The (Instagram) Stress is Real: How to Deal With Social Media Pressure When Planning Your Wedding

Photo by Elizabeth Messina
Published on on May 29, 2016 by Jillian Kramer

While we often use it for inspiration to create a killer party, “social media, and especially Instagram, has become an added stress for couples planning their weddings,” says Jaclyn Fisher, owner of Two Little Birds Planning in Philadelphia. “Couples feel more pressure to create Instagram-worthy weddings like the ones they see online.” But you can fight social media stress and still create a gorgeous wedding with these expert tips.

Keep it real.
Says Fisher, “When looking at weddings on Instagram, remember that they often aren’t real or budgeted for reality.” Rather, she says, much of what you see on this social site comes from styled shoots. “So use them as inspiration, not as something you’re trying to copy or recreate,” Fisher suggests. “For example, you may see a couple beautifully posed on an antique sofa set on the edge of a cliff. You many not have a cliff side venue, but you can still set up a lounge with vintage furniture, which can double as a photo backdrop. It’s about taking inspiration from these photo shoots and applying them to your wedding in your own unique way.”

Put it into perspective.
You’re probably not having a wedding to keep up with the Joneses you don’t know. So, says Aviva Samuels, owner of Kiss the Planner in Palm Beach, Florida, “remind yourself of the reasons that you are having this wedding. Is it to impress your friends and family, or to be able to celebrate finding your soul mate for life? If you can stay focused on the joy that you are feeling, rather than getting caught up in what others are thinking or going to say, you won’t have to succumb to the pressure of having the perfect wedding with every perfect detail. Putting it into perspective is really helpful when it comes to having the perfect day.”

Focus on your wedding, not someone else’s.
So you love that someone else served gourmet sliders as a late-night snack. But you can love it, says Fisher, without having to recreate it. “Prioritize a few thoughtful and genuine details, instead of overdoing it with details that don’t make sense to you as a couple,” she suggests. “For example, you don’t need to have a food truck because you’ve seen them on Instagram weddings and want to be on trend. But if you had your first date at a food truck or it’s where you two go for lunch every Saturday, it makes sense to incorporate it into your wedding day.”

Trust your decisions.
Your Instagram feed is filled-to-the-brim with wedding gorgeousness. And, says Fisher, “it’s easy to second-guess everything when you’re bombarded with an endless supply beautiful weddings and cool details on Instagram. But trust that you made the right choice the first time and don’t let these images sway your vision or decisions.”

Hire a professional.
Finally, if you do truly won’t be happy unless you have an Instagram-worthy wedding, then “hire a professional to alleviate some of the stress that goes along with all the details,” suggests Samuels. “Even if you have a lots of creative ideas, you might not have the skills or the time to implement those ideas and you wouldn’t want the added pressure to add to your stress. A planner can alleviate a lot of the headaches that comes with logistical challenges and a designer can alleviate the pressure you might feel when trying to design your wedding on your own.”

What You Can Start Planning Before He Pops the Question

Published on on September 29, 2015 by Jillian Kramer

You don’t have a ring — but you know it’s coming. And as a practical person, you’re itching to plan even before your significant other pops the question. So we asked wedding experts which wedding plans are safe to get a head start on. After all, says Minneapolis-based Blush & Whim owner Jennae Saltzman, “being prepared will make a naturally stressful time so much more fun and relaxing.”

1. Your budget.
If you know a proposal is all but imminent, it’s likely you’ve discussed your future with your significant other. So continue the conversation with him or her and your family members to see what a realistic budget might be for your big day. “Think about it: You wouldn’t buy a house, car, or make any type of big purchase or investment without knowing what you want to spend,” points out Jaclyn Fisher, owner of Two Little Birds Planning in Philadelphia. “Why would a wedding be any different?”

2. How many guests you’d like to attend.
Now’s not the time to collect an exact head-count, but it’s smart to “get a rough idea on how big your event is going to be,” says Saltzman. “It’s easy to forget that your parents and in-laws will have their own list in addition to yours, so start the conversation and get people thinking about who they want to include on the master list.”

3. What your dream wedding would look like.
Asks Fisher, “Do you picture an outdoor ceremony or getting married in a church? Are you thinking winter, spring, summer, or fall? Do you want a wedding that feels modern, traditional, rustic, or vintage?” If you can answer these questions now, you’ll have a clear vision to execute when the time comes. Keep all your ideas handy in a Pinterest board, Fisher suggests, but “if you don’t want friends and family asking questions, make those boards private until he pops the question.”

4. Checking your dream venue’s availability.
Popular venues sometimes book up years in advance, especially in summer months. So “if you have a specific time frame or date you are hoping for, you better start looking up your dream venues to see if they are even available,” Saltzman advises. “If you know before you have a ring on your finger, you can save yourself the disappointment of not getting the date you want. Flexibility is key in wedding planning, so it’s always good to be well informed on what is and isn’t available.”

5. Which wedding dress you’ll buy.
It’s A-OK to flip through bridal magazines and wedding blogs in search of the style you think you’ll rock down the aisle. “Your dress will dictate a lot of design related items,” explains Saltzman, “so it’s good to start researching early.” Just don’t try anything on quite yet!

Finally, don’t go overboard with good intentions of getting ahead. Remember, says Fisher, “a wedding is about the couple, so if you’ve gotten a head start on the planning without your significant other, welcome his or her input when the time comes.” It’s also smart not to drag your partner into pre-planning if he or she isn’t willing or ready. “There’s nothing worse than stressing out your partner before you have a ring on your finger,” says Saltzman. “It’s always good to be informed and prepared, but don’t go crazy. Use the time as more of an informative period, instead of a decision-making time.”

7 Wedding Guest Etiquette Rules That Should Totally Be Broken

Photo by Sylvie Gil Photography

Published on June 20, 2017 by Jillian Kramer

With weddings come rules. But, “as the wedding guest etiquette changes with modern society a few of the steadfast rules for wedding guests are changing as well,” says Amy Nichols, owner of Amy Nichols Special Events and cofounder of the Poppy Group. And with that in mind, here are seven wedding guest rules you totally can and should break. The couple may even thank you.

1. Bringing a Gift to the Wedding
According Jaclyn Fisher, owner of Philadelphia-based Two Little Birds Planning, many couples actually prefer guests not bring a physical gift to their wedding, and would rather you ship their presents directly to their homes, before or even after the big day. “It’s one less thing that guests need to bring, and one less thing that couples need to pack up at the end of the reception,” Fisher explains.

2. Requesting Songs
Sure, the couple probably provided their DJ with a must-play list, and they probably have a style or genre to which they like to stick. “But that doesn’t mean a guest can’t make a request of the DJ,” says Nichols. “It’s up to the DJ to filter that request through the client’s wish list to see if it’s a fit and to determine when the best time to play that song might be. Remember, it’s only a request, and there’s nothing wrong with asking.”

3. Wearing Black
In the past, wearing black was associated with being in mourning—not exactly the message guests typically want to send to a bride and groom on the happiest days of their lives. “But that school of thought is outdated,” says Fisher. “Black is classic, fashionable, and chic!”

4. And Maybe Even White
This has been a non-negotiable rule for eons, and it can definitely be a major horror for some brides. But, Nichols says, “there are actually a surprising amount of weddings that are going all-white, and we’re even seeing brides wearing a pop of color and the bridesmaids wearing white.” Even if the bride isn’t hosting an all-white soirée, “it’s pretty safe to assume that white espadrilles or cream-colored linen dresses would be perfectly acceptable,” says Nichols. “Just don’t wear anything that screams bridal.”

5. Choosing a Side
Years ago, guests were ushered to one side of the aisle if they were the bride’s guest, and the opposite side if they were friends with the groom. But, “it’s no longer necessary for the bride’s guests to sit on one side and the groom’s guests to sit on the other,” says Fisher. “These days, mixed seating is OK. Not sitting on specific sides is a great way for guests to mingle and get to know each other.”

6. Enjoying the Extras
Asks Nichols, “Did the bride and groom hire a food truck for late night arrival? Guests may probably be starving from all of that dancing and need to soak up some of the alcohol,” so they will most likely dig in. Same goes for an open bar, if you have one. “There is nothing more upsetting to the couple than hearing that only half of the guests they paid for partook in the special surprise they had invested in and painstakingly planned for you,” she explains. So guests, enjoy yourselves!

7. Leaving Before the Bride and Groom
Barring a special and planned exit, you don’t actually have to stay at the reception until after the bride and groom depart. “With fewer couples planning an official exit and more couples staying on the dance floor until the very last song, it’s not expected that all guests stay past the newlyweds,” says Fisher. “It is, however, best to stay until after cake cutting.”

3 Wedding Planning Moments You Should Celebrate

Published on on November 30, 2015 by Jillian Kramer

Wedding planning can feel like one long to-do list, you’re just anxious to check off and get through. However, “it’s important to not just go through the motions of wedding planning,” says Jaclyn Fisher, owner of Two Little Birds Planning in Philadelphia. “While planning can get overwhelming or stressful at times, celebrating milestones is a great way to spend time with your partner, and not take your love or the planning process for granted.”

So as you select your menu, stuff your welcome bags, and pay your final bills, be sure to also pause to celebrate these three planning moments.

1. Finding The One.
Finding the one wedding dress that makes you feel like a million dollars is cause for celebration. “It’s often a moment that brides think about long before they’re even engaged,” says Fisher. “Putting on that gown is what actually makes a lot of brides feel like a bride.” You can celebrate this special moment, Fisher suggest, by taking the women who helped you slip on-and-off a dozen dresses, out to brunch. “This allows time to bask in the excitement and thank those who helped get you there,” she says.

2. Booking your honeymoon.
Many couples are more excited to escape to the Italian Riviera or fly above an active Hawaiian volcano than they are to get down on their dance floor, and that is for good reason. “It’s the first adventure you’re taking as husband and wife,” explains Fisher. Consider celebrating this planned milestone with a coordinating cocktail or snack, Fisher suggests. Think, saying cheers to your Mexican honeymoon over margaritas or nibbling on kalamata olives ahead of your Grecian getaway.

3. Selecting your first dance song.
Fact: “Your first dance song will forever be a special song,” says Fisher. Every time you hear it after you take that first twirl you’re sure to smile. Celebrate this musical accomplishment with “a spin around your kitchen,” suggests Fisher. “There’s nothing more romantic than dancing at home with your love.” Plus, its just good practice for your big day.

6 Things You Must Do If You’re Throwing an Adults-Only Wedding

Photo by Shari and Mike Photographers

Published on on January 15, 2016 by Jillian Kramer

You could be throwing an adults-only fete for any number of reasons. But whatever your rationale, now you have certain steps you must take to enforce your no-kids rule and keep your guests in the know.

You could be throwing an adults-only wedding for any number of reasons, but whatever your rationale, now you have certain steps you must take to enforce your no-kids rule and keep your guests in the know. Here, our experts reveal six things you must do to pull off an adults-only wedding.

1. Make your age-restrictions clear from the get-go.
Spread the word early that your wedding will be adults-only, suggests says Jaclyn Fisher, owner of Two Little Birds Planning in Philadelphia. When you send out your official invitations, “couples should make it clear that their wedding is adults-only by addressing invitations with only the names of those who are invited,” she says. “This way, guests with children won’t assume that the entire family can come.”

2. Use your family and wedding party to spread the word.
You don’t have to deliver the news solo, Fisher says. “Use your family and wedding party to help spread the word, especially at pre-wedding events like the bridal shower,” she suggests. With a team working to get the word out, you won’t have to go as far as to print “adults-only” on your invitations, she points out.

3. Add the information to your wedding website.
Because you aren’t hitting your guests over the head with your adults-only requirement on your invitations, it’s best to be specific on your wedding website, says Sarah Glick, wedding planner at Brilliant Event Planning in New York City. There, you can add any information related to childcare services, too. “I find that parents tend to accept this a little better when childcare alternatives are suggested on the site,” says Glick. For example, write: “In order to ensure everyone has as much fun as possible, our wedding is adults-only. However, below are the names and contact information of some highly-qualified sitters who live in the area and are available.'” Taking the research out of childcare, says Glick, “makes it easy for parents to have an alternative. Plus, it means that no one has an excuse for not being able to find childcare!”

4. Be discreet with any exceptions.
Any exceptions, including those made for yourself and your closest family members, should be done on the down-low, Fisher says. “I worked with a bride whose cousin had just had a baby,” Fisher recalls. “Since it was an adults-only wedding, we had a sitter watching the newborn in the bridal suite. Guests were none the wiser, so those with kids who weren’t invited weren’t offended.”

5. Don’t assume your guests will be disgruntled.
You may feel guilt over your decision. But both Fisher and Glick say you shouldn’t. “Couples don’t need to go out of their way to explain their decision to guests with kids,” says Fisher. “Couples shouldn’t assume that all parents will be offended if the entire family didn’t make the guest list.” Not only that, but Glick points out that parents may welcome your wedding as a date night. “Your friends will have a good time without their kids,” she says. “When kids aren’t permitted, parents don’t have to feel guilty about choosing to not include them.”

6. Stick to your guns.
“If there is a miscommunication and guests assume that their kids are invited, the couple should call them,” says Fisher, rather than waiting for any further fallout. “It’s a sensitive topic and something that should be addressed directly,” she explains. But no matter what, “don’t back down on your decision. Use this as an opportunity to explain why it’s adults-only — you can always blame the budget or venue capacity — and offer childcare options.”

5 Wedding-Related Fights You May Have With Your Groom (And How to Handle Them!)

Published on on March 6, 2016 by Jillian Kramer

Wedding planning isn’t always pre-wedding bliss. Says Jaclyn Fisher, owner of Two Little Birds Planning in Philadelphia, “Wedding planning can be an incredibly stressful time for couples. It’s a huge undertaking filled with emotional highs and lows, and between the money, family dynamics, decision making, and scheduling, it’s easy for couples to fall victim to wedding planning quarrels.” Here are five wedding planning fights you might have and how to handle them.

1. How to spend your wedding budget.
Sometimes the way you spend your dollars doesn’t make sense to your partner. For example, you may want to put the bulk of your budget toward your big day, while your partner wants to splurge on an extravagant honeymoon. Your difference of opinions could cause sparks of the fighting variety to fly. “Money is the number one thing that married couples fight about, so it’s not surprising that it’s also a common disagreement in the planning process,” says Fisher.

When it comes to your wedding budget, our experts agree that compromise is key. But coming to an agreement you can both live with is just the start. “Now is a good time to talk about what you both feel comfortable spending money on and where you might be willing to negotiate,” explains Lesli Doares, marriage coach and author of Blueprint for a Lasting Marriage. “Being open to each other and being curious about why you each feel the way you do is important. You each must be willing to go beyond the cost of the flowers or reception and identify what is driving the desire to choose one thing over another.”

2. Who’s more enthusiastic over planning.
Your wedding may be your passion project, while your partner can barely muster two cents to contribute to any wedding-related discussion. His or her lack of enthusiasm — as you chat over centerpieces or anything else wedding-related — could cause you to think he or she doesn’t care at all or care enough. But Doares warns, “Just because one of you is more interested in the flowers or where you go on the honeymoon doesn’t mean the other person doesn’t care about you or the event. People have different levels of emotion and focus about all kinds of things, and expecting your partner to care at the same level that you do is unrealistic.”

So rather than expecting your partner to plan a certain way, “it’s important to move out of the right or wrong, good or bad view and allow your partner to feel the way they feel,” Doares says. “It’s what you want around your feelings so you have to be willing to give it to your partner. Stay away from judgment just because you feel a different way. Taking a position of curiosity is always more productive. Ask about what each is feeling, really listen, and be open to a position that is different from yours.”

3. Who’s doing the lion’s share of planning.
Fights often erupt during the planning process, Fisher says, when one person feels as he or she is doing all the planning him or herself. “This can be hurtful because the one doing all the work feels like their spouse-to-be doesn’t care, when in reality, he or she may just not know how to help,” she explains.

If you feel as if you’re running the show without so much as a single hand to help, Fisher urges you not to turn those feelings into a fight. “Talk to your honey about how it’s a celebration of the two of you and you want the wedding to reflect that,” she suggests. “Find out which areas of planning they are most interested in and have them take the lead in those categories. If he’s a music aficionado, have him lead the band search. If she’s a foodie at heart, have her coordinate the caterer.”

4. The people who’ll make it onto your guest list.
You’d think choosing the friends and family members with whom you’ll surround yourself on your big day would be easy, but it’s not. “This is one of the first opportunities to set boundaries around yourself as a couple,” Doares explains. “The people you invite to share your special day are an indication of who will support you going forward in your life as a married couple.” Not only that, but Fisher points out that how big your guest list grows also affects your budget, venue choice, and the overall feel of your wedding day.

So don’t leave this sticky subject for the last minute. “Get clear with each other what kind of event you want and how the people there will support you in your life together,” Doares suggests. “If you don’t want children present, that’s okay. Just be willing to understand the why. Try to take it out of the right or wrong view and see it as just different.”

5. Your opinionated family members.
Says Fisher, “Whether it’s overly opinionated parents or a know-it-all sister, family tends to find a way into many wedding planning arguments,” warns Fisher. And while it’s important to listen to your family’s requests, bending to their wills rather than setting boundaries could create “a slippery slope in designing your life together,” Doares says.

So when it comes to fighting over family, it’s most important to let your partner vent about his parents without joining in. “Since we instinctively feel defensive of our family and emotions are already running high, this can quickly lead to a fight with your partner,” she says. “When family becomes a wedding planning topic, be sure to keep the conversation constructive and respectful to avoid conflicts.”

Then, adds Doares, you must realize that even though you love your families, the new family you are creating together must come first. “If as a result your family’s wishes aren’t followed, that is their issue to handle,” she says. “Presenting a united front to each family is critical to stake out your own place. Really listen and be open to what is important to each of you as you build your new life because it has to be a good fit for each of you.”

5 Little Wedding Details That Can Lead to Blowout Fights

Published on on June 23, 2016 by Jillian Kramer

There’s a saying that the devil is in the details. And when it comes to wedding planning fights, that saying couldn’t be truer. “While you may argue about the big things, like the budget or venue, you’re likely going to bicker most often about the little things,” warns Amy Nichols, owner of and co-founder of The Poppy Group. “Recognizing early that even the small things require cooperation and consideration will help the wedding planning process flow much more easily.”

With that in mind, here are five little things that can lead to big wedding fights, and how to solve — or better yet, avoid — each one.

1. Your Partner’s Attire
We know what the bride wears on the big day is a big deal. But you may find yourself bickering if your partner wants to pair a tuxedo with his Chuck Taylor’s. “Brides and grooms often argue over the look and style that is expected of them on the wedding day,” says Nichols. “Staying as true to the actual likeness of the couple in everyday life is always the best bet. But arguing happens when couples can’t agree on what that is exactly.”View our complete list of celebrity-approved honeymoon destinations.

2. Your Invitation Wording
You may have never imagined you’d have war or words with your significant other over your invitation wording. But, as Two Little Birds Planning owner Jaclyn Fisher explains, the order in which you list your parents on this piece of paper can be a touchy subject, especially if one set is footing the bill for your big day. Don’t let wording lead to a disagreement between you by choosing a neutral invitation phase, such as, “along with their parents,” Fisher suggests.

3. The Cost of A Small Item
When you’ve already booked and paid for the big things, it can be easy to overlook that little costs can quickly add up. “Favors cost how much? It’s not uncommon for one partner to begin calculating the small things and begin getting frustrated by the total,” says Nichols. “This finds you arguing about whether the mercury glass candle holder is worth the extra $2.” Sidestep this argument by building even the smallest items into your initial budget, and being open about your spending as you plan. View our complete list of how to find the perfect wedding dress for your body type.

4. The Bachelor or Bachelorette Party
Whether driven by finances for a costly out-of-town celebration or concern your partner will cross the line, couple’s often fight over these particular parties, says Fisher. “Avoid arguments by discussing your feelings, possible scenarios, and how you would both handle them if they arise,” she suggests, adding it’s best to host the parties far before the wedding, which will give everyone time to recover and recoup.

5. Your Wedding Flowers
It’s tough to imagine bickering over something so beautiful. But when you ask your beau to choose between English garden or American beauty roses and get a non-committal answer, an argument can soon blossom. “It’s not the actual flowers causing the fight,” says Fisher. “It’s the groom’s lack of involvement or opinion.” So, be sure to clearly communicate to your partner how much you value and need his opinion. Or, “if it’s already an issue, don’t let it escalate,” encourages Fisher. “Let him know that you want him involved so the wedding reflects both of you.” View our complete list of the most iconic celebrity brides of all time.