5 Common Wedding Planning Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them)

I meet a lot of couples who are overwhelmed with the wedding planning process. 

There are so many things to consider, places, and people to coordinate with – it’s no wonder that wedding planning mistakes happen! So that you can avoid making those mistakes yourself, we’ve outlined 5 of the most common wedding planning mistakes so that you can confidently begin your wedding planning journey like a pro. 

1. Not hiring a wedding planner (first)

One of the biggest mistakes engaged couples make when they start wedding planning is booking their wedding planner after the venue and other vendors. Hiring a professional planner should be the first step for every couple as they begin to plan their big day. Your wedding planner is the mastermind behind your once-in-a-lifetime event and will help you find your perfect venue, review your budget, negotiate contracts, manage every detail, and execute your day flawlessly. Hiring a wedding planner will not only make the whole process easier and more enjoyable but will also help you avoid making costly mistakes (such as executing contracts that lock you into specific fees or booking a venue that’s too small for your guest count), while also negotiating for the best price and quality among all your vendors.

HauteTip: Estimate between 15-20% of your overall budget for a seasoned wedding planner

Luxury tented wedding in Rancho Santa Fe

2. Not setting a realistic wedding budget

Speaking of budget, discussing the financial aspect of your wedding isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it is a critical conversation and will ensure you have control over your wedding investment. Before booking a venue or signing any contracts, your wedding planner will help you create a detailed budget so that everyone involved financially is on the same page.

When we discuss your wedding budget, it’s normal for some level of sticker shock (and since COVID, costs have skyrocketed across the board) and I totally get it! While luxury weddings can vary greatly on average our couples spend between $1,800 – $3,500+ per guest. Your budget will drive all planning decisions and your wedding planner is key to this process, helping to educate you on realistic costs, what elements to include in your budget, and how to prioritize your wedding investment. 

HauteTip: Make sure to include everything in your wedding budget spreadsheet. It is easy to forget the dress, shoes, accommodations, transportation, vendor gratuities, wedding party gifts, etc.


3. Inviting too many guests

One of the biggest cost drivers of any wedding is the guest count. It’s quite simple – the more guests you have, the greater your total spend will need to be. We often discuss guest attrition rates with our clients – ranging between 10-20% depending on whether you’re having a local or destination wedding, but that doesn’t mean you should invite more guests to compensate. Your maximum guest count should be the maximum capacity of your venue and/or the most you can afford based on your budget. To avoid overspending, narrow down your guest list to those who are most important to you and current in your life. Over-inviting can blow your wedding budget, leaving you stressed out as you approach your big day. 

HauteTip: From an etiquette standpoint, remember you don’t need to extend a plus 1 to your guests unless they are engaged or living together.

Tented Wedding Reception

4. Not having a backup plan

If COVID taught us anything, it’s that you can’t have a wedding without a plan B! This is especially true of outdoor weddings where you can’t take the elements for granted. We always advise clients to consider a tent or some kind of structure for shade in the summer and or warmth in the winter. Be sure to book water misters for heat waves or purchase umbrellas early if rain is likely to avoid selling out. As we regularly see, sadly, weather can also mean hurricanes in Florida or fires in Napa which may lead to you canceling, postponing, or scrambling to find a new venue last minute. 

HauteTip: When negotiating your contracts, your planner should also carefully review the fine print on any Act of God or postponement clause to minimize your exposure and make you aware of any liability or limitations.

5. Losing sight of the big picture

Since we only take between 4 and 6 weddings a year, we are adamant that our clients are the kind of couples who are focused on creating an authentic wedding experience for their family and friends versus an over-the-top production. So often it’s easy to get caught up in the details of wedding planning, influenced by other people’s weddings you see on Pinterest or Instagram, or be pressured by opinions about what you should or shouldn’t include on your big day. But remember, it’s your day and the real focus should be on marrying the love of your life and staying true to who you are.

HauteTip: Make time for date nights that are free of wedding planning talk, don’t take family and friends for granted, and trust your planner to have your back and keep things on track for you.

In closing…

Now that you know which are the biggest wedding planning mistakes to avoid, you can relax and enjoy your journey to the aisle. Of course, there are other mistakes and/or regrets we hear such as not hiring a videographer or not investing more in a particular area such as florals. Rest assured we will discuss the pros and cons with you of all aspects of your wedding. To get your wedding journey started, click here to book a consultation. We can’t wait to learn more about your vision for your big day! 

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