Essential Wedding Planning Tips and Tricks
Essential Wedding Planning Tips and Tricks
Cover all your wedding planning bases with these expert tips no to-be-wed should be without.
When planning your wedding, there are things that are nice to know, and there are things you need to know–advice so essential any bride who is fortunate enough to hear it believes,”I am so glad someone told me that!” If you’re wondering whether there’s something that you might have missed (or even if you’ve got everything under control), take a look at our crucial planning secrets below.
1. Guests Come First
Get a grip on the approximate number of guests you’ll invite before deciding on a venue. This will ensure there’s ample space for your crew. As a rule of thumb, allow for 25 to 30 square feet per guest. That can seem like a lot, but it’s really not if you count the distance you will need for your tables, bustling waiters, the band and a dance floor.
2. Investigate Wedding Blackout Dates
Know beforehand if your wedding date falls on the same day as a trade conference, charity walk or other local events that could affect traffic and hotel room availability. Here is a handy list of potentially problematic wedding dates coming up in the calendar.
3. Listen to Mother Nature
Heed the weather and other potential annoyances. Guests have been known to jump out early from hotter-than-hot summer tent weddings and heated winter loft receptions. Bugs (gnats, deer flies and mosquitos) also swarm in certain areas during certain seasons. Consider renting pest management tanks to alleviate the problem or for example bug repellent in guests’ gift bags. And if you would like a sunset ceremony, make sure you understand when to say your vows by checking SunriseSunset.com. Oh–and always, always have a Plan B for unexpected weather snafus.
4. Check Your Credit
Take advantage of the high cost of weddings and sign up for a credit card with a rewards program. Whether it provides you airline miles or terrific shopping deals, consolidating all wedding-related purchases to this card will help you collect thousands of rewards points (which could be used to your honeymoon).
5. Pay It Forward
Let one seller lead you to another. Your wedding photographer can let you know which florist’s blooms really pop, and your reception supervisor should know which group always packs the dance floor.
6. Lighten Your List
The easiest way to trim your wedding? Cut your guest list. Remember, half of your wedding expenses go to wining and dining your guests. If it’s costing you $100 per person, eliminating one table of 10 can save you $1,000.
7. Ask and You Might Receive
Request another hour for cocktails or for your band to throw in that Frank Sinatra sound-alike before you sign on the dotted line. Most sellers prefer to secure the reservation than nickel-and-dime you early on (which may turn you off of them). Later on, however, they may be less likely to meet you halfway.
8. Make a Meal Plan
Another unforeseen expense? Feeding your wedding day crew. Before you sign the contracts, be certain you’re not required to serve the exact same meal to your sellers that guests will receive. Otherwise, you might be paying for 20 additional lobster tails. Pick a less expensive (but equally hearty) meal for them instead. You’ll have to let your wedding caterer know a few days before the wedding precisely how many vendors you need to feed (do not forget photography assistants and band roadies) and what you need them to serve.
9. Get Organizationally Focused
In a three-ring binder, compile all your correspondences with vendors, notes that you make during meetings, and photographs or tear sheets from magazines that you want vendors to see. Set up a special email address specializing in your wedding, and store significant vendor numbers in your mobile phone. For on-the-go preparation that keeps everything in one place, download The Knot All-In-One Wedding Planner app to keep all your planning info digitally on-hand constantly.
10. Tend to Your Bar
Generally, you need one bartender per 50 guests to keep the line at a minimum. But if you’re serving a signature cocktail that cannot be made ahead of time (or in large quantities), consider adding more server designated to this undertaking.
11. Leave Some Room in Your Wallet
Your wedding budget should follow this formula: 48 to 50 percent of total budget to reception; 8 to 10 percent for flowers; 8 to 10 per cent for attire; 8 to 10 percent for entertainment/music; 10 to 12 percent for photo/video; 2 to 3 per cent for invites; 2 to 3 percent to gifts; and 8% for miscellaneous items such as a wedding coordinator. It’s crucial to allocate an additional 5 to 10 percent of your money for surprise expenses like printing extra invites because of mistakes, additional tailoring needs, umbrellas for a rainy day and ribbons for your wedding programs.
12. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask
Your wedding vendors need to be your go-to, most-trusted experts during the planning procedure. When working together, you should feel free to really explore what it is you desire –maybe it’s serving a late-night snack rather than a first course or doing a bridal portrait session as opposed to an engagement session. The most important thing is that you should feel as though you can have an honest dialogue with them about what it is you want. Their job is to tell you what you can and can not make work given your wedding budget.
13. Wait for a Date
Sometimes, last-minute planning can work in your favor. The closer your date, the more bargaining power you have. Because most people reserve their wedding venues at least six months in advance, calling for open dates two weeks prior to your desired time can save you up to 25 percent. And, Friday and Sunday weddings should cost about 30 percent less than Saturday weddings.
14. Manage the Mail
Of course, you want the ideal stamps for your wedding invitations. But not all stamps are widely available at every post office, particularly in massive quantities. Save yourself scouting time by ordering them online at USPS.com. And make sure to weigh your invitation and all of the additional paper products before you ship them out so that you can attach the ideal quantity of postage. Ask your stationer concerning the need for additional postage for strangely shaped envelopes.
15. Prepare for Rejection
Know that as a rule, about 10 to 20 percent of the people you invite won’t attend. Naturally, this depends on the location of your wedding (destination weddings are harder to attend), how many out-of-towners are in your list, and the timing of the event (some guests might have yearly holiday plans).
16. Produce a Uniform Kids Policy
You have four options: You can welcome children with open arms; you can decide to have an”adults only” wedding; you can include immediate family only; or, you can hire a child care service to offer daycare either at the reception area, in a hotel room or in a family member’s home. To prevent hurt feelings, it is sensible to avoid allowing some families to bring children while excluding others (unless, of course, the children are in your bridal party).
17. Prioritize Your People
Pare down your guest list with the “tiers of priority” trick. Place immediate family, the wedding celebration and best friends in addition to the list; follow with aunts, uncles, cousins and close friends you can’t imagine celebrating without. Under that, list your parents’ friends, neighbors, coworkers and so on. If you will need to make some cuts, begin from the bottom until you reach your ideal number.
18. Take It One Step at a Time
Put together a wedding planning schedule and do things one by one, in a logical sequence, so you don’t take on too much too fast and end up with everything snowballing around you. Don’t hire any sellers before you’ve confirmed your date; don’t design your cake before you’ve envisioned your blossoms; and do not book a band before you have settled on a space.
19. No Ring, No Bring
If your guest list is bursting at the seams, assess the plus-one scenario. Do a faux seating chart on your mind, and imagine exactly what your single pal would sit with. If it’s a table of singles that she knows pretty well, then you’re all set. If it’s a table of couples (making her the odd one out) or if it’s a table of singles where she won’t know anybody, consider bending the rules. If asked why you’re not allowing single friends to attract guests, size or budget limitations or your parents’ never-ending guest list are always good reasons.
20. Release Rooms
The moment you’ve chosen a date, start to look for hotels in a wide variety of price points. Many hotels let you book rooms for guests under a unique wedding block and a reduced rate. You may then release any unbooked rooms a month before your wedding. If the hotels you contact insist upon contracts with cancellation penalties, just say no–you don’t need to be responsible for rooms you can’t fill.
21. Provide Accurate Driving Directions
Make sure guests know where they’re going. As easy as online map programs are to use, sometimes the instructions are wrong or there’s a faster, less traffic-prone route to take. Consult your ceremony and reception sites for printouts or digital copies of recommended driving directions and also test out the paths yourself. Then include the best instructions on your wedding website or email them to your guests to print out if they’d like.
22. Keep a Paper Trail
Get any nonstandard changes to your agreements in writing or send the vendor a confirmation email saying,”Hello, just confirming that you’ll keep the place open until two a.m. versus midnight” Do not just assume everything’s all set–occasionally, by the time the real day rolls around, your contact for a particular may no longer be working there to guarantee you.
23. Schedule the Setup
You have to make sure that there’s ample time for setup. If you’re renting a venue and bringing in outside assistance, ask what time people can come in to start setting. See if they can do it the day before, or at the very least the entire wedding day, before the event starts.
24. Learn About Marriage Licenses
You can check your state’s permit requirements on the internet, but confirm with a call to the county clerk’s office to see when they are open. Even if it’s open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., they might issue marriage licenses only during slower times like, say, Thursdays from two p.m. to 3 p.m. Give a copy of your marriage license to your mother or your maid of honour (just in case you lose yours during the final days before your wedding).
25. Go Over Ground Rules
Be prepared–ask the manager of the home of worship or site at which you’ll be married for the list of restrictions (if any). As an example, is flash photography or bare shoulders prohibited? Or, if you’re exchanging vows outdoors, are you allowed to plant tent stakes in the lawn (which is usually not allowed)?
26. Classify Your Cash
Wedding budgets are all about balance. Start your budget planning by making a checklist of the crucial details, such as the music, your wedding gown, the invitations, the flowers and the photographer, and assign a number to every –one being the most important and three being the least. Invest your money in all your number ones and cut corners on your number threes. (But everything can’t fall in the number one category!) For example, if a designer gown and fabulous food are what really matter, you might have to choose simple invitations and smaller floral arrangements.
27. Help Guests Pay Attention
Make sure your guests can both see and hear from their chairs. If people are seated further than 15 rows back from your service altar or podium, consider renting a mic and a riser. This could range anywhere from $50 to $100, depending upon the equipment used. You will want to coordinate the delivery and setup with your ceremony area, so put your wedding planner or best person in charge of the task.
28. Write Down Your Digits
Maintain an emergency contact sheet or phone with your vendor contacts on you on your wedding day–it may come in handy if your limo driver has lost or you decide you’d like your photographer to shoot some behind-the-scenes shots.
29. Call the Fashion Police
Do not go dress shopping in your –all the gowns will start to look the same after a while and it’ll be harder to recall which style you really loved. But be careful about who you do attract. If your mom or sibling can not make the trip, ask a friend who is truly honest. This is the time when you really need to know which dress looks best.
30. Be Realistic With Your Time
If it comes down to the last month of your planning (and when you’re particularly harried) look at your mile long to-do list and cut three things. Yes, cut three items. Not crucial things you just don’t feel like doing, such as picking a processional song or confirming final details with all of your vendors. Remove only the over-the-top tasks like hand-painting”Just Married” signs, or baking cookies for all the welcome bags. Cross them off and make a pledge not to think about them again.