Q: How early is too early to start planning your wedding, trying on dresses, etc?
A: It's never too early to start planning! Getting a head start can help you avoid a lot of last-minute stress in the long run, and you'll also have a better chance of getting exactly what you want when it comes to your selection of wedding venues and vendors. If you'll be wearing a wedding dress, it can take up to six months for it to be ready after you purchase it, so go ahead and start shopping as soon as you've finalized your wedding date, overall style vision, and budget.
Q: How do I have a nice wedding on a budget?
A: First create a budget that works for you. Start by sitting down with your fiancé to set a realistic wedding budget of what you can afford on your own. Once you have a general amount in mind, share that plan with your parents (or additional family members) and ask if they'd like to contribute. From there, create a plan to make their contributions equal—or, ask if they're interested in paying for specific things like the DJ, flowers, or rehearsal dinner expenses.
Q: We want to save as much money as possible on our wedding. How do we keep it small and plan a cost-effective wedding?
A: Outline the priorities that are most important to you. That way, you have a list of items that are non-negotiable (like a live band, amazing decor, flowers or a late-night food truck)
Q: When should I send out save-the-dates and formal invitations?
A: When it comes to sending invitations, earlier is always better (especially to help your out-of-town guests make travel arrangements). Typically, save-the-dates should go out six to eight months before the wedding, while formal invites should be sent, at latest, six to eight weeks before the date. If guests will be purchasing plane tickets, consider sending out formal invitations at least three months in advance.
Q: Would you suggest closing the bar?
A: Closing the bar, even for just a brief period of time, aids in moving guests from cocktail hour to the reception space. It also keeps guests seated during your initial formalities so there are less distractions.
If you do choose to close the bar you can:
— Reopen the bar during dinner
— Provide a wine pour during dinner and reopen the bar once toasts or open dancing begins
— Open the bar after dinner and toasts
We also recommend reviewing the bar package you’ve selected with your catering or bar company to see how many hours are included, if you’re required to close the bar early (for example, 30 minutes prior to end-time), and so on. Each company follows different procedures, so it’s important to be aware of what their terms are.
Q: Does a first look make sense for our day?
A: Some believe first looks can take away from the big reveal while others find it private, intimate, and that it can alleviate those wedding day jitters. However, this decision could also depend on your ceremony and reception timing. For example, if you have a 1:30pm ceremony and then a 5:30pm cocktail hour you would have ample time to do all photos in between your ceremony and reception. If you do choose to do a first look in this scenario keep in mind that hair and makeup would need to start even earlier to account for seeing each other prior to the ceremony. For brides who choose to have a back to back ceremony and reception, a first look can be extremely beneficial to your timeline. With a 4:30pm ceremony and 5:00pm cocktail hour you may feel rushed to get all of your family photos, bride and groom portraits, and all bridal party images completed during cocktail hour. Not to mention any room and detail photos you’ll want your photographer to capture of your reception space, especially if there are any location changes from the church to reception, or if you are envisioning photos offsite. A first look might be recommended by your photographer and wedding coordinator in this scenario because you would be able to allot ample time for all of these important images ahead of your ceremony without feeling rushed.
Q: How do we determine if we should attend cocktail hour?
A: If you don’t have a first look and your reception immediately follows the ceremony your cocktail hour will be spent doing pictures. If you do a first look and/or have time in between the ceremony and reception this will allow you the option of attending cocktail hour and visiting with guests.
Bonus: the more people you can see during cocktail hour the less you will have to greet during dinner! Though many brides and grooms have the time to attend cocktail hour, some choose to use that extra time for a little alone time just the two of them or even for a private cocktail hour with just the bridal party.
Q: Should all the girls arrive at the same time for hair + makeup
A: We would suggest doing so. You then eliminate any stress if someone is running late, hair and makeup is ahead of schedule they can just continue on to the next girl, and of course you want to soak up as much of the morning as you can with your favorite people!
Q: Should we have Hair + Makeup done at the same place?
A: Yes – whether it be at a hotel, your home or even a salon, having both done at the same place allows for a more stress-free morning without worrying about timing/location between the two places, moving everyone and their stuff multiple times, etc. It can take up more time and add more stress to the day than one may think.
Q: Should we provide meals for vendors on the day of?
A: Yes, you should be willing and able to feed vendors on the wedding day. Your planner/coordinator, DJ/band, photographer, videographer and anyone else playing a major role and present at the time of the event should be offered a meal.
Be sure to check each vendor contract before sending meal counts to your caterer. Some vendors require the same meal guests receive and some even request to be sat with guests at a table. It’s also courteous to confirm if there will be any assistants you might be unaware of, as well as any meal restrictions they might have (vegetarian, gluten free, etc). just in case.
Other potential vendors that may want or need a meal could be the Officiant or your florist/design team, especially if there is a major flip involved with your ceremony and reception décor. It’s always polite to offer.
Q: Do we really need a wedding planner or wedding coordinator?
A: Each wedding planner and coordinator works differently and it’s important to think about what role you may want someone to have in your wedding.
All wedding planners and coordinators will coordinate the wedding day logistics: telling vendors where to go, being on the phone answering deliveries and questions, and managing the timeline. Many wedding planners help you find the right partners to bring that vision to life and help you work through budgets and contracts.
Q: What is the difference between a venue coordinator & wedding coordinator - Does it really matter?
A: A venue coordinator works for the venue, not you. The answer is yes, it does matter!
Venue coordinator is looking out for the venue’s best interests. A wedding coordinator is looking out for YOUR best interests. The venue coordinator deals with everything having to do with the venue - food, setup, bathrooms, etc. A wedding coordinator will deal with aspects of the venue that pertain to you and will make sure everything is to your specifications. Wedding coordinators create vendor timeline for vendor to know when to arrive. They also create day of timeline and work close with the photographer and DJ to help execute your big day.
Q: Do we need welcome bags for out-of-town guest?
A: This is completely optional, although a nice touch especially if you are anticipating a lot of out-of-town guests. If you aren’t going to create bags that are thoughtful and useful for your guests, then it may be better to save the money and put it towards that bottle of champagne for your head table, or even upgrading a few centerpieces you wanted.
Think beyond two bottles of water and snacks – it could be a beautiful guide book or map for the city or state you’re in. Or even a combination of local treats and goodies.
Q: Are place cards a must?
A: This is a personal preference. Having a simple card or seating chart directing guests to a table is a great way to ___. However, if you’re worried about who will end up sitting next to who or your caterer requires it for meal preference purposes, map out the seating and assign guests to specific seats at their given table.
We do not typically encourage open seating. When you offer open seating, it can ultimately cause more confusion and disruption than one might think:
— Important family or bridal party members tend to be some of the last to sit before dinner and could end up sitting in the back corner.
— You’ll have to over-set your guest tables/chairs because some guests may pull chairs from tables and try to squeeze extras at another just to sit with family or friends.
— Some may save seats for their friends and it can be awkward for quests to ask if a seat is open.
— You may have a family of 5 that need seats together, but the five open seats left are scattered throughout the room.