WHAT TO DO FIRST
Hooray!! FIRST share your JOY with the world!! What an exciting time of life you are living. Wedding planning can be so much fun, but of course, stressful and confusing at times. As a wedding photographer, I am often asked to share these tips with my engaged clients and friends.
1. Budget: Who is going to pay for what?
Traditionally, the brides family has been responsible for picking up the wedding day tab. However, it is becoming common for the families to split the cost of the celebration along with the bride and groom. It may be an awkward or uncomfortable conversation to have with your families, but definitely necessary. More often than not, everyone will enjoy being part of the plan. Plus, this gives you a good idea of what you can look for in a venue, media team, dress and decor. Knowing your budget is the first step to planning a wedding. Before setting everything in stone, think about your vision for the day.
Whatever you plan, maybe consider the following information as a guide for knowing what "baskets to put your eggs in".
WHEN? - time and date
October has become the new June. In the past, May and June were considered peak times of year for weddings. Now, October is on everyone's mind. Consider having your ceremony during an "off season". Weddings held during non-peak times of the year are typically able to secure venues, caterers and decor elements for less than dates that are during peak times. Saturday evenings are also quite popular and generally more expensive than events booked on a Friday or Sunday. Sometimes vendors will offer discounts for weekday or off-peak times. Be sure to ask your vendors if they offer special rates!
WHO? - HOW MANY GUESTS ARE INVITED?
The quickest way to increase or decrease the cost of your wedding will be found in the size of your guest list. Typically, caterers will have a cost per person. If you are including an open bar, there is significant increase in the budget needed. Celebrations for centuries have always found an importance in food and drink. These are essential to the experience of your wedding.
WHERE? - CONSIDER THE SETTING!
Big cities are typically on the higher end of the price range and offer accommodations which are more expensive. However, small town settings or destinations can also be on the higher price side depending on travel and fees for your vendors and guests. A grand ballroom or rooftop in downtown Cincinnati with a plated dinner for 150 guests will require a higher budget than an intimate backyard wedding and a dessert buffet shared with your closest family and friends. What is your vision?
2. Organize and Plan!
Savvy shopping and proper planning are key to your wedding day. Being organized with every detail and part of the day makes everything run smoothly. Be prepared to plan on the high side and then make decisions accordingly. Many brides ask me, " how do I know what I should spend on certain parts of the wedding"? A budget should be created for your reception, ceremony, attire, decor, entertainment, media team, rings, transportation and miscellaneous.
I often suggest focusing first on the elements that will remain forever! Your dress and accessories, his tux or suit and photography/video should be your first stop. Your photos and video will be tell your love story to friends, family, children and one day grandchildren. You will hang your photos on your walls and share them on your social media. You will watch your highlight film and relive every moment of your video for years to come. Love your look for the day!! Make sure you have a top rated, professional photographer and videographer. You want to be able to proudly display your photos; not hide them in a drawer. What a tragedy it would be to not be able to share your photos or video due to less than excellent, high quality media.
With this in mind, the majority of your budget ( at least 50% ) will go into the reception. This is where the majority of your wedding will happen! You have decor, catering, cake, entertainment, wedding favors, plates, cups, lighting and other things that will arise! If your ceremony is one hour of your day, your reception can be at least 3-4 times longer! This is where the memories are made.
Also, be assured that things may not always go to plan and you may benefit from having 5% of your budget dedicated to an emergency fund.
There are three key areas that usually go over budget: flowers or decor (extra, unexpected areas or tables that need decor or corsages for family members that weren't going to attend, but now they can be part of your day); unexpected, small accidents (gown or dress repair - maybe you have to purchase a stain remover pen because a small stain got on your gown, extra wedding day prep snacks/drinks- let's be real, getting ready for a wedding can make your starve!! Don't forget to eat and drink while getting ready); extra favors - (maybe you want to add a little something extra to your guest favors ).
3.WHAT ARE YOUR MUST-HAVES?
Prioritize your top three (like your gown, photographer, venue). Then, pick the three things that come lowest on your priority list (flowers, cake, favors). Remember, flowers die. Cake may not even get eaten. I have many brides that will have a "cutting cake" and then cupcakes for guests. It is also less expensive if you choose a "cutting cake" for you and your groom and then have sheet cakes in the kitchen to be served for guests. *RABBIT TRAIL TIP* - Instead of doing a receiving line after your ceremony, which can add 30-45 minutes onto the schedule before photos can begin, consider having a cake receiving line! After you cut your cake, have your MC invite guests to come to the cake table line. You and your groom can serve your guests their cake (cupcakes are best for this), say hello, share a hug, snap a quick pic and continue with the celebration! This is really helpful for keeping a quick moving photography schedule! *RABBIT TRAIL OVER*
Today, tell someone you love them! Be the reason someone smiles and be thankful! #capturehappiness