Planner to Bride - Top 10 Wedding Tips

by VOWS Planner/Designer Amber Sooter

As a wedding planner in Seattle, I'm used to being behind the scenes. The one in a black dress, directing vendors, setting-up décor and most importantly, ensuring that my bride and groom are happy. But on January 24, 2015 the tables turned. Exactly two months ago, I was the bride and this time my dress was ivory. Following are the Top 10 wedding tips learned on my own big day!

One of my biggest goals and hopes for my wedding, was to be able to turn off my "planner mode" and instead, to relax, let go and truly be in the moment from beginning to end. Something I always remind my brides to do. Getting married gave me a newfound perspective of what it's like to be The Bride. Thankfully, this new wisdom can only make me a better wedding planner for my clients, and I'd like to pass along a few helpful tips.

Call me Type A (and you should), but I'm a big fan of lists: To Do Lists, Grocery Lists, Meal Planning Lists, Recommended Vendor/Venue lists, the list goes on. So, it only feels right to share what I learned on my wedding day, as a Bride:

1. You will not sleep well the night before, that is, if you sleep at all: Sadly the latter is true. With pure excitement running through my veins, I didn't sleep a wink the night before my wedding day. What I learned: False eyelash extensions are a Godsend.

2.  If at all possible, get ready with your bridesmaids and mothers: What girl doesn't like playing dress up with her closest gal pals? That's kind of what it's like, but with gifts and champagne. Nothing helps calm nerves like giggling with your girlfriends; I couldn't imagine the perfect day without them.

3. The most important aspect of the day, is Each Other: We can get lost in the many details and moving parts of a wedding. But (with ample plans in place and a kick butt wedding coordinator to execute them) my #1 thought and priority of the day, was seeing and celebrating with Aaron. I couldn't wait to see him. Which brings me to my next point...

4. Have a First Look: The day for brides and bridesmaids begins early. With hair and make-up appointments, getting into that dress, portraits, etc. I couldn't wait to see Aaron, and once I finally did, any nervous anticipation I was feeling was gone. I was relaxed and able to spend the rest of the day with my husband and our closest friends and family. Which to me, was what my wedding day was all about. Our First Look was a beautifully private moment between the two of us, plus our photographer and a flock of seagulls. Don't worry, they did great. See proof below:

5. Eat. Everyone tells you you'll never eat on your wedding day. Don't listen to them. You should absolutely make food a top priority on your wedding day. Eat breakfast, eat lunch, eat appetizers, eat dinner and of course, eat cake and any other dessert. You may not eat a ton of each, but the day will fly by and the opportunities to eat are few and far between. We both love to eat so luckily, we were able to enjoy all those menu items we planned, except for the doughnuts. D’oh!

6. Take mental images of moments throughout the day: I only hope to remember the special moments and details of our wedding day when we're celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary. Sure, we'll always have the photographs and video, but I want to forever remember the feelings that a camera cannot capture. Memories like how big my heart felt looking out to all of our closest friends and family during dinner; the love and joy in the room was palpable. Or those final thoughts walking down the Edgewater hallway before entering our bridal suite to get ready, holding my morning coffee, with a smile on my face… "Here we go!"

7. Gracefully embrace the spotlight: Whether you're comfortable with it or not, all eyes and ears will be on you on your wedding day. You'll feel like a celebrity with all of the attention. Enjoy it, but be a gracious host. Try to talk to every guest. Many of them made sacrifices to attend your wedding and some traveled long distances. An important aspect of our wedding was honoring all eight of our grandparents, for whom we are so fortunate could attend our wedding. Grandpa Sam was surely casting that bright sunlight down on us.

8. Less is more. In other words, keep it simple. Aaron and I chose to have our ceremony and reception at the same venue, not only to simplify logistics for our guests and vendors, but also for our own sanity. The less traveling you and guests have to do on your wedding day, the easier and smoother the day will go. The same applies to décor. It’s about creating a cohesive and impactful look, without recreating your entire Pinterest board.

9. Keep it Personal: Incorporating personal touches and unique details into your wedding day and décor makes your wedding stand out and not just any other wedding. I didn't want a cookie cutter wedding that would work for anyone. We made sure to reflect our style and personalities. Getting married at Seattle's iconic waterfront hotel, The Edgewater, truly represented our personal style. It's the perfect combination of elegance and comfort, urban and Northwest outdoorsy. We also chose an "off-peak" month because we wanted a cozy-urban-log cabin-winter-wedding, as well as less competition for our vendors.

10. Finally, in my humble and experienced opinion, it is absolutely imperative that you hire at least a Day-Of Coordinator: You can be the most organized and detailed bride in the universe, but you still cannot afford to devote any time to fielding vendor questions, handling set-up/clean-up, keeping everyone on schedule and managing all of the many tasks and challenges that come with executing a wedding. I would have been a ball of stress the week and day-of my wedding if it wasn't for my incredible Day/Month-Of Coordinator, VOWS colleague and friend, Channy Sea. Channy ensured my day was seamless and exactly what I envisioned. I was completely able to relax, be in the moment, and truly enjoy every second of my big day. Thank you, Channy! You are simply the best!

Meet VOWS New Planner/Designer Amber Blondin

Amber Blondin joined the VOWS team in early 2014 after 10 years. experience in marketing and corporate events. Amber’s passion for planning and designing weddings shines through in all of her events. Her calm demeanor, exceptional customer service and strong organizational skills allow her to provide a once-in-a-lifetime event for her couples.  She aims to exceed her client's expectations, striving for a memorable, fun and stress free experience from beginning to end. Amber is meticulous and hard-working, yet easy-going and flexible with a knack for anticipating her clients’ needs.  Her biggest reward is the smiling faces of her clients as they float through their wedding day and those big hugs at the end of the night. 

Amber’s professional background includes marketing, media planning, and event coordination at advertising agencies in Seattle and Washington, D.C.  Amber graduated from Western Washington University (Go Vikings!) with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Public Relations.

When she is not planning weddings, you can find Amber giving it her all at body boot camp, cooking, traveling, hiking, trying new restaurants or watching The Bachelor/Bachelorette.  If she could have (had) dinner with anyone famous, it would be Eleanor Roosevelt or Tina Fey – she has a soft spot for intelligent and humorous women. And dark chocolate. And spicy food. Amber calls the Queen Anne neighborhood of Seattle home and cannot wait to marry her favorite person, fiancé Aaron, in January of 2015.

Big thanks to La Vie Photography for providing Amber's great headshots.