While modern-day depictions of wedding planning paints the event as more of an apocalyptic undertaking rather than something that’s easy-as-pie (which, for the record, is actually not easy to bake at all), we’ve found that the process doesn’t have to be like a scene from some B-list horror flick. After a quick chat with CheapOair employee and wedding planner extraordinaire Amanda Killian, we’ve put together a list of the top things to keep in mind before you begin the planning process.

Take it from someone who’s attended weddings in a multitude of wacky locales: from a multi-million dollar affair in the Hamptons to a backyard barbeque to planning her own fairytale event, Amanda knows what she’s talking about and she’s prepared to dish!

Let’s start off with an easy one: describe your wedding in five words.

Best day of my life.

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Should have seen that coming! Okay, let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of it all. What are your top three tips to people about to start planning their wedding?

1. You may have to compromise and there is nothing wrong with that. Some unexpected changes can actually be a blessing in disguise.

2. Your wedding is not just about you. Your soon to be spouse and your guests are just as important to the whole day.

3. Do your homework. Just because it’s a wedding does not mean you should have to pay exorbitantly more than necessary. Shop around and you can find something in your price point.

Okay, so now the person is planning their wedding. What’s the one thing they should keep in mind throughout the process?

Identify the one thing that matters the most to you that you are not willing to compromise on. It could be location, the dress, the food, theme or something as simple as the color scheme. For me, I knew that the food and drinks would be a driving factor and dictate where I would have the reception.

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What are the top things you considered when you first set up your budget?

I knew the church and reception venue would be the most consuming of my budget. The garments were also going to big budget allocation such as the gown, tuxedo, and family attire. Since we were big on the food,  the cake would also be a big budget item.

What things unexpectedly ate up your budget?

Hair and makeup definitely cost more than I had planned. Bridal makeup and hair cost well above a regular hair and makeup job. I also was unaware of how expensive wedding flowers would be and had to adjust the budget based on new considerations.

There are definitely things that add up and costs that basically sneak up on you. Party favors, bubbles, centerpieces, linens, invitations, postage, place cards, bridal party gifts, the license and even requesting a baptismal certificate all contributed to adjustments within the budget.

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Is there anything you would have done differently?

I planned a wedding in 10 months. Looking back, I would have given myself more time to plan.

What would you never change?

I loved the venue of my reception. The pictures look like postcards as the backdrop was the NYC skyline.

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Any stressful moments where you lost your cool?

It is very easy and common for every bride to become overwhelmed. I pride myself on my independence but even I had an overwhelming moment when it came to planning the shower and bachelorette party. I knew I needed to ask for help.

Who did you ask for help?

Since my mother was already helping with certain aspects of the wedding, I asked my sisters who were in the bridal party to help with the shower and selecting a location. I also asked my two best friends, who were also in my wedding party, to help me plan the bachelorette dinner. Even independent brides need a helping hand sometimes!

Were there any amazing ideas that you got from attending other weddings while you were planning?

I didn’t know how expensive place cards could be and was looking for an alternative. I went to a wedding and the bride and groom used a board and had the guests names as a directory with the table numbers for location. I did a variation and had the names of guests in photo frames with their assigned table numbers. I later used those same frames to give each parent an 8×10 professional photo from the wedding.

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Have you seen any cool wedding ideas since that have made you say “I wish I’d thought of that!”?

A friend of mine made her bouquet out of heirloom familial broaches. She went online for a tutorial and asked members of her family to all participate by giving her broaches. The result was stunning and took care of her something old, something new, and something borrowed and something blue.

Any “wedding hack” advice?

1. Don’t be afraid of DIY projects. You can create lots of things yourself including table centerpieces.

2. Give the DJ or band your music set list. It could be all the songs or the “what not to play” but don’t expect them to know what you like if you are not specific.

3. When it comes to photography, tell the photographer what kinds of photos you want. You also don’t need to buy the packages and can instead buy the rights to all your photos. I had my photographer airbrush 100 of 2,000 photos and I made the photobooks through an online website and personalized them for each family member.

4. Make sure you know about all the things your venue offers. They may include linens, candles, flower stands, chair covers, etc. at no additional cost to you.

5. The day goes by fast but please remember to enjoy it!

What is something that you worried about but totally didn’t have to?

I was more worried about the timing of the events at the venue and I should have relaxed as the coordinator was amazing and everything went very smoothly.

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What’s the best wedding that you’ve ever been to (that wasn’t your own)?

I went to a destination wedding in the Bahamas and it was one of the most relaxing & beautiful weekends I have ever had.

To sum it all up, can you describe your wedding planning experience in five words?

Definitely not what I expected!

So there you have it, folks: give yourself ample planning time, try and identify what you don’t want to compromise on, and go in with no expectations — sounds easy, right?

Have any tips of your own? Let us know in the comments!

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About The Author

Mary Zakheim
Content Writer

When she is not figuring out what the middle button on her headphones is for, explaining the difference between Washington State and Washington D.C., arriving to the airport too early or refusing to use the Oxford comma, you can usually find Mary in the mountains, at a show or on her couch. Mary is a content writer at Fareportal and likes annoying her coworkers with weird GIFs throughout the day.