Planning: Before you say ‘I do’
Your wedding day should be as stress-free and as well planned as possible for a smooth start to your new life. To that end, here are a few tips that couples may choose to bear in mind before stepping down the aisle.
Christine A. Wheat, of Christine A. Wheat Special Events headquartered in the Capital Region, and Brandy Treacy, wedding and special events coordinator with Michael’s Banquet House, say that pinning down an overall budget and deciding on a venue for the day’s events are two of the most important aspects in planning a wedding. The budget should be first.
The budget “If it’s not talked about in the beginning or at least arranged, it will definitely come up along the way and it can be a sore topic. It’s important to have those conversations — especially with the person that you’re going to be sharing all the finances with at some point,” Wheat said.
She added that something else to consider along financial lines is who is contributing to the cost of the wedding, be it parents or the couple funding the event.
Another element to consider that affects the budget is the number of guests and how it correlates to the capacity of your venue. Wheaton said that many times a couple may choose their venue before they have a final head count – only to discover that they may have to cut some guests. You can likely avoid this if the final guest list is planned well in advance.
Typical cost for a 150 guest wedding is likely to be $20,000 and beyond depending upon variables such as flowers or hosting a brunch the following day.
Many venues offer package deals that include everything from the photographer to the cake.
Selecting the venue Choosing a space can seem overwhelming, but when you discover the right fit for what you’re looking for, you’ll know it. While exploring venues, seek a place that fits your personality. Would you enjoy an outdoor venue or a small, simple and intimate gathering? Perhaps a larger, more lavish affair?
“Definitely take a look around at several different venues. Sometimes you will find that you’ll fall in love with something that you didn’t even think was out there. It’s important to do a little research,” Treacy said.
Couples should take special note to how they are treated when checking out potential reception venues. “Was the person giving you the tour receptive to your questions? Find out if that personor someone else will be overseeing the ➻ particulars of your big day.”
Enlisting a planner Having a neutral party — a wedding planner — along with you for a few or all of your decisions can help ease the burden of pulling everything together. If you’ve already tapped out your family members for assistance, a planner can help with everything — or just some of the loose ends.
“Sometimes people come and say, ‘We have a venue but we need help with everything else.’ It’s a customized bottom line that’s based on what they really need help with,” Wheat said.
One of the benefits of a wedding planner, said Wheat, is that they often know the best products and services for the best price. “And many times, because we’ve built a great relationship with (vendors), they offer planners discounts as a complimentary service to their clients, so that also trickles down to the bride and groom,” she said.
There is also the added benefit of having somebody to ensure that you make the best use of your own time.
“You want somebody to be there and guide you through making these big decisions…knowing where your best investment (of time and money) may be,” she said. Many couples get excited in the beginning planning stages and want to do the fun things, forgetting about some of the more time-sensitive things like the guest list.
So how far in advance should you plan for your wedding day?
“One-hundred percent, I cannot stress this enough — at least a year. A year and a half is ideal,” said Wheaton. She added that many vendors like photographers and caterers, get booked early.
“Once those options are gone, you don’t have as many choices.” By six months ahead of your nuptials, you should have your venue secured as well as the caterer, photographer, entertainment , official presiding over ceremony, reserving block of hotel rooms for out of town guests and transportation to and from the ceremony and reception.
Six months ahead also should be blocked out for ordering stationery (such as invitations, thank-you notes, programs and reception table name cards), purchasing your bridal party gifts, planning the honeymoon and cementing the final timeline for the big day. “You don’t have to hire a planner for full planning,” said Wheaton, suggesting that often couples may just need help with budgeting and/or organizing their timeline.
Ladies in waiting “What I see most often is allowing your bridal party to be just that, a bridal party…and support you through the process,” said Wheaton.
She added that letting members of your party prepare an emergency kit, prepare your get-away vehicle or make welcome bags for out-of-town guests, make hair and makeup appointments will help immensely.
A planner helps to build a timeline, manage your payments to those providing services for the day and prioritize tasks for you. You can delegate tasks to your bridal party and family members
Taking a few steps toward ensuring that details are addressed will save you time, energy and most likely some frustration on a day that is dedicated to you and your love for your soon to be espoused other half.