Darcy Miller Best Tips For Planning A Wedding

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Lessons Learned In 20 Years Of Wedding Planning

– From Martha Stewart Wedding Planner Darcy Miller

Darcy Miller recently shared her top wedding planning tips for couples and lessons learned over the course of her TWENTY years of wedding planning. The problem with planning a wedding yourself is you only get to do it once. Because of this, you’ll never learn those wedding planning mistakes lessons until after the big day has come and gone – at which point, they’re not much help to you! Whether you decide to lean on the expertise of a professional planner or whether you want to strike out on your own, we hope these wedding planning lessons will arm you with the insight you need to bring your dream day into reality.

1 stress free wedding tips planning a wedding on budget on schedule

The early bird gets the stress-free celebration.

“I always tell my couples to pretend their date is two weeks BEFORE the actual day. It’s a smart way to trick yourself into getting it all done.”

This is an absolutely brilliant, life changing tip. 99% of couples make the mistake of being way too optimistic with their planning deadlines, or not setting any at all. Having a clear plan and timeline for your wedding planning ensures you don’t fall too far behind schedule to catch up, and if you succeed in finishing by your two week early deadline, says Darcy, “You’ll have time for any last minute details that invariably crawl up.”


2 Personalized wedding napkins for your reception


Personal touches make memorable weddings.

“Guests won’t notice if the linens are a shade darker than you hoped. They’re most impressed by what makes the day feel like its yours. Such as serving your favorite dessert or printing the lyrics of “your song” on your programs.”

I couldn’t agree more with Darcy on this one. The most memorable and meaningful weddings are the ones personalized to fit you and your fiance. The most heartfelt ceremonies are the ones with personal vows to eachother. The most impacting speeches are the ones straight from the heart. If you love the outdoors, incorporate that into the styling of your reception. If you’re both crazy about hockey, assign table names with your favorite hockeyplayer. If you love to travel, place photos of the places you’ve been together in the centerpieces. Anything is up for grabs – make your wedding your own.

3 stress free wedding tips planning a wedding on budget on schedule

Vows can wow.

“It’s tempting to focus on your reception, picking a band, designing a menu. But leave time to work on making your ceremony meaningful. It’s the reason everyone came – to watch you get married!”

This is absolutely brilliant. Its a sad mistake that far too many couples make – putting all of their time (and money!) into the wedding reception, and then leaving what’s left over to put towards the ceremony. Your wedding ceremony is the big event, so make sure to dedicate appropriate time and budget towards making it everything you’re dreaming of. Make it unique. Make it special. Make it unforgettable.

4 Girls giggling at photoshoot wedding party

Keep your portraits playful.

“Even if you do a “first look”, set aside a time to take photos after the ceremony – that’s when you (and everyone else) will finally feel relaxed and excited.”

Plan locations for your shots ahead of time and make sure to plan ahead with your photographer to make sure they’re aware of all the photos you’re after. Also make sure to plan for your guests during this time – what will they be doing to keep them happy and entertained while you’re off at your photoshoot? Most of all, budget enough time to get everything you want without rushing or making it feel like a chore – your wedding is meant to be enjoyed!

5 green wedding cake square 4 tiers martha stewart weddings photo

Don’t stress when you can strategize.

“Something is going to go wrong on your wedding day. When it does, don’t sweat it. Just rethink your original plan. At one of the first celebrations we covered, the couple had meticulously arranged everything in shades of green – until the sun streaming through the car window lightened the fondant of the cake being delivered, turning it a different color. We panicked. Then we rotated the cake so the other side would fade to the same hue and got on with having a great time.”

Flexibility is something you need at a wedding. Your day doesn’t have to go 100% to plan to be amazing – its not the details that make it special, its the main event! So be prepared for a few bumps in the road, and it will all turn out in the end.




If you love it – go for it!

“Don’t feel that your day has to be traditional. If you appreciate Pachelbel’s Canon, walk down the aisle to it. If not, pick another song.”

Isn’t it interesting that 20 years of lessons all come down to a similar theme here? Darcy’s emphasis is that you will ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS be happier with a wedding that is true and unique to you than you will be by following the designer fads or trends. The trends are great for inspiration, but don’t let them force a style on you that doesn’t fit who you are :)

6 Bride and groom rooftop photoshoot overlooking city photo

Stop and Soak it all in.

“When the day finally comes, it flies by. Let all the details go, trust that everyone is enjoying themselves, and take time to pause and be in the moment. One idea that helps: Steal away from the reception for a few minutes and stand to the side watching the party as you take it all in together.”

we hear this one from brides all the time. You’ve put months if not years into planning this ONE special day, and all too soon its over and done. There is something very beautiful about that, but it can also be overwhelming. Be prepared for it and remember it as you’re planning – its just ONE day, so savour the entire experience.

8 wedding couple first dance picture backlit with lens flare black and white

Film is forever.

“No one ever regrets hiring a videographer, and my friends who decided to skip it often tell me they wish they hadn’t. It’s been almost 14 years since our wedding, and while we love our gorgeous photos, it’s fun to show our daughters the video – and we get to relive the day, too”

Yes its true, hiring a videographer is an added investment to an already expensive wedding day – but its the only way to really hold on to that day once its gone. We think the better question is after spending so much time, money and energy on planning this day, why WOULDN’T you want to capture it to rewatch down the road? While your flowers and centerpieces, cakes and decorations, and pretty much everything else you spend money on at your wedding will only last ONE day, your video will last for years (and generations!) to come.


So there you have it – Darcy Miller’s top 9 tips and lessons learned from over 20 years of wedding planning. Feel free to check out the original article on the Martha Stewart Weddings Website. If you have tips of your own, make sure to leave em in the comments below!

Happy Planning!


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