It’s wedding season! And with that comes lots of brides and grooms with questions on “where to begin” and “how much is that going to cost”. I know that every bride has a particular idea in their mind about what they want for the wedding day, but usually the reality may have to be something different.
In my days as a wedding planner, I specialized on being able to coach my brides and grooms through these same situations. Here is my wedding planning guide on how to make sure to get what you want out of your wedding day:
1) Set your priorities before you ever set your date.
You can always have a general idea of when you want to get married in mind, but set your other priorities early. If you go into your wedding planning thinking I want everything on my list, you may be disappointed really quickly but if you line up your first priority items up front then it gives you more flexibility. By this I mean, if your top priority is the perfect venue, then shop for your venue first. When you find your wedding venue then you can discuss dates with them. This leaves you open to dates that they have available versus forcing yourself to settle for a venue that you may not love. Do this for whatever priority you set first, then the others will fall into place. This will also save you a lot of disappointment if your wedding budget gets stretched tight early. There are always ways to cut costs on lower priority items.
2) Don’t cut your photographer!
And I’m not just saying that because I am a photographer! This is one of the most important days of your life, why would you trust that to your Aunt Sarah who has a fancy camera but may or may not know how to focus it? Even if an expensive photographer is not on your priority list, at least hire someone that knows somewhat what they are doing. I know this from personal experience. My own wedding was done on a very tight budget and we asked a friend of the family to take the photos. She did a fine job but when we took the film to be developed it was ruined in the developing process as we took it to a cheap place. I only have about a dozen decent wedding photos because of this and regret that decision to this day. Get someone that know there way around a camera and can take care of backups and editing.
3) Make sure you read the fine print before signing any contracts.
With any vendor or venue, make sure you read the full contract before signing. Some contracts will have fine print in them that you need to be aware of. For example, I once had a bride that wanted to book a particular Church in the area. Not only was it very expensive, but you could have no decorations, no photography during the ceremony, and you had to use their officiant. This may not be an issue if it is your church but my bride was very surprised when I pointed out these details. Another venue didn’t allow any wedding planner other than their own. Some cake places won’t deliver after a certain time or at all. Some reception venues don’t allow DJ’s. I think you get my point, make sure and read all the details before you sign anything or make any deposits.
4) When do I need to send out wedding invitations? And do I have time to do a “Save the date”?
“Save the Date” cards have become really popular in the last few years and though used often and are really cute, make sure it is not just an extra expense. If you wedding is more than 4 months away then you can send “Save the Date” cards, if sooner than 4 months don’t bother. You may come across as badgering your guests 🙂 Wedding invitations need to be sent 6-8 weeks from the date so don’t send them to close together if you insist on having “Save the Dates”. Keep in mind though, you don’t only have the costs of the cards but also stamps. Postage is not cheap anymore.
5) Make sure you plan a timeline including clean up times.
If your ceremony and/or reception venue isn’t setting up everything for your wedding, then they probably aren’t going to clean up either. Make sure that you plan this into your timeline and have someone responsible for this. If you are leaving straight for your honeymoon, then make sure someone has your back.
6) Lastly, “Don’t sweat the small stuff it’s all small stuff!”
Meaning, at the end of your wedding day, you will still be married to your love. Doesn’t matter what happens to your cake, dress, flowers, etc. Once you walk down that aisle, and say your vows you have achieved what you set out to do on that day. Celebrate! Enjoy your love of each other and make memories! Don’t sweat the little things…. In the end they don’t matter.
If you have additional items you would like to see on this list for wedding guidelines or if you just want to reach out to chat, you can contact me here.