Here comes the bride...
You just got engaged. Now what? I know as a bride-to-be and also as an Event Manager that you are probably feeling a little overwhelmed right now. Trying to figure out your budget, venue, flowers and everything else can seem intense. I'm here for you, boo! I'm also here to tell you that if you're looking at planning your wedding as scary and axiety-driven, wipe those fears out of your mind. This is supposed to be the happiest and most fun time of your life, and I'm here to make sure it is.
While I still have not jumped off the diving board yet for planning my wedding, I have plenty of friends who have either already gotten married or are still planning. Being an Event Manager is also helpful because I have that planning mentality already driven into my brain. I want to make this easy for you so you can enjoy every last second, because you absolutely deserve to.
The first thing I did after Todd and I got engaged was create an email address solely for anything wedding related. That way I could keep everything organized in one spot and not have to flood my personal email with wedding items. It may seem so small, but do this! You'll thank me later!
Let's get into it! I went to the CT Bridal Show & Expo at the Connecticut Convention Center (also where I work!) on January 5th with Ashley, and I have to say, bridal shows are such a good idea if you're looking for vendors. I had gone to the show last year but it was the weekend after I had first gotten engaged, so I felt overwhelmed and the need to grab every pamphlet I saw. This time around, I had a better idea of what I was looking for, so I only stopped at booths that would be beneficial for me. Since Todd and I want to get married in Maine, I knew looking at venues was off the table. I focused solely on photographers and DJ's with some added vendors like bakers and decor.
One of the first questions I would ask to any of the vendors I met was if they traveled and if that was an additional cost. More often than none, if a vendor does travel you'll incur some type of travel fee. I was pleasantly surprised that the fee was pretty small to what I thought it would be. So keep this in mind that you don't always have to look for a vendor in-state. If you can't find any you are vibing with, look into the surrounding states and see if there might be someone else that fits what you are looking for.
For me, photographs are everything. I've heard from numerous people that if there's one area where you shouldn't compromise on, it's your photographs. These are going to be how you remember your day and can really capture the emotions throughout the day. I've read horror stories in various Facebook groups about girls not getting their pictures, or their photographer losing their photos, and I feel like I would be absolutely devastated if that were to happen. I've also learned through following many photographers on social media the style I like and how I want my photos to look. Some people choose the airy and bright look while others choose the moody and earthy look. So choose your photographer wisely, go off of reviews from other brides and don't settle for anything other than what you want.
I've also thought long and hard about if my wedding will have a theme to it. While it's not going to be Great Gatsby or a specific theme like that, I know how I want my wedding to feel. I'm looking to plan a vintage/rustic/nautical style wedding with elements of romance throughout. Depending on the time of year that I get married will make a difference in color schemes. I've found it so helpful to create separate Pinterest boards for every detail of my wedding. For example, I have a board for wedding dresses, bridal party, decor, desserts, miscellaneous, etc. That way instead of having one big "wedding" board, you can find what you're looking for quickly and stay organized.
One thing I know for sure is that I will be doing a lot of DIY projects for my wedding. I love to craft and be creative, and I know that I want some of my own personal touches on the day. This is also a great way to save yourself some money. Rather than outsourcing a company to make different objects or items you may want for your big day, look to see if you can make it for less. Centerpieces (other than flowers) can be home made. Amazon and Google can be your best friend; just search what you're looking for and see if you can get it for a little less than if someone were to provide it. And always ASK your venue if they can provide anything for you. I know at my job, we always provide (3) votive candles per table as a centerpiece for food & beverage functions. Most wedding venues have a big inventory of items they can provide for you at no additional cost.
Here are some photos of our bridal show experience:
After I attended the Expo, I posted on Instagram for any brides-to-be if they had any questions for me as an Event Manager/bride-to-be. The response was awesome, and I got some really great questions. I reached out to my girl Liz who is currently planning her wedding for some help with these questions.
Question: How much of a deposit is typically required to book a space and what do payouts to the venue typically look like?
Answer: Deposits can vary from venue to venue, but for the most part you'll probably drop around 20-25% of the rental for a deposit. This is just an average cost, and again, the deposits do vary. You'll also be given a timeline of when your other deposits will be, for instance 30 days out you'll have to pay a certain percentage. The venues will want you to be paid in full prior to entering the building, but you'll most likely see some additional costs after the wedding is over. These are dependent on what goes on during the wedding; especially pertaining to food & beverage.
Question: Can you give any tips on transportation and how to make it fun?
Answer: Transportation is definitely one of the bigger struggles during the planning process. The problem is that transportation is not cheap. For the big day, make sure you reach out to as many transportation companies as possible, and know.the.facts. about the day. You're going to want to tell them how many people will be in each form of transportation, where they will be starting and ending and what times they are needed for. Pricing will also vary depending on mileage. Liz suggested that you break it up a little; have your bridal party and groomsmen be taken separately from wherever you're getting ready to the venue or other location for pictures. You can have either the girls or the guys in a bus that will hold the entire party so when you make your way from picture location they can ride together to the venue. In terms of busing your guests from the hotel to the venue, look into renting school buses, as you'll be looking at much lower prices.
Question: How much of the event does an on-site event planner help with beforehand and on the big day? Is it also necessary (if you’re super organized) to hire a wedding planner as well? Or is the on-site event planner sufficient?
Answer: As an on-site planner myself, I know that most of the coordination with the venue is done through them. I'm the middle man when it comes to detailing an event. Any information that you give me, I give to my team. Being on-site varies from venue to venue as I've had plenty of clients tell me they are surprised I'm with them the entire time. Don't stress about that aspect though, because an on-site planner for a wedding works differently than a corporate event. They are typically required to stay for the duration of the wedding. If you are a super organized person, don't spend the money on a wedding planner. Liz reached out to some just to see what their pricing was like, and they were upwards of $3,000, which is just extra money you don't need to spend.
Question: Any tips for a backyard BBQ wedding? Trying to keep everything within a smaller budget.
Answer: Having a backyard BBQ sounds amazing! You'll definitely be saving so much money from not having to pay a venue, however you will run into rental and labor costs. This typically is a lot less than if you were to have it at a venue, so don't worry! I'd definitely reach out to multiple party rental companies, as they can usually supply everything you would be needing (i.e. tables, chairs, table cloths, napkins, silverware, glassware, etc.). You may want to ask if they have any package deals for weddings like this. Pricing will vary depending on how much labor it will incur or if you're planning on setting everything else up yourself. Having a backyard wedding is the perfect excuse to do arts & crafts! DIY is key to keeping the cost down as you can buy most of your decor in bulk and save that way. I'd also look to Pinterest to try and get an idea of what theme you are trying to achieve with your backyard wedding, since you have so many options!
I reached out to some of my friends who have already planned and are planning for advice they have when it comes to wedding planning. Here's what they had to say:
"My biggest piece of advice is to jump right on booking vendors and a venue you know you definitely want because dates can fill up pretty quickly. Make sure to do your research so you know exactly who you want and book them right away. Also, make sure you budget and keep those in mind before your research."
Liz is currently planning her wedding to Kevin and is getting married in May 2019!
"My biggest piece of advice would be to enjoy yourself and don't get lost in the process. Remember that this is a special day for your and your soon to be husband, so don't get caught up in all of the other details. Enjoy the entire process and don't stress! Everything will fall into place, not everything will go 100% perfect, but it will be imperfectly perfect for you."
Jess & Tyler were married in August 2016.
"The day has finally come where you get to start planning your life together with your soul mate! So... don’t sweat the small stuff ...I know, easier said than done. Take everything one step at a time. Make timelines. Set aside a time each week, date night wedding planning style, where just you and your spouse-to-be can talk and laugh. Communicate, be honest, be yourself. Listen to each other. Take this as time to celebrate you both, learn more about each other and grow as a couple. Always say “I love you” (even after the hard conversations). Learn to embrace each small step and take in all of the love and happiness that comes along with it. Wedding planning is a process! We all wait for the day we get to plan our weddings, but wedding planning can be overwhelming. Expect that not everything may go as planned or be “perfect”. Don’t worry, some day you’ll share some laughs over those! Focus on all of the positivity along the way. Savor all of the details, and just have fun! Spend time with and surround yourselves with the ones you love, they want to be included! Many of my favorite times planning were with my family and best friends; share stories, champagne toasts and endless laughs together. You can never say “thank you” too many times. The wedding process can fly by, so make sure you allow time to soak in all of these amazing moments with your your loved ones and spouse-to-be.
Jen & Zaque were married in June 2017.
"My biggest piece of advice: before you do anything, sit down with your fiancé and set your budget. Decide what is most important to you as a couple, whether that’s venue, photography, food, music, etc., and go from there. Don’t go into debt for the wedding — your MARRIAGE is going to be more important than your wedding, and be sure to keep that in mind. You don’t want to start the marriage off with financial stress. Most importantly, HAVE FUN and enjoy the process!"
Bri & Scott were married in May 2015.
"My biggest piece of advice would be to take that two-week honeymoon! Take the two week honeymoon! You get one shot to tell your boss that you are leaving for two weeks to go on a honeymoon, take advantage! Even if the second week is just sitting at home writing thank you notes, enjoy the time off."
Sam & Steve were married in April 2017.
"My biggest piece of advice: those hands. A good 6 months out, when you go to sleep use lotion on your hands every night before bed. Your left hand is the star of the show, let's make sure she looks soft, young and perfect in all of your photos. Also, do a first look! I didn't want to at first, but I took more pictures and being able to see and talk to Bobby before hand calmed me down. Make sure if you do it, do it privately. It's an intimate moment and you want authentic photos, so make sure your audience is just your photographer/videographer."
Halie & Bobby were married in April 2018.
"My biggest piece of advice would be to keep an open mind and allow whomever wants to help to help! As much as it is your day, it really belongs to everyone you chose to be there with you as well. Your day will be perfect no matter what happens so remember to take in every minute of your special day. If I could do it again, I would take advantage of getting group/bride & groom photos before the ceremony so you can enjoy cocktail hour with your friends and family. The day really does fly by and your reaction seeing each other walking down will still be priceless. True love will be captured in every photo."
Vannity & Kelvin were married in August 2016.
"My biggest piece of advice would be to definitely set a budget first before looking for venues. Also, you need to decide what is most important to have for you and your fiance on the big day, and maybe cutting back on others things that may not be as important. Finally, don't make decisions based around other people's happiness. This day is about the two of you, make your choices remembering that!"
Kerri & Chris were married in September 2017
"My biggest piece of advice is DIY- do it yourself! I made a lot of items for my wedding including wooden table numbers that I spray-painted and later re-purposed as milestone months for the baby! I handmade place cards, used a lot of chalkboard signs, painted a lot of frames and added little touches like embossing the invitation envelopes. And I made tissue paper flowers and tied those with little ribbons to hotel guest bags which included mini bottles of wine, snacks, etc!"
Jenna & Andy were married July 2014.
*All photographers websites are tagged in each photo of the bride.
Some things to take a way from this post:
1. Budget, budget, budget! You don't want to get in over your head paying for a wedding you can't afford. Set budgets for every piece of your wedding so you can still have what you want.
2. Don't Stress! You've got this babe! You can handle anything that this process throws at you. Take a deep breath and keep going. It'll all work out the way it's supposed to.
3. Don't Compromise. Obviously there are things you should compromise on, but when it comes to things you're adamant about, don't settle.
4. Ask for help. Planning anything can be stressful, let alone a wedding, so don't be afraid to ask people for help and advice along the way! There is no I in team, so make sure you apply that to your planning.
5. Enjoy yourself. This process is supposed to be fun! At the end of the day, remember that your wedding day is about you and your fiance, so the day should reflect that.