Real newlyweds give wedding planning tips based on their experience.
Eliza and Justin Lee’s wedding took place on June 2, 2018, at The Barn at Stratford.
If you could do anything about your wedding differently, what would you change and why?
Eliza: I would hire a videographer. Looking back, I think it would have been a good way to see the wedding in ways I wasn't able to.
Justin: The only thing I would change is making sure we had someone at the wedding that was able to properly cut a wedding cake. The catering company tried to help cut pieces of the cake for everyone, which were cut in huge portions.
What are you happy you spent money on?
E: Our venue! We loved the staff that was available that day and felt that it fit us perfectly.
J: I was very happy that we spent money on an all-out wedding venue. The Barn at Stratford in Delaware was absolutely amazing.
What do you think you could have done without?
E: The centerpieces that we made. They were so pretty and I loved the way they turned out. However, they took a lot of time and effort to set up that day. I wish I would have gone with something more simple.
J: Nothing really comes to my mind. I felt everything ran extremely smoothly and there wasn't anything we bought that we didn't use.
What was your biggest surprise when planning your wedding?
E: We had a 13-month engagement, and I needed every minute of it. I really don't think there was one day that I wasn't busy planning or creating something, but I had fun doing it.
J: Just how fast a wedding guest list can fill up. Our venue had a capacity of about 170, and our combined families easily took up half of that number. We had to leave a lot of our work and family friends off the invite list.
What do you wish you’d known before you started planning?
E: [To set] a budget. We were trying to save costs wherever we could, but I wish we would have sat down and talked about how much we would spend on everything. The cost for decorations really added up, and I didn't realize until after.
J: Just how much a wedding really costs. If it wasn't for us having such helpful parents, we would've had to make multiple budget cuts for the wedding. We are very thankful for their monetary generosity toward our budget.
Did you experience any wedding-day snafus?
E: I had planned to bring Justin's grandma cake knife for when we cut our cake. However, I didn't make a note or tell anyone it was important that I bring it, so I forgot it at home. We ended up cutting the cake with a plastic knife and tried to cover the whole thing with our hands for pictures (which worked out).
J: The only other snafu we experienced was how we were going to position our head table within the venue. We had a set-up in our mind for awhile going into the wedding, but had to change it due to overcrowding in parts of the venue. We were able to get that straightened out on rehearsal night, though.
Did you and your fiancé get into any silly arguments?
E: No, Justin kind of let me take the wheel on most things. I think he is happy with the way everything turned out.
J: We were both on the same page for the entire wedding process. I'm pretty easygoing, so anything that my wife really wanted, I was on board with.
Eliza, any dress-shopping advice?
E: I think the “when you know, you know” saying applies to dress shopping as well. I went to four different stores before I found the one. I knew what I wanted and waited until I had that “bridal moment,” and I am so glad I did!
What about menswear?
J: For suit shopping, I would check out multiple stores before committing to one. There is a ton of variety out there, and it is important to be 100 percent sure of your attire choice.
Do you have any general advice for couples currently planning their weddings?
E: You know when it gets closer to your wedding and everyone tells you to take a moment and soak it all in? Do that while you’re planning. Maybe when you’re [getting organized], take a moment to realize what it is all for. When you start to get stressed, just think about the day in general and don't stress the small things. It will be the best day of your life, and everything will work out.
J: Start your planning right away. Weddings are not something you can wait till the last minute to plan for, especially with your venue choice. Venues are being booked over a year in advance.
E: Also, never think, “I have plenty of time to get that done” if you have the time do it [now]. The last three months are the busiest time, and the less you have to do then, the better.
Do you have any general marriage advice, as a newlywed?
E: Don't sweat the small stuff. Now having much bigger worries—when to have babies, how to handle finances, etc.—it's easy to get caught up in the little things. Just remember, as newlyweds there are so many things to look forward to.
J: Just enjoy every day together, and don't sweat the little things. Marriage has both high and low times, but it's important you take on those times side-by-side.