Engagement season is upon us! According to WeddingWire, 37% of engagements happen between November and February, and there’s good reason for it. The holidays are a joyful time, and then there’s the love associated with Valentine’s Day. In fact, Frank and I were engaged in February, and we also married in February! Along with our heart-felt love and congratulations, we want to offer you newly engaged couples some tips and steps to planning your perfect wedding.
The first thing to remember when planning is who you’re planning for – and that’s YOU and your honey! It’s so easy to get wrapped-up in the needs, wants, and demands of everyone else when planning, but you have to remember the absolute core must be something you’re both happy with.
Pick the season. Winter weddings are the least expensive, but you run the danger of inclement weather. Spring, early Summer, and Fall weddings are the most expensive, but the weather is ideal. Summer weddings can be gorgeous, but can be brutal on makeup and photos.
Pick the date. For most traditional-type weddings, you have three general options to consider: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
For Friday and Sunday, you run the dilemma of people having to work, and finding your choice inconvenient. Many people will skip the church ceremony (if that’s something you’re planning) on a Friday, and many people will skip out early on a Sunday. However, there is often significant savings to be had.
If you’re willing to pay prime price for a hall, Saturday is the way to go. You optimize guest satisfaction and attendance.
Pick the church. By general rule, the church is supposed to be the bride’s church, but many couples are opting for non-traditional wedding ceremonies right in the hall. This is a personal choice.
Why opt for a church ceremony? This is beautiful if you come from a traditional family, or are generally church-goers. There’s a lot of sentimentality attached to a spiritual ceremony, but be mindful that in this modern time, many people will skip this and just head to the reception. Plus, many churches require pre-cana or other types of pre-ceremony marital education.
Why opt for a hall ceremony? This can be very convenient for both the bridal party and the guests, and generally less expensive. It’s not as traditional, and it limits the amount of photo backgrounds you’ll have.
Pick the hall. Most halls offer in-house catering these days, so you want to pick a place based on three major factors: Food quality, Ambiance, and Location. It may be your dream to get married hours away, but consider who you want to be there. The food is absolutely critical – you want to make sure there are plenty of options for different diets, and that the food is delicious; always ask for a tasting. Ambiance – the place needs to match your tastes – classic, vintage, folk, modern, it’s all up to how you plan.
Pick the music. Music is critical for a good wedding. People want to dance and have a good time. You want to pick a band or DJ that has experience, but also won’t burn your pockets dry. Get a few quotes, and definitely ask for references (try to remember great weddings you went to and ask the couples for references).
If you get a DJ, they will also offer different fun add-ons, such as uplighting, TVs, and more. Ask for prices and determine if these extras are something you want to have.
Pick a quality photographer. After your wedding day is complete, all you’ll have are the photos, so you definitely want to get an experienced photographer who offers plenty of options. Again, always ask for references, and ask to see sample work. *This applies for videographers, as well.
*Most photographers will offer video, as well. I generally don’t recommend using the same company, JUST IN CASE something goes wrong with one, at least you can rely on the other for a back-up.
Find the dress and the tuxes! For tuxes, I recommend a big-box retailer for rentals, in case your bridal party is not located in the same place, they can pick up and get measured locally, to make it simple. For dresses, you want to search websites and then try on different styles. You may or may not love what you find online on your body, so try a bunch of styles. Start shopping for your dress and the bridal party dresses early; these can take up to 6-8 months to be delivered!
Search for favors. Everyone loves receiving a little gift after a wedding. Go for something practical that can be customized to your tastes. *We make favors!*
Consider lodging and transportation. If people will be coming from out-of-town, most local hotels will offer wedding-deals, just call and speak with a manager to arrange for groups. Sometimes these hotels will offer transportation, as well, as long as you meet minimums. If not, call a local limo company, or to save money, you can even call a local cab company to arrange for transport, so you don’t have to worry about your guests’ safety.
Always offer an open bar. This is, of course, a matter of budget, but in this time era, it’s considered especially tacky to offer a cash-bar. Splurge to offer your guests the luxury of an open bar while at your wedding.
These are just some steps to beginning your planning. There are other factors to consider, such as add-on ceremonial music, programs, menus, photo-booths, and hotel goody-bags. For my wedding, we added all of these extras, including a flip-books mini-movie, and a photo-montage slideshow. You don’t need all of these extras to have a beautiful wedding; it all depends on your budget and style.
Remember this: It’s about YOU and YOUR PARTNER, the FOOD, and the MUSIC. If these three points are satisfied, you’re bound to have an awesome wedding!
Along with planning my own wedding, I became a certified Wedding Planner, so my advice is not coming out of thin air. It’s not something I practice for a fee, but something I just love helping with. Should you ever need advice or referrals, drop me a line, and I’ll be happy to guide you!