originally posted by Brides.com
Whether you're hiring a wedding planner or not—it's no secret that wedding planners know a lot about planning a wedding, from setting a budget and managing the guest list to designing the flowers and décor.
Wedding Coordinator vs. Planner vs. Designer: What's the Difference?But, even if you don't have the budget for a full-service wedding planner, don't stress. To help you kick off the planning process—and, more importantly, enjoy it!—we called on our wedding industry friends (27 of them, to be exact) and asked them to share their many, many years of experience and wisdom with you.
From money-saving tricks to stress-reducing tips, read on as some of the country's top wedding pros reveal the secrets their clients pay to hear!
Be Honest With Your Opinions“Be as clear as possible when communicating your needs and desires to everyone working on your wedding. Remember it’s just as important to share what you don’t like, as well as what you do, so a distinct picture emerges.”—Sofia Crokos, owner and creative director, Sofia Crokos Events & Lifestyle
Start With Your Budget“Before you make a single decision about your wedding, you need to determine your ‘must-have’ guest count and then your target budget. We see frustrated couples who start the process by booking a venue that simply does not fit into their budget. You have to consider the total cost of your celebration before anything else.”—Lynn Easton, founder, Easton Events
Focus on the Ceremony“Couples focus much of their energy and time on the reception. But without the ceremony, there is no reception. I tell my clients to put more energy into the vows, the actual ceremony, and how to make it unique and memorable. This is what will set the mood for the whole experience of the day.”—Mindy Weiss, owner, Mindy Weiss Party Consultants,
Trust Your Gut“Follow your gut and do your research when it comes to choosing vendors. Don’t settle. Make sure the people you surround yourself with are looking out for you and your best interests versus just trying to sell you something you don’t really need.”—Nicky Reinhard, owner, Nicky Reinhard Events
Appreciate Wedding Planning“A wedding is a micro vision of the larger macro vision of life. The time couples spend wedding planning allows them to decide how they want to navigate familial traditions, cultures, expectations, and needs as they transition into their new lives as their own family. It’s important to see this time can be an adventure, rather than a stressful experience!”—Elizabeth McKellar, owner, The Nouveau Romantics
5 Bonding Moments Every Couple Has During Wedding Planning
Practice Self-Care“Planning a wedding can be an entire year of your life or more, and it can make or break your wedding experience. Practice self-care during your engagement period. Have date nights where you make it off-limits to talk about the wedding. If things get stressful, remember that the wedding comes and goes in six hours, or in a weekend, and then it's over. It's one of the most amazing things to have everyone you love in one place. Relax and enjoy it.”—Alison Laesser-Keck, owner, Alison Bryan Destinations
Keep the Day Personal"A wedding should be personal and reflective of the couple—their stories, shared interests, family backgrounds, personal styles and travels—versus something built on recycled ideas from other weddings. I encourage couples to draw inspiration from the stories of how they met, what they did on their first date, and how they became engaged. It’s easy to find a few details from those stories that naturally translate into fun and unique elements on the wedding day. For example, for the couple who got engaged on a mountain one snowy night in Colorado, we decided to feature a snow machine at their reception. Guests were showered with snowflakes as they left the venue at the end of the night, and everyone loved how the moment was a nod to bride and groom’s engagement story.”—Allison Jackson, owner, Pineapple Productions
Prioritize Your Guests“It’s important to keep the total guest experience in mind, especially for those traveling to the wedding. When choosing your date, be sure to do your homework on what is happening in and around your destination town or city. Parades, graduations, and city-wide conferences will impact hotel and transportation rates.”—Emily Butler, owner, Karson Butler Events
Save Money on Invites"Choosing a rectangular wedding invitation over a square format will save you money on postage, as the USPS considers a square envelope an ‘odd-size’ shape they can’t pass a square envelope through their machines. They call this ‘nonmachineable’ and as such, these envelopes result in an additional $0.15 per envelope. That’s on top of the postage required for the weight and dimensions of your envelope! BTW, it’s perfectly acceptable to forgo an actual RSVP card and envelope, and provide an email address for guests to respond to instead.”—David Stark, chief creative officer, David Stark Design and Production
Repurpose Your Flowers“I always suggest couples donate their flower arrangements to local charities after their wedding. The florals will brighten up someone’s day, and as a couple, they can feel better knowing the money they spent on a large budget item is going to be appreciated a second time around. We repurposed the florals from Julianne Hough & Brooks Laich’s wedding and created over 450 small arrangements that were delivered the day after the wedding by Full Bloom, a company that recycles gently used flowers to local hospices, hospitals, and nursing homes. It was magical.”—Troy Williams, principal and event designer, Simply Troy Lifestyle + Events
Make Your Guests Comfortable“Focus on the touch points that allow guests to be present throughout the weekend. For instance, if your ceremony has the possibility of being too hot or cold, make sure to address those issues with blankets, fans, and water. For the reception, always make sure you have enough servers and bartenders. If guests aren’t able to get a drink or wait too long for their meal, it doesn’t matter how beautiful or fun your wedding is. Guests will be focused on their needs not being met and they won’t be able to enjoy the celebration as you’ve intended them to.”—Beth Helmstetter, creative director, Beth Helmstetter Events
Make the Marriage Your Priority“In the rush of planning, don't lose sight of the big picture. Nothing about a wedding is as important as the marriage that will follow. A wedding is a beginning, not an end in and of itself. There will be different points of view, and perhaps even disagreements, as you plan your wedding. Always make your marriage the priority, the details of the wedding become just that, details.”—Bronson Van Wyck, owner, Van Wyck & Van Wyck
Wait To Say Yes To A Dress“Don't buy your wedding dress before you've decided on a location or date—you’ll want to choose one that fits perfectly with the venue setting and the time of year.”—Rebecca Marin Shepherd, owner, The Wildflowers
The Ultimate Guide to Wedding Dress Shopping
Don't Sweat the Small (or Big!) Stuff“Everything won’t go according to plan on your wedding day. Keep perspective and remember your marriage is the most important part of the process. Surround yourself with people you can lean on, so you don’t sweat the small or big stuff. Soak in every detail because the wedding day will go by quicker than you can possibly imagine.”—Betsy Krug, co-owner & event director, Rebecca Rose Events
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Crystal Vandegrift is a wedding photographer covering Virginia, D.C. NC and Maryland.
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Pictures were one of my top priorities for my wedding. I spent a lot of time reading through photographers and even contacting some. I was also pretty nervous, I had never been professionally photographed before. Crystal and her team were SO easy to work with and immediately took away the nerves. I trusted her completely and I am so happy I did. Cannot recommend enough! Ellen - Yorktown VA
If you're looking for an amazing photographer who is relaxed, has experience, and knowledge look no further. Crystal took our engagement and wedding photos. Not only were her photos amazing, but she is extremely responsive to messages and will even help you when planning your big day. It was important to us to work with a photographer who has experience with same sex couples, and Crystal and Casey did a great job capturing everything for my wife and I. We couldn't have asked for a better experience. - Emily - Nellysford, VA
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