The last guest post is from Darci, the first wedding blogger I ever read. She has an amazing sense of style and design and her wedding was sigh-worthy. I’ll be back tomorrow so see you then!

First off, huge congratulations to Molly and Michael! I hope that you’re wedding day was all that you wanted and that you’re enjoying some much needed relaxation and cocktails on your “mini-moon.” Molly asked me to try and entertain you while she is away, so here is my feeble attempt…

I write a blog called With This Ring, which is how I have come to know Molly over the past several months. I started the blog when I got engaged last July and it became a place for me to chronicle our planning process, share pictures of things that inspired me, and basically write about all the wedding thoughts that consumed my head for over a year. Now that I’ve made it to the other side of the wedding gauntlet, hopefully some of you can benefit from my experiences! I don’t think there is such thing as a perfect wedding, but there are definitely things that went really right with ours and things I would suggest based on lessons I learned the hard way. Ahhh, the beauty of hindsight.

Things I would recommend…

Negotiate. No matter how much you’re working with, we all have budgets. I was afraid to negotiate with vendors at first but I quickly realized that if you’re honest and respectful, they’re more than happy to work with you. Saying things like “Our budget for flowers is only X amount of dollars, can you work with us to accommodate that price range?” definitely saved us money in the long run.

Prioritize. Outline what is the most important to you and cut back on other things to make it work. We wanted to have our reception at a nice resort where everyone could just walk back to their hotel rooms, so that meant cutting back on the flower budget (read: that negotiation was a real example).

Communicate over email whenever possible (and save them all). The coordinator for our venue left halfway through our planning process and had I not saved some of our emails, some of the promises she made would not have been honored. Vendors are dealing with so many weddings at a time it’s easy for things to get confusing!

If you can wait to pay certain vendors, wait. It’s a lot easier to withhold money for broken contracts than to fight and try to get it back. See: lessons I learned the hard way.

Things that I am glad we did…

Hired a great band. Our first band actually cancelled on us two months before the wedding (which as you can imagine was a blast to deal with) but we wound up with an amazing alternative. If you’re hosting the kind of reception where people dancing like maniacs is a priority, put some thought into the music. Whether it’s making some excellent play lists for your ipod, being really specific with a DJ or hiring a great band, pictures like this make it work the effort:

Saw each other before the ceremony. I know this is a really personal choice so I won’t say a lot about it, but it was the right decision for us. I was feeling a little jittery the morning of the wedding and once we were able to spend some quiet moments together I was completely calm. We took all the pictures beforehand so we were able to hang out all day, then go straight to the cocktail hour to spend time with our guests.

Had a Photo Booth. Instead of favors, we put the money towards a photo booth and it turned out to be one of our favorite parts of the day. Everyone had so much fun with it and the resulting pictures are priceless!

Found a great photographer. You don’t have to limit your search to photographers in your area. Since we live in a large city, it was more cost effective to find someone in another state who was willing to travel & cover their travel expenses. And they were completely wonderful.

This has turned out to be the longest post ever! If you made it this far and haven’t slipped into a coma, thanks for reading. And if you’re in the midst of wedding planning, congrats! It will all go by in a flash so breathe it in and enjoy.