You are Engaged!!
Congratulations!! Yay!! I'm happy you have love in your life and you both want to spend the rest of your lives together.
"Forever can't never be long enough".... applies to all the "love" in our own lives,
because we always want to be surrounded by it.
That's why love is the center of a wedding, from the couple to the love their parents, family and friends have for them.
Planning a wedding could seem like a very stressful thing to do, but a little organization goes a long way.
Remember that is not how much you do or how much you spend, life is about making memories so if you have food and drinks and some music, everyone will have a great time.
And most importantly, your loved ones will be happy for you!
Now, is time to start planning!
To plan your wedding, the first step is to set your budget. Knowing the numbers (and where those are coming from), you will be able to know where to start looking. Your budget can be separated into wedding + honeymoon or place all into one budget. It will help you to stay within your limits for each category: Clothing, Wedding Rings, Venue, Reception, Officiant, Photographer, DJ, etc.
Weddings can range from $1,000 or less to $20,000 or more, but most couples spend less than $10,000
You will come across many "planning timelines"online. Those can be a great tool to guide you into what you will need but out of all those that I have seen, even from well known sites,
the "when" to start looking/hiring is never accurate or maybe they are based on big cities where there is a very large amount of vendors, NY and California for example.
Most will tell you to set your budget, get a venue and hire a planner at least 12 months or more in advance and that's great.
But then, they usually suggest to get the dress, choose your wedding party, do your wedding registry...BEFORE your vendors.
I disagree 1000%
If you want a specific vendor or live in a city where there are no many vendors, you want to book them at the same time you book your venue and do the other after you have everything needed to do the wedding.
You may have heard of a bridesmaid cancelling or switching but not "I cancelled my DJ/Venue"
This is my very own personal suggestion as I do send many "not available" responses in a year.
Most people will ask you "when", as your future guests and vendors would need to know this.
Before you decide to set a date, book a venue!!
You will be surprised that there were other couples that got engaged before you that booked the venue you wanted....yes, it happens quite often that we forget that there are thousands of other couples out there too, doing exactly what you are about to start doing.
So have a season in mind, and narrow options within that season.
Have a couple of venue options within your budget in case they have available dates you don't want. You will need to decide if you want to hold the ceremony in one place and the reception somewhere else, if this is the case-You have 2 venues to book to match date/time.
Or you can book a venue that offer both options, so guests are in the same room or moved within the same venue.
If you found a venue that you like, is within your budget and have your date or a date you like available..BOOK IT- right away.
Remember, most require a contract and deposit which is usually non-refundable, so be sure the venue and the date is what you really want.
Now that you have the venue and a specific date, you need to start thinking about the timeline.
You don't necessarily need every single detail for the day figured out, but you will need to have an idea if you want an early ceremony and reception-meaning before 3pm or if you want prime time which is 4pm-6pm.
Most couples want prime time and those times are usually booked right away in formal venues.
Some vendors and venues can accommodate more than 1 wedding a day and having a specific time will be needed for booking in those cases.
Maybe you want a sunset ceremony, if this is the case, think what is the usual sunset time for the season. Sunset is not same during summer vs winter, where there are at least 2 hrs difference.
When setting the time, think about lighting (ambiance and photos), amount of hours you have the venue, time you would like the party to be done, etc.
Based on the city and the offer/demand available, I personally suggest to book vendors as soon as you have the venue, date and time.
If you like a vendor's work, personality or reviews- act fast.
Many in-demand vendors are hired more than a year in advance and once they are booked, they are gone. If you hire a multinational company, this is not a concern as they usually have staff across the country.
But majority of wedding vendors are small business owners and usually locally, so they can offer consistency on their work as you hire them directly and they are the ones that will perform the job the day of the wedding.
My personal advice is to narrow down in each category, the ones you like and meet with them. Don't spread the meetings as if you ended up liking the first one you met, when you go back to hire them...they may be already booked by another couple.
So maybe meet with all vendors in the same category in a 1-3 days frame.
Vendors and their role
You can add as many vendors as you like and of course based on your budget.
Here are the most used ones:
-Officiant: Who performs the ceremony.
They will write the ceremony script and be there the day of and for the rehearsal, if they are hired to attend it. Based on the officiant's background, they are representatives of a church such Priest, Reverend, Father, etc and they are an active member of a specific denomination and their "title"was given by a congregation after years of religious studies or what the congregation requires.
On the other hand, non-denominational officiants (which are ministers) can perform any ceremony style as they do not represent a specific church or religion. They can of course perform a religious ceremony but usually are sough out by couples wanting a spiritual ceremony vs what is done on a specific religion, so bible readings can still be done.
I have found that few officiants have a college degree on a field related to hospitality or event planning, so it is always a plus to hire one that has this experience on their resume.
Usually representatives of the church will stay after the ceremony vs hired officiants, as their job is done once the ceremony is finalized.
This is one of the most important "vendor" in the wedding, as without it there is no ceremony, just a lavish party.
If they are "in-demand", the officiant will perform multiple ceremonies in a day.
-Wedding Planner: Who plans the whole wedding.
A Professional planner has a college degree in this field so they are well prepared to plan for the entire day and can oversee from A-Z with everything that will be needed, from vendors to thank you cards.
Their job sometimes starts even before a venue is found, as when the couple has set a budget, the planner will provide options that fit into that budget as they have broad knowledge on current cost on each category. They usually contact all vendors to check availability and pricing and provide that information to the couple to make their selection.
They create a timeline for the day of and majority of the times, they act as planner and coordinator for the day of as they also attend the wedding.
Based on the size of the wedding, they may have more staff with them to help facilitate.
They can be pricey based on their background and experience but a great help to the couple that has no experience with planning a party or the ones that want a flawless event.
-Wedding Coordinator: Who oversees the day off.
They are like the "supervisors/assistants" for the event, so if there are more chairs needed, they will help to get them; they will line up the bridal party when the ceremony is ready to start; they will communicate with vendors any last minute change of the timeline and will guide everyone into what is next to happen.
You can hire one, formal venues usually provide them or you can ask a friend.
If you do hire someone, my personal advise is to find someone who is extrovert, very upbeat and ready to jump in as that is what you will need the day of.
If the venue provides one, and if the venue does more than 1 wedding a day, ask to be matched with one that fits your personality. If the venue only has one, request to meet the person when you book the venue.
If you have a friend in charge of this task, ask them to communicate with all vendors before anything starts or ends. Sometimes they may have the best intention but no experience, so if they start sending the bridal party down the aisle and didn't cue the DJ...there will be an awkward silence and you do want to avoid any distractions or stress on the moment because our nerves can make everything feel even worse than what actually may be, but you will remember that.
-Photographer: Who takes portraits and captures the memories.
Ok, so it may sound pretty easy just to say "who takes photos" but for anyone who has hold a camera, know there are many elements that make a great photo.
This is one of the most expensive vendors in a wedding but remember they are usually all day with you and will have a lot of photos to edit later, so their work continues after the party is over.
Not all photographers have the same experience as newborns, pets, commercial, sports and weddings are all so different.
Most photographers will offer more than 1 service.
But there are also some that only do wedding photography.
Regardless of services offered you may need to decide first what style are you wanting:
Portraits or Photojournalism?
I see many photographers that mainly focus on portraits, what I call the "picture perfect"
Others, do take portraits including all those photos and poses you see on Pinterest AND they also capture "the moment".
I personally like memories, when I look at a photo and takes me back to that specific moment so you can revive it again and feel what you felt at that moment.
Seeing a photo of grandma crying or the flower girl giggling on the dance floor...priceless.
Some couples want majority of their photos to look amazing, even if that means fewer photos.
Others, want a mix so they can print and hang and laugh at the silly things that happened at the end of the night.
When looking for photographers, ask them what is their favorite moment of the wedding, how many photos you will get (they can estimate based on the size of the wedding), will they Photoshop, in how many weeks/months they will be ready, are they copyright free (meaning, the photos are yours shared on a disc/pen drive/ online so you can print them anywhere and do anything with them), do they prefer to do "first look"or capture it at the altar, etc.
Some photos that are a must: getting ready, what were you doing before the ceremony, Processional, guests seated, tears during the ceremony (from you or guests), your vows, ring exchange, kiss, all those portraits during cocktail hour plus what guests were doing while you were taking those photos, entrance for the reception, toast, cake cutting,
dance and great/funny moves and farewell....plus a lot of hugs and people having a fun time.
-Videographer: Who captures the day for you to watch over and over again.
There are different styles for the videos. Some offer highlights of the day and others capture majority of it, but both work all day so they can film and edit later.
This can also be a pricey vendor, just like a photographer because of the amount of hours they put into their work.
Sadly, I guess since now everyone carries a phone with a camera and since "live" is a current tendency or because all those small cameras in the market, I do not see many weddings where there is a photographer and a videographer.
The equipment is expensive and in most cases is same as what is used for photography, so I do see they offer both services, photo and video.
-DJ: Who will keep the party going.
Disk Jockey, well we know there are no disks anymore but music, regardless of the format it comes, is music. It is actually good that music is streamable and downloadable as now, entertainers have access to a wide range of music to fit any couple.
I did write "entertainers" as who plays the music now, they kind of have this extra duty since the laptop and software/apps can help them a lot to loop, change and fade the music.
So they have to be extrovert, fun and hopefully have catchy or funny phrase to make people want to leave their seats and show their moves on the dance floor.
But they also have to be well aware of what is happening during the wedding...as music should be faded when bride reaches the altar and music be played during or after the kiss.
Many have lights, couple of microphones for him/her, the officiant, readings and toasts and they make the announcements through the evening.
They usually arrive a couple of hours before the ceremony to set up the equipment and test it.
I personally recommend, if feasible, to have music while you take portraits during the cocktail hour. There such a difference on a smile when you are told to do so, as when you are really smiling because you are having fun.
-Caterer: Who will provide exquisite creations to your palate.
If your venue offers on site catering, they will offer you options based on budget and price per person. They will also provide a bar and bartender. When they do have a bar, you can't bring outside alcohol as is illegal, so make arrangements with the venue for you and the bridal party to have drinks available while getting ready, if this is something you are interested in.
Some venues have a list of approved caterers, so when selecting a venue, you may want to inquire about it, this usually happens in historic buildings.
If your venue does not offer catering or you have the option to hire any company, meeting with them to taste some of the options it is always recommended.
This is the best option to save on the budget, as you can choose any meal style. Make sure the caterer has access to properly maintain hot food hot and cold food cold, so no one gets sick.
Remember that in all cases, the food has been prep in advance,
so any delays will affect the food quality.
And just remind everyone it is a long day and alcohol will still be available for many hours, so they don't have to drink all of it before the ceremony starts...or they may end up missing it.
The ceremony can carry on without a bridesmaid or groomsmen, but the couple definitely should avoid it or keep it to a very minimum consumption before the ceremony...
You don't want to miss your own wedding. Remember, it is very pricey!
-Florist: Who will provide bouquets and flower arrangements
Think about centerpieces, aisle runners made of rose petals, flower arrangements next to the altar, bride & bridesmaids bouquets, boutonnieres, etc.
You can choose them based on the season, but remember roses are more expensive around Valentine's day in case you are getting married that month.
-Decorator/Rentals: Who can make the room look like any theme
Most venues have decor that matches the venue's style and usually may have few color selections but also most couples like to make their own centerpieces and add their own touch to the wedding as this will show in all of their photos and they don't want it to look to standard.
You can rent pretty much anything nowadays and even can have custom pieces be made (thanks Etsy!) so you don't have to break the bank to decorate the reception room or where the ceremony will be held. There are so many ideas on Pinterest too.
Once you choose your style: Black Tie, Elegant, Vintage, Romantic, Great Gatsby, Rustic, Country Chic, DYI, Bohemian, etc, it will be easier to put the decor together and the colors of the wedding.
-Make up artist/Hairstylist: Who will glam you up
They can transform you or enhance your own beauty, like you are glowing from within.
Most offer both services and they provide service to the entire bridal party.
Let them know the dresses style/length and colors so when you meet for the trial, you can work together on what works best for the entire look and personal taste.
Most come to you on the wedding day as the idea is to avoid unnecessary stress and travel that can delay the timeline for the day.
Remember that beauty trends tend to come and go but your photos will remain for a very long time, that is why bridal make up is usually on natural colors but it also should represent your spirit.
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