Real newlyweds give wedding planning tips based on their experience.
Lauren and Julian Sullinger’s wedding took place on Sept. 1, 2017, at Jorgensen Farms.
If you could do anything about your wedding differently, what would you change and why?
Lauren: I wouldn't have spent so much money on a wedding planner, and instead would have only found a “day-of” coordinator. Unless you have absolutely zero time in your life, I think it's completely possible to plan your own wedding and have it be all that you want it to be. The day-of coordinator, in my opinion, is non-negotiable. It keeps you and your family focused on enjoying the day and leaves management of the logistics to the professionals.
Julian: Of course, the perfect answer would be “nothing” and it may be cliché, but that is the truth. Did we spend too much money? Yes! Was the day ran exactly as planned? No! But was it the best day of my life next to the birth of my daughter? (Another memory with my wife, as we have a 7-year-old daughter, Joelle.) Yes!
What are you happy you spent money on?
L: I would have paid what we paid and more for both our photographer (Dan Buckley) and our venue (Oak Grove at Jorgensen Farm)! I think we were very smart with how we spread our budget.
For example, wedding cake just wasn't something that was very important to us. We still had a cake, but instead of splurging on a fancy cake from a bakery, we ordered a smaller, more “traditional” wedding cake, and then ordered a sheet cake from Giant Eagle to feed the masses (which was delicious). My advice to brides- and grooms-to-be is to start with a list and prioritize what's most important to you both, and always come back to that list to help you decide what's worth spending the extra money on.
J: Our photos came out great! When I first heard about the invoice, I was hesitant, but it was worth every penny! My family and close friends still post photos on their social media from our special day.
What was your biggest surprise when planning your wedding?
L: My biggest surprise when planning our wedding was just how many details you are responsible for making decisions on. You're not just selecting the vendors; you're selecting the plates, the linens, the forks; you're selecting the invitation text font, text color; you have to consider the types of flowers you want in all of the bouquets. Admittedly, things can get very overwhelming.
As we started to get down to the wire, I made sure I went back to our list of priorities, and if something wasn't high on our priority list, I made an effort not to spend too much time and effort making decisions or stressing over it.
J: That they are expensive.
What do you wish you'd known before you started planning?
L: I wish I had known what all goes into your final bridal gown costs (tailoring, etc.). I went in with a budget for my gown, and by the time veils were selected, belts were sewn in, cups and bustles were added, the cost of the dress was over double what I'd planned to spend. However, that's another item that I would not recommend skimping on. My dress was perfection, and it was in large part to the wonderful tailor who made the gown that I'd purchased work especially for me!
J: That it is stressful and is far from easy. At times, that can get in the way with the moment. The moment is way more important than the process.
Did you experience any wedding-day snafus? What were they, and how did you handle them?
L: Unfortunately, my daughter’s flower bouquet was not delivered the day of the wedding, nor were the boutonnieres that were ordered. Luckily, I have some pretty creative bridesmaids and they made magic happen!
Also, we just so happened to have the worst day of the summer on our wedding day, haha. We were married over Labor Day Weekend, and on the day of our wedding, the forecast called for a high of 50 with showers.
Did you and your fiancé get into any silly arguments? How did you resolve them?
L: Of course! My husband wanted our first dance to be to Jay Z and Beyoncé's “Drunk In Love.” I told him that my wedding was not where I wanted my grandmother to have a heart attack and die! I told my husband that as a compromise, he could take control of the music list for the DJ. By then, gramma was at home and in the bed.
J: All the time. Hence why I say, the moment trumps the process. The main issue was our first song. Another one that was very complicated was the guest list. I have a bigger circle of family and friends, so my guests were well over the majority of the list. As it was getting closer to our day, it was hard explaining every guest, although they were all important. Eventually we came to a compromise on the list.
Do you have any general advice for couples currently planning their weddings?
L: Plan the wedding that you want for you and your bride/groom to be. So often, we would get caught up in making decisions because we thought it would please our guests, but don't forget that this day is about you and your husband/wife.
Also, do not skimp on your photographer. We found Dan at a local wedding show, and his work spoke for itself. We knew several folks that were willing to shoot our wedding at a reduced price, but we were not willing to sacrifice the quality of our wedding photos, and Dan delivered all that we could have imagined and more. When he delivered our wedding album, I literally cried for an hour looking through the shots because he didn't just take pictures, he captured moments that conveyed all of the joy and happiness that was a part of that day.
J: Enjoy it. Every moment. We laugh and joke about the rough moments through the process. Also, everything isn't that serious because those few hours when you are with your loved ones, nothing else matters but the person you are kissing at the end of the ceremony.