So you got the ring... Now What?!
Planning a wedding?... Where the heck to start?? You just got engaged and as you come down from the cloud of complete euphoria you may realize that oh snap! I actually have to plan this thing. One of the first things I tell my clients (and friends and family.... and anyone who will listen lets be honest) is the first thing you need to do is sit down with your new; almost wedded boo and come up with a game plan. This game plan should include a budget, a style, a theme, and some idea of the when and where. I will break down for you in this blog why its important to have all of these elements locked down before you dive into planning and tips to help you along the way.
Photo Source: Wedding Wire
Why a budget and why is discussing money so important when it comes to planning a wedding? Discussing money immediately after you get engaged may feel awkward at first and it may even bring up some uncomfortable discussions about money spent and who is contributing what, but all the more reason to get it out of the way right? The reason I start with budget is you can have all the amazing wedding dreams and visions in your head but the reality will come down to what you can afford. I hate seeing people come to me with a wish list a mile long but a budget that can only accommodate a quarter of that. At the end of the day your budget will allow you to approach all of your vendors with a clear idea of how much money you have to allocate to each item. It will make the entire planning process that much smoother and you will be thanking me later... I promise!
Some of my favorite budgeting tools for specifically weddings are: A practical Wedding, The Knot's Wedding Budget Calculator
Photo Source: WedNova, Pinterest
Style, and Aesthetic are so extremely important. Obviously for a slightly type A (Maybe A-) event planner this would be my number one where for you personally it may be low on your list and that's ok, thats where I come in to help! The reason that choosing a style from the jump is so important because again it allows you and your partner to shop for your vendors and plan your day with ease when you already have a clear idea of the "look" you are going for. When you don't have a clear idea that is when you get overwhelmed, go over budget, or buy and pick a bunch of hodge podge stuff that has no relation to one another. You don't need to get so specific as to make sure every corner of your venue is covered in a specific color or flower, but it is nice to have a streamlined style throughout your day. Here is an example; I had a client who wanted a rustic countryside theme. Her and her fiance were extremely outdoorsy, had family coming from multiple states and wanted to make sure they picked a location that was as aesthetically beautiful as their weekend trips and travels, and wanted to make sure they incorporated specific rustic elements that allowed their guests to relax and feel completely entrenched in the environment. Setting those intentions and goals from the beginning was so key in how we proceeded to plan their big day. Oh, and I forgot to mention they also had a firm budget they did not want to go over! This made searching for the perfect venue a piece of cake. I knew very specifically the direction to point them in given their desire for rustic locale within their budget. With their mountainside cabin venue booked, moving on to all the other vendors also felt like a breeze. Even something so specific like the style of photos lets you be very detail oriented when choosing a photographer. It may seem unimportant at the moment but there are so many different styles of wedding photography that knowing what you prefer will go a long way to ensure you like your wedding album. I could really wax poetic about this subject but I will just end this part by saying when you take time to decide on a style for your big day every single person involved has a very clear picture as to how they can contribute to making your day look and feel exactly how you want it. If you are someone who says "I have been picturing this day forever", the sure fire way to make that statement truth is to outline your theme, style and aesthetic from the beginning. Wedding planning can and most likely will cause a little bit of stress that is very natural, but my most carefree brides and grooms are hands down the ones who are most organized.
I am a HUGE fan of Pinterest and to me that is the easiest place to start a vision or style blog for your ideas. As a wedding planner I make sure that my ideas are here too so I can go back and draw inspiration from them as well. It is a fantastic place to start with everything from color combinations, bridal party style, dress and suite ideas, cake, food inspiration, the list goes on. Do yourself a favor and if you don't have one join Pinterest.
The other things I would suggest to start off your wedding planning is to use the experts that have already created guidlines to help you feel less lost and frazzled. I always recommend The Knot's Ultimate Wedding Planner and Organizer by Carley Roney It is filled with checklists, budget assistance and lots of helpful tidbits. I also think a 12 month wedding planner is super helpful if you are someone who likes to stay on track and feels inspired that way. The queen of weddings herself Mindy Weiss has an extensive one sold at Amazon, The Wedding Planner & Organizer
Lastly, and I promise this isn't a sales pitch, I truly believe if you are going to or considering hiring a wedding planner this is one of the first things you should do as well. Our job is to do all of this heavy lifting so you don't have to. If you have vision for your day but have no clue how to bring it all together, ask a wedding planner for their ideas and or opinions (I guarantee we'll have lot's of them). The purpose of a wedding planner is to be the guide and the checklist and the sounding board. This is one of those vendors that you should include in your budget in the beginning, as to not panic at the last minute and not have the remaining budget to hire a planner and or coordinator. I have heard maybe twice in a decade of friends and family regretting who they chose as a planner, but I have yet to hear from anyone that it wasn't money well spent. Do your research always, find one reputable and within your budget, and I promise you wont regret adding this vendor to your team.
I hope this was helpful, please feel free to reach out, comment, or email if you have any questions.... Until next time!
So you’ve seen this list a million times before, the “How to Make Your Wedding Unique”, or “Unique elements to incorporate into your special day”, the list could go on…and on. The reason however this topic is so incredibly in demand is that although each individual couple are unique in and of themselves, everyone at this point has been to So. Many. Weddings so you end up asking the question, how can I make mine stand out? Maybe it is super important to you to have the wedding of the century or maybe you want to search the ends of the Earth to find elements that exude the quirkiness that makes you you. It doesn’t matter the reason but I am standing with you in solidarity on this one! I know it is super hard to reinvent the wheel and although I am sure you, yes you who is reading this blog is WAY more creative than myself, I have hopefully curated a list for you that does just that. A little unusual, a little off beat, but with just enough wow factor to blow your guests and who knows maybe even yourself away.
Make an Entrance that Counts: No, not the bride (that will happen regardless), let your guests make an entrance that will take their breath away. Most traditional entrances to a wedding have some sort of welcome sign which sets the aesthetic for your day, but how about draping the entrance to your ceremony space with hanging crystals and white garlands or draped eucalyptus leaves for them to waft through into the space. Do guests have to walk through a hallway into the ceremony space? Lead the way with LED bright pink uplighting (did someone say party?), or dim the lights and light the pathway with tall cylinder votive candles (talk about romance), Edison bulbs hanging from the ceiling, or if using grass illuminate the pathway with spread lights. Do you really want to make your guests feel special?! Go a step further and include a red carpet (or whichever color goes with your theme), the point is let your guest feel like the star of the day…even if just for 15 minutes.
Photo Source: ShaadiSage
Un-traditionalize your Attire: This one is tricky. I know a lot of people are still very attached to the idea of the white wedding dress, if that is you awesome!! If it is “sorta” you but you want to make your attire a little more unique here are some ways to do that. If you are not particularly a dress person, just because you are getting married doesn’t mean you should be uncomfortable or self-conscious on your most important of days. I personally am a huge fan of separates which are super on trend right now. One awesome compromise for the traditional bride who wants to go a little more off the grid as far as attire is the reception dress. Now I am not about spending money on two wedding gowns (can we say $$$$), I am a fan however of using another fashion moment to showcase your personal style. I am seeing a lot of jumpsuits, bodycon dresses and a ton of sparkle. I am here for it all! If you are not one to go full on bold as a bride (or groom) with a gold, orange, or black dress here are some small, still bold choices to un-traditionalize your wedding day attire. A floral dress will not go unnoticed by your spouse or guests. A Black leather embroidered “Mrs” jacket adds a little somethin’ somethin’ to your wedding attire. Lastly, sneakers, who doesn’t love a good shoe game?! Whatever the unique choice is make it bold, and make it YOU!
Photo Source: Wedding Forward, Wedding Forward
Say bye bye to the boring signature cocktails: There is for sure a trend right now for signature cocktails. We’ve all seen (or had…guilty) the his and hers drink lists, usually featuring some form of a vodka mule and whisky old fashioned. What if we stopped thinking of convenience and thought a little outside of the box with some truly exceptional cocktails that will have your guests coming back and back for more. If you are concerned about time, I highly encourage you to make some small batched drinks prior to your wedding so day of all the bar tending staff has to do is pour over ice and serve. I’ve linked some of my unique favs with recipes below, but please don’t do all your cocktail tasting prior to the wedding tonight… without me!
Honey and Smoked Mezcal Cocktail, a Ginger, Cardamom and Rosemary Gin Cocktail, and a
Blackberry Vodka Mojito! (featured here)
Photo Source: Seasonal Cravings
Recycle, Reduce, RE PURPOSE: I am all for being environmentally conscious when it comes to a wedding that is one day out of the year, but this next tip is more than that, it is how to be super resourceful and re purpose stuff throughout your wedding day. One of my favorite things to tell couples to re purpose is flowers. Flowers are a big expense and you can save a ton here (sorry florists) If you are using large vases to line your aisle, make sure those same arrangements end up inside on the tables as centerpieces for the reception. How many of us have been bridesmaids and don’t want to carry around a bouquet all night? Here’s an idea, leave empty vases at designated tables and tell your party as soon as the I do’s are over to dump their flowers in those vases. You have just saved money on centerpieces and instead of those bouquets sitting in a chair all night, they are now displayed for all to see. One more environmentally conscious thing you can do are use these awesome metal straws to add to your *not so boring signature cocktails*. You can order them in cool chrome or metallic colors and your guest will be happy they are doing their part and you never know they may like them so much they take them home for future use. Win win.
Photo Source: Etsy
Leave your guests with a WOW favor: Favors are tricky. Is anyone going to take them? Are they easily transportable? Do you do them at a destination wedding? So many questions, so little time. My thought is this; give your guests a wedding favor that you can answer yes to all those questions. Something different that guest will want to take but not feel guilty about throwing away a month later. When I think of all the favors I have kept and used vs thrown away later, they all have one thing in common. They are edible!! Even if your guest leave (hopefully) super full at the end of the night if you give your guest a favor they can use/eat later like even weeks later they wont throw it away. Here is a list of some edible treats that the average human digests: Teas, coffee, hot sauce, honey, cookies and chocolate. Even better if you can incorporate yourselves into the recipe. Are you from Vermont? That’s the maple syrup capital of the US! Give your guest a syrup made from local ingredients. From Texas? Make and bottle up the states famous homemade salsa! These things take some time and TLC but it will make your wedding all that more memorable when your guest rave about your edible favors months down the line.
Photo Source: Etsy
Taking care of your party (Bridal that is): I could write an entire blog on just this… and maybe I will one day, but for now let’s explore unique gift ideas for your bridal party. This is a tough one and kind of goes along with tip number 5. What are gifts that your bridal party will actually use and remember years down the line? I like the idea of giving your party both men and women something to wear or accessorize with on the day of, but I think to truly make it unique they need to be able to wear it again so it doesn’t sit in the back of the closest with all the other unused wedding party gifts. Some of this are: Personalized name earrings: Featured here!
Photo Source: Etsy.
For the men, a great unique gift are socks that add a pop of color to any suit (These ones come with personalized wrapping)
Another gift that I think any guy or gal enjoys is a nice beverage. Take it a step further than grabbing a bottle for your mate by adding a personalized recipe book and throw in a mixer. For someone who likes gin get a small bottle of your local gin, a recipe book, and a teeny bottle of tonic. Since we are talking unique and not run of the mill, I want to throw in one last tip and please don’t hate me for this one! I think the robes for your gals to take photos in is great and the photos are memorable BUT if you've been in pretty much any wedding you’ve been gifted these before and a gal can only have so many robes. PJ’s on the other hand everyone needs and you get the same photo results. Here, I’ve linked some adorable ones to consider from Etsy.
Photo Booth… Worth it?: I WILL say that everyone loves a good photo op at a wedding. Couples love to take photos in front of them, it’s a nice keepsake, etc, etc. But how can you set yours apart and make it one for the record books? In a world where every color blocked cement wall on the street is an "instagramable" moment. Why not bring a little of that “cool” factor to your wedding? I love a good grass wall with custom wood signage, which after watching a couple youtube videos and trips to Home Depot you could totally DIY (I DID!, ok, my father did but nonetheless homemade), I also like finding a wall with a blank canvas in your reception space and designating that the photo wall. Spice it up with some draping, icicle lights, and uplighting and BOOM photo wall, (brick walls work great as photo backdrops as well). Going for a rustic feel? Wooden plat walls are trending right now and are easy to rent and DIY. The main point is you don’t need to higher a second photographer or rent some clunky photo box that doesn’t go with your aesthetic. Let your guests be their own Instagram model for the evening and shine!
Photo Source: eFavormart
Start you wedding weekend with a bang! Or at least a hello!: I said with a hello, because if I may although this post is about making your wedding unique in my opinion that starts with when your guests arrive in town. The most memorable ones I have planned and attended are those who make their guests interact from the first hellos. Trust me when I say you may not want your oversharing awkward cousin meeting your in-laws for the first time at the wedding. Some unique ways to break the ice are to throw a welcome party BBQ. Bring it back old school with a keg, some corn hole and connect 4 from Joymode party rentals. Make your rehearsal dinner or welcome party a time for your guests to get a look into who you are as a couple in a way that doesn’t fit into a 20 min. ceremony. I love these personalized crossword puzzles from Etsy. Your guests will leave belly aching from laughing but also knowing you both a little bit better.
The most important thing you can do right before your big day is relax and have a little fun. Going very traditional for your big day? Then turn your rehearsal dinner into a Spanish themed fiesta. Want to be super glam on the day of? Then make your welcome party a low key welcome brunch with make your own mimosas. Whatever helps you relax and take it all in while also introducing all your loved ones will absolutely set your wedding apart from the jump!
Photo source: Mellie Bellie's boutique (Etsy)
Make your wedding photos ACTUALLY memorable: I will let you in on a secret, after about two years (and that’s being generous) the majority of couples don’t look at their wedding albums. Its not to say they don’t love the photos, but you can only look at or post or display a photo of a beloved couple holding hands so many times. My suggestion to fix this issue… create some memorable photos that say wow so even if you forget; your family, guests and maybe some magazines will not. Some awesome ideas for the bridal party I have been seeing are colored smoke bombs. Each person or every other depending on the size holds one above their head and you get an awesome rainbow effect as you walk towards the camera. If you are not doing a first look necessarily but want to get an awesome picture prior, something like these behind the door photos choke me up every single time! Lastly what isn’t cute about remembering your little wedding attendees forever? Have some fun with your flower and ring bearer, after all they are Kids+Tiny= Lifetime of adorable sweet pics!
Photo Source: Rock My Wedding
Be YOU, when saying I DO: Ok, sorry about the rhyming I just had to. When it comes to wedding ceremonies there are a lot of things you can do to be unique, but the most important is being yourself. The most unique and memorable weddings tend to be the ones where the couple’s ceremony stands out, how did they do it? They were themselves that’s how! I’ve seen it all, from grooms melting the hearts of everyone by strumming a song they wrote on a guitar, I’ve seen readings and songs performed in the couple’s native language, I have heard vows that recites the couples favorite band lyric or poem… You catch my drift. This one there is nothing to buy or decorate, but simply take some time to really think about how you want to express your love in a unique way that can only belong to you. There is no other couple in the world just like you and therefore nothing you recite or even how you say it will belong to anyone else. It will be uniquely yours.
Photo Source: Brides
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.