Wedding Planning Advice From True Experts – Former Brides

The coming of the new year marks the beginning of a new season. No, I am not talking about duck season or rabbit season. I’m not even talking about NASCAR season. I am talking about the wedding planning season. The time of year when thousands of brides, oftentimes dragging their reluctant grooms, travel out and about to bargain shop, meet vendors, attend bridal shows, and visualize what elements are important to their ceremony and reception. With all the advice that is shared from vendors, family, friends, and the hundreds of wedding planning books and websites, how is a bride to know what she should expect and want when planning her wedding? This article attempts to diminish the fears and stress of planning by sharing true expert advice from the people who really know and empathize with the modern day bride…former brides.

The Challenges

According to most brides, the hardest challenge you will face is having to plan the wedding on your own. If you do not have family and friends in your area readily available and willing to help, you may have trouble coordinating the event. Even if you do, you may run into a similar situation as Amber Bahnak whose wedding occurred in October 2008, “Sometimes people want to help, but are afraid to do something you won’t like so they shy away from offering suggestions.” She states that “Communication is key. Let people know when you are open to and really need suggestions.”

Other brides look for professional help. Danielle Lux, whose wedding was also in October 2008, suggests hiring a professional planner. “They really help you with each step and remind you to look at things you may have overlooked otherwise.”

Planning a wedding can be an overwhelming task. If your budget doesn’t afford a professional planner, or you do not have access to a relative or friend experienced in planning events, make sure you hire other vendors that match your personality, will listen carefully to your vision, and offer suggestions that can help to achieve those dreams.

The Budget

Did you know that according to WeddingReport.com, the average wedding in the United States of America in 2008 costs $28,704? Your budget may be in this range or could vary greatly, but one fact remains, how you divide your budget will be the most important determining factor towards the success of your wedding. Overspending in areas that have little or no impact on what you or your guests remember could lead to you not having enough money for the elements that are important to you.

The first step to budgeting for your wedding is deciding what elements are the most important to your vision of a successful reception. Choose three words you would use to describe the reception. Whether they be fun, elegant, magical, or romantic, these words will be important when making decisions on where to spend your money.

Anna Story, whose Tango-themed wedding was a perfect fit for her guests in October 2008, gives these words of advice, “Don’t over spend…keep it simple. What makes a good wedding is the entertainment and the food. Decorations are secondary. Choose a theme and make it simple.”

Mike and Mary Gifford, who married in beautiful Pensacola, Florida, in 2008, gave their advice on budgeting stating, “Don’t sweat it if a few things go over the budget, because most of the time there will be something else that will cost less.”

Nicole Meredith, married June 2008, advises taking your time in planning. “Do your research on DJ’s, reception halls, flowers, and catering. Gather referrals. Our DJ was fabulous! He was interactive and fun. He was the best in the area and was definitely not cheap. We spent the extra money and it was well worth it!”

By now, you’ve read several magazines and online articles probably offering tips on saving money for your wedding by taking shortcuts to making your reception a success. The key number in budgeting is the guest list. Every wedding reception can save an average of $50 per person by cutting down the guest list. Remember, you pay by how many guests are expected, not by who actually shows up. So, if you want to let your long-lost Uncle Buck know that you are getting married, send an engagement or wedding notice instead of an actual invite. You never know, he might just show up! Cut the list as far as you can if you need the extra money for something else. Once you have accomplished this emotional task, look at the little details. It is true that the little details can sometimes matter most, especially when you examine little details such as favors, appetizers, bouquets, and flower arrangements. Once you determine the necessity of each item, find creative and alternate ways to have a similar effect. These little things could matter most in making the most out of your budget.

What matters most to the success of your wedding reception? That depends upon the elements that are important in your vision. If the food is your determining factor, then spend more on food. In the wedding business, it really is “you get what you pay for.”

Capturing Moments

What will your guests remember about your reception? According to the survey results from St. Louis Bride & Groom Magazine, 2003, 81% of guests said they remember the entertainment and whether they had fun. How can you guarantee that your guests will have fun? Hire the professionals that match your personality. YOU are the party! Your reception should be a reflection of you. The vendors you choose will be responsible for making your reception a success, and they will be the same vendors who keep your guests engaged and participating in the celebration. If your guests leave one hour early because they are not engaged in the celebration, you have just lost an average of $4,784/hr (assuming six hours total for ceremony, cocktail hour, and four hour reception). Your choice of entertainment is the most important factor in creating a successful reception.

Amber Bahnak suggests to make sure your vendors work together to coordinate the event. “Our vendors were fantastic. Everyone wanted to work together and help us with the planning details. The DJ even went to the wedding site on his own several months before the wedding to check things out.” Not all vendors are alike. Some have personalities that are less than easy-going, so coordinating between the vendors does not always take place.

Nicole Meredith warns that “if you are planning over the phone as I did, and if people are rude to you, they are most likely going to be a bear to work with. Find someone new. There are too many people in the wedding business to ‘sweat the small stuff’.”

Once you have your vision in place, hire the professionals to capture the important moments. Photographers are a must. But Lindsay Forseth, Catering Sales Manager at Lansdowne Resort in Leesburg, VA, says her biggest regret about her wedding was not having a videographer. She says, “I didn’t think I wanted one at the time, but now I wish more than ever that I could go back and watch a video of the whole day. It goes by so quickly that I would love to go back and watch it over and see what I missed.”

Your wedding will truly fly by. Hopefully you’ll sound like Danielle Lux who wished, “it could have been longer, I know this sounds silly, but it flew by. We didn’t even do the bouquet/garter toss because we were busy having so much fun with everyone.”

Problem Solved

The daunting responsibility of planning a wedding should never feel like it is all on your shoulders. Hire professionals who match your personality. Whether you have the budget to hire a wedding planner or not, make sure you hire experienced vendors who can create your vision. This means that you must have a dream. By dreaming, you can begin creating the experience that you and your guests will never forget. Hire those vendors who can make those dreams come true. Ask them questions, find out the creative ways they can bring energy to your reception. Your budget is important, but not as important as how you divide that budget. Determine your budget by finding the average costs in your area for the different vendors, not by an arbitrary number. Make up your budget by considering the elements that you feel are important to your particular wedding reception. Remember, you really do “get what you pay for.”

Two last pieces of advice from Amber and Lindsay

“Stay on top of things, but relax. Things will get done and everything will be beautiful. Don’t forget to let your fiance know how much you care during the process. After all, the event is about professing your love in front of your friends and family.” – Amber Bahnak

“Enjoy the whole day. Being with all of your friends and family is the best! It will be the best day of your life!” – Lindsay Forseth

–Thank you to all of the brides and vendors who were so generous in giving me their time to write this article.–

References:

WeddingReport.com – great source for some valuable information about wedding budget trends

St. Louis Bride & Groom Magazine, 2003. Sources include: Simmons, 2001; USA Today, 2002; National Bridal Service,

2001; The Knot, 2002; Brides Magazine, 2001.

Wedding Planning in Vegas – Little Known Secrets to Getting Married in Vegas

Are you and your fiance dreaming of a Wedding in Las Vegas? Before you spend countless hours searching the Internet, for all of the information that you need, consider getting the ultimate E-Book on Wedding Planning in Vegas.

Many couples chose Las Vegas for their destination wedding. Maybe you want to get married quickly, or you are trying to save money, or you just love the glitz and glamor of Vegas. Whatever the case, Wedding Planning in Vegas requires a different type of planning and you need someone that knows the ins and outs of this town!

Whether you are just starting to research for your Vegas Wedding or if you are exhausted from all of the information that you’ve gathered so far, it’s time to take a breath and regroup! Planning your Las Vegas wedding doesn’t0 have to be difficult and time consuming.

The first thing you need to understand about a Las Vegas Wedding is this–Vegas is a town that is constantly changing. That is why it is absolutely imperative that you get your hands on the most up-to-date information. And that’s where most people who have chosen this town for their wedding date get lost and confused. The information on the Internet alone is overwhelming. Once you get your hands on the right Wedding Planning in Vegas resources, your Las Vegas Wedding Can be all you want it to be No Matter What your budget is!

That’s right, whether your Wedding Budget is $250 to $50,000 the information that you need is the same! And the steps you need to take in order to have your Las Vegas Wedding can be done from any location, quickly and easily!

You just need to get your hands on Secrets like;

  • How much or how little pre-planning your Las Vegas Wedding will actually require
  • Should you really get married in Vegas? Here’s a whole list of reasons that say YES! Even if one of you is having doubts!
  • How to do this the Cheap, inexpensive or elaborate way!
  • Where to go to get all of your beauty services–hair, make-up etc.
  • Where to get a Wedding dress, or even if you want to rent one
  • Where to get a limo or other transportation services
  • How to get the BEST Room rates at the most Glamorous Hotels!
  • Want a Wedding cake and reception? Here’s how and where to go!
  • Want a Theme Wedding in Vegas? We can show you the many that are available

You don’t need to leave anything to chance when it comes to Wedding Planning in Vegas when you have the “Secrets” to Las Vegas Weddings!

A Short Guide to Wedding Planning

Planning a wedding can be a stressful time for many couples. However, planning the wedding does not have to be. With a bit of advanced planning and a well thought out plan on how to organize your to do list, planning a wedding can be fun and easy. The key is not to get too wrapped up in every minute detail, be calm cool and confident when talking with vendors, and to read every contract in detail.

It takes approximately a year to plan a wedding, especially if you are planning to have your ceremony and/or location at a popular venue, or during a popular time of the year. After announcing your engagement the first step is to plan your budget, and determine who is paying for which expenses. Once you know your budget, you can then decide how this budget will work for your wedding plan.

Decide on location, theme, number of guests, formality, day of week, time of day. Make your preliminary guest list. Approximately half of your budget will go toward catering and the reception venue, the more people attending, the more expensive the reception will be. With the remaining funds think of general budget estimates on how much you want to spend on flowers, wedding attire, entertainment, photography, videography, transportation, invitations, stationary, favors and gifts.

It is also important at this time to who the wedding attendants will be, as they will also take a vital role in planning your wedding.

Your major planning issues that need to be addressed during the planning process are:

1) Formality of the wedding

2) Date and time

3) Setting – indoors or outdoors

4) Ceremony – location, minister or clergy

5) Location venue for ceremony and reception

6) Guests – how many and who should attend, seating plans

7) Caterer, food choices, wedding cake & dessert

8) Entertainment – Ceremony Music, DJ or Band for Reception

9) Florist and floral decorations

10) Photographer – Where and what type of (black and white, journalistic, etc)

11) Videographer

12) Transportation

13) Wedding Attire for the bride, groom and wedding party (including shoes and lingerie)

14) Wedding Accessories (guest book, flower girl basket, ring pillow, garter, etc…)

15) Jewelry for your wedding (including rings)

16) Gift Registry

17) Wedding invitations and stationary

18) Wedding favors

19) Gifts for the wedding party and parents

20) Trial runs for hair and makeup

21) Permits, marriage licenses, passport documentation, religious requirements

22) Honeymoon location

23) Rehearsal and Rehearsal Dinner

Get the terms of every service or sales agreement in writing. You will be able to refer to your contracts later if you have a question on what was decided on. Have a beautiful wedding and happy planning!

A Guide To Wedding Planning Software

Let’s face it – a wedding is nothing short of a most complex thing to plan. Planning for a wedding is not an easy thing to – unless you decide to just pay a visit to the register office or make a scheme to run away with your chosen groom doom. But if you are game for a fairly big, conservative wedding then you would need to keep track of all the functions and ceremonies so that the wedding is done on time.

There are quite a few individuals that you will find now who have made it their profession to plan weddings for people. That is how they earn their bread and butter – every day. It is not always possible to hire a person to help you out with your marriage plans, but it is one of the best solutions ahead of a wedding. The rates of a professional planner of weddings could be as high as 10% of the cumulative cost of the marriage. Hence many couples would rather take the planning on themselves than rather spend so much on a planner. The best thing is that today you will get numerous softwares in the market that can help you out without the necessity of a wedding planner.

The first thing you would need to see in the software that provides guidelines for a wedding plan is a calendar. A calendar will not just be a feature with which you can check the dates – it’s more than that. The calendar that you will get with the software should help to notify you about important functions. Generally the notification would be accomplished with e-mail alarms.

Furthermore, if the cell phone that you carry delivers the service of text-messages, then you can also receive your email notifications on your cell phone itself. This is indeed a great boon of modern technology.

In a wedding planning software programme, you should also find a procedure of how to arrange all the different tasks because at the time of wedding there are so many important events happening together, that you must learn how to coordinate them all. After distributing all the invitations for the wedding, you should also be able to know without difficulty who has replied and who is still left.

Then again there will be many other tasks to attend to than just the main ceremony. The wedding reception would also demand many definite arrangements to which you must look into. A wedding reception requires proper arrangements for seating, and your software must give you the necessary guidelines. Then there are the gifts. Your family and friends would undoubtedly flourish you with many gifts and you would have to send out thank you notes to all of them. The wedding planning software should be able to accommodate your requirement.

Looking into the financial aspect, along with tracking and scheduling, is one of the most important parts of a wedding. It is true that complex stuff like Peach Tree or Quick Books would perhaps make things difficult and on the other hand you should have a firm control over your budgets so that you do not go overboard and after the wedding end up with empty hands.

A further benefit that you can derive from such software is that it features custom stationary that you can put to use at the time of your wedding. This is an added advantage since it would save a lot of money that you can put to use somewhere else. A software application that has this element would generally carry templates for guidance for designing invitations or any other item of stationary that you could perhaps need for the wedding.

A search engine like Google is also one of the most intelligent methods of finding out software for the planning of a wedding. Here you will come across numerous choices from free to least expensive web based wedding planning services to ready to use software like Smart Wedding that can work on your personal computer. You must know the relative benefits of each service – because free does not always translate into good, and also you should know what you want exactly and how the software can fulfill that need. There are so many of the wedding planning softwares that you would absolutely hit on the right one for you, then your wedding would be an enjoyable experience without much hassle, to look forward to.