Wedding Advice for Newly Engaged Couples: Ariella Anderson

How long after your got engaged did you begin planning the wedding?

I’d say, we really started planning a couple of months into our engagement. Two weeks after getting engaged, we moved from New York to North Carolina. Moving, and everything that comes with it, took up the bulk of our attention. Once we were settled in we took on a more active role. That being said, my parents quickly took the reins and began venue hunting for us in New York. Hey, if they want to do the legwork, I’m all for it.

How did you determine the wedding’s budget and who contributed what?

I wouldn’t really advise figuring out a budget like we did. We picked a small number and then hoped we’d be able to save enough money. I wouldn’t do it that way. But, our total budget was only $15,000 with my parents contributing about $8,000, which was the cost of the reception.

Chuck’s parents helped out here and there as well. We ended up saving enough to pay our vendors in cash, but the rest had to be put on our credit cards, which were then promptly paid off after the wedding. While I believe we stayed under budget, I wouldn’t recommend doing it like this at all.

How did you keep track of your wedding planning (book, planner, Excel, other)?

For someone who is really organized, I couldn’t keep up with full time job, part time job and wedding planning so my budget excel sheet quickly went to hell. But, I did have a nifty binder that I kept all of my important documents in. I also used The Knot to keep track of my guest list.

I eventually made my own form though.

When you discussed the wedding, what 5 things where most important to the two of you?

  • The ceremony. We want to make sure it was incredibly person and a reflection of us and our love and not what was traditional or expected.
  • The food. Good food is hard to do on a budget, but it turned out fantastic.
  • The music: We did an iPod wedding, but we put more work into that than any other aspect of our wedding.
  • Sane friends: It was really, really important to me that my bridesmaids came away from our wedding with positive feelings and not, “oh my god, Ariella is a psycho and I have NO IDEA why I signed up for this.”
  • Laid-back vibe: We wanted everyone to have fun and be relaxed.

How did you incorporate those 5 things into your wedding?

  • My friend became ordained and performed our ceremony, which means we completely wrote it ourselves.
  • We got lucky (lol).
  • We downloaded a lot of great music and then Chuck worked really hard to mix it into playable sets. It had its bumps, but overall it was fine.
  • I was not a bridezilla. I took my bridesmaids’ lives and budgets into consideration. I didn’t ask anything of them that I wouldn’t do myself.
  • The cocktail reception and casual dress code definitely put everyone at ease.

Did you register for gifts and was it a good experience?

We did. It was fun for the first 20 minutes and then after that it became pretty boring and I just wanted to go home. And ladies, never leave your man alone with that gun because before you know it, you’ll end up with a snow cone maker on your registry.

Could you share some wedding planning advice for newly engaged couples?

Figure out your priorities and stick to them. Ask yourself, “What are the things that are REALLY important to me.” Focus on those and spend less time on the rest.

Where did you splurge and where did you save?

We saved EVERYWHERE! I crocheted my own flowers, we did our own music, we made our favors and centerpieces, printed our own invitations, etc. We splurged on our wedding rings, but even those were fairly cheap in comparison to what most people pay.

What specific cost surprised you (pleasantly or unpleasantly)?

DJ’s. Which is why we did our own music. For Long Island, my friends were reporting numbers back to us around $1,500.

Could you share a favorite DIY project (feel free to include a link) from your wedding?

I’m really not very crafty. I’d like to be crafty, but my skill level is at a kindergarten level. But, I guess crocheting my own flowers. In hindsight, there are things I would have added or changed, but after crocheting nearly 100 flowers, I just didn’t care. I just wanted them to be done lol. It is really great that they are the centerpiece for my kitchen table and they’ll never die.

Did you use any tutorials or downloads from other websites/blogs while planning your wedding?

I did! I used a few for the crocheted flowers and the tissue poms that we hung from the ceiling. The videos for the crochet flowers were fantastic and I plan on using them to enhance my general crochet skills.

Did you have to handle any tricky or delicate issues while planning your wedding and how did you cope with them?

A little bit. My MIL made it perfectly clear that her sister-in-law should not be invited to the wedding after some drama at the passing of Chuck’s grandmother. Honestly, we just listened to her and didn’t invite her. We thought inviting her would cause more drama than not inviting her.

I was also the first one in my family to not get married in a Catholic Church. While my mom and dad were cool with it, the rest of the family – not so much. No one said anything to me personally, as my mother fielded the general horror at our decision. But, we just stuck to our guns and did what we wanted and it was absolutely perfect.

Could you share some wedding day advice for newly engaged couples?

Just enjoy it. Stuff is going to go wrong. Things will not go as planned. But, ya know what? Who cares? Unless it’s something outrageous, no one is going to notice but you. And odds are, you won’t notice either. The most important thing that day is the sharing of your vows. Everything else is extra. So, just try to focus on why you are really celebrating that day and the rest won’t matter.

For example, somehow I got red wine on my dress. Everyone was freaking out about it but me. We were husband and wife, who cares if I have red wine on my dress? I just married my soulmate!

Could you share your favorite photo from the day and tell us why you love it?

Anderson Wedding Favorite Picture 
Image Courtesy of: Susan Greico of Scattered Pictures Photography

This photo was taken right after we walked back down the aisle after being pronounced husband and wife. It was a completely candid moment. Even though I knew that my friends and family were somewhere right behind me it was like we were the only two people there. We didn’t pose for it, we just expressed pure joy.

P.S. Susan Greico of Scattered Pictures Photography on Long Island was my photographer. She did an amazing job.


Thank you, Ariella! I loved your comments about not being a Bridezilla – that's one of my fears, too Would you like to ask Ariella any questions about her wedding experience? Leave a comment and we'll try to get back with you!