Wedding Details: do they ever stop multiplying and how do I stay sane while I plan my wedding ?

You’re engaged !  Congratulations !!  This is a very exciting time in your life.  Exciting and fun and a bit overwhelming.  There are so many wedding details and once you think you’ve gotten a handle on all of it, you speak to someone else and little seeds of doubt creep into your head: do I really have it all down ?  There are things you can do to keep you relaxed, calm and peaceful.

Here are the top 9 ways to keep you calm and organized as you plan one of the most important days in your life.

  • Take a deep breath and focus on the task at hand: as great as you may be at multi-tasking, you really can only do one thing at a time well.  When things start to get overwhelming, breathe deep, take a look at your options and focus on the most pressing one.  It may be different than what you were working on or had in mind and that’s ok.
  • Keeping your focus: keep a notebook near you or use your notebook app to jot down the myriad of thoughts that distract you from the task at hand.  This will help you to focus and give you peace that you won’t be forgetting something else important.
  • Make a quick hit list: when the multitude of details begin to cloud your thinking and you begin to think that you can’t possibly fit everything in to your planning timeline, break it down into smaller bites.  Plan for a smaller list of details to cover each month.  Look for a planning timeline online or consult with a wedding planner.  Knowing that you have all of the details down on paper and scheduled properly can give you great peace of mind.
  • Reducing Stress: if you find yourself getting stressed, talk with a friend or call your wedding planner.  It’s great to get a different perspective and encouragement from those who love you and those who have the expertise.  Keep an open mind and allow yourself the freedom to change your mind if a better solution presents itself.
  • Positivity: surround yourself with positive people.  Similar to the point above, this is one of the best times in your life to keep focused on the positive and the possibilities.  People who are negative or who are seeking their own way will bring you down.  This is the time to look at your future and keep people around you who want your true happiness.
  • Vendor Specifics: when considering working with any vendor, read their contract thoroughly, make note of the specifics and ask questions if anything isn’t clear.  Be sure that you are comfortable with their stipulations, policies and procedures.  If something doesn’t fit in with what you originally had in mind, decide now if it is a deal breaker or if it something you are willing to compromise on.   Be sure to step back and look at the whole picture.  Each time you decide on a vendor, remember you are one step closer to checking everything off of your list.  
  • Possibilities: you don’t have to do a wedding a specific way, unless you want to.  Follow tradition if it’s important to you, but remember that this day should be all about the two of you coming together and your guests should leave feeling like they saw who you are and what you like.  These days anything is possible.  Decide what you both like, and what makes you most comfortable and happy.
  • Wedding Style: with so many options available to a wedding couple, sometimes you can get overwhelmed with the possibilities or you worry that while you are happy with your decision on something today, tomorrow you may find a better option.  You could plan forever, but then you won’t end up enjoying one of the best days of your life.  This is where style definition comes into play.  One of the best ways to define your style is to look at pictures of various elements of a wedding: flowers, dresses, suits/tuxes, decor, lighting, the cake, etc.  Pinterest is a great tool that can help you narrow down the possibilities.  Once you start pinning all of the pictures that make you happy, take a step back and look at your selections.  You will start to see some consistency.  Make note of 5 to 7 words that describe your style.  These can then be the basis as you make decisions on all of the elements you include in your wedding.  Moving forward, if you have a question about whether something is right for your wedding you can go back to these words and decide if it fits in.

Remember, at the end of the day you will be married to the one that you love and the one who loves you: deeply, completely and unconditionally.  No matter what elements you put into your day or if something doesn’t turn out as you saw it in your head, when the ceremony and reception are over, you will fall asleep with the love of your life by your side, wake up to a new day and start your new life together.  Take joy in this and savor the moments that bring you the most joy during the planning process.



Distinctive Weddings

Distinctive.  That’s the word for today’s weddings.  Brides and Grooms don’t want to replicate everything that’s already been done.  If you want to make your wedding distinctive, focus on your passions … not just each other, but everything that matters most to you.

Think about:

  • what you love to do: hiking, sailing, traveling, creating, cooking, etc.

  • your favorite colors: choose more than two, mix and match and create a full palette

  • any special causes ?  Healthy, are you Green, have a deep love of animals, helping people

  • how do you describe yourselves ?    Quirky, fun, casual and relaxed or attuned to the finer things, elegant and bold or simple, modern and understated or are you from a different era, pick a decade or century

Your wedding should look like you and when your family and friends leave, what will they say ?  “That wedding was so them !!”

Love who you are as individuals and who you are together and be authentically you.  Anything is possible.

MD Family Table

Hand-tied Chocolate Napkins

Hand-tied Chocolate Napkins

Menu Card with Hand-tied Chocolate Napkin

Menu Card with Hand-tied Chocolate Napkin

Chocolate covered cake with Gold edged Milk Chocolate ribbons and bows by Cakework, SF

Chocolate covered cake with Gold edged Milk Chocolate ribbons and bows by Cakework, SF

MD Bridal Bouquet

To hire a wedding planner ?

To hire a Wedding Planner, or not to hire a Wedding Planner—

Indeed, that is the question…

“Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of” doing it yourself…”  Let’s face it, you’ve got this: you are a DIY bride; very capable with lots of creativity and you love planning a good party…

“or to take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing end them.”  Perhaps you are the kind of person who will tackle anything because that’s what you do; no matter what challenges you face, you are a great problem solver.  So you think to yourself: “how hard could this be, right ?”, or you may be in the camp where there simply aren’t the funds to take on this kind of… well… dare you even consider this kind of luxury ?

Should I hire a wedding planner ? This is a very good question, not to simply ask, but to thoughtfully consider as you begin to plan your wedding.

In a recent survey conducted by of several hundred brides, the biggest lesson learned and what they would tell any bride planning her own wedding: “I wish that I had hired a wedding planner”. Even if planning, designing, organizing and producing are skills that you inherently posses (maybe you even do this for a living) there are some very good reasons why this is the one day to not do it yourself.

So, why do brides wish they had hired a wedding planner ?  Because, instead of enjoying the planning process, they were too busy with work or too tired from it, or didn’t have the time, resources, knowledge, and connections to bring their vision to life in the best and easiest ways possible.

And instead of enjoying every minute of their special day, they spent their wedding day directing, coordinating, watching for and worrying that something would or could go wrong, answering dozens of questions from many different directions, realizing that perhaps the family and friends that they had delegated things to, how should I say this… had flaked out.  Sure their heart was in it, but they didn’t follow through for one reason or another.  And, perhaps the biggest fear; there wasn’t someone dedicated to finding a good solution when something didn’t go as planned.

And so with this, we take you through five good reasons to hire a professional wedding planner.

1) Save Time: Now is the best time to seriously consider how many hours you have each week to dedicate to planning one of the most important celebrations of your life.  There are a total of 168 hours available each week.  Perhaps you have a 60+ hour a week job or you go to school and work.  Add to that at least 14 hours for preparing meals and dining and 56 hours for sleep (if you’re lucky and take good care of yourself). Work, eat, and sleep; the basics of life.  That leaves just 5 hours each day for chores, spending time with family and friends, getting some exercise, and doing what you love to do.  This doesn’t leave much time to plan the wedding of your dreams.

Research shows that brides on average spend 10 – 15 hours or more each week to plan, design, organize and ultimately produce their wedding.  You are going to need some help.

Even if you do find 15 hours each week, when are those hours going to fit in ?  Will they happen after you have had a long day at work and you are just too tired to go to yet one more appointment with a vendor (don’t forget to factor in the travel time to and from) or spend time online researching the perfect favor or the most unique way to display your escort cards ?  Are those hours going to fit in when it is ideal to meet with people and make things happen ?

Considering all of this, you may end up deciding that you really do need to have someone on your side who will take the time needed to help you fulfill your vision and work with you to ensure that everything goes as smoothly as possible.  A wedding planner will spend the time (or has already spent the time) researching great ideas, sourcing materials and developing a list of proven vendors who can help fulfill your vision.

2) Save Money: Ultimately, a professional wedding planner will save you not just time, but money as well.  You won’t have to spend 20 hours each week planning everything (time equals money, right ?) and with the connections that the wedding planner has, they can bring a variety of savings to you that you wouldn’t have access to on your own.  Whether you are working with a defined budget or unlimited funds, a good wedding planner will help you to focus on the elements that are most important to you; ones that will authentically reflect you and your fiancé.

3) It’s all about you: ultimately, you and your fiancé deserve to thoroughly enjoy your wedding celebration. There are so many details that need to be handled on your wedding day and as the bride and groom you shouldn’t have to worry that everything will turn out all right and you shouldn’t be bothered with the last minute dilemmas that inevitably arise.

Details, details, details.  You may wonder (even if you have planned many a great party yourself) just how many details are we talking about ?  In the planning process that I take bridal couples through, we discuss at least 100 separate elements that can be a part of any wedding (everything from who to invite to be part of your wedding party, music, cake, transportation, accommodations, wedding party attire, venues, lighting, invitations, to name just a few) and each of these elements can take multiple steps to make happen.

These elements and steps may include things that you haven’t yet considered, such as: all of the details you need to communicate via the invitation (entrée selections, accommodations, directions, etc.), will you need to contact the local fire department to get approval for open flame inside your wedding venue (candles, hurricane lamps, etc.), is a permit required for weddings on a public beach or in a state park, venue parking (will you need attendants to help direct people to the venue).

So, what is a bride to do ?  Hire a wedding planner who will help you think through all of the details so that you make the best decisions and selections that match your vision.  You need to find some peace of mind in knowing that all of the details are thought through and you need to stay on track to reduce the stress that inevitably comes with planning a wedding.   A wedding planner can expertly help you with thinking through details and keep you on track.

Another benefit of hiring a wedding planner (and not a “day of” coordinator) to take you through all of these details is that once they have gone through this process with you, on the day of your celebration, they will be fully prepared to act on your behalf as various situations arise, because they know you.  They know what is important to you and ideally, with a well-thought-of wedding planner; they genuinely care about your happiness.

4) Creative: you have thought through many of the details and feel like you have things fairly well organized, though you just aren’t sure that you have enough creative design ideas that will help make your dream wedding all that it can be. Find a professional wedding planner who will help you with creative design ideas and connect you with preferred vendors that will enhance your vision and bring it to life.

A wedding planner should be focused on what you want, what makes you happy and be someone who is dedicated to finding all the elements that authentically represent you and your fiancé.  They need to listen well, reflect back to you what is important to you, generate and offer more ideas that enhance your vision and make the decision making process easy, not more complicated.

5) Planning & Organization: maybe you aren’t sure where to start or you want to make sure you have thought of everything, but you don’t know what all the possibilities, customs and traditions are. Look for a proactive wedding planner that has experience in planning and organizing and who is fully knowledgeable in all things wedding.  Come up with questions that help you find a planner who has learned the most effective and practical ways of making things happen so that the planning and organization process takes less time and makes sense. Then take advantage of their knowledge and expertise to help make the planning process enjoyable.

Here are the best things to look for when hiring a professional wedding planner:

A person who:

  • is a good listener and communicator, sincere, warm, calm and caring
  • connects naturally with you and with whom you feel comfortable
  • is open to possibilities, who can provide ideas that enhance your vision, and who genuinely wants to fulfill your vision
  • has good business sense, great connections and plenty of practical experience in planning, organizing and producing events
  • can drive the planning process and get people to do what needs to be done, all with a smile and friendly attitude
  • has keen observations skills and an eye for detail
  • has integrity and who follows through on their commitments


Julie Hart Conde (owner of Celebrations By Heart, a full service wedding planning company), has spent her entire working life in service jobs.  She studied Hospitality Management at University of San Francisco and has spent the last 25 years working in catering, restaurants and hotels (Embassy Suites, Hyatt and Joie de Vivre Hotels).  All of this experience (both hands on and managerial) and her deep passion and enjoyment for serving people and making their lives easier inspired her to create Celebrations By Heart to help brides plan meaningful and memorable weddings.

Julie can be contacted at: 650-996-1658 or                                         Calm           Organized             Professional              Effective