Real newlyweds give wedding planning tips based on their experience.
Damian and Mindy Ettish’s wedding took place on May 20, 2017, at dock580.
If you could do anything about your wedding differently, what would you change and why?
We absolutely loved our wedding and honestly don’t like the idea of nitpicking about things on the day, because we want to maintain the beautiful experience we had.
That being said, I guess we slightly regret not taking more pictures of just the two of us. We have a few gorgeous pictures and a lot with family and friends, but we wish we could have had a few more of just us to have and put up throughout our home.
What are you happy you spent money on?
We are overjoyed with our decision to use Dan Buckley as our photographer. He was a little more expensive than some others—although not the most expensive—but his pictures are truly wonderful and will always be appreciated. Other than the photographer, we spent a little more than anticipated on our cake, which also looked stunning and tasted incredible.
What do you think you could have done without?
We totally over-planned the dessert bar; we went a little crazy and bought too much small stuff. I guess we were worried that people would still want sweet things, but after dinner a few people left and others just wanted to drink and dance.
What was your biggest surprise when planning your wedding?
The amount of time it takes: No matter how much planning you do, there’s always something that needs your attention; even more so as you approach the big day—like your aunt who might have sudden dietary requirements or friends who want to bring a child and their hotel through your group booking isn’t kid friendly. Take these in your stride, though. Often, you can’t do anything about them. My advice is designating a family member or close friend who’s not in the wedding and ask them to make quick decisions on the day or the day before so you can focus on what’s more important.
What do you wish you'd known before you started planning?
Our wedding coordinator at our venue left half way through the process. We really liked her and were working well with her. After she left, we were transitioned to working with a new coordinator who seemed fine and organized, but we didn’t have the same feeling of attention to detail and enthusiasm as our original coordinator.
Did you experience any wedding-day snafus?
Our day ran pretty smoothly; we were curtailed by rain, so we had to change our photography plans on a whim. But luckily we managed to still get some great shots, so this is not something we pine over.
We did discover after we returned from our honeymoon that not all our dessert and cake was returned to us after we were promised that it would be. Also we had bought and shipped African curios as favors, and these were cleared off the tables after dinner and not returned to us as promised. This was especially disappointing, as not all our guests received these gifts, which were carefully hand-chosen.
I confronted our venue about these issues, and they were a little difficult to communicate with, almost denying their involvement in breaking promises, but in the end reluctantly reimbursed us $250 (which in the grand scheme of things wasn’t that much or didn’t fix the greater issue). In hindsight I should have demanded more, but I didn’t want an argument being a lasting memory for what was otherwise such a remarkable and special day.
Did you and your fiancé get into any silly arguments?
A year later, we are struggling to think of any arguments that stand out. I guess that’s only a good thing. We did have a few disagreements, and my wife probably called me out a few times citing some lack of interest or lethargy, but in the end I committed to getting everything done just the way she wanted it because I knew her vision would result in something magical. We worked together extremely well and both had our “designated” roles, which rarely caused opportunity for arguments or disagreements. I always ran everything past her and she with me. That way nothing was a surprise.
Any advice about shopping for menswear?
Get your pants tailored. Suit pants are often too baggy and look awkward in photographs. Be different from your groomsmen, whether it’s a waistcoat or a slightly different color suit—stand out! And don’t wear black with blue, haha.
Do you have any general advice for couples currently planning their weddings?
Know what is important to you; don’t do things because they’re expected. Choose these first and don’t sacrifice on them. If you want flowers everywhere, then do it. If you want the best photos, get the best photographer. Everything else is peripheral. You will be the only ones who remember the details and only you know how much effort you put in. No one cares if that vase didn’t arrive in the post or dessert spoons weren’t gold like you initially wanted.
If time is an issue, get a coordinator—even a day-of on).
Choose a budget and do your best to stick to it. You can very quickly go beyond this and regret things before you even have an opportunity to enjoy yourselves.
Do you have any general marriage advice, as a newlywed?
Listen to each other and do things for each other. Don’t let anything change. Don’t let marriage shift the bar; nothing is really different except you are now working together in every way. She is still my best friend and I am still hers. I was willing to whatever it takes to make her happy and still am. I can faithfully say she feels the same, and that’s why we got married in the first place.