I’ve been hired as a bridesmaid over 125 times. Here are 5 things I made sure I had at my own wedding.

Jen adam wedding 287
I planned our simple ceremony in less than a week. Susan Shek Photography

Over the last six years, I’ve been hired as a bridesmaid over 125 times, so I know my way around a wedding.

I started my business, Bridesmaid for Hire, to provide a service to brides who need someone by their side on their big day – whether it’s because they don’t have any close friends or their close friends aren’t up for the dirty work that comes with the role.

After every wedding I’ve attended, I found myself writing down things I adored and things I knew I’d never want at my own.

When my partner and I decided to ditch our traditional wedding plans because of the pandemic and plan a low-key ceremony instead, I carefully thought about what I really wanted and what I knew I didn’t need.

We got married outside of the coffee shop we had our first date at with a handful of friends there supporting us and the rest of our family over Zoom. I was able to plan the whole day in less than a week.

Here are the five essential things I made sure to include in our pared-down ceremony:

I still wanted a professional photographer there to capture the day

Jen Glantz
Investing in a good photographer is definitely worth it. Susan Shek Photography

A wedding photographer is usually one of the first vendors that couples pick when planning their big day.

You can find them at all different price ranges, but I always knew that the photographer I hired had to meet three criteria.

First, I wanted to make sure they provided quality work in a style I liked. Second, I wanted to make sure their personality jived with mine since the bride spends a lot of quality time with them on the day. And finally, I wanted to work with someone who had wedding experience and could anticipate pop-up challenges.

For example, since we got married outside a coffee shop, there were a lot of strangers walking by. But my photographer was able to capture key moments without the unexpected guests.

It took a little extra time to find the right photographer, but I think it was absolutely worth it. Your photos will help you remember the day for the rest of your life, so they’re a good thing to invest in.

Because our guest list was small, we were able to order personalized drinks and food

Since we only had 15 people at our wedding, I decided that rather than ordering a lot of food and drinks, I’d make the refreshments as personalized as possible.

This ultimately allowed me to save money because I didn’t need a ton of options. But it made my guests feel appreciated.

A few days before the event, I asked all of the guests to submit what they wanted to drink and eat during our ceremony and preordered refreshments based on their answers.

When they arrived, the drink they ordered was waiting for them, and we prepared a table of different snacks and sweets based on what they picked.

I wasn’t willing to sacrifice a meaningful ceremony with personalized vows

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My partner’s brother personalized our ceremony. Susan Shek Photography

Looking back at the lists I made from all the weddings I’ve worked at, one thing I always loved was a personal and meaningful ceremony.

Even though we planned ours last minute, I still made sure that my partner and I exchanged vows we wrote ourselves.

I also wanted the ceremony as a whole to highlight our love story.

Since our officiant was my partner’s brother, we asked him to write a ceremony script from scratch. It wasn’t necessarily an easy task, but it really made it feel unique.

Wedding favors can be hit or miss, so I decided to thank our guests with personalized gifts

During my first few years of working weddings, I decided that party favors were usually a waste of money.

But if done right, giving your guests a gift at the end of the event can be something special.

Since we only had a handful of people at our ceremony, I decided to create personalized thank-you gifts to share my appreciation for them.

I spent a total of $15 per person and filled tote bags with two to three items that I thought would be special. I included things like their favorite candy, mini candles, and other treats from local shops in our neighborhood.

This was our way of showing each person how much they mean to us, and we gave them things they’d actually use and care about.

I ditched my plans for big floral arrangements, but I kept my colorful bouquet

Jen adam wedding pictures
I wanted a simple and multipurpose bouquet. Susan Shek Photography

Flowers can really make a wedding look and feel exquisite, but they’re often a giant waste of money.

Arrangements are pricey, and once the wedding is over, they usually end up in the trash.

I originally wanted to decorate the outside of the coffee shop with beautiful floral installations that would’ve cost thousands of dollars. But I limited my flowers to a simple and colorful bouquet that ended up costing under $100.

I used the bouquet as decor during the ceremony, held it in photos, and later dried the flowers so that I could keep them after the big day.

Giant floral installations would’ve looked cool, but I’m not sure our guests would’ve really appreciated them, so they just weren’t worth the money.

At the end of the day, our low-key ceremony was still meaningful and memorable in the ways that I always hoped it would be.