Wedding Planning From Your Vendors’ Point of View {Miniseries} ~ How to Begin Your Planning {Tips from a Wedding Planner!}

Good Morning!  This week has been wizzing by, there is so much going on over here!  Next week I hope to be sharing all the great new things that are happening, and tell you about some upcoming projects we have planned.  But until then, we have so much to share this week with our Planning Miniseries.

Today’s post is something that I know many of you will find helpful.  I am going to share a few tips on the planning process and give you some tips to help you get on your way, or continue on your way to planning your perfect Big Day!

As always, please comment on the end of this post, and if you have any questions, I would be happy to answer them!

Getting Started…. Where do I even begin?

Planning tips, where to begin, wedding, how to, great, information

Photo Via The Wedding Shoppe

Different planners may all have different advice for you, but I have found the following advice to work for my clients time and time again.  Chip away at this list in order if you can, and you will find that many decisions are much easier to make than you think, or the answer will reveal itself to you through the process of elimination.

 The List- Before you find the venue, think about your colors, or even start talking about your wedding plans, you need to make your guest list.  EVERYTHING is dependent upon how many people you are expecting at your wedding- the venue, quotes from the caterer, the cake or dessert bar, your budget, the list goes on.  So before you get to venue hunting and thinking about your wedding colors, sit down and make your list.  Here are a few tips that I tell my clients, and perhaps it will be helpful to you.

  • Who will be contributing towards paying for the wedding?  {If the bride’s parents of flipping the bill, then it is only fair to have their input on the guest list}.  Sit down with alll involved parties at one time with several pieces of paper ready.  Have everyone write the following categories on their sheet: Family, Friends, Co-Workers/Business Contacts, and the bride and groom should have “Bridal Party” on each of their lists as well.  Without communicating, have everyone write a list of people they would like to have at the wedding reception in the corresponding categories.  Go around the table once everyone is done, and have each person read their list aloud one at a time.  If Mom is reading and a name appears on someone else’s list, then everyone else should cross that person off the list {Mom keeps the person on their list}.  Do this until everyone is done, and you are sure you haven’t left anyone off the list.  {It’s like Scattegories!}
  • Compile everyone’s lists to one master list, keeping names categorized as I specified above and tally up your numbers.  Are you surprised at how quickly they added up?  Here is where you can hash out certain invitees.  TIP:  Let each contributing person have 2 “Vetos” to a guest on the list.  If Dad invited his creepy business contact to the wedding, use one of your Vetos to overrule the decision.  Be democratic {but nice} about the process
  • Since your list is “categorized” by relationship, it may make this next step easier.  Go through your list and “rate” each person A, B or C, thinking about how much you would like them to come to your wedding.  Now, this may sound harsh, but it is a necessary step.  If you are able to invite everyone to your wedding, then this step is unnecessary.  Many of you will find that you will have to make some choices at one point or another and cut the numbers on your list.  If you have taken the necessary steps already and know there are a few people on your “C” list, then they are probably the first cut off the list.  It seems harsh, but it is a reality.  Of course those people will never know where they stand on your list unless you tell them, {of course you won’t!}, so there are no hurt feelings.
  • During the first stages of planning, it may be necessary to make a few drafts of your list.  Since the budget and the list go hand in hand {with other factors as well}, you may find several drafts are necessary

The Budget –  Groan… what a buzzkill.  But it is a reality.  You may not know right away what the overall budget of your wedding is, but depending on who is contributing, or whether you are paying for everything yourselves, the budget will dictate what you can do with your wedding and reception. Sit down and think about what you can afford and more importantly what you are willing to spend on your wedding and where the funds are coming from.  Are you willing to take a loan out for your wedding? Is that beautiful dress or that dream venue worth starting your marriage off in debt?  Wedding bills add up quickly, and if you don’t know the range of what you can or are willing to spend, you may get yourself into trouble falling in love with something out of your range.

TIP:  Everyone handles finances differently, so it is difficult to find a method that works for everyone.  When it came time for me to add up our available funds for the wedding, I figured out what my husband and I could contribute realistically to the wedding, and I then approached my Mother-in-Law.  I asked her if she was able to contribute anything, and showed her what I had in mind, and what I would need if she could help.  For her, seeing the numbers and seeing what I was envisioning helped her decide how she could help.  Turns out we were all on the same page! {Thanks again Bonnie!}

Your Wedding Colors –  Yes! Fun stuff!  Believe it or not, solidifying your wedding colors can be very important.  Not just because you need to know so you can pick our your linens, but because it will set the whole mood of your wedding, and help you make choices along the way.

I helped a bride who was well into the planning process of her wedding, and I asked her what her wedding colors were.  She had been thinking of having yellows and greens as her wedding colors, but her bridesmaids were going to wear charcoal grey dresses, and she was concerned that the colors weren’t “springy” enough, and she didn’t know what she wanted to do.  So I told her I would put together a color board, and it would help her see her wedding a bit more clearly, and that she would be surprised at how other decisions may fall into place once those colors were chosen.  Later on, she told me that that was in fact true, and other decisions were a bit easier to make, and things were falling into place now that she was able to have a clear vision of the colors she wanted to use.

If you are a modern girl and you want bright, fresh colors, then most likely you are not the same person who would choose to get married in a large, ornate ballroom.  You may already know this about yourself, but if you don’t and you are making appointments to go see every kind of venue out there, then you are probably wasting your time.  Your colors can help you decide on the mood of your wedding, and that mood will help you decide what venue is best for the wedding you are envisioning.

TIP: This is an A La Carte Service that we offer, and I would be happy to put something together for you!  This would include a Color Palette, and a Mood Board based on an inspiration or a series of questions that we have put together to help you, or just the Color Palette if that’s all you need.  You can also visit The Perfect Palette to help you visualize that perfect combination if you already know what you want.

Party birthday hat DIY tutorial

The Venue – Now that you know about how many people you would like to invite, and your budget range, and the general mood of your wedding, you can go venue hunting.  This can be very time consuming with making appointments, and corresponding with the  sales team at the venue with your questions.  So here is what to do:

  • Make a list of the “must haves” for your venue.  Do you need to get married near the water?  Do you envision a huge stone fireplace in the middle of your reception?  Make a list, and you’ll then know what to look for.
  • Create a spreadsheet to compare and contrast venue options.  Here’s some downloadable and printable freebies for you to help get you started {courtesy of Honeydew Events} :  Ceremony Comparison Chart and Reception Site Comparison Chart 
  • Once you have seen a few of the venues on your list, you can start comparing what they do and don’t offer.  Some may have a caterer, some may not, some may allow you to bring your own alcohol, and some may not.  Do some provide the staff, linens, tables and chairs? There is a lot to consider, so pay attention to the details!

The Priorities List – This is one of the VERY FIRST things I get all my clients to do.  This list is different to everyone, and will help you make some tough decisions along the way.

Create a list with your fiancee of the Top 5 Must-haves at your wedding.  You can consider the following items:

  • The location/venue {is the space really important to you?}
  • The bar – maybe you want to make sure you can provide an open bar to your guests, maybe you don’t want alcohol at all
  • Music – perhaps a band is what you really have your heart set on!
  • Lighting – are you loving wedding lighting like we are right now?
  • Decorations
  • Food/catering
  • Entertainment/specialized services – maybe you have to have a fire breather at that carnival inspired reception!
  • The ceremony site
  • The cake/dessert
  • Flowers
  • The guest list/having a large reception
  • Etc.

Stick to your priorities list as you plan.  TIP:  These items don’t necessarily mean what you need to spend the most money on, they are simply what you cannot do without or must have at your wedding.  If down the road you need to decide between inviting 10 more people, and that awesome ice sculpture, if that ice sculpture is not on your list, then you may have an easier time making the decision.

I hope you find this information helpful as you start to plan your wedding!  Again, please leave any questions below, and I will do my best to answer them, or at least point you in the right direction!

Here are links to previous Newsletters on Invitations and Guest Lists

Tomorrow’s Post: Planning from your Photographer’s Point of View

Happy Planning!