I asked a planner of one of our recent weddings to provide me with some tips to planning the perfect wedding, especially if you’re on a limited budget. Here’s what she came up with. Hope that this is insightful and helpful for all you happy couples planning your weddings!
Date: Date and Location go hand in hand. Once you settle on both, everything else is just in the details.
|Erick and Virginia chose 12/11/10. Unique, and not easily forgettable for those anniversaries!|
Location: This should be the top priority. Once you have settled down on your location, the planning really begins. Where you get married will determine the venue, and the venue may determine how many guests you can realistically fit. Do you want a destination wedding, or do you want to stay local? Both questions are good to ask each other. Destination weddings can be a fun and unique experience, but keep in mind that it may become pricey for guests when dealing with travel arrangements away from home.
|Marissa and Juan chose to get married in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico|
Theme: Pick a theme for your wedding and go with it. There may be others who may want to give you input, but keep in mind that the wedding is all about you, so agree on the details and don’t lose sight of each other.
|This beach wedding kept the theme consistent, all the way down to the details of the cake!|
DJ and MC: If you’ve attended a wedding and enjoyed the music or liked the personality of the MC, you may have found your match! It is difficult to judge the character and personality of your DJ if you’ve never met them, and I would suggest seeing him or her in a working atmosphere. They’ll sometimes work events other than weddings, and you’ll be able to see how they interact with their guests, but if you're at a friend's wedding, pay special attention to the DJ and MC interacting with guests.
|Here the MC is giving Erick his last chance to have the "upper hand."|
Flowers: You don't have to spend a lot of money on floral arrangements if you can get creative. Shopping around and getting quotes from different vendors is a good idea. Always ask to see examples and be upfront about your budget so they can work around that with the type of flowers they can use for your wedding.
|These boutonnieres were all homemade.|
Makeup and Hair: This is oftentimes the most important thing for a bride to get right on her wedding day, so you want to hire someone who has experience, and someone you're really comfortable with. Allow at least 2-3 hours for the bride's make up and hair and 1 hour per person for each bridesmaid, mother of the bride, mother of groom, sisters, etc. Makeup artists will sometimes offer a trial before the wedding date, which is also a great day to set up your engagement photos with your photographer. Take advantage of the trial, spend a few hours getting your makeup done, and get to know your makeup artist.
|Hair and makeup artist Katie Bee doing what she does best.|
Invitations: This is a reflection of the couple and should be carefully chosen. Depending on the type of paper and design, prices can get really expensive. You can also always be creative with invitations and make your own. Always ask the invitation company to include Thank You cards or Save-the-Date cards as part of your package. Also, it’s generally not necessary to have them create a map to your reception. You can save money by simply printing out directions yourself and adding it to your invitation. Be aware that some companies will charge a "stuffing" fee. Instead, you can get your bridal party and friends together and stuff the invitations in less than a few hours together.
|Okay, so these aren't invitations, but Becky made her own invitations and wedding programs. Nicely done!|
Lighting: Special lighting for your venue is generally optional, but most people prefer to add a special lighting touch to their reception. It can really add to the overall effect of your wedding. Light changes will cost more but sometimes your DJ may have the equipment and give you a package deal. Ask!
|The pink lights really enhance the mood of the room.|
Slideshow: Slideshows can really add a nice personal touch to your wedding. It can be a chance to recognize all the important people involved in both of your lives, and is always an enjoyable part of the reception. Keep in mind that slideshows can also be played during the rehearsal dinner if you cannot fit it into the reception. Video vendors sometimes have the ability to do “same day edits” and have a video played during the reception, where everyone can see the way the day unfolded from beginning to end.
|Virginia and Erick filmed a mini movie for screening at their reception.|
|Here they are enjoying their movie with their friends and family. It was a crowd pleaser!|
Wedding dress: It is important to try on all your favorite options. Bridal magazines and websites are experts at making dresses look good, but different looks flatter different body types in various ways. Shopping for wedding dresses is not like shopping for a pair of jeans. It’s impossible to know how a dress looks on you until you try it! Bring someone you trust for a second opinion. They can also take photos of you from the front and back and you can review the different looks afterward. Look for sample sales because designer dresses can sometimes go for up to 75% off. Last but not least, buy a dress that fits. Remember to be realistic in your expectations – besides, you’re beautiful just the way you are!
|Fun fact: Becky's dress had pockets! Genius! I think all dresses should have pockets.|
Bridesmaid dresses: There is no need to make your bridesmaids look ugly because they will not steal the spotlight from you. Keep in mind that not all bridesmaids’ dresses need to look the same. As long as the color is the same, they can get different cuts and styles while maintaining consistency. Let them be comfortable and be considerate of them.
Groomsmen: The same rules from above apply. It is important for the groomsmen to match the bridesmaids somehow- most likely through complimentary colors. Keep it uniform - don't look tacky and make them all different, unless you are stylist and really know how to mesh different looks together. Despite popular belief, some men have preferences as to what they’d like to wear on your wedding day. There are different ways to work in your wedding colors whether it be a tie, vest, or boutonniere. Similar to your bridesmaids, let them be comfortable and take their preferences into consideration.
Cake: There are a variety of ways to go with the cake – cupcakes, cake pops, and your traditional tiered wedding cake. In addition, it is not uncommon to see individual bride and groom cakes (his and her), allowing cake vendors to get really creative, and can customize cakes to fit each person’s personality. Always go cake tasting to pick out your flavors, and don’t forget that some venues will charge a cake-cutting fee, which can sometimes apply to cupcakes as well. Ask!
|Can you guess John's Alma Mater?|
Food: The most important thing to remember about food is to taste everything that will be served during the reception. Most venues will offer a limited tasting menu of just a handful of items they will be serving. You may be allergic to food on the menu on your wedding night, that may not be tested during your food tasting session. I’ve had a bride have an allergic reaction after eating an item she did not previously taste. Please be sure to taste everything they’ll be serving.