So, I'm the type of person who likes everything organized and done the way I've planned when it's my event or day. Some things I understand I have no control over (it dumped snow on our wedding day) but others I felt I did. I even took the chance to ask others to help me out...which is a big deal for me.
Things I learned:
If you have it in your budget, a day-of coordinator who will execute your vision the way you want would have been invaluable to me. I asked my MOH and my husband's aunt (his 'best woman') to set up the reception room and take care of details while we did our first look and formal portraits. My MOH flaked the morning of so she was on 'dress steaming' duty (she later came together and became super-MOH but initially, not so much). My husband's aunt became a completely different person and intentionally sabotaged us repeatedly throughout the day.
If you can't afford a day-of coordinator, a friend who will execute your plan but isn't in the wedding party and can take that stress off of you is worth their weight in gold!
For the budget, quote your vendors 20% less than you're actually willing to spend. That way you have a cushion for the unexpected details and line items that pop up, like SOCAN, ReSound, delivery fees etc.
For the venue - ask if the event coordinator/person you are dealing with is the person who will be there the day and time of your event. Unbeknownst to us, the event coordinator wasn't there and no one came to introduce themselves as the contact person for the day. So, we kept asking questions of random staff and didn't always get the right answers. It also delayed our already tight set-up timelines. Once things got rolling, one member of the wait staff kept checking in with me and was phenomenal. But, initially things were a little up in the air...
Hire a Pro if your budget allows. For the things that are important to you, carve the budget out to hire a pro. If I hadn't gone with a pro for hair & makeup, photos, officiating and transportation, our day would have been completely sidelined. My hair and makeup looked amazing and stood up in the snow, our photographer and his team captured not just the 'requisite' photos but some of the magic moments that could easily have been missed, our officiant knew how to move the guests where they needed to be and calm me down when guests were being rude and disrespectful and the transportation was worth the investment as we knew we had professional drivers getting our guests to and from our venue in the snowstorm.
Along the same lines - go with your gut. If something feels off with a vendor, trust that. We changed our officiant and we are so glad we did. Our ceremony was perfect because of her skill and professionalism...and ability to manage disrespectful guests. I waited until I found a florist who I felt 'got' the vision I had for my wedding...and she delivered, big time! Once we initially met with our photographer, we knew he was the one we wanted. We met with others - some of whom came in at a lower price point, but we just knew he was the one. Sometimes, it's important to get out of your head and the spreadsheet we (OK, I) have going on...and just do a gut check. If it's off, you'll know. If it's right...you'll know too.
You often hear the phrase 'your day, your way' thrown around. It can be difficult to stick to your guns but, know what is most important to you on the big day, what you're willing to let slide, and what you really don't care about. Make sure you and your partner are on the same page about your non-negotiables. Then, have the day you want the way you want it. We had one very vocal member of the wedding party who insisted we move the ceremony indoors. Both my husband and I were on the same page - not going to happen. We bought blankets and let everyone know it would be outside. If we hadn't been on the same page, it would have created even more issues. We presented a united front and set the tone for not only our wedding day but our marriage - we are a team.
If anything else pops up, I'll add it along the way.