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Here are some helpful tips on how to keep wedding planning a happy time for both you and your partner and to not lose sight of your ceremony.


photographer: Joe Banker Photography

Over the past several months I've encountered two different couples (not clients of mine) who are getting married. When I asked them how the wedding planning is going, their responses kind of surprised me. "Ugh - I'm so over it. We're just ready to be done with it and get this out of the way." Oh...

That response made me feel sad, honestly. I truly wasn't sure how to respond either time. Getting married should be an exciting time, not a miserable one. I obviously LOVE planning weddings, and I often forget not everyone does. A large part of why I do this is because I genuinely love helping people such a big step in their lives. What confuses me though is - if you hate it this much - then why are you doing it??

Getting married is a massive step & commitment in your relationship. It's choosing to love one another until death do you part. Uhh.. that's kind of a big deal. Most of the time that feeling of security brings happiness, right? I remember when Jason proposed to me, I think I was on Cloud 9 for at least a week straight. And in all seriousness I felt like I was glowing! It was an incredible, different kind of feeling.

Take that feeling and ask yourself why you feel this way? Have you been waiting to start a family until marriage so you can't wait for a family of your own? Are you ready to fully commit to the one person in your life you love the most? Whatever your reasoning may be, THAT feeling is a gut reminder that tying the knot is the right next step for you and your relationship.

Take that feeling again, and then start planning your wedding. For some of you, that feeling may quickly disappear and turn into STRESSSSSSSSS. You've fallen off of Cloud 9 and just want to get to the big day already. This whole planning stuff isn't for you - and that's okay! It doesn't have to be.

Planning your wedding isn't supposed to be miserable and stressful. You're finally marrying the love of your life! That's LITERALLY the entire point as to why you're having a wedding to begin with. It's a day to celebrate love and your commitment to one another. If you're reading this and you resonate with those couples who want it to be over with - stop and remind yourself why you're getting married in the first place. Take yourself back to that glowing feeling right after your fiancé proposed. Take a step back from the chaos and all of the decision making, look at your fiancé, and say "Damn, I am so grateful I found my person and that I get to spend the rest of my life with them."

.....Did that help a little? I get it - your family's wants and opinions can make things tough, but putting their thoughts entirely aside, there are a few things you can do to put the fun & love back into planning your own wedding and actually enjoy your engagement a little more.

Get a full service planner. I'm not just saying this because I'm a wedding planner, I promise. I always tell my clients - if you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen! My team and I take great pride in making planning easy & fun, and I'm a firm believer in leaving things you hate to the hands of professionals. We CAN stand the heat - that's why we stay in the kitchen for long 12 hour days, so to speak. Because we love it and we want to.

Keep your budget small for all the glitz and glam, and make room for a full service planner who will literally do everything for you. Aside from meeting with your planner and vendors, you'll barely have to lift a finger. If you can find room in your budget for your dream $4k photographer, you can find room for a wedding planner. A wedding can take anywhere between 100 to 500 hours of planning depending on the budget and scope of wants & needs. That's... a lot. If you know you're the type of person who is absolutely going to hate and dread planning your own wedding every step of the way, then make the investment, relax, and put the enjoyment back into your engagement and wanting to get married by knowing you can rely on someone else to handle the stress for you.

Book a full service venue. Find a venue that includes most of these amenities if not all: food, bar, cake, tables, chairs, and linen. Find a venue too that has such a beautiful space that you barely have to decorate. Two boxes of personal items & a Welcome Sign - no problem. I wouldn't suggest getting married in a blank canvas space that requires you to think heavily into decor. Make things easy on yourself and cross of a ton of planning items right off the bat just by finding a venue that can do a lot for you. If they have a recommended vendors list, life will be easier if you just adhere to it, too. Instead of looking at 300+ photographers on Instagram and overwhelming yourself, research the 5 on their list, instead.

Minimize your budget. I briefly touched on this, but if you don't love wedding planning to begin with, then why have a $30,000+ budget? You already know this, but weddings are EXPENSIVE. Take that large blow up photo booth off your list and eliminate any plans you had to find wedding favors or create ceremony programs. There are several things you can do to cut down on costs. Cutting down on costs also means cutting down your to-do list. No ceremony programs means no research or time needed to choose what kind of programs you want. Tri-fold or bi-fold? What design do you like most? Do you prefer this font or that one? you see where I'm going with all of this? Shorter to do list = less stress. I've even had not one but two clients choose to play music from their Spotify Premium for their reception vs having a DJ. And you know what? Their guests still had a fantastic time. A hype man DJ isn't the reason behind you tying the knot, the ceremony & your marriage license is. Make a list of must haves and wants, and begin eliminating from there.

Keep it small. I feel like I used to attend and help plan so many 250+ weddings. Then COVID hit and everything changed. Most guest lists now hover around a solid 125-150. You don't need to invite Great Great Great Aunt Sally because your Grammy says so. It's YOUR wedding, not anyone else's, right? Like I already mentioned, your wedding day is the day where you get to celebrate your love for one another. So only invite people who genuinely care about you and love you. Invite people who are close to you in your current life, not someone you haven't spoken to in 5 years, but "you used to have a history" so you feel obligated to invite them. Keeping things small & intimate helps take the pressure of planning off, too. Intimate weddings are my favorite, and I truly believe they're here to stay. And by the way, if you don't like being the center of attention, I'm not sure why you have a large guest list! Keep your guest list below 100. Heck, make it 50! This also goes with keeping a small budget. If you have a small guest list, that means less alcohol and less food - less you have to spend.

Elope or Court House it up. And then have a celebration picnic afterwards. I'm being totally serious. If you hate planning such a big event then why are you?? This may not be the answer for all, I understand that. But don't force yourself to do something you don't want to do. Follow up your small court house or beach ceremony with a casual outdoor picnic at a pavilion. Way easier and less stressful to plan than a large wedding, and it's more laid back, too.

Ignore All Opinions! That aren't your own or your fiancé's. One of my closest friends is getting married next year and her future MIL is acting like this is her wedding, and it's making my dear friend lose her mind! What's the fun in being miserable while planning your own wedding?? If you're in the same predicament as her, honestly - try to plan silently in private. This is a little extreme, I know, and can be tough, but you'll thank me. Every time those problem family members ask you how the planning is going, say "Great!" and leave it at that. If you would like assistance planning from someone who's not going to add more stress to your plate, let's circle back to my first point - hire a wedding planner who will have your best interest at heart the entire time through the planning process.

The stigma of needing a huge fancy wedding is unfair, because I think sometimes it makes couples who don't want it feel like they have to have it. I have assisted several $10k budget weddings. It's an incredibly feasible thing to do, and the couples were always so thrilled with how their day went. What matters the most is that you walk away from your wedding day feeling loved & happy, and I hope you remembered to slow down and just soak it all in with your new spouse, too.

When asked what my favorite part of any wedding day is, I've had the same answer for years. And it's a large part of why I do what I do & LOVE what I do. Every time I make that final fluff of my bride's dress and watch her walk down the aisle to her forever person - I get chills every. single. time. It's really special watching their eyes well up with tears as they see each other and think - wow, how did I get so lucky? I am SO happy to be marrying this person today.

Before all the sparkle & glam, and before all the stress starts to kick in - remember what your wedding day is truly about. That love you'll feel by officially becoming a team with your spouse in this game of life - THAT is why you're getting married in the first place.

And resulted in an engagement.


Vaccines are on the rise and masks are coming off - is it safe to talk about this touchy subject yet? Quarantine.

It's almost hard to believe that last year for months at a time, we were all in our homes with no where to go and no one to see. Every single evening consisted of playing The Sims on my tablet and drinking too much Grist House beer, all while my boyfriend was on the other couch playing online poker.

At the end of the day, I'm INCREDIBLY grateful everyone that's close to me is safe and healthy, and I am not angry by any means that this is what we had to do to stop the spread and to protect ourselves and others. But it was - weird. The human psyche isn't intended to be cooped up in one place every day, all day, without any in-person interaction with the outside world.

The only in-person interaction most of us had was with the people we lived with.

For me, that was my boyfriend. My boyfriend of four years.

Quarantine either made or broke your relationship, am I right? If you were in a relationship during quarantine, I salute you. It sure as hell wasn't easy. Maybe it helped you realize that you don't want to be with that person anymore. Or maybe you realized the exact opposite - that they're your everything. I am very happy to say that for Jason and I, it only brought us closer together.

This forced time together sparked even more deeper conversations between the two of us. We enjoyed each other's company (almost) the entire time. I barely remember ever being annoyed or angry with him. I was just so happy to be home from work and to be able to see him more.

At the time, I worked for an orthopedic surgeon as his admin assistant. I had to alternate weeks at home and weeks in the clinic so he could treat patients. But from March until June - I only worked about 20 hours a week. And half of that time I was working from home. Those hours when I was home, I separated myself and worked upstairs in our office. Sometimes I went to the back porch and had lengthy phone calls. Giving ourselves some space during the day was healthy and necessary.

June 2020 rolled around and I had to go back to the office full-time. That very first day I was back in the office, I received a "Miss You" Bitmoji text from Jason. And man, did I miss him too! "Wow - this kind of sucks!," I thought to myself. I honestly asked myself if I was pathetic for feeling that way. For missing him just cause I had to be away from him for 8 hours. But then I snapped out of that negative self-talk and reminded myself - we are in a global pandemic! I just spent three months straight with a single human being and didn't see anyone else. And I loved every second of it. This is normal to feel this way!

So - how did we not want to strangle each other the whole time?

  1. First and foremost - we love each other. Duh Jade, what kind of advice is that? In other words, if you feel yourself being constantly annoyed or angry with your S.O., it may be time to reevaluate your relationship.

  2. Secondly, we gave ourselves space when we could. When I worked from home, I spent a lot of the day upstairs or on the back porch. I also claimed our office space as my own so I had my own personal space, and Jason respectfully let me be so I could get my work done.

  3. Thirdly, we still did our own thing. I'll admit, it wasn't the healthiest - but what else we were supposed to do?? Like I mentioned earlier, he had fun playing online poker & I created my own world in The Sims. We entertained ourselves the best we could without constantly needing the other person's attention.

  4. Group FaceTime's with our own friends. These FaceTime's occurred away from the other person, so again, we could have our own space.

  5. Gratitude. Appreciation. I just felt so grateful I had him to hunker down with and that I wasn't alone.

Fast forward to our five year anniversary in February of this year, and my sweet man got down on one knee and asked to make me his wife.

We joke and say a COVID year is like five years in a relationship, but we're also kind of serious when we say that. It put so much in perspective for us. We are very blessed to be safe & healthy, there's no doubt about that. But I feel even more blessed that we found each other. I can't wait to spend the rest of my life as Mrs. Jade Granda.

Okay, you caught me. I'm a wine-o. SHAMELESSLY. There are plenty of reasons to pop the cork on a great bottle of wine, and "A Year of Firsts" provides you with numerous occasions to do exactly that.

If you're stumped on what to get your fellow bride-to-be for her bridal shower gift, look no further. If she loves wine, you can't go wrong with a wine basket (or crate, or box, or... whatever it is you put the wine in).

The first year of a marriage is extra special for a a newlywed couple. Whether it's a fight or a joyous occasion, they will encounter a year filled with first milestones together, and this wine basket will help them conquer it all.

Before purchasing the wine, you're going to need a basket, or your version of one.

I chose to use a wooden crate to store my wine. Other options include a galvanized tub or a wicker basket.

You can purchase the same 18 x 12.5 x 9.5 wooden pallet crate at any craft store (@Michaels, @HobbyLobby), as well as @Walmart for $10.

I spay painted the crate to match the bachelorette's bridal theme. @Michaels has a lock box filled with different colored spray paints you can choose from. I suggest you prime the wood first, because your colored paint will soak into the wood without it.

Use newspaper and/or tissue paper to add height to your basket. For a basket that's extra deep like the crate, use a small box or other object to add height first, then cover the box with tissue paper.

Wedding Night: Monogamy

It's almost scary how many wines exist that fit into these categories perfectly. My first example, Monogamy.

We all know what monogamy is, but in case you don't, it's "the practice or state of being married to one person at a time."

Purchase this wine so the newlyweds can celebrate their first night together as husband and wife.

Monogamy is a dry Cabernet Sauvignon.

First Fight: Clean Slate

Fights are bound to happen. The newlywed bliss will settle, and no two people will always agree with each other.

No matter how big or small, this perfectly named bottle of German Riesling will help the couple wipe the "slate clean."

First Home: House Wine

Yes, a house wine called "House Wine," with an actual house on the label. TOO perfect - this wine needs to be opened when the couple celebrates purchasing their first home as a new family.

My go-to for bridal shower basket is their Original Red Blend, but they have plenty more to offer.

Visit their website HERE.

First Dinner Party: Bread & Butter

The perfectly named wines to fit every occasion continues with "Bread & Butter."

May the newlyweds break bread and open this wine for the first dinner party they host in their new home with friends and family.

In addition to this chardonnay, "Bread & Butter" also has a Pinot Noir.

First Anniversary: Better Half

One year of marriage down, forever to go!

Wish the happy couple a Happy First Anniversary with this Sauvignon Blanc. When they clink their glasses together, they'll be reminded that they're each other's better halves in life.

You gifted them this wine on her bridal shower day, and they'll still be thanking you over a year later.

"Better Half" overs a variety of different wines in their collection in addition to their Sauvignon Blanc.

First Baby: Barefoot

This family just got a little bigger.

Use any bottle of Barefoot to congratulate the couple on expecting their first child. From champagne to pink moscato, it all fits the theme with the little footprint on the label.

The only issue about this milestone is the mother-to-be can't dive into this bottle, but at least dad & family can!

First Valentine's Day: Love Drunk

Beyoncé & Jay-Z said it first - purchase this wine so the couple can get "Drunk in Love" on their First Valentine's Day together.

This lovely Rosé is by Mouton Noir.

There are several valentine related wines out there, so if you can't find this one, you can also look for:

Terra Valentine Marriage

Chateau Julien French Kiss

Inspire Moore Love Riesling

First Christmas Eve: Santa Margherita

Don't be intimated by this bottle's label, it's not as expensive as you may think.

Santa Margherita's Cabernet Sauvignon is around $30. The deep red is a perfect Christmas wine, but even more perfect is how "Santa" is in the name.

Christmas is a special time for family, especially for the couple to celebrate it the first time as husband & wife.

If you'd like to add additional bottle of wines to your basket, here are a few more ideas:


First New Years

First Thanksgiving

First Big Purchase

If you're crafty, you can create your own tags personalized directly for the couple, or you can purchase a package of them on Etsy.

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