions -- Like relocate your entire wedding (3 hrs south) and replace nearly the entire vendor list just weeks before your big day. It is so important, after you have your proper cry (this is the 2nd time I cried -- like UGLY CRIED -- during this planning process), to take a step back and assess the situation honestly and fairly. It was no one's fault that this happened. Not ours, not the venues, and not the scheduled vendors. So when the replanning got underway, we had to take a good look at what was REALLY important and what we wanted the tone of our wedding experience to be. For us, it was all about our families, and ensuring that we got to have ample time with them in a home that could accommodate most of us. We wanted to relax and not have to worry about getting anyone anywhere. We are soooooo lucky to have found the home that we did. See that -- LUCKY -- we had a major shift in perspective from this point forward. I was told time and time again, how well I was handling everything during the process, and I think a big part of that was this shift.
THREE: ASK FOR HELP
Looking back, I think about how fortunate I was to have this happen to me, and not one of my couples. I say that because I have such an abundance of resources within the wedding industry since I work in it myself. But that doesn't mean I wasn't reaching out to EVERYONE I knew. And what I found, was they all had my back. I find most people love when they can help save the day -- and of course help make such a topsy turvy situation a bit more stable. When it came to venues, I reached out to countless coordinators. When it came to the nitty gritty details, I enlisted my girl Teal to come on for more of the project rather than just the day of like expected. When it came to my existing vendors, I was asking for help and understanding through this big change -- because most of them were traveling too. It was a team effort and I'm so grateful to the support we had during this time. Remember, not everyone may know how to offer to help -- so in a time of need or support, simply ask friends/family/vendors for help you need and deserve!
FOUR: LET THAT SHIT GO
I had to remind myself of this nearly every week in the remaining timeline to our wedding day. We found our new location, which really was a dream and the experience I had wanted for everyone. We found our new vendors -- and they went out of their way to provide us service as if it were the biggest event of their calendar year and not just a last minute gig. Our caterer made our favorite appetizer from our favorite LA restaurant so we'd really have that extra special element during our celebration. I go into all of this, because its so easy to think about what you are NOT getting. We weren't getting the dream wedding we had planned on the cliffs of Big Sur. We weren't getting the chef that custom designed a menu for us that tasted like heaven. And 3 weeks before the big day -- my wedding dress showed up (5 weeks behind schedule) to be 4.5" too short. Turns out, the gal measured me wrong. This was the 3rd and final cry in the planning process -- and likely the most hurtful. Everything had been going wrong. I felt like I was having to compromise on every detail, and it stung. I was told they would be able to replace the dress and send me a new one, but there was so much bad energy in the correspondence with that company -- that I needed to LET IT GO. So at week 3 before the wedding, I set out to find a new dress. BHLDN saved the day not only with great service but with a gown I was thrilled to wear.
As I look at how my wedding week unfolded, and the experience I had, I cannot imagine it being any different than it was. The house was the perfect layout and setup for everyone, including my dad whose mobility was changing. The makeup, flowers, coordination, and food were seamless throughout the day and so very beautiful. The dress was perfectly me. I felt the most beautiful I ever had, and it seemed to fit my style more than the original did. I'd like to think if BHLDN had that dress back when I was looking, I would've chosen it anyway. The photographer and videographer have given me the gift of that day over and over again, and for that I will never be able to truly express the impact of these tangible memories, especially since my dad is no longer with us. So if I had to let go of all the things I thought I wanted, to have the best week of my life...I'd do it all over again, landslide and all.
FIVE: BE GRATEFUL AND PRESENT.
The planning and day itself go by so fast. Everyone tells you that, but try your best to remember...because it really REALLY does. And when things go wrong, it's easy (SOOOO EASY!!) to get caught up in the mess of it. I am happy to have had the support that I did, including my badass friend Kelsey who helped put everything into perspective for me just days before heading up to San Luis Obispo for the best week of my life. After all... I got to marry the most special person I know, with all of our family there -- the dogs too -- and she had me visual how I was going to feel in those moments. I stated to myself that I was going to openly accept the love and support of my family and friends to make this the best week ever. I was going to feel beautiful and worthy of such a celebration. I was going to be PRESENT and soak in the richness of the week uninterrupted with my loved ones. This included unplugging for the entire week -- it felt AMAZING!
And as I sat in the car to drive up to SLO that Monday, I felt an overwhelming sense of calm and happiness knowing that this week would forever change my life. I may not have had the wedding I had been dreaming of, but I CAN PROMISE YOU, I had the wedding of my dreams.
All images by the lovely Maria Lamb.