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Allie Wester: Secret Confessions of a Wedding Planner

Let's Face it, I have been doing wedding a long, long time. Believe it or not, I started my wedding planning business before cell phones, yes you read that correctly! In my twenty years of planning and coordinating weddings and events I have seen trends come and go and even come back around again.

Originally, weddings were a bit simpler. Now they've evolved into major productions, but I love that! I love incorporating live artists, choreographed bridal party dances, chocolate and cordials stations, and serving the bride and groom's favorite late night snacks, like fried pickles or cafe 'au last and beignets at the end of the reception. I love when the bride and groom add in a flair of personality into their wedding.

For example, one wedding I coordinated, the bride and groom were both athletes and they had the band announce the bridal party into the reception to sound like a sporting event. Even though weddings have progressed to a point that I never thought they would, some things remain the same.

Here are the three things that have not changed in the twenty years I have been a wedding planner.

1) The bride will be stressed no matter what type of personality she has. She could be a type A, really laid back, or even OCD, all brides have moments where they get overwhelmed and stressed out.

In my experience, it's not the big choices concerning the wedding, such as the venue, church, or even vendors. Stress comes with the hundreds of little decisions such as the color of the napkins. Should they be white or ivory? Should those napkins be fabric or paper? These little demon decisions, as I like to call them, have a massive meltdown in the making.

In my upcoming book, "Secret Confessions of a Wedding Planner," I write about some of these collapses in full detail, some of which are quite entertaining to say the least. A few ways a bride can stay stress free would be to make these little demon decisions as early in the process as possible. This ensured things don't snowball closer to the wedding and start an avalanche of problems. Another way is to hire a wedding planner. (See what I did there?) A professional wedding planner can help you avoid pitfalls before they even happen, thus eliminating future stress from erupting. Many of my past brides, and mother of the brides, say the best decision they made was hiring me!

2) Money will be spent. No matter how much or how little (yea, right), money will be spent. Wedding costs have doubled since the 90's now with an average cost of $27,000. However, even if you elope, you'll still pay the clerk of court for the marriage license and your officiant. You can't get around spending money on your wedding but you can be extremely strategic. When preparing a budget, I always ask my brides, "what is the most important thing to you for your wedding?" Some say the wedding gown, others say it's the food at the reception. Some say its the flowers and so on. I even had one bride say the most important thing for her wedding was to have top shelf alcohol!

My advice is to splurge on what's most important to you and then adjust the rest of your budget. If having Grey Goose and Crown Royal at the bar is your top priority, then by all means do it! You may have to forgo favors, which are optional anyway, and get less expensive invitations, but your will never know while enjoying that top shelf martini.

3) The wedding day will go by in a flash. My typical time frame to work a wedding is usually about twelve hours. That's a long day! And for the bride it can be even longer. Hair and makeup can start as early as 8:00 am, pre-pictures at 4:00 pm, the ceremony at 7:00 pm and the reception lasting until midnight. This may sound like a long day, but for the bride and groom it will go by in lightning speed. So much will be happening. Pictures, Visiting with friends and family, The vows and "I dos." Spotlight dances and on and on. The bride and groom do not stop the entire day.

The best piece of advice I can give couples is to stop, breathe, and be present and in the moment. Say to yourself, "This is my wedding day!" and take it all in. Another great thing is to take time to have a private dining moment. A mere fifteen minutes right when you arrive at the reception is all you need. Have a cocktail, enjoy some delicious food your caterer prepared, and share a precious moment with your new spouse. Take a moment to absorb what just happened. It might just be the only time you get alone throughout the entire reception. I promise it will be fifteen minutes well spent.

Considering the future, I'm sure weddings will evolve and progress even more, but you can count on this, brides will continue being stressed, money will be spent, and the wedding day will fly by. But now you know what to do! Hire a wedding planner, be strategic in your spending, and take a moment to enjoy your day and all will go well.